(Part 2 of 2) Build Your Own Check-In Station Cart
By: Kyle Goings (Student Ministry Pastor of First MB Church in Wichita, KS)
Taking attendance in most student ministries is usually a weakness. Either it’s not being done, done poorly, or if it is being done it’s not utilized as best it can. This two-part blog post will focus on the theoretical and practical applications of taking weekly attendance for your student ministry. Part one will focus more on what is needed both culture wise and behind the scene to take attendance effectively. Part two is a practical approach on building your own check-in cart for those ministries who are looking for inspiration (click here to read part one).
Now that you want to try to start taking attendance every week you might need a practical way to do so. There are many way ministries take attendance but the two main ways that we will be focusing on is volunteer check-in and self-check-in. For a volunteer check-in – it is where you have a volunteer or two type in the information when a person enters the room. This allows for higher probability for more accuracy but it is heavily volunteer driven (and those volunteers have to know everyone by name so they can enter it into the system).
A self-check-in system is where students come in and taken attendance by scanning a barcode or entering a phone number. They hit a few buttons and then done! As long as you have a greeter monitoring the stations and providing help it’s very simple.
- Before you begin to determine what kind of budget you have available. The number of tablets/computers/iPads will greatly affect your budget (1 tablet for every 25 people checking in is the norm).
- The quality of the hardware you get will need to be decided. Remember if you purchase a tablet/iPad under $125 plan on replacing it within 18 months on average. And avoid used hardware as they cannot be reliable.
- Also, remember for every tablet/iPad you get you will need a stand and locking system so it’s not just the cost of the original hardware.
- Decide if you can connect to the internet wireless or wired. For dependability wired is always better but it doesn’t always work with certain locations.
For our senior high ministry, we had some specific needs. We meet in a big gym on Sunday nights that is used for different events throughout the week so everything we had has to be mobile and put away. We also have about 100 people checking in each week so we needed a minimum of four tablets. This is our check-in cart that we use and here is what we did.
First, we purchased four tablets. We went with the Samsun Galaxy Tab E 9.6”. The main reason we chose PC over Apple was iPads are just so expensive and we weren’t quite sure if this would work at first. We didn’t care about the amount of memory. We just focused on which tablets work best with Wi-Fi and Samsung Galaxy’s have a great reputation from staying connected. We also have most of our computers at our church using PC so we didn’t want to mess with crossover. And lastly, we looked for tablets that have a long battery life. We got them on sale for during the summer back to school months. Price range is $140 to $199. You can find them here at Best Buy.
Second, we purchased a cart to mount them to. We went with a heavy duty cart because we had the budget and wanted complete dependability. Almost any cart will do but we liked how this cart has adjustable shelves underneath and ring spaces on the outside of the cart that we could use to lock each tablet down. It also had a strong handle and lockable wheels. Price is around $100-$300. You can find it here on Amazon.
Third, we purchased four stands and cords to lock them down. We wanted
something that is lockable and adjustable for the tablets our size. There is a ton of tablet holders so make sure you get one that fits your tablet! It’s a good idea to just purchase one stand and cord and test it out before you purchase any others. The price will be totally dependent on which tablets you purchase. We chose these stands CLICK HERE. and these cords to lock each down CLICK HERE. The good thing is we have never had to unlock the tablets so as long as you install them correctly everything will be just fine.
Fourth, we built a custom top of the card and mounted the four tablets on them. The cart had no way of holding the stands. So we just built a wooden top for it and mounted the stands on the wooden top, one in each corner facing outwards. Then we locked the tablets to the cart so even though you can lift the wooden top you can’t take the tablets with you (another reason why we bought the cart with holes on the sides). We painted it grey to match the cart color. Price is less than $50. You can find wood at any hardware store.
One thing we did was cut a hole in the back of it so all four chargers can be plugged in at all times. Then we plugged them into a power strip that is held underneath cart so all we have to do is wheel the cart to storage and just have one thing to plug in. We highly recommend this for easy storage!
You can take this in many directions, and several ministries have permanently mounted tablets or screens on the wall, either way you will need to choose what is best for you. If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.