My own high school youth group was a huge part of my life and my faith formation. It is one of the things that helped nudge me toward becoming a pastor. And one of the best parts of that youth group was our annual summer mission trip. In Tennesee, Montana, and New York, we helped build homes, prepare yards, and clear trails. We sang songs, played games, ate and laughed and prayed together. We connected with each other and with God. It was great!
But until this summer, I had never been an adult leader on one of these mission trips. I didn’t think too much about that as I prepared to take the youth of First and Beckville on a Youthworks mission trip, but as I organized their health forms the night before we left, it hit me: I was taking five teenagers from Minnesota to Kansas City, and I was the adult.
I was the adult. I was the one named in the health forms. You know the forms that say, “If something terrible happens, Pastor Maggie will decide what to do.” I was bringing five great (and healthy) teenagers on this trip, but still: I was nervous.
As it turned out, the trip went almost ridiculously well. We had no problems with our vehicle, we didn’t get lost, nobody lost any valuables or broke any bones, and everyone had a great time experiencing Kansas City, getting to know each other and youth from other churches, and serving the community together. Seriously, Youthworks could make one of their promo videos about our group. We loved it!
And I’ll tell you a secret. Being a youth on a mission trip is great, but being an adult is way better. You get special snacks every day. You get to sample McDonald’s Cafe drinks while the youth shower at the YMCA. You get to choose the “fun activity” at the end of trip. You get a present from Youthworks before you head home.
Best of all: you get to see your youth have the same incredible experience you had when you were in their shoes. And it is, as any Youthworks staff member would say, “awesome and amazing.”