How it works: Virtual Vacation Church Camp on Zoom

This year, we’re all navigating unknown waters in youth ministry! We’re trying new things, and learning to be flexible. Our Virtual Vacation Church Camp can be used in person, but it also works on Zoom (or on similar online conferencing platforms.) Here’s how.

The Virtual Vacation Church Camp offers five days of materials. The five sessions could be scheduled all in one week, or they can be split over time — perhaps they’re five one-day retreats spaced out over the year!

A week before your event begins, send families an email with the following information:

  • Date & time: Ask everyone to come online several minutes before your start time, so that you can let them in from the Zoom “waiting room” (this allows you to admit only those people you know, so that you won’t have surprise strangers popping in to disrupt. That happens.) This also gives people time to fix any unforeseen technical glitches.
  • Link to the Zoom room: You’ll want to use your “personal meeting room” in Zoom. Go to “copy invitation” and then paste that information into an email for your families. (You don’t really need the whole thing — just the “Join Zoom Meeting” link and the password will do.) That link will carry them to your “personal meeting room” any time. (Note: using the personal meeting room allows you to have just the one link for every session, avoiding confusion.) Note that you can add co-hosts to help you manage Zoom throughout the event.
  • PDFs from the day’s PDF packet, asking families to print the worksheets and gather needed materials in advance. You can send the entire PDF, or you can isolate just the pages you want them to have (printable worksheets, recipes, etc.)

The day’s program begins on Zoom. When you’re ready to begin, you can say an Opening Prayer yourself, or play our Opening Prayer video. All videos are played on the shared screen. Here’s how:

  • Download the videos from the vimeo site in advance.
  • Have the videos cued up and ready to go.
  • As host, click “participants” to see a list of the people who are currently online with you. At the bottom of that list, you can use “Mute All” to keep things quiet when you’re showing videos. You can “Unmute” on participant at a time or use “Unmute All” when appropriate.
  • Click the up arrow to the right of “Share Screen”. Choose “one participant can share at a time” and click on “advanced settings” to set your room so that only the host can share their screen.
  • When you’re ready to begin the video, click “Share Screen” and click on the video. When you press play, the whole group should be seeing and hearing the video together on their Zoom screens.

After the opening prayer, you’ll watch the Lesson video on shared screen. After the video, stop sharing your screen, and host a conversation using our Discussion Questions for that lesson. This includes some warm-up questions to get kids participating and then leads into deeper and more meaningful conversation on the topic.

After the discussion, give people a break from Zoom. Families can do the craft project, use the recipe to make a snack, do the printable puzzles and worksheets, etc. This allows the kids to get a break and to have some hands-on content! Families can talk about the lesson as they go (making the parents part of the teaching and encouraging the family to take on religious education).

Later, the group assembles for a second time on Zoom. The afternoon content is lighter than the morning content.

Watch the Saint of the Day video together on Shared Screen, and then the Music Class. Encourage the kids to move around, dancing and singing along.

Finally, every day we have a Zoom game for the whole crowd! Turn off the shared screen and play the game together, to end the day on a fun and sociable note!