Organize a short term service trip

Taking on the responsibility of a service trip leader is a major commitment, but comes with beautiful rewards. When done well, service trips can leave a positive impact on the place you visit, and renew an other-centered focus in participants. Designing a service trip is more than logistics. It is about identifying the purpose of your trip and ensuring that you are meeting needs in the most appropriate way for the population you desire to serve. The process below begins with some educational tools we would like for you to be familiar with before you get started with the details of planning your trip. We honor and support your desire not only to serve, but to inspire and lead others to experience God together in new and powerful ways as you share His love with others.

Reach out to the Associate Chaplain for Missions to begin exploring the idea of leading trip, and to learn more about the process. Some things you will want to consider are partner organizations, activities, expenses, number of participants, and how much time you will need to arrange a trip. Begin praying that God will guide as you learn and build your plan.

Before you continue further with planning, we ask that you read When Helping Hurts by Corbett and Fikkert, or watch the Helping Without Hurting video series by Life.Church and share how this information will impact your trip plans in an email to the Associate Chaplain for Missions.

International Trips

The trip leader must be an employee of Walla Walla University, and will need to take the following steps to get the trip approved by the Travel Proposal Committee (TPC) at least two months before the trip:

  • Submit an International Travel Request Application to the WWU Risk and Safety Officer. This will include the following information:*
    • Estimated number of participants.
    • Trip itinerary that shows dates and locations, along with a Google map clearly showing all locations group will visit.
    • Financial information, including approval signature from VP for Advancement if there will be any fundraising.
    • Review and detailed response to US Department of State Travel Advisory for each country visited. 
  • After approval, the trip leader will meet with the WWU Risk and Safety Office to go over safety concerns and policies.

Domestic Trips

The trip leader must be an employee or student of Walla Walla University, and will need to take the following steps to get the trip approved by the VP for Student Life at least two weeks before the trip:

  • Submit Domestic Travel Request Application to the VP for Student Life. This will include the following information*:
    • List of all participant names.
    • Trip itinerary that shows dates and locations, along with a Google map showing all locations group will visit.
    • Financial information, including approval signature from VP for Advancement if there will be any fundraising.
  • After approval, the trip leader will meet with the Risk and Safety Office to go over safety concerns and policies.

The Associate Chaplain for Missions is available to help guide you through this process.

*Please note that other documentation may be required related to COVID-19 protocols.

How will you structure the trip to maximize spiritual and personal growth of participants through this experience? This could include:

  • Assessment tools such as pre-trip and post-trip surveys to identify and address expectations and measure growth.
  • Orientation content covered in pre-trip meetings to help prepare participants spiritually.
  • Structured debriefing times during the trip to worship together and discuss questions, challenges, and growth opportunities.
  • Post-trip debrief meeting to go over what has been learned and areas of growth.

Please submit a summary of your plan to the Associate Chaplain for Missions.

Participants on your mission trip will need to complete the application process outlined on the Apply to Join a Trip page, which includes forms, fundraising, and travel information.

The fundraising amount may vary for each short term mission trip and is set as part of the trip approval process. The trip leader will work with the chosen mission organization and the Associate Chaplain for Missions to determine the goal. An example range of the fundraising goal is as follows:

  • $1,000-$1,500: estimated project/logistic costs paid to the mission organization
  • $800-$1,200: estimated airfare
  • $50: estimated travel insurance
  • $50: SM application processing

The student missions finance team will be available to help process donations and answer participant questions about fundraising.

The trip leader and Student Missions team will work together to organize a trip information session which will provide interested students with details about the mission location and trip itinerary (provided by trip leader), as well as the mission application and fundraising process (provided by the Associate Chaplain for Missions).

Student applicants will need to complete the WWU short term missions application, along with other required forms and three professional references (see Apply to Join a Trip). They will also pay a $100 commitment deposit to be used towards their overall fundraising goal. Once all trip requirements are complete, trip applicants will be screened by the Student Missions Screening Committee and then sent to the trip leader for final approval.

Once approved, trip participants can begin the fundraising process. This happens through a short-term mission trip fundraising letter and the online university donation platform.

The trip leader will be responsible for purchasing the tickets for all approved trip participants. Once the tickets have been finalized, the leader will need to provide the itineraries to the Associate Chaplain for Missions for the purpose of securing travel insurance. The Student Missions Department is available to provide guidance and assistance with travel logistics on a case-by-case basis.

A minimum of two weeks before departure, the trip leader and Student Missions team will collaborate with the Risk & Safety Officer to provide travel safety training, and other relevant preparation to all approved participants.

Find a time to meet after the trip to discuss what went well, what could use improvement, what was learned. This can be a good time to identify if there is a need for further emotional or spiritual support, as well as introduce more opportunities for service and missions through the Center for Humanitarian Engagement and the Student Missions program.

For more information or to begin the approval process for a trip you would like to sponsor, please contact the Associate Chaplain for Missions.

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