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 the third 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, the second post HERE and the third post HERE.
You might also be interested in these posts as well: Social Birdflu: How Twitter Almost Killed Our Student Ministry and Social Birdflu Part 2: When Words Take Flight
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!
Things you should know before you get in the van continued…
1. Be the hero – plan ahead for late night food
Students are ALWAYS hungry. Take a look at your trip schedule, and find a time to be the hero with the pizza or the tacos. This goes a long way with hungry students! It may take a little leg work – some research around the area, checking into what would be to most cost effective option, making a few calls, and organizing a pick up or meeting a delivery guy – but the pay off is worth it. A late night snack is great for a hungry group, gives added time to build relationships and process the day, and lessens hallway wandering time.
2. Have plan B already planned… just in case
Due to the fact you can always expect the unexpected… its always good to go ahead an have “plan B” already prepared as you craft the schedule and in’s and out’s of your trip. Again, it may take a little extra leg work, but the pay off is well worth it!
Things that are “plan B” worthy:
Alternate travel routes
Having each student pack a change of clothes in a carry on
Alternate late night food options
Ways to keep your group occupied if you have to be flexible with your schedule (if you’ve been on a mission trip with a group, this is bound to happen).
Extra cash – just in case
3. Watch out for hidden costs
When you’re on the road, don’t forget to think ahead and prepare for hidden costs that can spring up! Toll roads, parking garage and street parking fees, hotel parking fees, vehicle issues (oil, air for tires, etc…), having to rent a roll away bed in a hotel room, and the kid that blew ALL his money at the first stop are just a few to think about!
4. Delegate responsibilities
In an earlier post I mentioned the importance of taking care of yourself on road trips – you’re the leader – you have to be on point. Part of that is also understanding that you can’t do EVERYTHING. Take a look at the schedule and what it takes to pull off the trip and ask yourself “what responsibilities can I delegate to other leaders?”
A few things to consider:
loading / unloading luggage
curfew room checks
handling students trip money
driving the van
evening or morning devotions
It may take some coaching time with your leaders, but it will take pressure off of you in the long run.
5. Middle schoolers… will be middle schoolers
Working with middle schoolers can be beautiful mayhem. Just know that going into it! They are not going to act, listen, and respond like high school students – so don’t expect them to! Build relationships with them, cater to their playfulness, capitalize on key moments to pour into their lives, and just know that middle schoolers will be middle schoolers.
Will it be crazy at times? You bet. But remember that they are your next wave of Sr highers – every moment you spend building them up is a moment you spend building the future health of your group.