“The Drive” (or flight or train ride or whatever) isn’t simply the way you’re getting to your mission trip location. It’s part of the trip. It’s not the part you endure and suffer through to get to the real thing. It’s part of the trip. It isn’t a means to and end. It’s part of the trip.
Those hours you’ll spend together are valuable. Here’s some ideas to make the most of them:
- Prepare devotional material for your students to use during the long hours of the drive. You know that there will be plenty of time to sit and stare our the window. Redeem that time with some purposeful thoughts about the experience they are about to have. Are you using a theme for the week? Introduce that in a devotion during the drive. Are you serving a very specific place with a specific culture? Prepare your students for that one more time right before they arrive. Are you directly serving people as part of the “projects”? Help get your students pray for those people as they travel.
- Play games together. Name that tune on the radio. Find all 50 states license plates. “I Spy.” Those are all goofy games but they get your group engaged and interacting while you drive.
- Journaling is a great way to process and remember the mission trip experience. Have your youth group start their journals on the drive there and continue on the drive home. What are they expecting? What did they just experience?
- If possible have people switch seats on the bus or vans or cars at every “rest stop.” (or have them switch into a different vehicle) It’s a good way to make sure teens are getting the chance to meet new people and get to know others before they are put in the amazing, stretching experience that the mission trip is.
- Don’t be afraid to simply let students “hang out.” You can over program the drive time also. There is something beneficial in letting everyone get ready for what they are about to experience in their own way. NOT the entire time. But it’s not bad to leave hours of down time “scheduled” into the drive.
With a few of these simple ideas you can turn the drive to and from your mission trip into an integral part of the experience.