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* What to (and not to) bring on a Youth Missions Trip

July 29, 2015

In having spent a fair amount of time away from home, “en brousse” in Madagascar and now on a variety of youth missions trips here in the US, In so doing I have worked on trying to figure out what to (and not to) bring along. A good place to start this process is the list provided by the site you’re going to (if they do) as this will give you some sense for what is recommended both to bring and to leave home.

In terms of clothes, I tend to bring more than I need, but then again as an adult I figure I need to be at least a bit cleaner than the youth I’m working with. Since these trips have  been in the summer and tend to be whwhat to bring checklistere it’s warm and you tend to be working on these trips, often outside, I’ve found that for most of the time a couple pair of short pants and several t-shirts work for most things. I do bring along a few warm things in part because I don’t bother anymore with a sleeping bag given most of the time you’re sleeping somewhere that’s not air conditioned and can be quite warm, so if I do get chilly at night I just slip on a sweatshirt and generally am fine. While I wash clothes when I travel on work internationally, I’ve found on youth mission trips days tend to be very full from early in the morning till late at night. Finding a place to hang wet clothes also gets a bit complicated when staying in a church, which is generally where we’ve stayed.

Regarding one’s sleeping quarters on these trips, it’s generally the floor of something, often a church, most of the time without ac, I’ve found that I do much better dealing with a hot and at times noisy room full of youth at night by bringing a fan along as there never seem to be enough of these. I have one small enough to fit in my suitcase that runs on electricity or batteries, as I don’t sleep if I’m too hot and the only way I’m coming anywhere close to keeping up with youth during the day is by sleeping at night. In terms of what to sleep on, while I’ve tried sleeping pads, I’m generally happier getting my noise a bit further off the floor than these do, so I now carry a cot. Insofar as we generally travel in what can be very crowded vans, I’ve invested in one designed to fold up small. I don’t recommend inexpensive inflatable mattresses as too often I’ve seen folks end up sleeping on the floor if they don’t hold air or spring a leak. I also bring along my CPAP as I sleep better and with a lot less snoring when I’m using this. Make sure you bring an extension cord for things like this, a fan, chargers (see below), etc. Finally, make sure you bring along a flashlight, as lights out is when they say it is If you’re not quite ready for it, you’ll be fumbling in the dark!

In terms of electronics, I prefer bringing a digital camera along with my smart phone which also has one. This in part because keeping things charged can be a challenge and because a digital camera has some extra bells and whistles that can be helpful at times. If I had found my iPad before my last trip I would have brought that along as well, as trying to post and comment on pictures on our church’s Youth FaceBook page, something I now try to do daily for the folks back home, is a lot easier with a bit more screen and keyboard to work with. I bring along a variety of chargers, both wall and car, to keep things charged as much as possible. One rule of thumb I use is all my most valuable electronics need to fit into my backpack that’s with me at all times, as generally there’s no place to lock things up where we’re staying.

In summary, I find this to be a combination of less is more while at the same time making sure I bring along some extras.

From → Mission Trips

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