After I had led my first spring break trip, complete with selecting a project, recruiting students, renting vans and figuring out how to haul all of the luggage and supplies we needed, another director from another campus said to me, "oh, you could have just teamed up with us." And I thought, "What a great idea. Wish I had thought of that a few months ago."
It never occurred to me that I might find someone else who had led dozens of trips, and learned from them that first year. And years later, as I talk to college leaders around the country, I am still learning and hearing great ideas. So, if this is your first or fortieth trip, here are a few ideas gathered from the field of college ministry.
- You don't have to do it alone. Learn from my experience! If you've not already planned your trip, ask another group if you can team up with them on their trip. Or find out through social media who else is doing a trip similar to yours. Ask them for advice. Find out how they are planning their trip. If they have been before they may have valuable info to help you as you plan for ministry and travel.
- Ownership is important. Even in the planning, find ways to share responsibilities with the students who are going on the trip. Designate a student to be in charge of prayer, trip promotion, social media communication, etc. Students will be more invested and have a greater sense of purpose on the trip if they are a part of leading it.
- Use your resources. The great benefit of being part of the local church is that you have other adults in your church that can be a great resource to you. Recruit adults with specific skills that your group needs, even if they have never been involved in the college ministry. Someone who likes to drive the van for church trips. A retired contractor that would love to help supervise on a construction project. An empty-nester mom who could cook meals for your group during the week (and drive vans. Who doesn't need more van drivers, right? ). Students will love getting to know them, and you might even pick up some new college ministry volunteers in the process.
- A small group can still serve. If recruiting hasn't been what you thought it would be for your trip, don't cancel. Regroup. If the project you've chosen isn't feasible with the size of group you have, find another project or team up with another group. Cancellations are a group killer. Make sure students see that you are committed to them and to the mission you have asked them to be a part of. You might want to recruit more of those adult volunteers to fill your team! It will be a great experience for them and for your students.
What would you add? Share your great ideas and mission trip planning advice with us on Facebook! We want to learn from you! Share with us on our Facebook page.