Thursday, January 10, 2013

Diary of a New Campus: Orienting Families to the Space

One of the biggest things we noticed launch weekend was how hard it was for people to get oriented to the building. Even though we'd had an open house the weekend before launch, which was attended by hundreds of people, many families still looked a little confused.

Part of the confusion, I think, came from the fact that at the new campus our environments are so close in proximity. Our parents aren't used to that at all.

At our original campus the Children's Ministry rooms are located far apart, very inconvenient for families dropping off multiple ages.

At the new campus, however, they are all in the same section of the building,
laid out in a logical and orderly design. Once people get used to it it will be incredibly easy for them, but it's a big change.

Also our three environments and the two hallways that separate them look very similar to each other. It's easy to get turned around.

One thing that helped, though, was that we designed our rooms so that they function in a very similar way to our Harrodsburg Road campus. Each environment (preschool, K-2nd & 3rd-5th grades) has a check-in lobby that feeds into breakout rooms which are connected to large group theaters. Parents drop off in the check-in lobbies and pick up in the theaters - just like we do at our original campus.

And yet, it's still hard to get used to new space, not to mention the fact that we had dozens of first time guests.

We're still evaluating signage - both the placement and wording, but think it's wise to live with it another week or so to get a better feel for what we really need before we make changes, if any.

If you find yourself in a start-up, multi-site campus or new building, here are the things we did right:

1. Host an open house to give people a sneak preview of the space.
2. Design our check-in and check-out to be a similar to our original campus as possible.
3. Have plenty of extra Children's Ministry leaders on hand to point people in the right direction.

It will be interesting to see what happens this weekend - how much better oriented last week's families will be in the building and, of course how many new people God brings our way. More lessons to learn along the way!

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