How do you communicate with your adult leaders during a youth event?
Do you have leader meetings throughout the event, perhaps in the morning to go over the schedule? In the evening to debrief?
Do you bring along sets of walkie-talkies to communicate during the day? Or cell phones? Or smoke signals?
How do you make sudden changes to your schedule? Or what’s the best way to communicate in an emergency?
There are several different ways to stay in touch and depending on your group and on the event, the best way will mold to your context.
Group Text Messaging
This past weekend I experimented with a group texting service called GroupMe. The service is completely free (though your individual carriers may charge per text) and allows your leaders to communicate quickly and easily with everyone using their phone’s text messaging. The service also comes with its own app, but I haven’t used the app itself. I find its SMS (the standard protocol for text messaging) capabilities more than sufficient.
Getting set up is very simple. You register with the site and you create a new group. When you create a new group, GroupMe creates a 10 digit phone number unique to your group. You can add phone numbers to the group using their online interface or by text. Once you’ve added all your leaders, you can send a message to the group’s number and GroupMe relays that text to everyone in the group.
Also note: ANYONE in the group who sends a text to the group’s number had their message relayed to everyone, not just you. This isn’t great for sending out announcements to students and parents, but it’s great for communicating with volunteers during an event.
Here are some added benefits to using texting for communicating with your leaders:
- In events like concerts or worship where music can be incredibly loud or phone calls can be distracting, texting works better than voice.
- Because texts are asynchronous, that gives leaders a chance to respond to texts when its convenient, rather than stopping what they’re doing to take a phone call.
- Texting allows you to reach ALL of your leaders at once, rather than calling several in a row.
GroupMe works on any phone with text messaging via SMS and also works on smart phones using their app. I haven’t had any issues with the service, though a few friends of mine have noted that the app can act a bit funky at times (by duplicating messages).
If you use GroupMe, please leave your thoughts in the comments below!
How About You?
How do you stay in touch with your volunteers during an event? Do you have a method that works great with your group?