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11 Steps to Safety on Your Youth Group Mission Trip

March 24, 2017 0 Comments

It is such an exciting time when planning and leading a youth group mission trip. You’ve done all the fund-raising, preparation classes, shopping and have packed everything needed and organized everything with the mission where you’ll be ministering. One of the most important items is often forgotten: Mission Safety.

Whether you’re leading your mission team into rural areas, the inner city or to a foreign land, it’s often a different culture you are stepping into and your students need to be prepared.

1. Study the culture you will be addressing. Make sure everyone on your team knows key challenges they might face. Begin with your leaders. They need to be briefed in order to keep the student missionaries safe. There are certain ways of conducting your body language that are quite different in foreign countries than in our country. We took a team to Germany and even though it’s a first-world country, we still were instructed of certain ways of conduct so as not to offend. In Jamaica, there were ways of greeting in America that are not okay there.

2. Make sure you have enlisted the leadership of someone in the area where you are going who knows the culture, the dangers and challenges. We were with a group in Costa Rica and our “national” leader knew which parks we should not go into and which ones were safe. Our leaders made sure our students listened to him and obeyed without question.

3. Your mission team leaders need to be taught to act as leaders. No one should be accepted into your leadership unless they know the possible dangers of a mission field and be able to control and demand respect. Choose mature folks for this position. Kids are being entrusted into their care.

4. Mission team leaders should go through orientation and training. There are many topics that should be reviewed with your leaders before they lead on a mission trip. Safety training should be a priority. You can divide your leaders into Key Leader, Back-up Leader, and Detail Leader. Each leader or set of leaders, depending on the size of your group should be assigned certain jobs to help everything flow and keep the group safe.

5. Your leaders and students should know airport safety. Someone can become separated from the group very quickly in an airport.A missionary who has never flown or has not been independent of their parents when traveling could become disoriented, thus very scared and the trip will not be one to remember. There are dangers in airports and no student missionary should be allowed to go off by themself.

6. Respect from your students toward your missionary hosts is very important. We had to actually send an assistant leader home one year when on a mission in Canada because he was disrespecting our hosts. It is never acceptable! Teach the team to go the extra mile in ministering to the host missionary instead of fighting against him. They are hosting your team and should be given the upmost respect. It makes his job easier and your team safer as they obey in every way.

7. Stay in a group with a leader at all times. Teach your entire team that no one is ever to venture out on his own. Everyone should be moving from place to place in groups. No one should remain at the missionary base on their own, even if the host says it’s okay.

8. Instruct your student missionaries and leaders to never enter a building or a house alone. A team usually doesn’t know an area well and it’s never safe to enter a building alone.

9. You should have an emergency plan in place. Everyone needs to know what to do if there is a natural disaster, someone gets sick or a group is separated. Give everyone on your team information about how the country’s embassy (if in a foreign land) and how to reach your host missionary when out on the field. (Even in the states)

10. Make sure everyone on your team knows when and how to take pictures. This seems so simplistic, but it can get you into trouble. Years ago, my mom was in a culture different than she lives in and began taking pictures without permission. Fortunately, only a bucket of water was thrown in her face. Apparently, she was on what was considered holy ground. Tell your team to make sure to ask first, then shoot. It shows respect. Some places we have taken teams does not let certain children photographed due to legal reasons or their personal safety.

11. Know your climate and prepare properly. Heat stroke can happen quickly. Make sure your team knows how to pack whether for cold weather or hot weather. Remember to add things like sunscreen and insect repellent to your packing list. Don’t forget that cold weather can be a challenge. While our mission team was in Germany during cool weather we had to make sure everyone stayed warm as we walked a lot in the elements.

Teen Quest is here to help you with the best mission trip possible.Safety should be of utmost concern. Parents have entrusted their children to us and we take that seriously. We put our missionaries safety a top priority during Teen Quest Mission trips.

Contact us for information on the best mission trips available. We do all the planning for your team and we host you during your entire mission experience.
We guarantee your mission trip with Teen Quest will change your life and many others as you minister to them. Our number: 814.444.9500 Our email: quest@teenquest.org

What are some safety issues you’ve run into on mission trips? Leave us a comment…

About the Author:

Debbi Witt is the Associate Director of Teen Quest. She and her husband Mark stepped out in faith to begin Teen Quest in 1976. Since then, the ministry has grown from a small Bible club program into a regional camping, missions, and ministry team ministry serving the Northeast United States. Debbi and her husband, Mark (Executive Director of Teen Quest) live in Somerset, Pennsylvania. Together they have two grown children and six grandchildren.

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