Guest post by Catherine Workman
Putting together a mission trip is a great way to allow your church group to learn about other cultures and offer help to those who are less fortunate, but it can be overwhelming at the same time as there is a lot to think about. Planning a trip for a large number of people involves quite a few details.
Your planning should start with a well-organized list of things that need to be done before you leave, as well as things that will need to be packed, and dates/times for every part of the trip. Be sure to make copies of the itinerary for everyone in the group, and create a contact list so that everyone has access to phone numbers for family members and the church.
Here are some of the best tips for planning a safe, happy mission trip for your group.
Gather support from the community
Mission trips require quite a bit of funding and supplies, so it’s important to garner support from your community and the church itself well before the trip takes place. You might hold a fundraiser at the church, or set up a donation box for members to place food, blankets, toiletries, and other supplies your group can take to your destination. Have matching t-shirts made up for the entire group to wear in order to spread the word about your trip and help make group members easy to spot and keep track of while you’re exploring your destination.
One of the most important parts of planning the trip is getting organized. Keep all the information regarding the mission trip in one place; consider starting a blog or website only for the trip where members can share info and photos, and update it several times a week to keep everyone on the same page. Some of the information you might put on the blog includes how to go about getting or updating a passport, what to pack, and FAQs about mission trips for those who are new to it.
Do some research
It’s imperative that you and the other leaders in your group do some research on your destination so everyone will know how to behave and stay safe. Traveling outside the U.S. can be tricky where different customs are concerned, and the laws may be very different regarding legal drinking age, so educate your group about what to expect.
Mission trips are wonderful growing experiences for young people, but they can also take a toll on emotions due to cramped quarters, long days, and homesickness. It’s important to make sure the group spends some time together before the trip outside of church, so plan for a few evenings out where the members can have fun, relax, and get to know one another.
Encourage everyone to make a packing list that they can share on the team’s blog to improve efficiency. If you know you’ll need to take supplies to your destination, you might want to arrange to have them shipped ahead of time so you don’t have to worry about them getting lost in transit. It’s also a good idea to buy matching luggage tags for each member of the group so your bags will be easy to find.
Remember if you have several young people on the trip that they may need their space and time to themselves now and then. Don’t overplan every day; instead, allow everyone a little downtime in which to relax, call home, and explore the area. Most of all, soak up every sight, experience, and learning opportunity your journey has to offer.
About the author: Catherine Workman believes we should all leave our comfort zones once in a while. She uses travel to boost her physical and mental health. She is part of a great team at WellnessVoyager.
Photo via Pixabay by Unsplash