Safety is of the utmost importance to our organization! Please know, if we felt that participants were to be in danger in a community, we would cancel the trip or move to a different site. We want participants to feel safe throughout the entire week, and we want parents and church leadership to know that we take every precaution in order to ensure their safety. With that said, we do rely on Adult Leaders and youth to help the YouthWorks staff in maintaining the safety policies and procedures for their mission week.
When groups arrive at the mission site, the staff leads orientation meetings explaining the following:
- The community that the participants will be serving
- The boundaries of the housing site (including appropriate behavior at the housing site)
- The Three-Together Rule : All participants are required to travel in groups of at least three including at least one Adult Leader
- Fire drills and other drills applicable to the area they are in
- Any other site-specific safety boundaries
Additionally, we are very aware of the neighborhoods in which we work. We have secure housing for our participants and our schedule does not bring us out late at night. Our program is conducted within solid boundaries and in communities where we are known and loved. The summer site staff will have talked with the nearest hospital and/or local clinic to make them aware of our presence and will supply your group with phone numbers and directions.
The participant release form filled out by each youth and Adult Leader is sufficient for entry into any U.S. Emergency Room. Every staff member at YouthWorks is CPR and First Aid certified. Furthermore, each staff member has gone through an intensive application process and has had a thorough background check completed.
To promote a safe environment for YouthWorks participants and for the communities that we serve, we require that a background check and sex offender registry check be completed on all participants 18 and over, including Adult Leaders and youth attending the mission trip. Knowing that all adults are getting background checks will give peace of mind to community groups and other groups that will be part of the trip. It will also fulfill requirements from ministry partners that want background checks completed on adults who will be volunteering at their organizations.
Money and Valuables
You and your students may choose to bring a small amount of spending money for souvenirs, and we encourage you to bring money for YouthWorks merchandise. For some sites we also ask each person to bring up to $10 for an activity during the week. We encourage participants to leave valuables at home. Please remind all participants to keep cash and valuables in a secure location at all times. YouthWorks cannot be responsible for lost, damaged or stolen items.
All groups who come to the site participate in the preparation and serving of meals and clean-up. This gives youth an opportunity to serve one another and share the responsibility of the housing site. A YouthWorks staff member will be present in the kitchen for all meal preparations. YouthWorks provides breakfast, lunch, dinner and an evening snack.
As participants deal with an increasing number of food allergies and special dietary concerns, YouthWorks wants to support them. We are committed to offering a variety of food choices during the week. For those participants who are Gluten-Free, YouthWorks will provide the following: GF bread, GF pasta, GF cereal. Due to the nature of large group meal preparation, however, we cannot guarantee a participant will not be exposed to any certain food. Nor can we promise to have exactly the right food to meet every special dietary preference. Navigating the ingredient lists and having access to the correct foods invites too much room for error for staff that don’t know and understand the required diet. We recommend that participants with severe allergies or special dietary needs bring supplemental food for the week.
Contacting a Participant While on Site
YouthWorks provides Trip Leaders with a 24-hour emergency line to give their church or parents in case a student needs to be contacted. We also encourage Trip Leaders to set up a contact process with parents before the trip so parents understand if and how they will receive updates throughout the week.
YouthWorks staff and Adult Leaders from other groups will leave the discipline of your youth to you. Likewise, we ask that you leave the discipline of youth not in your group to their leaders. Remember that other youth leaders may discipline their youth differently than you do at your church. If a situation arises that the YouthWorks staff members believe is irreparable, the youth involved will be transported home immediately at the expense of his or her parent or guardian. We sincerely hope that such a problem never occurs. Our intention is to work closely and prayerfully with Adult Leaders in making such a decision.
YouthWorks has a clothing policy we ask Adult Leaders and youth to abide by while on the mission trip. Be sure to ask the Trip Leader for this document so you can lead your youth by example in the way you dress while on the trip.
Driving throughout the Week
Each church is responsible for transportation throughout the week. This includes not only transporting your youth and leaders but also transporting youth and leaders from other church groups to service locations. During the day, you may be at one place all day or serve at one place in the morning and a different place in the afternoon. At sites where we offer Kids Club, your vehicles may also be used to transport community children to and from the location where Kids Club is held. You will be given maps and thorough driving directions to and from each location, back to the housing site, and to emergency facilities. In some cases, YouthWorks staff may be available to escort you to your service location.
You will also be responsible for transportation to evening activities. In addition to providing directions and maps, we also implement caravans to and from the evening activities. The caravan process will look different depending on the site and the type of activity you are participating in. Caravans provide an opportunity for us to travel more safely through different communities; by grouping vehicles, it eases the pressure for drivers and ensures we have people looking out for one another on the road. In some communities, GPS systems are not effective for various reasons, so we ask you to follow the directions provided by the staff team; they strive to know about road closures and construction and provide updated directions as needed.
We know that everyone has different levels of comfort when it comes to driving and parking. Because you will be in unfamiliar places, please work together with your leaders before the trip to determine who is comfortable driving, parking and leading in this role. It is very easy for the transportation aspect of your trip to become stressful and, in some cases, it can change the tone of your experience. We don’t want a bad driving experience to negatively impact your overall experience! Be prepared to be flexible in this area. Directions change and construction happens, but it doesn’t need to get in the way of a great mission trip week.
Alcohol, Drug and Weapon Policy
Alcohol, illicit drugs and weapons are strictly forbidden at YouthWorks housing and ministry sites. Anyone (leaders/youth) in possession of such items will be sent home immediately. To ensure the safety of your youth, we request that any prescription drugs and other medications be held in the custody of one of the Adult Leaders from your group.
Harassment and Abuse Policy
YouthWorks prohibits sexual harassment, harassment, and physical and/or sexual abuse on or off the YouthWorks premises or in the course of YouthWorks activities or ministries. YouthWorks will investigate any allegations of such misconduct in accordance with applicable law. YouthWorks will not retaliate against the reporting person.