Hello. Devin here, filling in for my wife Ashleigh this week. This summer we led a short term trip to Slovakia with a group of High School students. I wanted to share with you some things we did to have fun and bond as a team before we left for our trip.
Summer Missions in our High School Ministry starts in January. After the team is formed, we start meeting together regularly. Our team met every other week whenever possible. Regular meetings did 3 big things for the team. First, we prepared together for the ministry we’d be doing in Slovakia, which meant we were really ready by the time we got there. Second, the team spent a lot of time together and started getting to know each other and their personalities. Third, we spent time praying together and preparing spiritually for the work and challenges awaiting us in Slovakia.
Learn Each Other’s Names
It may seem like a small thing, but it’s so important for everyone on the team to know everyone’s names. It goes a long way towards fostering a sense that we weren’t just a group of strangers, but a team. In a perfect world, a one time introduction of everyone would be good enough, but humans (and especially high school students) forget names. It’s not exactly exciting but for the first few weeks, I made a point to start each meeting by going around the group reintroducing ourselves.
Having a meal together is a great way for the team to bond socially. We replaced a few of our Sunday afternoon meetings with Sunday lunches, and it was fantastic. It’s a nice break from business laden meetings and an even better opportunity for the team to get to know each other.
We had a great opportunity to spend time serving as a team before the trip even left. A local ministry was having a retreat in northern Arizona and they needed people to work in the kitchen. Our team, along with several other high school missions teams, went for the weekend and had a blast working hard and serving together. It was only 3 weeks before the trip and it gave everybody a taste of what they were in for. The whole team got really psyched up for the trip.
Did It Work?
This was my 5th time going on a short term mission and I can honestly say that I had never been on a trip where the team felt so united. On the last night, we spent time reflecting on the trip, and it was awesome to hear so many students talking about the friendships they had formed on the trip. I was really blown away at how the team came together as one to do the Lord’s work in Slovakia.
I would encourage anyone to use all or any of these team building opportunities. What successful team building strategies have you used?