Partnering with Churches for Impactful Youth Group Trips

group of young people jumping in the air at the church steps - Partnering with Churches for Impactful Youth Group Trips

Many youth leaders find that fostering community involvement is the key to successful mission trips. By working together, churches, non-profits and locals amplify their efforts and stretch resources further than they could on their own.

Ensure your trip goals align with those of the organization you choose to partner with. Look for organizations that prioritize protecting the local community.

Adopt a Street

Church youth groups often travel on choir performance trips, retreats, summer camps and mission trips. Each type of trip comes with its own key parameters and ultimate ministry objectives.

One great way to empower your youth to make a positive impact in their community is by partnering with local government agencies on city clean-up initiatives. Taking part in these activities teaches teens the importance of civic engagement and bolsters their local community’s sense of unity.

For example, Everett’s Adopt-A-Street program invites groups to participate in cleaning a specified section of street rights-of-way at least three times per year. In exchange for a time commitment, the city provides free street cleaning supplies and trash bags, as well as post-cleanup bag pick-up and disposal.

Other city clean-up initiatives involve teaching participants fashion upcycling techniques, allowing them to turn clothing that would otherwise be thrown away into fun crafts. These workshops inspire creative thinking and empower teens to repurpose and revitalize clothing items, reducing waste and promoting greener practices.

Wilderness Clean-Up Expedition

As the staffing at federal agencies that steward wilderness areas has decreased over the years, volunteers are more needed than ever to help keep wilderness trails clean. Volunteers can help by picking up trash, reporting locations of invasive plants, and working to preserve the natural habitat of the parks they’re hiking through. This type of impactful service also encourages youth to develop a greater sense of stewardship toward God’s creation and the wilderness.

For adventurous youth groups, consider a wilderness clean-up expedition where students hike trails and work to remove trash. This type of mission trip requires a lot of teamwork and teaches valuable lessons about leadership, communication, and problem-solving. Many experienced youth leaders recommend setting participation rules on this trip up front, such as requiring participants to be members of the church and attend three regular youth group meetings before they can join.

This type of trip is a great option for youth who have a desire to travel internationally but are wary about stepping into unfamiliar territory with a different culture and landscape. The remote landscape of Alaska is a bit more forgiving than foreign countries and can still provide an experience that will leave an impression on your youth.

Mobilize a Soup Kitchen on Wheels

For church youth group trips that make a difference in people’s lives, your teens can join a soup kitchen on wheels to feed individuals who face hunger. Find a local shelter or soup kitchen to work with and ask about the types of food they need most.

For example, the art-world activist collective Wide Awakes launched a mobile soup kitchen that visits different Brooklyn neighborhoods to serve meals. Featuring artwork by artists such as Azikiwe Mohammed, Korakrit Arunanondchai and Yto Barrada, the truck is a sight to behold. Yet the truck’s 500-plus meals each day are just a drop in the bucket when it comes to alleviating the area’s hunger.

Help refugee families adjust to their new homes by helping them with essentials such as housing arrangements, language learning and cultural orientation. This type of compassionate care embodies the spirit of Christ and shows your youth group members how to show love in the way Jesus did. Moreover, your young volunteers will gain invaluable cross-cultural experiences that may open their eyes to lifelong passions and opportunities in other communities. Incorporate this service project in a multifaceted church outreach initiative that also includes ongoing mentoring relationships and week-to-week Bible teachings.

Volunteer at a Community Kitchen

young people holding communion cups - Partnering with Churches for Impactful Youth Group Trips

There’s a good chance your youth group lives within a community where many of its members are struggling with food insecurity. Visiting a local community kitchen is one way to introduce teens to the challenges of living with hunger while making a tangible difference in their own town.

These community-initiated cooking-type programmes are designed to be self-sustaining once the initial period of support is over. Rather than focus on cooking skills, community kitchens typically facilitate a process of participant resilience by enabling individuals to learn the knowledge and skills needed to overcome food insecurity and social isolation.

In doing so, they can help relocalise the city’s food economy by promoting food sovereignty and food justice. Furthermore, they can also help articulate new relations between urban food consumers and farmers in a context where current initiatives and policy discourses have failed to recognise the reality and livelihood of rural food producers.

Another way for youth groups to make a difference in their local community is by partnering with local churches to address specific needs. When youth groups partner with local churches, they can pool their resources, share expertise, and coordinate their efforts to tackle issues such as food insecurity, homelessness, or elderly care. This collaborative approach not only strengthens the bonds between churches but also demonstrates the power of unity in serving others and living out the principles of faith.

Volunteer at a Shelter or Soup Kitchen

Few service projects have as much immediate impact or offer such a direct, personal experience as preparing and serving a meal at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen. Start by contacting your local shelter to find out their food needs, whether they accept families, and any age restrictions. Then plan your trip, taking into account how many people will be served.

Soup kitchens provide an important safety net for those in need, helping them to bridge the gap between their income and the cost of living. They also serve as a place of community, giving people who are often isolated and stigmatized a space to come together and share their stories.

Many volunteers who have worked at shelters and soup kitchens report that the experience opened their eyes to the scale of food insecurity and homelessness, encouraging them to take action to address these societal issues. However, it’s important to note that a soup kitchen is not a cure-all solution. To make a lasting difference, the root causes of these issues must be addressed, including increased affordable housing, job opportunities and social welfare programs. In addition, some shelters partner with other organizations to provide additional support services for their guests, such as medical vans, legal assistance and HIV/AIDS outreach workers.

Volunteer at an Elderly Care Facility

Elderly care, sometimes referred to as aged care, encompasses an extensive range of services intended to help elderly individuals maintain their independence and quality of life. This can include assisted living, adult daycare, long-term care, nursing homes (often called residential care), and hospice care.

Offer fashion workshops facilitated by church youth group members, who inspire participants to unleash their creativity and repurpose clothing items, thereby decreasing waste. This initiative also helps older adults connect with younger generations, bridging generational gaps and fostering a sense of community.

Encourage youth to share their lives with seniors, learning from the invaluable wisdom they possess. This can help build healthy and loving relationships, and foster compassion and gratitude for the elderly population.

Ensure that your volunteer program is safe by performing periodic risk control assessments. In addition, send out quarterly volunteer, staff and resident satisfaction surveys to measure how well your program is working. This helps mitigate any possible elder abuse concerns and allows you to continually improve the experience for everyone involved.

Collaborate with Habitat for Humanity

Building homes for families in need of safe and affordable housing is a huge undertaking. In order to build a house, it takes many volunteers working together. It also requires a lot of materials and equipment. To address this need, companies like DuPont and others have partnered with Habitat for Humanity to provide construction solutions.

This organization is nondenominational and open to people of all faiths and backgrounds. It believes that every person deserves a decent place to live. The organization is successful in changing local land and zoning policies to help families afford homes.

The organization also teaches the importance of homeownership to families. Unlike other housing programs that offer free homes to families, Habitat for Humanity requires a down payment and “sweat equity” on their home. These efforts are helping more than 13.4 million families around the world build or improve their homes. This helps them break the cycle of poverty and lead healthier lives. Other programs help them make their homes more energy-efficient or accessible with features such as wheelchair ramps. This provides a sustainable solution to housing problems that are difficult to solve on a local level. As a result, companies that sponsor a Habitat for Humanity project can leave their name on the building as a sign of commitment to the community over the long term.

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