It’s January and you are probably congratulating yourself on making it through the Advent season in one piece and for getting the second semester youth programs started. (Don’t sell yourself short – pat yourself on the back for accomplishing all that!) Now it’s time to sit back and relax, right?
Well, yes you should take some time to renew and rejuvenate. But pretty soon you need to make sure that you have everything set up for your summer mission trip(s).
If you haven’t done anything about mission trips and don’t know where to start, this introductory article on mission trips will give you a head start. Hopefully, you have already made reservations for your mission trip. If you have not, check out this article about how to find a good location for your mission trip. Also, you can read the article about fundraising for mission trips, if you need help with that.
Once you have made your reservations, there are several more things that you want to prepare for the trip:
- Advertising: The sooner that you get the dates of your summer trips to the parents and youth, the more likely it is that they will plan their vacation around your trip and the more youth will be able to go on your trip.
- Travel: Make your travel reservations early. It is never too early to reserve vans for your trip! As soon as you know where you are going and when, go ahead and reserve vans. You will need to know the date and time that you are leaving and returning. And if you plan to tow a trailer, make sure that one of the vans has a trailer hitch. Also, it is better to reserve too many vans, rather than too few. You can always cut back on your reservation but it is difficult to increase them. If your church owns vans that you can take on a mission trip, reserve them early too.
- Sign ups: Make sign up sheets for your mission trip with all of the important information on them, including the date and location of the trip, and what kind of work you will be doing. Include whatever information you need about the youth, such as: name, grade, t-shirt size, and special needs. Be sure that you have a place for a parent signature. You should also have the cost of the trip, the amount of deposit required, and due dates for the deposit and final payment.
- Adult Volunteers: Start recruiting adult youth workers to go on the trip. I recommend that you allow the adults to go on the trip for free, since they are already giving up a week of vacation! Start with the adults who volunteer regularly with your youth and the parents of the youth going on the trip.
- Fundraising: It is best to do the fundraising for a youth mission trip before the trip occurs. In my opinion, if you can schedule your fundraising to finish before you have to set the price for the trip, that is even better. Unfortunately, you are probably not the only group fundraising in your church, so you will have to find a time that works in your church calendar.
- First Aid Kits: OK, so you don’t have to put together a first aid kit in January, but you should remember to put together a kit for each worksite on the mission trip. We have permanent medical kits that the whole church uses as needed, so I always make sure that they have everything that they need before going on a trip.
- Mission Trip Meetings: Schedule parent and youth meetings before each trip so that you can share any information that you have about the trip and set expectations and a code of conduct for the trip.
What other tips for mission trip success have you got to share?
Georgia Harrison is a veteran and certified youth worker in the North Texas Conference. She’s an ordained deacon and an all around awesome person. She is married to Charles Harrison and they have two amazing kids. The whole family has a heart for missions like you wouldn’t believe. In fact, if you’d like to tell her how great she is or just hear more about mission opportunities, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be blessed. (Georgia didn’t write her own bio, just in case you were wondering. -EJ)