One area of concern school teachers have noticed about children returning to school after months of virtual schooling is the delay or regression of social skills. Time away from in-person interaction has caused a lag in the social and emotional development of many children.

With summer at hand, your church can help bridge the gap by offering opportunities for safe, outdoor, in-person gatherings. Don’t forget the opportunity to bring Christ to the party with devotions, stories from the Bible, prayer and worship. Here are some ideas for you to consider.

  1. Bike and trike days
    Use plastic safety cones or sidewalk chalk to create “roads” and obstacle courses for children to cruise on their bikes. Offer ice pops or ice cream for a quick cool down. Consider offering two locations or dates for younger and older children.
  2. Park and play
    Ask families to bring lunch or dinner and meet at an area park for free play and adult conversation.
  3. VBS
    Work to create an opportunity for Vacation Bible School (VBS), whether at church, in neighborhood backyards or virtually. If a virtual VBS is your choice, encourage family or neighborhood pods to gather to learn about our wonderful Savior while enjoying the company of friends and family.
  4. Art camp
    Have art stations located on the grounds of your church. Sidewalk chalk, cardboard easels with paint, finger paint, paintball art, bubble painting and nature crafts are great ways to encourage your future Michelangelos while having a creative art event.
  5. Bible skills camp
    Enjoy games that teach Bible skills with fun, such as Bible Twister, books of the Bible relay races and of course, Bible drills.
  6. New Christians’ day camp
    Ask children who became Christians in the previous year to come for a day camp. Topics for the day can be how to have a quiet time, how to share the gospel with a friend, Bible skills and memorization, and what it means to live as a Christian at home, school and on the playground.
  7. Cooking classes
    Depending on the ages and numbers of children in your church, offer classes for younger or older children to learn the basics of cooking simple meals and cleaning up after themselves.
  8. Etiquette classes
    Offer a time to learn basic etiquette and manners with a multicourse meal finale.
  9. Water play afternoon
    Plan a cool afternoon with sprinklers, water balloons, slip and slides, water games, water colors and ice pops. Don’t forget the sunscreen and extra towels.
  10. Preschool reading time
    Enjoy reading favorite books, eating snacks and doing simple crafts on blankets under the trees.
  11. Movie nights
    Have family movie nights under the stars. Have families bring lawn chairs and blankets and provide prepackaged popcorn and drinks for a safe time together.

For any of these ideas, remember to allow for social distancing, sanitation of multiuse supplies and hands, and safety and security training for volunteers. You may want to require preregistration if numbers are limited and to prepare adequately for the crafts and snacks.

Check your church’s insurance policy to ensure adequate coverage while families enjoy your events. Perhaps consider adding an event rider if there is a greater risk of injury such as slip and slides and bicycles.

Summer is right around the corner, so start planning now to incorporate these or other ideas to serve the families in your church and community.