6 Creative Ways to Document Your Trip
The first rule of mission trips is that you do not talk about mission trips.
Of course, that isn’t true. But sometimes students get this message when we don’t give them adequate time to share and hear and process an incredible, eye-opening and challenging experience. After all the planning, organizing, meeting, fundraising, loading, unloading, driving, serving, bonding and building – it would be a shame to not help your students process the trip by capturing their incredible stories.
Schedule upfront story-sharing times. Encourage parents to ask questions and listen well. Connect with students after the trip over coffee. AND if you want to add creativity to those things, here are…
1. Memory Box
Bring along a small box on your mission trip. At the beginning of Church Group Time each night take 2 minutes to have everyone write down one memory from that day. It could be something funny, moving, challenging, surprising, etc. Without sharing it with the group have them put it in the box. After the trip (e.g. on the way home Friday night or at a post-trip meeting) pass the slips of paper out to the team. Go around the room several times having them read the memories. Once all the memories are shared collect them again and place them in a frame with your team photo to hang in your youth room.
2. Photo Scavenger Hunt
At the beginning of your trip, pass out a short photo list to all of your students. Make the categories broad, subjective and meaningful, like this list. During the trip, invite students to capture pictures that fit each of the items on the list. Back home, host a sharing time time where students who participated present their slideshow, talking about why each picture fit a given category. For fun, you might add in some awards for each category. Not only will you have a great time of sharing, but you’ll be able to collect a bunch of pictures for a church presentation. (Keep in mind that not all students will take pictures. You might process with students who didn’t participate by having them describe a mental snapshot and how that fits a given category.) If you are looking for a starting point check out our Photo Scavenger Hunt Ideas.
3. Post-It Memories
During your post mission trip-processing meeting, line the room with poster boards. Include a heading on each poster board, potentially including YW Staff, Meal Crew, Kids Club, Service Sites, Community Member’s Name, etc. Hand each student a stack of sticky notes and give them a prompt to start each post-it, like “that time when…” Have them write a memory and post it for each category. Have students share in more detail some of the memories they posted. Consider leaving these up as reminders of the mission trip.
4. Mission Trip Time Capsule
At the beginning of the week, share with your students that you want them to collect an item from their trip during the week. The item should in some way encompass what the week was about and how the community impacted them. Items might include a craft from Kids Club, a rock from a work site, a trinket from the prayer walk, a fleck of scraped paint, etc. Throughout the week remind them that you are wanting them to find an item. On your way home stop somewhere along the way and take time to have the team put the items they chose in a box.
Take a video of each student holding their item and explaining why they chose it. Back home, create something visual with these items to hang in your youth room or in a common area of the church. For example a rope on the wall with all the different items hanging from it. When you reveal the new creation to your students show them the video of each person saying why they are putting the item they chose in the time capsule. You might also use the video in a church presentation or display the items in the church foyer with the video playing nearby.
5. Vintage Photo Capture
Bring a disposable camera on your trip. (You might need to take some time to explain to your students how to use it!) Write each team member’s name on the back of the camera. Tell students they are each responsible to take one photo during the week – a photo that really captures something meaningful about the trip. Once they take their one photo, they cross their name off the back and pass the camera to the next person. During a post trip meeting develop the photos and have each person share why they took the photo they did. (TIP: Bring an extra camera incase a few people need a second shot. You might also bring several cameras so 20 people aren’t sharing just one camera.)
6. Reminders to Self
Throughout the week take time each day – for example, at the start of Church Group Time – to ask your students a different question about what they want to happen after the trip. (Here are a few examples of quick questions to elicit short, simple answers.) Have them write down their answer and name, then collect their answers. Back home, send each students their answer to one of the questions. You could do this through a Facebook message, a text, an email, etc. This will help give them a reminder of who they were challenging themselves to be once they returned home from the trip. If you are looking for some good questions to ask your students check out our Reminders to Self Questions resource.
There are lots of different ways you can go about documenting your trip. These are just some ideas to get your started. If you have other great ideas of how you are going to document your mission trip we would love to hear them. Feel free to comment below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In high school Kryn was a student on many different YouthWorks trips and served as summer staff starting in 2008, when she spent her first summer in Booneville. Kryn has been working in the YouthWorks office since 2011, and currently helps manage YouthWorks’ social media and marketing campaigns. When she isn’t at the office you can usually find her at a coffee shop with a friend or at home with her cat Cupcake.