5 LAST MINUTE HACKS FOR MISSION TRIPS
*Covid-19 Disclaimer: If you are unable to take a trip this summer, save this one. If you are able to take a Short Term Mission trip, enjoy these last minute hacks and remember to follow your local, state, and federal guidelines for the safety of your students and those they are serving.
Congratulations! You’ve finally arrived. You selected a mission trip site, got approval from leadership, and you’ve recruited a team. In a shocking move, that one helicopter parent is allowing their student to go… without them! Your group has done ALL THE THINGS and you have finally raised the last bit of support needed. Final confirmations with field partners, transportation companies, and lodging have been completed.
The process has been exhausting, but you’re nearly ready to leave and you couldn’t be more excited for the trip. Now what?
Now it’s time to make sure you’re set up for success with a few last-minute hacks. These hacks will allow your trip to run smoothly, and keep you in the mix rather than feeling like a tour guide for the week. Better yet, some of these hacks can help you capitalize on the unique opportunities that mission trips provide. Here are five last-minute hacks, you can execute as late as the day you leave.
Duh? Or so we think. But seriously, pray. It’s so easy to slip into “task” mode as we lead a mission trip. We’re always thinking about what’s next, who is where, and how everyone is doing that personally praying before the day begins, and as the day progresses, can easily become an afterthought. Find a few minutes before the day begins to pray. Additionally, consider setting some timers in your phone to remind you to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
HAVE A MOTTO.
What is a simple, memorable, and significant phrase that can serve as a guiding motto for your week? I’ve found that having a guiding phrase for the week can be a unifying and motivating force as the trip progresses. Share it with the group prior to departure and then remind them of it through the week. My personal go to is, “Have Patience, Be Flexible, Love Others, Serve Well.” This motto has proven itself versatile and highly applicable to any situation my teams have faced on the field. I’ve had students recite it to me years after they have graduated high school!
LABEL YOUR VANS AND KEYS.
This seems like a no-brainer, but it took me a few trips to figure this one out! Mission trips tend to be the occasions we find ourselves renting multiple similar-looking vehicles. Print large numbers in pairs of two. Place one in a bottom corner of the windshield of the van and another in the bottom corner of a rear window. Use the corresponding number for each set of keys (write on masking tape), and VOILA, you’ve just saved your students and leaders the frustration of constantly having to figure out which van and keys are theirs!
DELEGATE, DELEGATE, DELEGATE.
Mission Trips provide you with a unique opportunity to build relationships and make memories through the shared experience. However, many of the tasks of “managing” the trip can take us away from those meaningful times with students. For this reason, it’s important to delegate some of the “hats” prior to the trip. What leader can serve as your go-to for “First Aid”? Do you have a detail oriented leader who can receive paperwork, payments, and track your receipts while on the trip? Who can you delegate photography to, so that you can be in the moment instead of taking pictures of it?
Short-term Mission Trips have the power to create moments in which students and adult leaders rise to occasions our regular programming does not typically provide. They are in an environment where most of them are already out of their comfort zone. Why not be strategic with this time? Consider inviting students and leaders to facilitate a devotion or daily debrief with the team. Invite them to lead a group prayer time. Task them with a trip project. Give away as much ownership of the trip as possible! The empowerment and growth your team members will experience will be profound.
Mission trips are A LOT of work, but the experience can be invaluable in the spiritual formation of both students and leaders. These trips have the ability to teach them how to be “on mission” for Jesus each and every day of their lives. Little else is as rewarding for your group as seeing how their contribution of a week of time can have lasting impact in both physical and spiritual ways.
Focus in and squeeze every last drop of potential out of this year’s trip!
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.