Make Your VBS as Safe as It Is Fun with VBS Planning Tips


Each year, children across the country look forward to games, stories, friendships and adventures found at Vacation Bible School (VBS). This event has unique outreach potential for local children, including those who may not regularly attend church. However, the integrity of the program’s ministry would be diminished if a child were harmed or lost. Implement these valuable VBS planning tips to help your program be as safe as it is fun.

Child Safety
  • Screen all workers. This is especially important when using volunteers who have never worked at your church.
  • Collect critical information on a VBS Registration Form. Ask for food allergies, emergency contact information and a list of who’s authorized to pick up the child.
  • Develop check-in and check-out procedures. Then, when an adult arrives to pick up a child, ask for proof of identification and compare it to the authorized list. You might also consider using security tags or bracelets.
  • Provide adequate supervision. Ideally, you should have one adult for every four to eight children.
  • Follow the three-person rule. At least three individuals (at least one must be a screened adult, and the remaining two must be no younger than five years of age) must be present at every function and in each classroom, vehicle or other enclosed area during all activities involving children, youth or vulnerable adults.
Injuries and Illness
  • Use safe decorations. Decorations create an exciting atmosphere that the kids enjoy. However, be especially careful of anything that might create a slipping, falling or tripping hazard.
  • Inspect playground equipment regularly. VBS planning includes checking for sharp edges, cracks, rust, damaged equipment and tripping hazards. Make sure your surface materials are sufficient to cushion falls.
  • Inspect and clean toys and decorations daily.
  • Have an on-site nurse available in case anyone becomes ill or injured.
  • Designate one adult to be a safety officer for the week. This person should review all rooms and play areas for safety.
Food Allergies or Reactions
  • Ask parents and guardians to provide allergy and medical information when registering.
  • Let parents and guardians know what foods you will be serving and be prepared to serve alternate foods to children with allergies or sensitivities.
Going Off-site
  • Screen your drivers. Conduct a background check and request a copy of their driver’s license.
  • Request written permission from parents and guardians. Secure signed permission slips and waivers for off-site participation.
  • Have two adults in every vehicle. One adult should drive, and the other should supervise the children. Ideally, adults should be trained in first aid.
  • Take parent authorizations, emergency contact information and medical information to the off-site location.
  • Have a first-aid kit in each vehicle.
  • Train VBS personnel and volunteers in church safety policies.
  • Conduct exercises to practice what to do if an emergency arises, such as a fire, missing child, severe weather or medical emergency.
Sharing Your Facility
  • Do you plan to let another church use your facilities for their VBS event? Complete a Facilities Use Agreement (FUA) to define expectations, rules and liability.
Create an Exciting, Fun-filled Experience — Safely

Because VBS is so much fun for children, it can be one of your best outreach events of the year. But fun should never come at the expense of safety. When you take the time to plan and protect, you’ll reduce your worry and risk. You can also find ways to protect other church events throughout the year. For more information, contact us at or (214) 720-2868, Monday through Thursday, from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CT and Friday, from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. CT.

This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice. Readers should use this article as a tool, along with best judgment and any terms or conditions that apply, to determine appropriate policies and procedures for your church’s risk management program.