By Kristin Devine Mueller
Almost two months after we were first given the direction to begin social distancing and stay at home, our plans for Summer XP look much different than we ever would have imagined! Ministry groups all around the country are working to figure out what Vacation Bible School might look like as we move out of a full quarantine into a world where we still attempt to stay 6 feet away from each other. Everyone involved in these conversations knows that it’s impossible to keep a group of children 6 feet apart! Like many other churches around the country, ECC has been working to figure out what a new type of summer experience for children might be.
We’re sticking with our plan of an online Summer XP, but as we get closer, some different things are becoming clearer. We’ll have a video set to premier each night at a set time. We have a music team working on songs for the week to bring the message of God’s love and light to children in a memorable, screen-based way. We’ve ordered our giant sunglasses because we know that Mr. Louk and our team will still be working hard to incorporate the element of silliness and fun!
In the midst of these changing plans, we still want the children in our community to experience the love and care of a relationship with a real, live person who asks and listens to what is happening in their lives. We’ve got a two-fold plan to achieve this, and it’s a plan where both adults and children can get involved.
First, we want to continue to offer a small-group experience as part of our Summer XP. In early June, we know it’s not the right time to safely meet with a group of children in person. We’ll continue to use the technology available to us so that we can meet online in small groups. Our hope is to have Zoom groups set up for groups of 5-10 children, with 2 adults, and also possibly a teen. These groups will spend 4 nights together on Zoom, so by the end of the week we pray that they know each other deeper, that new friends have been connected, and that these people will have a foundation to build on when they are able to see each other in person again. Pray with us for both leaders and children to sign up and participate fully in this experience.
Second, we want our children to invite friends from their neighborhood to join with them in this online, virtual week of Summer XP. Prior to Summer XP, each child who is registered for the event will receive a kit with the resources and activities that they will need for the week. This kit will also have a second set of supplies, so that children can go out into their neighborhood and invite a friend to participate with them. Since we will be online, friends can log in from their own homes and participate along with us. These friends will have the option of joining a Zoom group with their neighbor, but our kids will also have the option of talking about the activities and doing them together at home, if their families are comfortable with their kids being in the same space together. Pray with us that our children will have hearts for sharing this experience, and for sharing God’s love, with the children on their very own block.
Since many of our volunteers will also be able to participate from home, we encourage you to get involved in the ways that you are able. To register as a volunteer, or to register a child so that the child receives a kit and is assigned to a Zoom group, follow the link at www.ecclife.net/xp. This summer isn’t shaping up to look like anything we expected, but pray with us that God will shape this experience into more than we would have asked or imagined!