Youth Quizzing During COVID-19

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Hebrews 10:23-25

Early in the morning on March 6th, I boarded a plane to Maine for a visit with quizzers and to promote Q2020. It’s amazing how fast things changed in the next 24 hours, let alone the next weeks and months. I remember chatting with amazing quiz friends and there were a lot of “what-if” conversations, but there was still hope for a strong end to what had been a great season. The flight back to Baltimore the next day was so different. People were wearing masks and gloves, hiding any coughs for fear of judgement, and the plane smelled of a hundred different sanitizers. By the next Friday, our state had closed schools and soon we were under stay at home orders. Disappointment was prevalent during that time. Church events, school functions, vacation plans, parties, you name it. Cancelled.

On the Eastern field, we continued to make hope-filled back-up plans to try and make sure the work our quizzers had done all year was celebrated. As adults, we could tell them all the standard church lines: “Time spent studying God’s Word is never wasted,” and “Quizzing is not about the events or the competition, but about the time spent learning the Word.” Hear me—all those things are true and accurate statements, however, the special component of Bible Quizzing is that you are not studying scripture alone. You are studying in community. You compete in community. You create your Kingdom family. So as much as our church answers can give students solace, being there, persevering in the hard times, and providing a support structure for students helps them learn from the tough stuff. They can then take this lesson in this really gross time and use it to further the legacy and impact of quizzing in the future. All the work and hope given during the time of COVID-19 adjustments not only gives comfort, but also creates student leaders who in turn never give up.

As time passed, our dream of celebrating Q2020, as well as our Field Quiz, both had to be given up in the interest of safety. When the cancellations rolled in, we promised our Field that we would create a final on-line quizzing event. At first, we had no idea how that would work, but after being connected with resources from other denominations and brainstorming across the country with the Northwest Quiz Director, Bill Buckholdt, our hope was given technological legs. The Eastern field, along with participants from around the country, came together virtually over four weeks to learn how to translate this in-person ministry and competition to an on-line platform. Coaches, district directors, quizmasters, scorekeepers, and students gave hours to train and practice. Volunteers provided Zoom subscriptions for us to not only use during quizzing, but also so students could socialize during mealtimes and play games during late night in an effort to create an authentic quizzing experience. It was cool to see how all the traditional quiz staples carried over, no matter the delivery. While being together is always better, the ability to be together virtually provided a space that students had been missing. By the end of the event, students and sponsors felt that no matter what the future holds, quizzing has a way forward.

Through a summer of virtual camps, socially distanced church services, and preparing for school, we take the hope from the spring and push it with gusto into this next phase. None of this is normal, but it is our now. That now could look different from month to month. As coaches and leaders, we have the call to keep our quizzers engaged and encouraged—to give them hope when they can’t muster it themselves. It is a call to being innovative and patient. To make the uncertain nature of this season more manageable, create plans and back up plans so that ministry with students can continue seamlessly. If your district or local program can meet in person, always have a backup on-line plan in case circumstances change. Consider the students who may not be able to join you yet and find ways to include them. Brainstorm now with coaches and quizzers to determine how your teams feel about attending quiz meets and the guidelines you have in place. Collaboration is key in keeping your quiz program connected so that you can achieve the community that quizzers adore. The way we, as leaders, pass on hope to our students is to work together, plan together, and minister together. We go into this next season, not knowing what might come our way, but knowing that together, and with some good planning, we can lead students into another fantastic quiz season.

For step-by-step information on how to hold a virtual quiz, click here.

Melissa Smith-Moser
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