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* Why are you here on this youth missions trip? As in what is your role as an adult volunteer?

July 29, 2015

I have found a very important question to ask oneself when going on and then being on a missions trip is, “Why are you here?” (I know that’s a question my kids also asked of me whenever I ended up going on one of their mission trips!)
The way I view this is that with just a few exceptions the key thing to be remembering as an adult volunteer is that while you may be one of not very many adults, and, as now in my case, you may be quite or even a lot older than your youth ministry staff, you are there as a VOLUNTEER. This means letting your youth ministry staff lead with you providing support, backup, etc. It also may include some mentoring (if your staff is open to this) and lots of support. Humor is also generally helpful.mission-trip-group

A second thing to remember is that this is a YOUTH missions trip. For me this means not doing things youth can (and maybe should be but are not yet) doing. I thus try to be more of a manager when out on work sites, supporting what’s going on, identifying youth who look like they need something to do (or at times putting an end to things they may be doing that they shouldn’t). Since ensuring the safety of your youth is a big part of why you’re along, you should be thinking of this as much as possible. For example, on one of my trips I had a youth in my small group who was very allergic to a certain type of food (as in start with the epi shot). My job was to carry the epi pen and use it as necessary. I realized after the fact, though, that while we had played bingo with the residents of a Nursing Home in their dining room after lunch, I had not checked before hand to see what the residents had eaten for lunch? So I find it’s something I need to be constantly working on remembering.

A third thing to remember is that you’re an ADULT along on the trip. This means acting like one. As in not getting drunk or bouncing kids off their sleeping mattresses into walls, not slamming on the brakes of the van you’re driving and yelling out “Seatbelt check!” when it’s full of kids. Not making passes at the staff or being the biggest problem the staff has to deal with the week you’re at their site. Not ditching the kids, even leaving the site for extended periods of time. All things I have either seen or our youth have told me about after the fact. What you should be doing is ensuring the safety of your youth, talking with staff as necessary if needed. Also ensuring there’s more than enough to eat (as in going out to buy some more bread, cereal, etc. if not). In my case it means drinking my coffee in the morning to make sure I’m awake by the time I’m needed.

A final thing to remember is that this is a MISSIONS trip. As in one of the things everyone should be working on before, during and after the trip is why do we do this? (the good Lord calls us to) How do we do it well? (a lot harder than many people assume which many “missions” trips are at best a waste of up to a lot of money and at worst, cause more harm than good) I clearly remember the director of a Lutheran camp our church’s kids go to talking with our Senior Pastor, asking him how the camp could be supportive to our congregation? Our pastor’s answer was short and simple but also profound: “Work on faith development of our kids.” Amen to that.

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From → Mission Trips

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