My name is Emily, and while you may see my name in the byline of a few of our blog posts, I am primarily a behind-the-scenes player on the Planning Center team. I don't develop, design, or support the products you use; my job is to support the people who do, and I want to share with you exactly how incredibly special the team I support is.

Every three months, Planning Center's remote employees fly in from all over the country to spend a week with the in-office employees. Every Remote Week is dedicated to team-building and fun fellowship for our staff, but Summer Remote Week has a little bit of a twist: activities are centered around creating opportunities for whole family connection, so we call it Family Fun Week.

Planning Center flies out all significant others to spend the week out here in Carlsbad; children are welcomed and encouraged as well! Throughout the week, staff members and families attend events and activities—it is all the crazy of a regular remote week *times ten* with a whole lot of new Planning Center Swag!

Check out some of the highlights!

Beach Bonfire

On Monday, families camped out under Planning Center popups at the beach for a day in the California sun! Then, after work, many of the staff made their way over to the beach for a bonfire to hang out and roast marshmallows as the sun set over the ocean.

Picture brought to you by the over-zealous photo-taker—and Founder—Jeff Berg.

Box Packing for Children's Hunger Fund

On Wednesday afternoon, our staff and about 100 of their family members joined together to pack boxes with staple food items to be sent to needy families overseas. In less than two hours, we moved 2,000 boxes down two assembly lines, packing them with canned soup, tuna, veggies, bags of macaroni, beans, and cereal, and then taped them shut and loaded them by the pallet into the CHF truck.


Guys BBQ and Ladies Night

After all that packing, we split the guys with the kids to give the ladies a night of their own. A total of ninety guys and kids enjoyed a night of swimming and grilling because what else do you need? The kids happily swam and splashed in the pools, and the guys ate their fill of barbecued tri-tip, courtesy of in-house grill masters, Chan and Dan.

Meanwhile, at the Planning Center office, Krista and Nellie hosted a ladies night for the 3rd year in a row. We enjoyed cheese platters, fruit, sweets, and talk—I was not prepared for how special the evening would be.

Since I've been at the company for less than four months, this event was the first time I had met the girlfriends and spouses of many of my co-workers. It was neat to put faces and personalities with the names I had heard, and it was wonderful to feel accepted by such a joyful group of ladies, many of whom have been friends for years.

Later that night, as I reflected on the activities of the evening, I teared up at how rare and beautiful it is for the significant others and families of a group of employees to not only have the opportunity to spend time together, but to enjoy and look forward to it.

Thankful Thursday

The Leadership Team designated Thursday to reflect on the last year of business and to generously express their gratitude for the Planning Center team. At lunch, staff members and families joined together to hear from Product Managers and Team Leaders about milestones from the last year.

In the last 12 months...

  • Services released a brand new version of Song pages, Media pages, the Media Player, and the People page. Up next: Individual Team pages!
  • People integrated background checks, introduced brand new Workflows, and has more than doubled the number of churches using the app as their primary Church Management Software.
  • Check-Ins helped thousands of churches print over 26.1 million labels (about 250 trees worth of labels) and planted 1,000 trees to help out! Their next big project—Installable Desktop App.
  • Resources has updated almost every page with new design, and the next page up is the Event Page as well as how customers interact with Calendars.
  • Registrations completely rebooted with a new product manager, developers, and designer to tackle small projects as they prepare to roll out event categorization and improvements to the registration flow for kids.
  • Groups saw a number of updates related to attendance and group settings, and introduced group archiving.
  • Giving released in Canada, completed the dashboard redesign, introduced recurring donation forecasting, and launched Apple Pay support.
  • The Design Team has been hard at work creating tools to help our customers thrive in their roles. They plan to continue pushing for coherent experiences across the Planning Center suite of applications.
  • The Support Team helped 47,546 people, spent 12,974 hours helping them, and wrote over 35 million words in the emails sent to customers.
  • The Training Team was formed in May and has since created lots of videos, articles, and social media to keep people in the loop of what's happening at Planning Center.

But Thankful Thursday was not quite over: we all left to get ready for an evening of delicious food, fun music, and dancing from JP Hunten Music under the carnival lights at the Omni La Costa Resort.

At dinner, Founder Jeff Berg stood up to say a few words and celebrate employee longevity. In defiance of industry averages, Planning Center celebrates work anniversaries, starting with 3 years, double the technology industry's average of 1.5 years. This year, Berg honored eleven Planning Center employees with a three-year blanket and four employees with a five-year personal bobblehead to be displayed proudly alongside the growing collection in our office kitchen.

Berg also introduced a ten-year anniversary gift and honored the two who have worked alongside him since Planning Center started —Aaron Stewart and Jeff Spillman. With Berg, the three are now owners of classy blue club jackets, embroidered with 10 on the breast pocket. From here on out, every Planning Center employee to work at the company for ten years will receive a similar jacket.

A highlight of the evening was the first ever Planning Center's Got Talent, hosted by JP Hunten Music, featuring three Planning Center Employees—Jessica Little (Smalls), Steve Mesanko, and Daniel Ma (DMa). All three contestants brought the audience to our feet with their performances, and the judges made us laugh with their commentary.

Congratulations to Steve for winning first place and to Smalls and DMa for making the judges' decision a hard one!

As the stars came out in the hot, summer San Diego sky, the band brought out the glow sticks, and we hit the dance floor for the remainder of the night.

Family Fun Friday

The week ended with Family Fun Friday, an event staff members have said their children look forward to more than the holidays—a whole day on the beach and in the water at the Carlsbad Lagoon.

Before Friday I had never been on a jet ski, but after getting out on the calm morning water of the Lagoon, I was hooked. By the time I came back to shore after my first ride late in the morning, a steady line of Planning Center peeps began to form to wait their turn to take the reserved skis for a spin.

On the shore, kiddos played with sand toys, swam in the shallow water, and jumped on and off the floating mat. Parents took kids out on the water in kayaks and paddleboards and went out on motorboats to wakeboard and ride (and get thrown off) tubes. Volleyball started at 11 and continued throughout the day, breaking only for Chick-fil-A and shave ice, until the last match ended, and our makeshift boundary lines made with CAUTION tape were thrown away at 5:30 pm. Many went home with burnt feet and scraped knees from the scorching sand, but all maintain the fun was worth the pain.

Similar to saying “good-bye” after a family reunion, we were sad to part ways with our coworkers, but unlike a family reunion, we don't have to wait more than three months to see our Planning Center “family” again—November Remote Week is right around the corner.

We love our team.