FAQ

From Ann Dickensheets, Bozeman UMC  406-586-5413

How far in advance do you begin planning a youth mission trip?

I start making arrangements for our mission in October and try to have everything finalized before Christmas.

How do you decide where you will go? 

I have found our mission trip destinations in a variety of ways over the years.  I have tried to limit our trips to places that are not more than a day’s drive away, and I try to vary the kinds of mission work we do.  So, with those two restrictions in mind, when I want to do a mission that focuses on serving the poor and homeless, I choose a city where we haven’t been before, and start making phone calls.  We have been to Seattle, Denver, Salt Lake, Rapid City, and Calgary.  Other times I take our group to places that have had some natural disaster and are looking for volunteers.  We have been to Mississippi, after the Hurricane Katrina, (we flew) Minot, ND, after flooding of the mouse River in 2011, and Boulder, Co after their flooding.  Sometimes I want us to serve close to home.  On two different occasions we have put on VBS and done some work around the church in Browning, on the Blackfeet Reservation, and one summer we spent the week at Camp on the Boulder doing work for them around the camp.  

What kind of fundraisers have you done for this purpose? 

We have one fundraiser for our mission trip each year – a breakfast, cooked and served by our youth on Easter Sunday.  Late, right before we leave, we also ask members of our congregation to sponsor a youth for $25 (I try to get several sponsors per kid, and then, on the trip, I have them write a postcard to thank their sponsor and let them know what we’ve been doing).  I try to keep the trips very economical and can usually limit our expenses for a group of 25 youth and 5 adults to something under $10,000.  The money we raise from those two things plus money set aside for youth mission in the church budget and $220 from each youth covers the trip expenses.  The $220 paid by the kids covers all expenses of the trip for them, including one meal out and whatever we do for fun on our Wednesday afternoon and Saturday days off.

Please list the places you have taken a group. 

The first phone call I make is to Methodist churches in the area for a place to stay.  It is helpful if they have showers, but we have survived without if there is a YMCA or city pool nearby where we can shower.  You can find the churches listed online.  The churches where we stay are often very helpful suggesting organizations where we can volunteer.  I also use the internet for find social service agencies to contact and often after talking with them will get more suggestions.

What span of ages do you usually take and would recommend?

We take youth entering 8th grade to youth just graduated from high school.  We used to take youth entering 7th grade as well but found the majority are just too young and have a hard time with the work and being away from home.

From your experience (s), what should persons planning be sure and think about? 

I plan a 4 ½ day work week for our mission trip.  We drive on Sunday, begin work on Monday, take a half-day for fun on Wednesday, and finish work on Friday afternoon.  On Saturday, we have a fun day at some local attraction. On our trip to Calgary, we spent Wednesday afternoon at the Calgary Stampede and Saturday hiking in Banff.  I always take the kids out for one meal.  We drive home on Sunday. 

Chaperones?

For a group of 25, I like five or six chaperones.  We usually take two passenger vans and another van for cargo, so it’s nice to have extra drivers.  They are assigned to a family group and to help direct the chores and facilitate their family group’s devotion time each night.

What other suggestions do you have for a leader of youth? 

Our mission team is divided into “Family Groups” before we leave.  We have nightly devotions with our family groups and we do our daily chores with them.  We do all of our own cooking on our mission trips and each day each family group is assigned either a meal to prepare or a cleaning up chore.

I have three mandatory mission meetings before we go so that everyone knows about the trip and clearly knows the expectations of them on the trip.  It also helps start some of the bonding that is so important to a successful trip.

I have some forms that I routinely hand out for each mission trip and would be happy to share them with anyone interested.

What is the most challenging part of planning or executing a mission trip and what advice would you give to others to face this challenge? 

Be flexible and try not to get uptight.  There are always things that come up that you didn’t expect.  You want this to be fun as well as work for the youth.  It is also important that the youth know beforehand what your expectations are, what you will or will not tolerate, and what the associated consequences... and choose fun chaperones!  You’ll have a great time!

 

From Meg White, St. Paul's UMC  406-442-5643

How far in advance do you begin planning a youth mission trip?

About a year in advance.

How do you decide where you will go? 

I just keep my eyes open for opportunities.  I talk to people and then get a couple different options and I bring the choice to the youth and to my adult volunteers.

What kind of fundraisers have you done for this purpose?

Youth served breakfast, mystery nights, selling gift certificates, collecting change, car washes, Wednesday night dinners, bake sales.

Please list the places you have taken a group.

DOORS program in Denver Colorado, Mission work at Flathead United Methodist Church Camp, World Vision Immokalee Florida, Youth Works in Yakima Washington, UMCOR West in Salt Lake City.

What span of ages do you usually take and would recommend?

Youth going into 7th grade through seniors. 

From your experience (s), what should persons planning be sure and think about? 

Have experienced adults to help chaperone the trip (adults who have a good rapport with youth).  Have team meetings to prepare and educate about the destination.  Plan details including daily devotions, sleeping arrangements, food, where you will stop for breaks, transportation in general, medical release forms, and first aid kits.  Keep money (for meals out, etc) in envelopes for each day.  Solidify plans for the mission work.  You don’t want to get there and not have things lined up.

Chaperones? Suggestions on ratio of kids to adults? 

One adult to five youth.

What is the most challenging part of planning or executing a mission trip and what advice would you give to others to face this challenge? 

Getting all of the details ready to go… stay on top of planning in advance.  Everything should be planned and scheduled so that when the unexpected things happen, like they always do, you can focus on those things.