Are youth group summer trips really worth it?
One of the biggest highlights of my year as a teenager was going on a summer trip with my church youth group. Every year when the trip was announced, I anticipated getting to go somewhere exciting with many of my friends. Some years we went on missions trips and others we would go to camp or a youth conference. But to me it didn’t matter too much where we went because I knew I was going, and I was looking forward to having a great time.
I want to pause right here. Growing up I took for granted that my parents not only permitted but also highly encouraged me to go on these sorts of trips. I am beyond thankful that my parents did this for me. I’m also thankful that I had the opportunity to grow up in a church with a pastor and youth pastor who saw the importance of taking young people to camps, conferences, and mission fields.
Now as a youth pastor, I realize that youth group summer trips have so much more value than just giving the teens a good time. I have had the opportunity to take the teens in the youth group I serve to many such meetings, and I am thankful for the spiritual effect they have had on the young people. There are many great places to take teens on a summer trip, and my encouragement to any one in a position to do so is this – find one and take your teens!
While there is nothing strangely magical about taking teens on a summer trip, there is a certain uniqueness that makes them special. Trips allow teens to get away from the noise of life and to focus on their spiritual lives. There is much idle time during the summer in a teen’s life; a summer trip provides a break from monotony and helps stimulate a zeal for God. Trips allow teen friendships to develop and unity in a youth group to grow. They give the youth leaders an opportunity to grow in their leadership in the eyes of the teens. Unlike the all-pervasive society surrounding them that discourages anything to do with Christ, trips allow for teens to be put in an environment where they are positively encouraged to live for Christ.
There are many spiritual possibilities with these trips. Many people have made life-changing decisions during these times. I do know that not every decision that is made at a camp or some place similar will stick; many people make decisions and don’t remain faithful to their decisions.
BUT some decisions do stick. And some decisions really do make a difference in a young person’s entire life. A young lady in my youth group named Catherine came with us to teen camp last year and trusted Christ as her Savior. With her permission, I want to share her story with you.
Today is my 1st birthday! One year ago today I got saved, my life got pretty literally turned upside down. For most of you that knew me before I got saved I was very hateful and mean, I was depressed and just not in a good place, all because I was fighting a battle in my heart, a battle with the Holy Spirit.
We left for camp on June 11 and by that evening service God was already working in my heart. I was trying to ignore Him and just have a good time with my friends. Every day we’d have 2 services and everyday the pull towards God got stronger and stronger until June 12, we had a devotional with all the girls from our church after the evening service. This is where I heard the testimony of one of my youth leaders and realized she was kinda like me. After all the girls left I went to find that same youth leader. She sat me down and spent a good 45 minutes with me crying, praying, and it eventually ended with me getting saved. I’m so incredibly thankful that I have a pastor, youth pastor, youth leaders, and a church that supports and loves me. I praise God everyday for what He has done in my life.
Some might say that these kinds of trips are a waste of time, but I’m still convinced that they are very important for individual teens and for youth groups as a whole. Not every teen will make life-changing decisions for Christ, but some will. It is worth all the time, effort, and money if someone makes a decision that impacts eternity.
I can’t make a young person make a right choice for Christ, but I want to do everything in my power to set that young person up for spiritual success. I want to do everything I can to help influence that young person for Jesus.
In my opinion, these trips have the capability of providing that opportunity. Whether you are a teen thinking about going on a trip, a parent who might send a chid, or a leader who is able to head up a trip, I encourage you to seriously consider the value of a youth group summer trip.