The 7 Essentials to Pack for a Youth Ministry Trip

It’s summer time and that means it’s time for the summer camp, conference and work camp experience! In all the hustle and bustle of getting ready for your parish’s annual trip, make sure you do not leave home without the following:

  1. Duck tape: If youth ministers had a utility belt, this would be in the first pocket. From creating a quick nametag for luggage, name badges, hanging signs, taping a kid to the wall, there are a million uses. Pack 2 rolls because you know your teens are going to use half of one of them making a gigantic ball of duck tape (at least mine do)
  2. Walkie Talkies: Is the place you’re going to have bad cell phone reception? My parish purchased some cheap Motorola 2 way radios about a year ago and they go on every trip with us just in case cell phone reception is bad. They have a 2-mile radius and three will run you $50.
  3. Fully Stocked Med Kit: When was the last time you checked to make sure your med kit had all the supplies you ask parents if it’s ok if you give their teen? And it always helps to have a few extra things that they don’t include in the store like: additional band-aids, bug bite itch relief, extra gauze, extra rubber gloves, and tampons. As a guy, it’s awkward enough for a teenage girl to ask if there are any feminine hygiene products. It’s even more awkward to have to tell them no.
  4. Nearest Hospital Information: God forbid anything happen on your trip, but if it does, are you ready? Do you actually know where the nearest hospital is and how to reach it? Do a little research in advance with your friend Google and if anything happens, you’re ready.
  5. Flashlights: Always pack a few because when you need them, you’ll need them. And know where they are because its no fun playing “find the flashlight” in the middle of the night.
  6. Emergency Cash: If you need some additional money for an unplanned expense (either buying the group pizzas or needing to pay for an emergency mechanic) where is it going to come from? Do you have room on your credit card? Or will you need to get some emergency petty cash from your parish before you go?
  7. Current Contact Information and Issues on Liability Forms: I’ve found that parents have become so inundated with filling out forms that they let their teens fill them out or they fill them out without thinking. Are they putting contact numbers on the forms where they can actually be reached? I had a parent one year only list her house number and she decided the weekend of the retreat to take a trip to her beach house. Unfortunately her teen ended up going to the hospital and we couldn’t reach her for a long period of time. Are there any issues going on with a teen you’re taking medically or emotionally? These are all things you should know up front and not finding out while you’re on your trip that a teen has a serious problem with depression or “forgot” her medication at home and it could become a real issue if she doesn’t take it. And while it’s funny to have every doctor laugh at a teen’s liability form who decided to write “cooties” for allergies, it could be a real problem. Unfortunately, all of those situations have happened to me so learn from my mistakes.

Summer trips can be stressful but not being prepared can make a stressful situation worse. What other things should always be packed for your annual summer trip?

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