Caravan is a scouting, or kids’ club, type of program that typically meets once a week, usually on Wednesday night.
Children are assigned to one of the three major groups – Searchers (first and second graders), Explorers (third and fourth graders), or Adventurers (fifth and sixth graders) – according to their grade in school.
Each group is under the direction of one or more adult leaders who are called “guides.” The awarding of badges is an optional part of this program.
LeRoy Haynes wanted boys and girls to learn the beliefs and doctrines of the Church of the Nazarene. He planned and organized the first Nazarene club program for use in his local church in the 1930s. Word of this successful new approach spread quickly.
In 1934, the Southern California district actively launched "Boy's Work" under the direction of LeRoy Haynes. In 1935, the district program expanded to include "Girl's Work" with Jeanne Haynes as the director.
As the program grew, people from across the United States and the British Isles began contacting LeRoy and Jeanne Haynes for help in setting up local Nazarene club programs.
At about the same time, Rev. W. W. Clay was concerned about creating a program that would teach Christian principles to kids. He developed two programs, "Bluebirds" for young children and "Pioneers" for older children.
Rev. Clay invited Rev. Milton Bunker to work with him to develop and promote these club programs.
Interest in Nazarene children's club programs grew, but a problem occurred as the number of club programs increased. The local churches and districts were handicapped by the lack of a unified program and inadequate materials.
Therefore, the 1940 General Assembly called for a "Commission on Boys' and Girls' Work" to find a solution.
On November 17-18 in Santa Cruz, California, representatives from six western districts, three members of the commission on Boys' and Girls' Work, and two members of the Department of Church Schools attended an historic meeting.
The decision was made for the Church of the Nazarene to develop its own children's club program.
A committee was appointed to prepare the manuscripts for the Nazarene Caravan program. The newly–created club program was presented to and approved by the Board of General Superintendents.
In 2005, a Children’s Ministries team, led by the Caravan Editor, Suzanne Cook, completely revised the Caravan program.
The program was re-structured to adapt easily to the scouting aspect of Caravan into the evangelistic, visitor-friendly kids’ club type of ministry that it is today.
Among the many changes, Core Values badges were added to the Caravan curriculum.
Core Values are designed to teach children the Articles of Faith of the Church of the Nazarene.
In addition, several skill badges were added or modified. All badges and awards in the program were re-designed in full color.
2016 marks the 70th anniversary of the Caravan program.