If you read Part 1 of this two-part list last week, you have already completed (or are on your way to checking off) the first three items on your post mission trip to-do list:
- A Parent Resource
- The Follow-Up Surveys
- Space for Students to Share
Read Part 1: Your (Post) Mission Trip To Do List
Now, let’s talk about three things you can do to ensure next year’s mission trips go even more smoothly than this past summer’s. No, we can’t guarantee there won’t be sickness—viral, bacterial, home, or other. And there’s really no way to ensure everyone gets along and goes to sleep at a reasonable hour. However, you have a chance right now to leverage the passion and momentum that will launch you into the next year of mission trips, or you can drop it and move to the next thing… and start from scratch again next year. So here are a few simple steps you can take to make sure what you learned this year and the momentum you have in these post-mission trip weeks isn’t lost before you begin planning for next year!
1. Document Everything
Okay, maybe not everything. You probably won’t need to know each student and leader’s bowel movement schedules (actually, that might be helpful information when traveling abroad. We’ll leave that one up to you), but you may want to remember what worked and what didn’t, especially if you plan to return to the same destination.
So while it’s still fresh, type it up your answers to the following questions and save it in a folder labeled for next year’s trip.
- Do you feel like the students were well-prepared for what they were going to experience beforehand?
- What food did the students particularly love, hate, or love to hate?
- What were some of the best and worst things about the place you stayed?
- How was transportation?
- Was there anything you wished you’d brought with you?
- Was there something you brought with you but really didn’t need?
- What stood out to the students that you want to be sure to recreate?
- Did anything seem like wasted energy?
2. Leverage the Momentum
It’s never too early to plan the big picture for next year. Go ahead and pick the dates. Let this be the first thing on your summer calendar. So when your students get excited about the stories they are telling (and hearing) about this year’s trips, they have a set date to look forward to.
Your students and leaders are eager to share. Collect pictures and videos now to promote next year’s trips.
While staff and volunteers are still freshly passionate about their trip(s), lay out your project timeline for the next mission trip. Spread it out over 12 months rather than two. And make sure you weave the message of the mission trip into your weekly programming throughout the year so that your veterans stay engaged and new attendees get excited.
3. Identify Key Advocates
This will probably be your favorite step because it’s one that takes tasks off your plate. Don’t get bogged down planning and promoting the trip on your own. Not only do you not have time for that, you are missing out on a group of people eager to help! The secret sauce to growing your mission programs is delegation.
- Who from your team can you picture leading a trip one day?
- Who can’t stop talking about their experience?
- Who is well spoken and passionate?
- Who is asking how to stay involved?
- Who has influence?
These student leaders, parents, and adult volunteers are eager and ready to keep the mission trip conversation going so you don’t have to carry the full weight of it all year!
So that’s it!
Six action steps you can do now to make your life easier, your mission trips more enjoyable, and your students and volunteers more impactful. Because while what you do each week is crucial, authentic faith is grown outside your comfort zone.
Missed the first three steps? Read them here.
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We created a free resource for you! It’s an editable 12–month mission trip project timeline to help you begin to lay the tracks for the next mission trip season. Click HERE to download your free timeline.