Creating Sacred Space for Children Online: Sample Expectations & Covenant

Creating Sacred Space for Children Online: Sample Expectations & Covenant

God was with us when we were together at camp.  And God is with us now as we gather in this new way.

Something New for Children This Summer

Camps and Vacation Bible Schools all over the country are moving online.  As our church started to think through the process–how to recreate a sense of fun, wonder, and learning through a computer screen–I decided it can’t be done. I can not recreate something that only happens in-person in a particular way.  What I can do is call out the difference of this year’s camp and create something new. We are not advertising Vacation Bible School. We are advertising it as something completely new and that will probably (hopefully) never be done again. We are using the Compassion Camp from Illustrated Ministry, a mixture of drama, art, and movement.  

Sacred Space for Children Online

As I thought about how to create an online sacred space, I realized that things needed to be spelled out more fully than if we were running an in-person camp. Even though kids would be in their houses, I needed them dressed and ready when zoom camp started. How do I reassure parents that we can create a safe space on Zoom? I started looking at different covenants and expectations from different programs in our Diocese and modified them to create something that would work for our context.

This year will be different. We will mourn the lack of ability to come together to dance, cook, learn, perform science experiments and hear God’s word. We will create a new community with house scavenger hunts, yoga videos and sing-alongs. God was with us when we were together at camp.  And God is with us now as we gather in this new way.

Expectations and Covenant for Online Children’s Program

A PDF of this document can be found here.

Compassion Camp 
Online Community Expectations and Covenant

Compassion is an important skill in creating resilient and caring children. Each day, leaders will work with children through Bible stories, music, drama, and art to teach compassion. This is an online camp which uses Zoom as the primary platform. While we are distanced, Compassion Camp strives to create safe and meaningful community. 

In order to create this community, all campers and volunteers agree to actively participate in all parts of Compassion Camp and to abide by the standards of the community:

1. I will seek to build up myself, others, and our community in my actions and words, doing my best to ‘love my neighbor as myself.’ (Matthew 22:39)*
2. I will respect the person, property, feelings and beliefs of each member of our community.*
3. When conflicts happen, I will work to resolve them directly with the people involved, as described in Matthew 18:15-17 “If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him – work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend. If he won’t listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. If he still won’t listen, tell the church. If he won’t listen to the church, you’ll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God’s forgiving love.” (The Message)*
4. I will wear appropriate clothing that allows me to fully participate. Appropriate clothing includes clothing you can move around in (dance, do yoga, exercise). 
5.  I will treat Compassion Camp as a “safe space”. I will tell my own story.  If I do not have permission to tell someone else’s story, I will keep it to myself.
6.  I will set-up my device for Compassion Camp in a space that is thoughtfully chosen. The space should have room for movement and the background should be appropriate. (ie. Not the bathroom and be aware of any personal things that would be in the background.)
7. I will do my best to have fun!

Camper/Volunteer Acknowledgement of Community Covenant*

Participant agrees that these are reasonable expectations and they will do everything they can to live up to them. If participant chooses to violate the rules set for the event, they understand that there will be consequences, which may include being removed from Compassion Camp.

*Denotes guidelines shared from the Community Expectations & Covenant of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland Youth & Young Adult Program.

Editor’s Note: For additional information and guidelines for online gatherings more applicable to teens and adults, read The Piece We’re All Forgetting: Digital Church Policies.

Hannah E Graham has served Episcopal parish communities in in a variety of Christian Formation roles for nearly 15 years. As a gifted Godly Play storyteller and youth mentor, Hannah utilizes her knowledge of child and adolescent faith development not only in the classroom, but also in executing big picture planning to enhance the shaping of Christian community. Hannah has led the Education for Ministry Program as a trained mentored for 4 years, and regularly contributes to Diocesan events, camps, retreats, and committee work. She is recognized for her innovated use of social media to integrate liturgical seasons, parish programs, music, faith at home activities and outreach. In addition to the spiritual formation of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Glenwood, Hannah devotes herself to growing in faith as a beloved child of God, wife and mother of three boys, ages 2-7 years old. 

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