Speaking of trips with a youth group, here are the Top Five trips I loved taking with teens both as a youth and then as a youth leader:
- Missions trips. Whether the slums of Mexico City, the hollers of Kentucky, or reservations of South Dakota, my all-time favorite trips were those where the kids got a chance to serve others, to see, and to experience what life is like for people in drastically different circumstances than they knew. I can still see the faces and hear the stories of young lives that changed, and life journeys that took drastically new trajectories because of a week spent on a mission trip.
- Culture trips. Those who know me will not be shocked to learn that I loved exposing young people to cultural opportunities that they might not have had otherwise. More than once I had uncomfortable conversations with parents to explain why this or that movie, play or event would be beneficial for their kid, but the conversations with the young people afterwards and the lessons I observed the them learning was priceless.
- Amusement parks. I don’t often admit it, but ever since my Grandma Golly took the Vander Well kids on an annual summer excursion to Riverview Park in Des Moines, my inner child has been in love with amusement parks. Being a youth pastor gave me a great excuse to entertain my inner child a couple of times each year.
- Ski trips. I’m not great on the slopes, but I loved strapping on the skis and zipping down the mountain. It was a treat to get to do it a time or two each year with the kids. Truth is, I haven’t been on the slopes since the last time I took a group of kids over 20 years ago.
- River tubing. It’s a blast just to float down the river in an inner tube. Before there were “lazy rivers” at every water park in America, we had to go to a river and pay to have someone drop us off at one point and pick us up at another. I loved it though. The scenery always changed and you never knew what was around the next bend.