The Sunday school Picnic
Among the many happy memories o£ childhood, few are more delightfully recalled than the Sunday School picnic. Many will remember those wonderful occasions when the long awaited day finally arrived. Invariably, the day was warm, the sun bright and the sky an azure blue. Such was the setting when the teachers and scholars joined for races, ball-games, an outdoor meeting, and an enjoyable picnic supper. Although these, and others, are memories enjoyed by many, let us ever remember that the Sunday School picnic, as all other activities we provide for the children, should be convened with the desire to win the boys and girls to Christ.
With this in mind, the picnic should be well planned, and so arranged as to bring the teachers and scholars together as often as possible. Remembering that this is the children’s day, let the teachers be prepared to forget activities that interest them, and concentrate on getting to know the children.
The picnic day also presents an opportunity to meet the parents of the children. A letter of invitation from the superintendent and teachers will let the parents know they are very welcome.
Keeping in mind that this is the children’s picnic, the following suggestions are made for a picnic running from one o’clock in the afternoon until seven in the evening.
A month prior to the picnic, a -group of three or four teachers should be formed to plan the entire day. This small group will work far more effectively than all the teachers planning the day. Their responsibility will be to obtain the services of a brother or sister to plan the meal, while all other responsibilities will be theirs.
When all necessary arrangements have been made, a schedule of activities and their times should be printed, and a copy given to each teacher. This aids considerably in the smooth operation of the picnic. A suggested schedule is given below:
Schedule For The Day
Arrive Picnic Site …………..1.00
Free Time …………………..1.00 - 1.15
Meeting and Ice Cream……..1.15 - 2.30
Games ………………………2.30 - 3.15
Races ……………………….3.15 - 4.45
Supper ………………………4.45 - 6.00
Free Time ……………………6.00 - 7.00
Leave Picnic Site ……………7.15
As was stated earlier, the main purpose of the picnic should be to win the children to the Saviour. With this in mind, many Sunday Schools include a children’s service in their picnic plans. Although there is no set time at which this service is held, many advantages result when it is the first item on the program, after arriving at the picnic site. By being so placed, it gives the superintendent an opportunity to announce the day’s plans to the children, and the teachers will have opportunities later in the day to discuss the message with their children. Also, it does not interrupt their play period later in the afternoon, and the children are free to play or be with their teachers during those few precious moments after supper.
The importance of a brief, interesting, and possibly illustrated, talk cannot be over emphasized. Of course, the attendance of all children at the meeting is obligatory. By way of encouraging them, an ice cream treat could be given to all attending. Following the meeting, announcements, etc., a fifteen minute period of free time should be allowed, after which the children prepare for the next event.
At the close of the meeting, the children should be divided by ages into various groups for organized games. The young children will enjoy such simple games as Farmer in the Dell and London Bridge, while the older groups will want baseball, soccer, or other games of interest. When the picnic is being planned, one teacher in each group should be given the responsibility of suggesting games at this time. All other teachers should help preside over the groups in which their scholars are participating. By planning such a games period, the children will receive the loving care and attention they so appreciate.
For every Sunday School picnic to be complete, it seems races must be included in the schedule. If races are to give their greatest value, they must appeal to participants and spectators alike. Therefore, in your planning, include novelty as well as the usual running races. In an effort to keep spectator interest high and to keep older children from drifting away as the younger are running, intersperse running races for younger children with novelty races for the older groups and vice versa. Following a good variety of races and possibly a scramble for candy, you will likely find supper time is approaching.
Although many menus could be suggested for such an occasion, children will always welcome hot-dogs, orange drink and cookies. Such a menu can be provided with a minimum amount of work required for its preparation and clean-up. Of course, it might be well to have a supply of sandwiches and tea on hand for parents and teachers.
In the hour that remains following supper, the teachers and scholars should be free to spend the time as they wish. Possibly they will want to hike, play another game of ball, or just sit on the grass under a big tree and chat. For soon the day will be over, and the teachers with the usual sore arms and legs, and the children, tired but happy, will be on their way home.
Before you bid them a final goodbye, remind them of Sunday School and of the fact you are looking for them there.
Now that all the excitement is over, and the children are safely home, you will no doubt lift a silent prayer of thanksgiving for His loving care. As well, you might think of the beloved Apostle who said in 1 Cor. 9:22, “I am made all things to all men, that by every possible means I might win some to God” (Phillips Translation). Today you have become a child that you might win the children to Christ.
* * * *
If you dare to believe God you can defy all the powers of evil. A dear saint once said, “All the trouble that ever came into the world came by two things, listening to the lies of the devil and disbelieving God, and every conceivable blessing comes by the exact converse of these two, turning a deaf ear to the devil’s lies, and fully believing God.”