5 Reasons to Send Your Kids on a Teen Missions Team

posted in: Large Family, Travel | 16

We’ve somehow established a very strong precedent of sending our teens on a Teen Missions team the summer they are fifteen. This wasn’t intentional and fifteen isn’t some magical age in our house. It happened the be the age we felt Adalia was mature enough to spend her summer away from us in 2011. Then Judah went in 2012 at age 15 and now Judah and Tilly are both going (tomorrow!) in 2014. Chuck and I intend to send every one of our teens on a Teen Missions team at some point and here’s why:

Five Reasons to Send Your Kids on a Teen Missions Team.

1. To gain global perspective. We are not rich. In fact, by the government’s standards, we are low-income. We have everything we need on a daily basis. Going to a different part of the world gives our teens a global perspective. And I don’t just mean, “I feel so thankful for what I have because they have so little“. We aren’t sending our teens so they can “be thankful” for what they have when they return. We are sending them so they can see how people live in other parts of the world. So they can see planet earth is bigger than the Pacific Northwest. Bigger than speaking English, homeschooling and going to church. Bigger than Boy Scouts, visits the library and movies. We send them so they can experience another culture, and do it without us there guiding them through “teachable moments“. They get to experience another country and culture in the raw, then come home to share it with us.

2. To work hard and help others. Teen Missions teams are hard work. This is no tourist holiday. The teens spend from four to five weeks in the country completing a significant project. Teen Missions has their teens working on their projects eight hours a day Monday through Friday and half a day on Saturday. If they are in a rural area they sleep in tents and every team washes their clothes by hand. For two months. They help with cooking and washing dishes for entire team and any translators working with them. They learn the value of a job well done whether its building a bridge, washing their dirty socks in a bucket, or preparing a meal for 25 people on a camp stove. Judah took some great photos of his bridge building project in Zambia (shown below).  This river floods during the wet season each year, making it impossible to cross. This cuts the village off from school and vital medical treatment. You can guarantee the teens who spend their summer building this bridge won’t soon forget it. 3. To be electronics-free for two months. Teens Missions has a strict no-electronics policy. You won’t find a cell phone, iPod, DVD player, video game or tablet on these teams. The teen years are a great time for kids to take a complete break from screen time and social media. They learn *gasp* that they can indeed live with out these accoutrements and still be happy.  Instead their time is filled with physical labor and old-fashioned face-to-face interactions.

4. To gain independence and maturity. Our teens go off to Teen Missions for two months of no parents in an environment where I know they are being taken care of. If you don’t think they are gaining independence because they are with a Christian organization, you need to take another look at those photos. Two months away from friends and family. Two months of doing your own laundry by hand. Guess who suffers the consequences if they don’t keep up? If they don’t wash their socks and underwear well enough?

5. To have the best summer of their lives. Chuck and I, Adalia, and Judah will all be the first to tell you our summers with Teen Missions were hands down the best summers of our lives. Chuck went to Guatemala in 1988, I went to Tanzania in 1993, Chuck and I both went to Brazil in 1994, Adalia to Honduras in 2011 and Judah to Zambia in 2013. We have all made life long friends and gained experiences that we never could have had if we had stayed home working or relaxing all summer.

6. Bonus reason: you may just come home with a spouse. Okay, this one’s a joke…but the fact is, Chuck and I married after meeting on a Teen Missions team and now Adalia, a second generation Teen Missions offspring, met BEN! on a Teen Missions team. It’s hard to argue with success. To read more about our adventures with Teen Missions check out these posts: How We Met Zambia 2013: the Work Project Zambia 2013 Teen Missions: Then and Now (including photos of Chuck and me on our trip to Brazil)

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16 Responses

  1. Kristal

    This post makes me even more excited for Caleb to go on Saturday! Can’t wait to hear all about it July 29th.

  2. Raquel G.

    I’ve looked at their website in the past because of your kids but today I looked more closely. I am so excited. My little guy is only 2.5 right now but when he’s 4 or 5 we will probably seriously consider the Mustard Seed program for him. I’m not great at sharing my faith. Really horrible at it in fact. I want different for my son & I think this would be a great introduction for him to learn about sharing his faith. I know it’s a long way off but even my husband thinks it’s an awesome idea.

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      Judah grew so much as a Christian and leader during his Teen Missions team. He came back so much more confident in every area of his life. Good for you for looking into this.

  3. Celeste

    I loved reading this and wholeheartedly agree! As a former team member (and leader) I would just add one thing: BOOT CAMP! No other organization prepares teens the way Teen Missions does. When I was a team member at Boot Camp for the first time, I thought former team members must be clinically insane! (After all, they knew what Boot Camp was like and still chose to come back!) The second day of Boot Camp I was writing home to my boyfriend (now husband) insisting I wanted to come home and why I didn’t think they could make me stay! Funny how my perspective changed by the end of Boot Camp. 😉 And by the end of the summer, I had decided Teen Missions’ Boot Camp should be a prerequisite for *everyone* before passing on into adulthood! The lessons and discipline learned are that good! 🙂 I’m so looking forward to going as a leader this year after a decades-long break…and to my son going on his very first team!

  4. Kari Owens

    I love this post and agree wholeheartedly! I spent the summer of 1985 in Gibraltar with Teen Missions, and I love their ministry! My older daughter has gone twice (Belize pre-teen & South Africa), my son has gone twice, (ATW Russia and Madagascar) and in two weeks our youngest will head to Boot Camp to prepare for a summer in Honduras. Going with her is the foreign exchange student we hosted last year (from Slovakia).

    Teen Missions has been wonderful for our kids and our family!

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      Thanks for shraring about your family! It is so great to connect with other TMI families.

  5. Julia Bay

    My son just left today for his second trip with Teen Missions! He is on the Australia team this year 🙂

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      Yay! Thanks for sharing. Where did he go before?

  6. Kathryn

    I love your bonus reason! I wondered if you were going to include finding a spouse in your reasons. 🙂 This is something I’ve not thought of much for my kids because I’ve never done it myself or known anyone who has either. But I am very open to my children participating in a Teen Missions trip. Thanks for the post!

  7. Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom

    I love this. I will definitely allow my girls to go on a teen missions trip when they are old enough. All of your reasons make perfect sense too!

    I love that you and Chuck met on a Teen Missions team -how cool is that?!

    Thanks for sharing (and for linking up to the SHINE Blog Hop).

    Wishing you a lovely weekend.
    xoxo

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      That’s awesome, Jennifer. You won’t regret it!

  8. Celeste

    It made me smile to see that the first two people who responded after my post went to Gibraltar and Australia….the first two teams I helped lead. (DIfferent years though!) Neat coincidence. 🙂

  9. Cathie

    What wonderful reasons, We whole heatedly agree! And if I could add one I would say that it forces these fantastic God fearing kids to really make their faith in Jesus their very own! I love that. I myself went to Albania in ’93 and my husband did Papua New Guinea in ’92, Mozambique in ’93 (staying on for the whole year to work for the missionaries there) and then he was back in ’96 as an assistant leader! We have just sent our oldest on her first team. She is going to Myanmar this year with Paul and Beth Kostner. They were my husbands leaders twice! I also think its kinda funny how many FTM’s get married. Two from my team got married. My husband and I went the same year but it wasn’t until we started dating years later that we realized it. 🙂

  10. Becky

    Love, love, love Teen Missions! My brother went 3 times in the 80’s, my sister 4 times in the late 80’s and early 90’s and I went to Russia in ’92. I am now passing TMI onto my own kids. I’ve taken my middle girl on Mustard Seeds twice, my oldest has been on Peanuts 3 times and I was a leader for the Peanuts one summer. I’m hoping to take my youngest on Mustard Seeds next summer and then in the future lead a preteen team. My dad used to tell anyone he would talk to about missions, that every child should go on a Teen Missions team at least once in their life! It is a great experience and a wonderful organization to work with!

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      Aw, thanks for sharing that. So good to hear from other FTMs! We’ve sent three kids on four teams now, and hubby and I both went on two.

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