Five lessons I learned running Epic Explorers

Isabel Jones is a member of St Leonard’s Church in Padiham, Lancashire and is a driving instructor/vicar’s wife. She tells us about her five lessons from running Epic Explorers.

I run a holiday club every year, and I can honestly say that Epic Explorers was one of the best we’ve ever done.

Even though I’ve run lots of holiday clubs before, new things strike me every time. We had around 35-40 children come each day during the first week of the summer holidays, and we had a great time exploring the life of Jesus together (as I hope the photos show)!

1. Read – and then re-read – the Leader’s Guide!

The Leader’s Guide was easy to use and came with lots of ideas. But that means it comes with a warning: make sure you give yourself plenty of time to read through it, digest it and make decisions on which bits you are going to use! It was full of great ideas—from the song, to the craft and games.

2. Don’t be afraid to splash the cash!

Buying a Logbook (8-11s) or Scratch Pad (4-7s) for each child seemed like quite an expense at first, but they really gave the small group times the “wow factor”.

Each day the children had about 20 minutes of small-group time talking about the Bible story and filling in the booklets. There was one group that was hard to drag away when it was time for the other activities!

The leaders of the youngest group really appreciated how there was enough in the Scratch Pad to keep the littlest ones engaged, even those who can’t read or write yet. There was one group that was hard to drag away from the Bible when it was time for the other activities!

3. It really is worth doing team devotions

What we REALLY liked were the Bible studies for the team time each day before the children arrived. Each year I think that I ought to do some sort of Bible thought for the team, but each year I never quite manage it! So it was great to have it there ready in the Leader’s Guide. The leaders genuinely enjoyed having some time to study the Bible themselves every day.

4. Take the opportunity to grow leaders

The most encouraging thing for me about the week was seeing some of my teenage helpers really grow in their leadership. They loved doing the dramas and making them their own.

Because the Leader’s Guide had such comprehensive instructions, it made delegating slots like the memory verse very easy, even for new leaders—you just showed them the relevant page in the Leader’s Guide and away they could go! And by the end of the week every child could say the memory verse: that was a great encouragement too.

5. Think creatively about follow-up

On the Sunday after the club we did a special Epic Explorers service—it was really encouraging to see four or five non-church families come along.

This is something we try to do every year after Bible club, but this time we had a family treasure hunt after the service (another idea from the Leader’s Guide) before tucking into a barbeque brunch of sausage sandwiches (with a 9.30am service it’s a long time to wait for lunch!). It was a great way to round off the week.