First Third Conversations

Ready for an Adventure: Leading Youth Trips

A blog post by Tashina Good 

Image Credit: Tashina Good

Who doesn’t love the idea of going on a summer youth group trip? You get to hang out with youth, have an amazing faith experience, and fun is bound to happen. Planning for a trip and being “in charge” as you go on one is a completely different story than being a participant.

Almost three years ago, I was tasked for the first time with leading a mission trip. I had already worked with the youth for about a year and had been on a mission trip as both a youth and as a chaperone prior to that, so I thought it was going to be super easy. Quickly I learned that having attended a mission trip does not always prepare you for the crazy and amazing adventures that I have experienced over the past three years of planning and leading trips.

Some of these adventures I have experienced and learned from are:

  • Not every church is willing to host you overnight. Some will love you and others will hang up on you.
  • There is always one youth who will test your authority on the first day, be prepared.
  • Running two fundraisers a month all year long will give you grey hairs before you even leave.
  • Stopping to take pictures of state signs on busy highways is a terrible idea and quite dangerous.
  • Youth like to get 15 passenger vans to rock back and forth (also dangerous, mini-vans are maybe a better idea).
  • When a church graciously hosts you overnight it is a good idea to bring a plunger along.
  • Making sure to explain why picking up hitch hikers is dangerous should be something done before you find them headed towards your van.
  • When on a camping trip do not use a pocket knife if you are not skilled in using one for stitch worthy cuts are not fun in the wilderness (especially if they are on you!).
  • Laughing fits are one of God’s greatest creations.
  • Contrary to popular belief, young people can survive without their cell phones for at least up to ten days. Do not give in.
  • Most importantly, being overly structured and able to go with the flow simultaneously is an amazing gift. If you have said gift I envy you.

Through all the mayhem and unpredictable circumstances, the beauty and purpose of these trips come to surface. Every time I think of the above-mentioned events they are coupled with:

  • The images of last minute chaperones stepping out of their comfort zone and bonding with their child at a new level
  • The knowledge that a young person was finally able to come out with an issue they are having and seek help
  • Seeing siblings work through their differences both on the trip and continuing after
  • Above all seeing Christ work through the lives of people you know and care for is beyond explanation.

When you are leading a mission trip, you are going to serve those you are leading and that does not end when everyone gets home. Take every adventure with an open mind and with the willingness to let Christ work through it to teach you something. It is the lives that are changed that make a youth leader dive back in year after year. That, and you can always count on a great story!

Author Bio:
Tashina Good is the Coordinator of Youth Ministries at Trinity Lutheran Church in North Branch, MN. She is a candidate in the Deaconess Community of the ELCA and is currently working on her M.A. in Children, Youth, and Family Ministries at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN. When not at church or school, Tashina is an American Sign Language Interpreter, an avid bookworm, and a budding cyclist.

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