Hey, ministry leaders. We put a ton of work into our student camps, trips, and retreats, don’t we? I mean, between the budget, programming, transportation, food, questions from parents, the registrations, the late registrations, and the so-late-they-actually-never-even-registered-and-just-showed-up registrations . . . Well, it takes a lot of work to pull these things off. But today, let’s take a second to remember that we’re not the only ones working hard on these trips. Our volunteers are working pretty hard, too. And, hey. Let’s be honest. Sometimes, I think our volunteers have an even more difficult job than we do. So before we plan our next round of camps, trips, or weekend retreats, let’s take a second to remind ourselves just how hard our teams work during these things, shall we?
20 THINGS VOLUNTEERS DO ON YOUTH TRIPS
1. They use their vacation days.
Because, sadly, most people don’t get to count quality time with teenagers as a work day.
2. They miss their families.
Or, perhaps, even more devastating . . .
3. They miss their favorite TV shows.
4. They ride a bus. Twice.
I’m convinced the time our leaders spend on these bus rides are the equivalent of, like, a month of quality time. They’re a big deal. A huge deal. Also, those buses seem to never have air conditioning, so I’m pretty sure they get each of your leaders an extra jewel in their heavenly crowns.
5. They don’t sleep.
Between the sugar highs, the pranks, the late-night talks, and the fact that they’re probably sleeping in a sleeping bag in not-exactly-optimal sleeping quarters, four hours of sleep per night should be considered a success for your average volunteer.
6. They spend their money (and suitcase space) on candy and energy drinks.
They bought it for their students, of course . . . but they usually rethink that strategy once the sleep deprivation sets in.
7. They probably get terrible cell service wherever you are.
8. They have to eat camp food.
But seriously. The struggle.
9. They get sweaty, dirty, and muddy.
10. They dance.
At least, I hope they do. If an entire camp or retreat passes without at least once dance party, you’ve got a problem, my friend.
11. They sing. And, if they do it right . . .
12. They lose their voices.
13. They take selfies.
So many selfies.
14. They pretend everything doesn’t smell like sweaty, dirty teenagers.
This requires a pretty active imagination, to be honest.
15. They tend wounds.
16. They wipe tears.
17. They give hugs.
18. They manage outbreaks of teenage emotions.
19. They dispense words of wisdom.
And one more. Because when it’s all over, they’ll finally…
20. Spend a whole week recovering.
Yeah. Your volunteers have a pretty big job on their hands. So the next time you plan a retreat, a camp, or a trip for your students, don’t forget, your volunteers are a really big deal. You can’t do this without them. So as you plan, plan with them in mind.
What do they need?
How can you make things easier for them?
What will make them feel loved?
How will you celebrate them?
Your volunteers make some pretty big sacrifices for their students. And they do it all as volunteers. They set aside their lives, their families, and their other many responsibilities. And they do it all . . .
to show a few kids that they matter.
to give them a place to belong.
to create an experience they’ll remember forever.
and to help them see they’re loved – not just by them, but by the God who made them, too.