If you’re like me, you look forward to your mission trip all year long. The adventures to new places, the team bonding, the inside jokes, the late nights, the strangers served (new friends really). When done right, a Mission Trip is church at its best - groups of people living in intentional Christian community while serving the world’s great needs. Kids and adults come back talking about being transformed. They’re excited for church! They tell their friends and family! College application essays get written about these kinds of experiences.
But then you check the calendar and remember how much work it is. Summer is only 3 months away! Or maybe you’ve never planned one before and you’re blissfully unaware. How is a volunteer or a part-time youth director supposed to get all those details organized anyway. Oh, and have you heard - it’s almost Easter?! There are Lenten and Easter programs to run, end of year festivities to plan, plus families are already talking about how busy May and June are going to be, and summer vacation planning is in full swing! Sheesh! The good news is, it’s not too late to plan for a summer Mission Trip. There are some great organizations out there like Incredible Days, who can take care of 90% of the details. There are pre-planned and organized trips ready for you to sign up, or you can work with a Mission Trip planning organization to develop something custom that fits your schedule. Want to do a ½ week? No problem. Have a unique destination or a specific topic in mind that really gets
your folks fired up? Absolutely. Of course, if you are fired up about getting rolling on this, especially if it’s your first Mission Trip, here are some top tips and tricks to help get everything in place before summer.
Figure out who’s going. A rough headcount is a good place to start. Maybe this is a youth group trip - will it include middle schoolers and high schoolers? Could it be an intergenerational trip? Maybe there are some great adults or some family members who want to come along and make the trip all the more vibrant and exciting.
Think about a timeframe. A mission trip doesn’t have to be a week-long event. Perhaps it’s just a weekend to dip your toes in the water. Maybe it’s a half week. It could even be a few day trips (with your folks staying overnight in your church basement? Classic!). But beware, if you’re staying local, some people will inevitably treat it like a drop-in event, coming and going as they please! That can be a logistics nightmare. Plan a Budget. People often get caught up on this. I say, where there’s a will, there’s a way. Sure families might be tight on money right now, but I’d bet dollars to donuts that you can do some fundraising, even on a short timeline. Please, please, please - skip the kitschy goods. No candle sales, candy bars, or magazines. Instead, try organizing some yard work parties this spring for older church/community members. Have them pay you and put the money toward the trip. Ask your church’s mission board if they can offer some financial support. Seek out a few folks in your church who might help sponsor the trip. Most churches have some older members who are no longer in good enough physical shape to participate, but remember their own youth ministry and mission trip experiences and would write a check to help the next generation do the same.
Book your details. You’ll need to figure out housing, food, transportation, some good local partners to volunteer with, educational programming and more. This can be a lot of work, and where it can really pay off to use a planner for your trip!
Get ready to go - and to return! Once you’ve got a trip outlined, there’s paperwork and payments, publicity and parent questions. It’s all part of the process, but it’s all worth it. Preparing your team to go with some teambuilding can be fun and keep your group engaged. And remember - you can keep that mission trip energy going after the summer too! Organize a dinner or worship service where your missionaries share the story of their trip. While you’re at it, take up a collection to start fundraising for next summer.
Sure, summer will be here before we know it, but the good news is there’s still time to get a great summer mission trip program put together. At Incredible Days, we work to help local church leaders have great mission experiences while doing good, faithful work in the communities we serve. Check out some of our prepared program options in Providence and Boston, or talk to us about designing a customized trip that works for your group and your budget. We work with all ages and are excited to be partnering with the Southern New England Conference of the UCC this summer for some great offerings!
Talk to us about how we can help create a great summer mission trip program for you.