The road trip is one of the greatest things about student ministry. Adventure. Memories. Laughs…God-awful smells from the back of the van. This is second post in a 6 part series on the things you should know before you get in the van with a bunch of students and go somewhere. You can find the first post HERE.
These are insights that I have picked up mostly from getting my tail kicked by experience. The better prepared you are to handle life on the road, the better chance you have to provide an experience that your students will never forget!
1. As the leader of the trip, take care of yourself!
As the leader, it’s on you! Rest up before hand, because you know you won’t get any rest during the trip! You’ll spend your days driving, directing traffic, solving conflicts and initiating plan “b”… your nights will be all about making sure your kids don’t sneak out, pull pranks and get into any other mischief.
Plan ahead so you don’t have to scramble later
Plan ahead so you can actually get the rest you need instead of packing at the last minute
Delegate to other leaders so you can have some down time during the trip
2. Transportation problems will happen
Your old-school church van with a million miles shouldn’t be trusted. Take care of a few things before you hit the road, and lessen the chance of super-frustrating auto woes springing up.
Get the oil changed
Check the tires
Check the trailer hitch and connections
Check the trailer tires (speaking out of personal experience on this one!)
Make sure you have a spare (yeah… more personal experience…)
Make sure you have the necessities – jack, flashlight, first aid kit, etc..
3. Make friends with the bus driver
If you have the luxury of not having to drive, do yourself a favor and make friends with the bus driver! They’re a strange breed, and its in your best interest to get on their good side. Let’s face it, your schedule is in their hands.
4. Over communicate everything
When teens are AMPED about being on a trip, they’re not always going to get everything you’re saying. They’ll be talking about what just happened, joking around, flirting with someone, texting the person in the row in front of them, listening to their ipod, etc… Even leaders won’t hear it all – they’ll be trying to sleep because the kid in their room that didn’t, telling some one “don’t do that,” or on the phone with the other van that just got lost… Over communicate everything: plans for the day, meeting times, road rules, and the like.
Meet with your leaders in the morning and talk through the day
Meet with your leaders in the evening and remind them of any guidelines, and prep them for the following day
Use your leaders to relay messages to all the students
Announce, announce again, repeat.
“Write the vision down…” hand out schedules for the day, weekend, etc…
5. Get cell numbers, use mass text, etc…
Technology makes keeping up with your students a whole lot easier! Use it! One great thing is the fact that most teens have cell phones – gather the numbers and remind your group via text about meet up times, what’s coming up, etc…
Have a “wish I would have known before I got in the van” story? I’d love to hear it!