If you “like me” on FaceBook, or follow me on Twitter, then you probably saw comments about my Awana closing program. It is always good to review and evaluate the things we do, and so this year, I will post my personal evaluation of our closing program here this year in hopes that it helps you plan and evaluate your closing program.
I began planning the closing back in September as the Awana year was beginning. Part of that was because our closing awards presentation have been at the end of the last club night, or during a small window in a Sunday morning service. This year, as we partnered with another church for Awana, I knew that we’d be able to have a “bigger” service for the closing (well, actually, it was an assumption on my part that was true). I wanted this to be a true celebration of what the year would hold and of the children’s accomplishments and so I wanted to make sure that I had a particular person lined up to be at our closing. I am glad that I did.
After a brief opening and prayer (no we do not do the “full blown” flag ceremony), I had Monte Leister perform for the first half hour. Monte’s music ministry is geared toward children and families and he engaged the audience from the beginning I was able to relax and enjoy the response of those in attendance.
In promoting the closing program, I referenced that Monte would be there as well as other “special guests”. The first “special guest” was our Awana missionary. Unfortunately, they could not be present as they were at Awana HQ for training. What I did in lieu of their attendance was to have him record a message that was shown during the closing. Then we went into presenting the awards. I had prepared a participation certificate for all of the clubbers, so the first “challenge” was to only present certificates and announce names of those who were present. I did acknowledge those who completed books who were not present as well.
As the Cubbies went up on the platform, the next “special guest” arrived…. it was Cubbie Bear! Then as the Sparks went up on the platform the next “special guest” arrived… it was Sparky! As the T&T clubbers took their turn on the platform, I mentioned that there was a mascot for T&T, Streamwood the dog, but that they were unavailable, I couldn’t get them out of the backyard where they were burying bones. During the awards portion is where I made my main three errors.
First, I miscounted how many 2nd Book Sparks Ribbons I needed and I was one short on the table; but I was prepared and had it in a box under the table.
My second mistake, we only had a few T&T handbook awards to hand out for all of the T&T clubbers. One of the Ultimate Challenge clubbers came across the platform and I paused to show and explain the patches reflected accomplishments made through the year though they hadn’t completed the entire book. I then realized that the next child was wearing the same jersey with NO patches. Because they were back to back like that, I was concerned that it indirectly appeared that maybe the second clubber hadn’t worked or tried hard. That was not my intent and I did apologize to them for doing that afterward.
My third mistake was the funniest, but a big one… the very last child to get an award, the very last child to walk across the platform… I looked at them… and for some unknown reason… I began to call him by his sister’s name :-O ! Yes, it was comical, got a good laugh, but I was thoroughly embarassed. Yes there is video of it that I’m trying to keep off of YouTube.
We then wrapped up the evening with a video recap of the year, some thoughts about the year, thanking people and a few moments with Monte to end the program. As Monte engaged the audience with his last two songs, Cubbie and Sparky returned to participate and then were available afterward for some pictures with clubbers and families. Then a time of refreshments and fellowship.
The audience was engaged throughout the ceremony and I heard several very positive comments.
I am usually very critical of things I do (as in this case), but as I look at the audience response and the “big picture of the night”, I was very pleased. Yes, there are still some things that I would tweak, but this was our first “big” closing program for this church and some people did not know what to expect.
The grade that I would give it….. B+