Maybe mission trips are something you have thought about but quickly dismissed. Being a parent, how on Earth is it possible to help feed and clothe people beyond the tiny humans living under your roof? The answer for some is to take those kiddos with you. Family mission trips are a calling to which some (you!) feel drawn to make the commitment. Walk through these four questions to determine which of the mission trips is right for your family.
1. What Are Your Passions?
While mission trips are rooted in religious education and growth, they have expanded to encompass volunteer opportunities both nationally and internationally. These trips help the local communities by providing support where it is needed the most. This support can vary from medical to childcare to manual labor. That being said, your first step in determining where to commit your time and resources is to define your passion and goals as a family.
Some examples of types of mission trips include:
- Childcare and Elderly Care: Under-resourced facilities from community centers to after school programs need volunteers for responsibilities such as interacting, playing games, spending time listening, and helping with daily necessities in the facilities.
- Environment and Conservation: Help support conservation in varying habitats around the world by working to protect the local environment.
- Building and Construction: Contribute toward building a school, medical facility, or necessary structure in an underserved community.
- Sports/Movement: Teach children the benefits of being active and leading a healthier lifestyle. Come prepared with games and drills and turning physical fitness into fun.
- Medical and Special Needs: If you or your spouse are a medical professional or student, think about utilizing that training in an under-served community. It may be difficult to find a volunteer opportunity suited for the entire family as most of these are short term and very specific in the nature of service.
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2. When And For How Long Can Your Family Travel?
Mission trips are classified as short term and long term. Short term is usually no shorter than a week and no longer than a month. Long term can extend up to a year or more. Which begs the question: how adventurous are you? Maybe you have always dreamed about selling everything and devoting your life toward a bigger purpose. Most can families can commit to short term assignments which is why there are so many opportunities to research.
Another detail to think through is when in the year a volunteer trip works best for your family. If you have kids in school, summer or winter break might be the most convenient time. If your children are younger or home schooled, pick a time that doesn’t interfere with your family sports or activities.
3. What Lodging Is Available For Families On Mission Trips?
Most organizations do not offer mission trips unless there are not only suitable but safe options for lodging. While you and your family will be serving a finite amount of time in a specific community, another family will take your place after your departure. The organizations overseeing these volunteer trips want everyone participating to have a positive experience and potentially return time and time again.
Lodging for mission trips range from sleeping bags on a dirt floor to community bunk rooms to staying in private homes. This is one question to answer prior to getting too far into your research. If you are not comfortable with your family staying in the home of the locals or lodging in such a social environment as a bunk room, you may be able to narrow your trip search.
4. What Are The Costs Associated With Mission Trips?
While international travel (especially with an entire family) is more costly than finding service opportunities in the States, mission trips are a way for the whole family to see exotic locations at a fraction of the cost of staying at a resort. A website that helps partner people and families with international volunteer opportunities, International Volunteer HQ, does a great job of detailing the costs that are required of a family trip of this nature:
- Visas and Passports
- Travel insurance
- Vaccinations. Make sure to research which vaccinations are required prior to traveling to different countries and continents.
- Volunteer fees These are usually required if going through a third party organization and they help to fund the staff and trip logistics.
- In-country transport
- Spending money. While you will be volunteering a lot of the time, there will still be opportunities for your family to seek out your own adventures.
If these costs are overwhelming, there is the option to fundraise. Sometimes, the third party companies that coordinate the trips are able to provide fundraising resources. This does require you to solicit donations but fortunately, there are a number of online resources that make this a snap. If you aren’t comfortable fundraising, there are places online to seek out scholarships and grants making the trip more affordable for your family.
Mission trips are a great way to spend quality time with your family and expose your children to those less fortunate. Volunteering is a calling and showing your kids its importance at an early age is an incredible lesson. Whether you feel called to serve for a week or a year, hopefully these four questions will help you determine which volunteer trip is right for you.
WANT TO READ MORE?
Check out this article on Raising Kids With An Attitude Of Gratitude.
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