Hey guys and gals! I'm writing this from my camp cot. We are at Group's Week of Hope mission trip in Nashville TN. It's the last night and I'm prepping for our Parent Connect meeting when we return. Which got me to thinking about what are some parent ministry things we did before, during, and after the mission trip. So here are some of the ideas we used, some were original to me, some were given to me by Jeremy Lee from Parentministry.net. All are great!
1: I printed off and gave every parent a copy of "Helping Parents Connect" by Leader Trex. It is an excellent before, during, and after parents guide to mission trips.
2: I gave the parents a prayer guide with some specific ideas to pray for us during our trip.
3: I OVER communicated our plans, eta's, details, times, etc. I want my parents to be over informed. We communicate with our parents via text, email, Facebook, church announcements, parent ministry website, and print news letters.
4: Prior to leaving, I set up a Week of Hope Parents Group on my Groups app on my iPhone. This allowed me to send off large group mass texts every day to keep our parents informed about what we were doing, who we were serving, and how the camp itself was. I also sent out a text twice during the week to parents individually telling them something their child had done, wether it was a God Sighting or just something funny that their parent would get a laugh out of.
5: I took my lap top with me to camp, wrote and printed off a Parent Connect form. It's a follow up form that gives the parents 3-5 simple easy questions on the trip home.
6: I also printed up a larger page with deeper follow up questions. During the camp I sent the parents a text encouraging them to take the students out to their favorite restaurant or to cook their favorite meal. These questions could be asked during the meal.
7: During the camp, the students wrote "Care Cards" to each other. These are simple encouraging messages to help affirm other students. I informed the parents during the Parent Connect meeting what these were. Prior to leaving I had the students write "Care Cards" to the parents. These were a little larger than normal and included; an affirmation of the students love for the parent, a thank you for letting them come to camp, and something specific that they did and learned at camp.
8: I am leaving one hour earlier than our group. I am returning early to have a Parent Connect meeting. I will set up and inform our parents of many different thing that our students did at camp, etc (I will have a more in depth post on it later). I also loaded the students luggage into my vehicle and marked each piece. So when I arrive the parents can off load and the students won't have to wait to unload.
Our parents have commented that they felt informed, cared about, and really felt invested into our mission trip. So all in all it was a outstanding trip for everyone! As always!
Just Keep Swimming!