Article by Glenn Maddox, BGAV Missions Mobilizer. Originally posted in 2016.
In youth ministry, summer means many things: lots of free time, youth activities, and probably a summer mission trip.
Working with Impact Mission Camps during the summer, I’m often asked, “What do you do the rest of the year?” One of my immediate answers is, “Prepare for summer!”
Regardless of what your mission trip plans are for the summer, preparation is key to having the best experience. Here are a few things to think about to make sure your summer mission trip enhances your youth ministry for the other 51 weeks of the year.
Details, details, details
It’s often said you can never give too many details, and this has never been truer than in working with youth and their families. People probably don’t need to know how many socks to pack four months out, but if someone is wondering about the details, it’s hard for them to focus on spiritual preparation.
The more details you can provide, and the more ways you use to provide them, the more likely people will feel comfortable with them and be ready to focus on the real work of preparing for the mission trip..
Make it a church-wide mission trip
The whole church can invest in the youth mission trip. This helps youth understand they are an extension of what God is doing in the whole church.
Fundraisers can focus on the investment the church is making in its mission by sending the youth. The church can hear often (especially from the youth) about what the church will be doing through its youth.
Host a commissioning for the youth before they go, and communicate to everyone that they go as representatives of the church and with its blessing.
Also, cast the chaperone net as widely as possible. Any chaperone who isn’t a parent or a staff member probably begins the story of their first youth trip with the words, “I never thought I’d be chaperoning youth trips.”
You’ll only have to convince them the first time – the youth will make sure they come back. Youth think young adult chaperones are cool, and they adore older folks who invest in them without a clear reason to do so.
Complement the Whole Youth Ministry
One thing we always tell students at Impact is that their one-week experience at camp is not their mission service for the year.
Spend time with them thinking about what Mission really is, and focus on how the summer trip is only one expression of that mission. Spend time reflecting with them on God’s call in their life and how this trip will inform that call.
And prepare to offer them ways to engage in other expressions of mission when they return. They’ll come back inspired and ready – be ready to respond!