KidMin Conference 2015 – During the Conference FAQs and Tips

KidMin 2015

Yesterday I posted pre-conference FAQs and tips for Group’s upcoming KidMin Conference.  You can find that post here.

Today I thought I’d post a few of the most frequently asked during-the-conference questions along with my own personal tips:

FAQ’s

1. What food options are available?  While meals are not included in the registration fee, Chicago has TONS of food options both on site and within a few blocks of the hotel.  

2. Where can I park? Click here for a map that will show you all the parking available around the Hyatt Regency O’Hare.

My Personal During-the-Conference Tips

  • Arrive to the general sessions early.  You’ll find freebies and fun waiting for you.  The worship is also so refreshing for me and a very special part of the conference.
  • Take advantage of the ministry conversations (happening Friday afternoon) and the Connect Groups.  These free opportunities are great ways to network and meet other attendees in an informal, yet personal environment.  I led a Connect Group for the past few years and they’ve been awesome!
  • Make arrangements to meet up for coffee with your fellow kidmin’ers.  Allow some flexibility but it doesn’t hurt to pre-arrange meals or coffee with friends.
  • Reach out to someone new.  Is someone sitting alone during meals, the workshops or general sessions?  Don’t be afraid to say “hello” and make new friends!
  • Check out the book and resource area.  An assortment of books, resources and vendors will be available.  Take time to walk through and pick up a few things.  Many vendors have freebies for you just for stopping by.
  • Relax on an over-sized Xorbee bean bag chair.  They will set up around the conference hotel for you to read, relax or catch up with friends.
  • Be flexible to get what you need: rest, connection/networking, and time to process.  The weekend is jam-packed with activity, so it’s important to move at your own pace and take the time to do what you feel is best for you.  Pray and ask the Lord for guidance.

I hope to see you at the conference!  If you see me around, feel free to come and say hi! 🙂

 

KidMin Conference 2015 – Pre-Conference FAQs and Tips

KidMin 2015

It’s that time of year again – time for Group’s KidMin Conference! If you have read my blog for a while, then you know that i absolutely love this conference, which I have attended in Chicago (2011) and Columbus (2013 & 2014).  I am looking forward to attending again this year!

As the conference nears and momentum begins to build, there are a flurry of questions from veterans and new attendees, especially as this year’s conference has moved back to Chicago.  According to the conference organizers, here are a few of the most frequently asked pre-conference questions along with my own personal tips:

FAQ’s

1. Do I need to register for Pre-Conference training options in advance?  Yes.  These seven-hour intensives, which include lunch, are a great way to begin the weekend.  I chose this a few years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it.  Add this to your conference registration for just $59 per person.  Click here for more details.

2. Do I need to register for the workshops in advance?  No.  Once you browse through the list of workshop options, you simply show up at the workshops you’d like to take.  Beware, however, that some workshops fill up quickly and close.  If that is the case, you will need to make another selection.  Tip:  Choose several workshops for each time slot in advance if you can so that you can quickly join another location.

Options include Deeper Learning Tracks (four 2-hour sessions), Half-Tracks (two 2-hour sessions) or 2-hour workshops.

Be sure to download the Participant’s Booklet here.

My Personal Pre-Conference Tips

  • Have a strategy for attending workshops, especially if you’re coming with a group.  Here’s something to consider:  One person attends one of the deeper learning tracks, while other folks attend workshops that would support the particular learning track. This way, the information gained is not spread across every topic, rather everything their team learns can be applied to an overall concept or particular focus. After KidMin and your team has a chance to regroup, the information from all these workshops and learning tracks compliment and support the desires of the team. They go in with a plan, focus your energies, and leave with tools and concepts that can be applied immediately.
  • You can now download the KidMin 2015 participant book at www.group.com/kidmin. Simply go to the “Downloads” tab and select “Participant Guide”. You will receive a booklet at the conference but downloading it in advance will help you to mark the workshops you’d like to take early.  **Note: Some of the workshops (like mine!) might have a date/time change.  You will receive an updated list of workshops when you arrive.
  • Confirm your hotel reservations.
  • Confirm your transportation arrangements/reservations.  If you are flying into O’Hare, there is complimentary ground shuttle from the airport to the conference hotel every 15 minutes.  Click here for more details.
  • Download your workshop handouts.  This year, the handouts are in Word format, so they are editable.  Be sure to download the handouts for your alternate workshop choices, too.  Download the handouts
  • Make arrangements to meet up for coffee with your fellow kidmin’ers.  Allow some flexibility but it doesn’t hurt to pre-arrange meals or coffee with friends.

Don’t forget to pack:

  • Money/credit card/checkbook
  • Business cards or pre-printed contact information (this can be printed on address labels) to pass out when networking
  • Comfy clothing and shoes
  • Light sweater or jacket, as rooms might be chilly
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Tote bag (to carry all of your stuff)
  • Portable snacks such as energy/granola bars, trail mix, etc.
  • Electronic devices & chargers
  • Any downloads you’ve printed ahead of time

The official hashtag for KidMin 2015 is: #kidmin15 So be sure to get connected and watch for updates, info, and more on these accounts…

Group KidMin Conference Attendees Facebook Group
https://www.facebook.com/groups/GroupKidmin2013Attendees/

Group KidMin Conference Facebook Page
https://www.facebook.com/kidminconference

Group KidMin Conference Twitter
https://twitter.com/GroupKidMinConf

Group KidMin Conference Instagram
https://instagram.com/kidminconference

Come back tomorrow for more tips!

Keep the conversation going!  Will I see you at #kidmin15?  What are you excited about? 

 

A Peek Inside our Luau-Themed Volunteer Training

This past Sunday, we hosted our annual Children’s Ministry volunteer training.  It was the second year that we’ve themed this event.  Last year, our theme was a tailgate.  This year, we chose to do a Hawaiian Luau.  It was so much fun and very well-received by our volunteers.

CM_LUAU1

This year, we wanted to include not only new and returning volunteers but those considering serving in our ministry as well.  We had a packed room full of adults and students who responded to God’s call to join us in ministry this year.  This was also the first year that we held our training on a Sunday after our morning services rather than a weeknight.  We have found that having folks stay around when they’re already at church (and giving them lunch!) yields a much better turnout.

Guests arrived to a large room at our church that was decorated with Hawaiian flowers, leis, tiki bar backdrop and tropical colors (orange, yellow, lime green, hot pink and purple).  Once inside the room, guests were welcomed, encouraged to pick up necessary paperwork, given a ticket for the chance to win fun prizes and allowed to choose a lei to wear.

Luau - pic 2
Ministry area handbooks, adult applications (white) and student applications (purple)

Guests were then invited to help themselves to a delicious lunch buffet, which consisted of:

  • Footlong sub sandwiches (turkey, ham and veggie)
  • Potato chips
  • Edible beach balls (cheese balls)
  • Fresh fruit cups
  • Cookies
  • Hawaiian Punch and bottled water

Our tables were set with a simple centerpiece (a glass bowl filled with play sand, seashells and votive candles that we had on hand).  Under each bowl was a sheet of chalkboard paper and pieces of chalk.  At each set, we placed a “Say Yes to the Next Generation” notepad and a personalized pen.

After a little while of fellowship around the tables, we started with the business of the day.  You can download our event outline here.

Here are a few of Pinterest-inspired ideas we used:

For even more ideas, check out my KidMin – Luau Pinterest board.

I wonder what next year’s theme will be…

It’s your turn to share!  What fun volunteer training themes have you done?  I’d also love to see your pictures!  Upload them to our Facebook page.

Our Everest VBS Experience

Everest_Logo_HR

 

It’s hard to believe that our church’s VBS wrapped up a little more than 2 weeks ago.  After months and months of planning and a week of top-notch implementation, it’s a wrap.  After much-need rest and reflection, I am so thankful that we continue to run our VBS each year.  There are a few reasons why I love what we do.

  • Many of our children come to Christ during VBS.  Every year, parents share stories about conversations they’ve had with their child and how THEY led their child to Christ as a result.
  • Children invite their friends, neighbors and family members.  Our children are excited about the week and want everyone they know to be there!
  • It truly is an all-church event.  Our entire church – from staff to the congregation – rally around our VBS efforts.  There are only a handful of events that garner all-church buy-in and participation like our VBS does.

This year, our church chose Group Publishing’s Everest VBS curriculum.  In years past, we have chosen Group’s Holy Land VBS, which we have enjoyed for various reasons.  The format of the Holy Land curriculum became familiar to us, our planning team members found their niche, and not many other local churches offered this style of VBS.  It set us apart, so to speak.

This is the first time we’ve done Group’s ‘easy’ VBS since I’ve been at my church, so leading the charge of change was a challenge I was dreading.  I tried to accentuate the positive (which is my usual tendency) and highlighted elements that were not part of our typical offering.  It worked – we had a great week!

Here’s our VBS by the numbers:

253 children

175 volunteers

18 leadership (planning) teams

26 leadership (planning) team members

1 child led a family member to Christ

7 children received their very first bible

Here are just a few snippets of what I heard during the week:

{From a parent, who served as a crew leader} “…as happens almost every year, listening to the children sing gets to me.  Today I was in tears and had to step out.  The “Faith” song.  The music is always so powerful.  I shared with [name of child] why I stepped out. The next time we sang that song [child] was also touched by the Spirit.  The Spirit was strong today.  One child in our group shared that she had lost her mother to cancer.  Then another child…..shared about a grandmother who had to be in a wheelchair that they had prayed for.  We had lots of prayer requests and loved praying under our blanket.  My [child] enjoyed hearing her friends pray with and for her.  It’s exhausting thinking about trying to top today…..tomorrow.  NOT sure we can.”

{From a parent, who served as a crew leader} “I have a [younger] crew so many of the concepts are hard for them to grasp just starting to sink in. After camp today, the lady who picked up [child in group] came back in on the verge of tears to tell me that she was a friend of [child]’s mom and [child]’s family does not attend church. Today on the way out [child] was explaining to her what the cross was and what it meant. Your hard work and planning is paying off in touching the lives of even the youngest kids.”

{From a station leader} “This year, it seemed like the kids ‘got it’ more.  Awesome!”

As a VBS Director, it’s sometimes hard for me to remember the big picture when I’m in the thick of planning, but I tell ya…these kinds of stories and being part of such an impactful week for campers and volunteers alike makes it all worth it.

To all of our hardworking, creative, innovative, passionate, all-around-awesome leadership team members – THANK YOU!  I couldn’t have done it without you!

To all of our supportive church staff who used your gifts, talents and resources with us – THANK YOU!

To all of our volunteers – crew leaders, crew assistants, station leaders, security team members, prayer warriors, supporters (item donations and/or financial) – THANK YOU!

To all of our Celebration Picnic volunteers – THANK YOU!  Because of you, hundreds of people were served a delicious meal and enjoyed a wonderful evening of fellowship!

To my husband and children who supported me by listening, praying, driving me around, lifting boxes and boxes of stuff, brainstorming, eating take-out, overlooking piles of laundry and unopened mail – THANK YOU!  I love you so much!

To God be the glory!