by Paul Markwell/ February 21, 2017
Q: The JBQ season is over. Now what?
A: Have a JBQ awards banquet, and here are seven tips for success.
The last quiz box has been put away, and you the JBQ coordinator are ready for some much deserved R&R. What next, you might ask? The answer is obvious and comes from the best practices of children’s sports leagues: Have an awards banquet.
We’ve had banquets at our church for nearly 20 years now. It can send everyone home happy and motivated to get started early for next season. I’ve even handed out next season’s study assignments to quizzers and parents as they leave the banquet.
The awards banquet is where a JBQ ministry can pause and tell the story about each quizzer. We can celebrate the victories and talk about the zany things that happened as we reminisce. JBQ is a memory-making mill. I still remember the last quiz round of the season at JBQ Nationals in 1999, and I know others who remember it too!
But there’s a right way and a wrong way to do an awards banquet, so here are some tips that can help guarantee its success:
Tip 1: Don’t make it too much work and cost (a.k.a., Don’t kill the coordinator). We did our first banquet in the Fellowship Hall, where we decorated and brought in food. That’s way too hard. Instead, try to have the banquet in the party room of a family buffet restaurant (preferably one with a kids’ theme), and have the families pay for their own meals. People can come and go from a door at the back of the room. They eat what they want, and there’s almost no setup or cleanup for you. Don’t worry about the cost for families. If some can’t afford it, find a way to help pay for them. Most families will all show up and pay for the meal when junior is coming home with a trophy.
Tip 2: Prepare something to say about every quizzer, and have something small (and inexpensive) to give to each of them. We used small participation trophies with the quizzers names on them, but medals work okay as well. Having their name on it means much more than the size of the item.
Tip 3: Say something about each quizzer in reverse order of accomplishment. I would always pen a paragraph about each kid and what I appreciated about him or her or how that student made us laugh. Start with the youngest and the rookies and end with the MVP.
Tip 4: Don’t have the quizzer come up and stand there while you talk about him. Instead, just let him sit there and listen and then come up and accept the item, shake someone’s hand, and let mom or dad take a picture. Having the quizzer stand there just brings embarrassment to the student, and he won’t hear anything you just said about him.
Tip 5: Invent special awards for incentives. On our teams that competed at the highest level, we typically had a quizzer who specialized in 10-point questions. That quizzer would never get the scoring trophies or recognition at tournaments but was critical to the overall team’s success. So we came up with the Best 10-Point Quizzer trophy. We also had Best First-Year Quizzer, Most Improved Quizzer, Most Hours Studied, etc.
Tip 6: Keep the trophies small, because you can never go smaller on trophy size in subsequent years. The trophy needs to be of good quality, with the winner’s name on it, but it does not need to be large. I’ve seen quizzers study 80-200 hours for an individualized 6-inch trophy that states “Most Hours Studied,” and it cost me only $4.00.
Tip 7: Make a big deal out of the recognition, and try to get the whole family to come, including younger siblings and grandparents.
A JBQ Awards Banquet motivates younger siblings, especially if the older quizzing siblings are treated like rock stars. I’ve seen the younger ones vow to outperform their older siblings in future years.
Grandparents know how to make a big deal out of every award for their grandchild. Christian grandparents understand the long-term benefits of knowing God’s Word and can be especially supportive. Who knows? A competitive parent may even catch the fever.In the scope of eternity, JBQ is way more important than basketball or soccer. (Hey, I’m from Kentucky, and basketball is pretty important around here.) It should have all of the motivating benefits that the best sports leagues have. The JBQ Awards Banquet is a big step toward that goal, motivating quizzers to start studying for next season right away.