Summer missions trips are exciting for us youth workers and for our students. They are great times away together to bond and serve the Lord. But, missions trips can also mean a week of stress for families back home who are trying to run normally without the help of the youth worker spouse. Here are a handful of tips to keep in mind as you plan your summer service opportunities that will help keep both your youth group and your family happy about these experiences:
1. Include your spouse in the planning process. Even if your spouse isn’t going to go on the trip, try to incorporate their input when making decisions. If possible, allow them to have a say about the dates of the trip and the location. This will help them feel more comfortable about your absence and will give them time to arrange for help with children or company for themselves, if needed.
2. When traveling out of the country, include international minutes, texts or data into the trip budget. Mission trips are great for getting away from everyday life and a big part of that is telling your students to leave their cell phones at home. But for youth workers with children, it’s a different story. Allowing for a few international phone calls here and there has been crucial for our family, because it seems like the serious situations always hit when Jake is away on a trip. Knowing the option is there provides piece of mind for both the youth worker traveling and for the spouse at home.
3. Try to take summer vacation after your service trips. Over the years, we have found that if we take a vacation before or in-between missions trips, we end the summer exhausted. All of the rest and relaxation we were able to get on vacation is quickly undone by the week apart and by exerting so much energy leading students 24-7 on a trip. Perhaps this year you can change your schedule around to accommodate an end-of-summer vacation so you and your family can start the school year refreshed instead of fatigued.
4. If possible, take your family. This doesn’t necessarily mean your spouse comes as a leader or your kids come as participants, although that could be an option. Perhaps they could stay in a nearby hotel or with a family member in the area, so that they could join the team for part of the trip. A whole week might be a lot for younger kids, but a day or two with your family added in could be great fun for everyone.
Thanks for loving your families and students,
Jake and Melissa Kircher