COVID-19 Update – Cancellation of Traditional Trips

Friends and Partners in Ministry,

It is heartbreaking to announce that all traditional YouthWorks trips (where groups travel into new communities and stay overnight) are being canceled for summer 2020.

This is a truly painful update. Simply, continued investigation of the impact of COVID-19 has created an insurmountable number of obstacles related to any trip with groups traveling and housing in local facilities.

Below, you will find a series of FAQs with responses to anticipated questions from students, parents and church leadership.

(Hometown Trips are still being developed for groups this summer. The unique structure of these trips eliminates many of the concerns—knowing some may still arise—related to housing and emergency protocols by having groups stay in their own community and not sleep on site.)

Like you, we are not afraid of doing hard things.

When issues arise in your ministry, you problem-solve and build solutions. COVID-19 has sent your ministry and ours into a painstaking process of dismantling and rebuilding with a hopeful expectation that traditional mission trips would find a way forward.

As heartbreaking as it is to reset expectations for this summer’s traditional trips, the Holy Spirit has asked us to let go of our best laid plans and preparations, trusting that God is still on the move and will not waste an ounce of energy spent in this work. That is our prayer as you read over these words today.

Your trust in us as your mission partner, and your patience throughout this process, means the world to our team. It’s a reminder of God’s presence in the midst of such strange and heavy times.

You have our support in every possible way.

As you process this information, know that we are diligently praying with and for you—believing that no effort is wasted when it is dedicated to the work of God and the Gospel of Christ.

If you have any additional questions, feel free to use the LIVE CHAT feature on our website, email us at, or give us a call at 800-968-8504.

COVID-19 has forced the cancellation of traditional YouthWorks mission trips in summer 2020. It’s sweeping impact on every community has created so many safety and quality concerns with groups traveling into new communities and staying overnight, that traditional trips are not possible.

The most concerning issues are related to housing locations and our community partners, which include:

  • Housing locations are no longer able to commit to hosting groups in their facility.
  • Facemasks and 6 ft social distancing requirements by state and local health authorities will most likely be 24/7 on a trip, even while sleeping.
  • Emergency protocols requiring the ability to quarantine individuals who might get sick (and potentially the groups they interacted with) for 10-14 days.
  • Critical concerns from community partners worried about the arrival of groups from across the U.S. who might be bringing greater harm to their community.

With these issues and many others created by COVID-19, it has become clear that it is not possible to facilitate healthy mission trips where groups travel into new communities and stay overnight.

Like you, we are problem solvers who are not afraid of doing hard things.

When issues arise, we jump into action and build solutions. Ever since COVID-19 landed in the U.S., we’ve painstakingly dismantled and rebuilt our structure numerous times to identify solutions for facilitating traditional mission trips this summer that protect communities and mobilize teenagers.

If it is helpful to see even more details of the concerns, and the work our team has put in to create solutions for them, here is a brief summary of the health and safety protocols that were in development.

Hometown trips can be developed for your group (minimum of 30 people) to serve in your own community and our staff will come to you.

This structure eliminates many concerns—knowing some may still arise—related to travel and sleeping overnight in a facility.

In this option, we will set-up all the service opportunities, offer programming and other staff support, all in your neighborhood and for $199 per person. (If you’ve made payments to other trips which have been canceled, you can transfer all payments for the same number of spots to a Hometown Trip option in 2020 without penalty.)

Are you interested in exploring more of the details? Fill out the webform on the Hometown Trip page and we’ll be in touch with more information.

In the coming weeks, you will receive updates about a number of resources being developed, including:

  • Free curriculum from 3 YW summer themes.
  • Special trip options for 2020 seniors.
  • Tools and resources for serving in your own community.
  • And more…

You will receive more information as these resources come together.

Yes, the original cancellation policy was updated on March 30, 2020. It has not been updated since then.

Here is a link to the Cancellation and Refund Policy. (Please review if you have not done so recently.)

To offer you as much support as possible during these challenging times, changes have been made to the original cancellation policy, which you received with your Mission Contract, and Terms and Conditions, at registration.

For your reference, here is a link to the Original Cancellation Policy

Please review the Cancellation and Refund Policy.

Any group that has paid through their mid-payment ($150 total/space) is eligible for a partial credit and refund on their original participant count as outlined in the Cancellation and Refund Policy.

The refund process will start as soon as possible. If you are receiving a refund, you will be notified once your refund has been processed.

You can start the process right away by filling out THIS WEBFORM.

Your credit dollars are extended to summer 2022 and any group with a credit will receive early access to registration so they can have the first pick of their favorite week and location before registration opens. Be sure to complete THIS WEBFORM as soon as possible so that we can plan around your preferences before any future trip registration opens to the public.

Credit dollars can be applied as a lump sum deposit to any future trip between Fall 2020 and Summer 2022. They don’t have to be used for the same number of participants or for the same week/location. If you have any further questions about how to use your credit dollars, fill out THIS WEBFORM and we’ll be in touch with more details.

The planning and preparation for your trip begins long before summer.

By registering for a YouthWorks mission trip, you are partnering with us to handle all of that preparation for you and to take on the significant costs associated with those efforts. The majority of payments toward those costs are not able to be recouped if cancellations occur, regardless of the reason.

Accordingly, the payment plan (with specific due dates for your deposit, mid-payment, and final payment) helps to coordinate your payments with the timing of the costs associated with the preparation of your trip.

While your original cancellation policy and mission trip contract (which you received at the point of registration) did not allow for any refunds, we did decide to take drastic measures to adjust the policy in a way that extends every amount of support possible during this unprecedented time.

(View the updated policy HERE and refer to the original HERE. Please note that the original policy was sent with the Mission Contract, and Terms and Conditions, at the point of registration.)

This adjustment to the policy and mission trip contract creates an incredible challenge for our organization. We wanted to make you aware of the financial impact we are facing.

The current ministry structure of YouthWorks is 100% financially supported by partnering churches who are registered for mission trips. At this time, we do not have another source of income to support our ministry. That is why our previous cancellation policy outlined all the ways that deposits are utilized to support long-term relationships in our communities and coordinate the pre-trip preparations for your group.

Being so close to the summer, we have invested registration deposits in staff preparations, financial commitments, summer staff training resources, logistical planning efforts, and many other areas for trips that will no longer be taking place. If we were to completely negate the original policy (which was sent at the point of registration) and provide a full refund to everyone, the sustainability of YouthWorks will be threatened.

We don’t share that lightly, as you are experiencing similar realities to varying degrees in your own personal life and in your ministry.

We also know that delivering anything short of a mission trip that you had planned is something less than what you’ve paid for. With that in mind, we’ve made the difficult decision to create drastic budget reductions impacting every area of the organization (staff and overhead) in order to provide you with the financial support offered in these updates to your cancellation policy and mission trip contract.

Information and registration about fall 2020, spring and summer 2021 trips will be available on-line in the coming weeks. 

While we are anxious to resume traditional trips as soon as possible, we will only do so when we are certain that the trips can be facilitated safely for our communities, staff and groups preparing to serve. We will be closely monitoring the continued impact of COVID-19 across our partner communities and we will provide future trip updates as soon as possible.

Yes, you can! It is a difficult time for all ministries, including our own. We have been intentionally exploring other avenues of funding, including donations from those who graciously choose to give to the sustainability of YouthWorks’ ministry.

If you would like to contribute a donation, visit our “Be a Footwasher” campaign page for more information.

Every ministry has felt the impacts of COVID-19 in many areas, including their finances. With the ministry of YouthWorks focused on gathering groups to serve in communities all across the country, we certainly have experienced that impact as well.

As previously mentioned, the current ministry structure of YouthWorks is 100% financially supported by partnering churches who are registered for mission trips. Also, we are not an organization that has large amounts of savings. That combination presents a significant challenge as we work to plan for all the unknowns our world is facing during this season.

Recently, we’ve made the difficult decision to create drastic budget reductions impacting every area of the organization—staff and overhead—to help ensure the future sustainability of the ministry.

While we are truly in an unprecedented situation, one thing is clear: God is calling us to step deeper into the mission of YouthWorks.

We remain committed to creating Christ-centered service experiences that broaden perspectives, expose possibilities, ignite passions, and inspire life-long pursuits. We’d ask that you pray for our team as we trust the Holy Spirit to guide our steps forward.