It’s one thing to go on a mission trip, but another entirely to plan one for a group of people. This page is a short guide for mission coordinators on planning, resources, and insurance.
Determine location and mission: If you’re going through your church, do they have a sister parish in another state or country? They may have a mission that you can visit. Or are you going through an agency? An agency will have many options for you to choose from that fit your timeline and mission, which is also important.
Your mission is what you want to accomplish while you are there. Do you want to build something for a third world village? Do you want to tend to the sick in a clinic? If you already have a group, what are they most interested in doing? If you don’t have a group yet, what do you think will attract the most people to your mission trip?
Domestic/international: Do you have the budget to travel abroad, or would a domestic trip be more realistic? Consider the desires and budget of your group/potential group and decide what would be best.
Budget: How much are you willing to let your group spend? Do you want your adult volunteers to have to pay, or do you want them to be able to go for free? How much money can you raise? Can you ask for donations from local businesses, churches, or other organizations? Will your price exclude anyone? How will you handle this fairly? There are several ways to cut costs, such as eating at cheaper restaurants, sleeping in local churches, etc. Check out this article for more details: http://youthmin.org/planning-a-mission-trip-setting-the-budget-2/
Insurance: Not everyone knows how important travel medical insurance is, especially if they are unaware that their domestic insurance doesn’t always travel outside their home country. Here are a few things to discuss with your team about travel medical insurance:
Domestic health insurance does not usually travel outside its home country.
If an accident happened and someone was injured or got sick abroad, they would be responsible for 100% of the cost, which could be very expensive—sometimes even in the hundred thousands.
For younger members, you may need to explain some insurance terms, for instance, deductible (a specific amount of money that someone with insurance must pay before the insurance company will pay a claim).
Some of the coverage they might need is: medical treatment, medical evacuation, pre-existing conditions, emergency dental, and lost checked luggage. All of these are available through Atlas Travel insurance from HCCMIS.
Explain that there are many companies that offer travel medical insurance, and that they may choose a plan that best fits their individual needs. They may also choose a group plan, like Atlas Group insurance from HCCMIS, which offers the coverage of Atlas Travel insurance at a 10% discount for groups of five or more people.
Team: You’ll need a team of adults if you are taking a group of teens. Hand-pick your adults rather than having a mass call out. If you approach the people you specifically want, you’ll end up with a team that works well together. Don’t forget to consider if you need adults with special skills, like bus drivers, cooks, or nurses.
In addition, try to consider carefully the youth who come on the trip as well. You want to make sure they are serious about the mission, and won’t cause excess trouble during the trip. Create an application for teens to fill out, and ask why they want to go on the trip, if they have any skills or talents that they can use on the trip, and if they’ve ever been on a mission trip before. If you’re unsure of how to make an application, http://www.missiontriptools.com/ has a template you can modify to suit your needs. All you need to do is enter your e-mail address to have access to the application template and all of their other free tools.
Meetings: Schedule several meetings with the whole group before you go. Keep in mind that everyone is busy and might not be able to make it, so have an alternate way to communicate. Take meeting minutes and e-mail them, record the meeting, or assign someone to call any absentee group members to fill them in on the details.
Do no harm: Remember that while you are there to help people, you are not there to put down their customs, beliefs, or ideas. More often than not you can learn as much as you teach on a mission trip. MinistryMatters.com has some great tips on how to “do no harm” on your mission trip: http://www.ministrymatters.com/all/entry/3360/before-you-plan-that-international-mission-trip-
Details: The details are the most important things to have in place before you leave. Have a contact at the location you are traveling to and get in touch with them at least once before you leave.
Sit down before you leave and plan out each day from the moment you and your group wake up to the moment you go to bed. Keith Parker of youthmin.org says that this will help you think of questions you haven’t yet considered.
You should also have a backup plan for if something goes wrong. That way, if it happens, you’re prepared and can move smoothly through it.
For international trips, keep a folder with copies of everyone’s passports and emergency contacts, and leave another folder with your contact back home. If possible, contact this person occasionally to update them on the trip so they can keep parents, loved ones, or other church members informed.
Planning a trip alone can be a difficult task, so always coordinate with the other adults going on your trip – two heads are better than one.
During: Pushing your team is good, but make sure not to push them too hard. Enforce lights-out for teens to make sure they rest, and get enough rest yourself.
Often, the real meaning of a mission trip can get lost in the project you are completing. Building relationships with the local community and the people you are helping is as important as finishing your project.
In addition, try to include a rest/fun day and let the group explore the area. This is an opportunity for them to grow and learn in addition to helping others.
Follow up: To ensure that the return home goes smoothly, check out this blog for some tips: http://www.hccmis.com/blog/how-to-return-home-after-a-mission-trip/
Short Term Missions: with a customizable trip finder, resources for airfare, training, and articles from people who have been in a mission coordinator’s shoes before, this is the ultimate resource for getting started: www.shorttermmissions.com
Short-Term Evangelical Missions: has been in the business for almost thirty years now, and can not only help you plan your trip, but also offers training and many other resources, such as books and articles. http://www.stemintl.org/
The Next Mile: focuses on follow-through after the mission trip and offers comprehensive materials to help mission coordinators take their mission trip participants through the process of returning home and continuing their mission there. http://www.thenextmile.org/
Tokio Marine HCC - Medical Insurance Services Group (MIS Group) is a service company and a member of the Tokio Marine HCC group of companies. We are regulated by the State of Indiana in our capacity as Third Party Administrator. Tokio Marine HCC - MIS Group has authority to enter into contracts of insurance on behalf of the Lloyd's underwriting members of Lloyd's Syndicate 4141, which is managed by Tokio Marine HCC – International Group.