Jun2ThuJune 2, 2016
Imagine leading a youth trip without chaperons… The thought is painful isn’t it?
The hard work our adult volunteers do behind the scenes and out on the mission sites is significant, to say the least.
Whether you’re a veteran youth leader or a newbie volunteer who just raised their hand to help out and the next thing you know you’re helping lead a group of middle school students on a trip to Puerto Rico… here are things we can all remember to help us be the most awesome chaperon this summer.
Through leading tons of youth groups from all over the country, we’ve come to learn something: Leaders almost always set the tone for the attitude of the students.
This means that if leaders are frustrated, students will be frustrated. If leaders are discontent, students will be discontent. However, if leaders handle the unexpected bumps in the trip with patience and grace, students pick up on that attitude too.
One of the best ways to assure your students behave well, learn more about the love of God, and get the most out of their mission trip experience, is by remaining flexible and patient with your group and with your staff members.
Engage in the chapel services.
We all want our students to experience the love of God and be engaged in worship. Sometimes, our students just need permission to be themselves and not be embarrassed about singing or raising their hands in worship. One way they can do that is by looking up to their leaders. If you’re fully engaged in the worship service and freely worshiping without worrying about the people around you, then your students will take your lead and begin to do the same.
Often times we can be a spiritual leader for our students without saying anything, but by just letting them see our hearts open before God.
Find moments with your students.
Just attending the mission trip and helping with logistics is not enough. Whether your students make it known or not, they want someone to look up to and learn from, and just be able to hang out with. On the mission site, find moments when you can encourage your students. Ask them questions about what they’re experiencing on the trip so far. Ask them about how they’ve seen God lately.
Don’t get to the end of the trip and realize that you’ve had the most perfectly organized trip but haven’t had a meaningful conversation with your students.
Disconnect along with your students.
A lot of youth leaders make it mandatory for students to disconnect from their friends back home by fasting from social media during the week. Most of the time it requires taking students’ phones away until the last day of camp, which some aren’t always happy about. But disconnecting for a week does so much for the group’s ability to bond with one another.
Without distractions, students are talking and playing games with one another, and this gives you an even greater opportunity to connect with your students. Try disconnecting along with your students and you may be surprised at how fasting from social media impacts you too!
Support your staff member.
It’s easy to take the lead on the mission site, especially if you have a background in construction work or have some experience in inner city homeless ministry. Our staff appreciates the special skill chaperons can bring to the mission site, but it severely hurts the trip when those skilled chaperons take ownership over the site, leaving the assigned staff member without a leading role.
Staff members are there to not only give guidance on how to do the project in the most efficient way, but they’re there to invest in your students spiritually and encourage them. Be on their team and invest in your students together.
Remember, how leaders respect others is directly related to how students will respect others.
Do something out of the ordinary and create a memory.
Mission trips are about way more than the work we do together. They’re about bonding together as a group. Try try to create spontaneous, fun memories together like…
Making up a song in the van ride.
Treating everyone to ice cream after a hot day of working.
Instead of just hanging around after the mission site, getting everyone at camp to play a group game.