So it’s almost November and you are beginning to settle in to the rhythm of Fall. You have your Fall programs started and planned out (hopefully through the end of the year!). And it’s too early to worry about Summer yet, right? Wrong! The Youth Ministers that get to take the best mission trips in the summer are the ones who make reservations for their trips in the Fall. November is the perfect time to plan your mission trip for Summer, 2011. But how do you begin? There are several questions that you want to answer first.
Question 1: How many youth do you expect to go on mission trip? If you go on a mission trip every year, you can start to answer this question by looking at how many youth went last year. But this is just a place to start. Take that list and remove those youth who are too old for the trip and add the youth who have just entered the program. Then consider all of your youth and determine how many other youth are eligible but didn’t go last year. Assume that 60% of these youth will go next year. If you know your youth well, you should be able to predict fairly closely how many will go on mission trip.
Question 2: Do you want a pre-packaged mission trip or a build your own mission trip? The pre-packaged trips usually include lodging, meals, and work to do on the trip. Personally, I am not good at finding my own work, so I only go places that have already found work for us to do. The pre-packaged trips will cost more. The more that someone else is doing for you, the more you will pay.
Question 3: How much can we afford to spend? Create a budget for each mission trip. Don’t forget to include vans, gas, food, t-shirts, costs of fun activities, cost for staff meals on the road (that means you!), as well as the cost of the organization hosting you. Then I divide the total by the number of youth that I expect to go. I never ask my adults to pay for a mission trip. It’s hard enough to get adults to give up a week of vacation in the summer. Don’t make them pay for the privilege of doing so!
Question 4: Where are we going to go on mission trip? Consider going back to a place that your youth have been in the past. They love the opportunity to see how things have changed since their last trip or going back to houses that they worked on. Check with other youth workers that you know for recommendations (I’m happy to recommend a few places that I have been in the past!). Surf the Internet for ideas (with caution…). Although Group, YWAM, and Youthworks and others may have good trips, there are probably less expensive alternatives that are run out of churches or smaller organizations.
As soon as you have decided on a location, with buy-in from your Youth Council and Adult Youth Workers, book your reservations. It does not usually require a large deposit to hold your reservations for the summer. Once you have made your reservations, you need to begin to think about fundraising. Look for an article on that topic in the coming weeks!
Youth Minister, Holy Covenant UMC