A look at youth mission trip purpose from a perspective of three decades of youth ministry.
Kurt Jostes, Camp Restore – New Orleans: Please introduce yourself and give us a rundown of how you came to lead a youth mission trip to New Orleans.
Rev. Emily Kellar: My name is Rev. Emily Kellar and I am a congregational minister in New England. Our church is a member of the United Church of Christ denomination. I’ve been involved in youth ministry since 1988; this is my 32nd year.
Eight years ago I did some research in looking into Camp Restore. I knew another church that had come here from our town, an Episcopal church which had come to Camp Restore for the first time.
The experience the first year was great and we have come back ever since, even though in the eight-year period I have changed churches (two years ago.)
Jostes: How do you describe your trip?
Kellar: We call it a youth mission trip: it is for 9th through 12th-graders; sometimes we make exceptions and bring youth after their freshman year of college. We raise the money throughout the year to make the trip. We fly since we come from so far away, rent vans and I bring chaperones. We have a safe-church policy, so I have a certain ratio of adults per youth to be able to travel with the kids. I always bring the chair of our religious-education committee and the moderator of the church with me, and I always try to have someone good with construction come with me. It helps to have teachers, too… I found Pastor Manning’s is a great place to have teachers come along as chaperones.