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Beckwith, Ivy. "Youth Summer Missions Trips: A Case Study." Ph. D. diss., Deerfield, Ill.: Trinity Evangelical School, 1991.


The author interviewed 40 teenagers from a congregation in Minneapolis who had gone on a two-week mission trip focusing on construction, children's ministries, and evangelism to the island of St. Vincent.

The study's goal was to find out which components or characteristics of the trip promoted participants' emotional growth and social maturity, in what ways participants reported themselves to have grown, and how these findings could be used to design trips that maximize psycho-social growth of participants.

She concluded that summer mission trips do provide conditions necessary for psycho-social growth to take place, but that the quality and quantity of this growth depends on the personality and general maturity of the participant.


The uthor was also a participant in the mission trip.  She based her conclusions on field notes she took throughout orientation and trip itself, and on three sets of interviews with participants-one before trip, one during, and one after.


Trip Background:


An interesting note: The author writes:

"the summer mission program studies had developed a folklore or mythology about its results because of the tales told by students who had previously participated in one of the mission trips."

       "What are you looking forward to about this expoerience?"

         experiencing a different country/culture: 26 (65%)
         building friendships (with other trip participants or with St. Vincentians): 25 (62.5%)
         ministry opportunities: 16 (40%)
         work project: 16 (40%)
         spiritual growth: 10 (25%)
         new experience: 10 (25%)
         experiencing missionary life: 5 (12.5%)
         personal growth/insight: 1 (2.5%)
         amenities of a Caribbean island: 1 (2.5%)

       Worries, anxieties, or misgivings did they have?

         health concerns: 13 (32.5%)
         relationships with others (participants and nationals): 9 (22.5%)
         personal inadequacies (i.e. homesickness, stress): 9 (22.5%)
         things they would encounter on St. Vincent (i.e. bugs, snakes): 9 (22.5%)
         ability to raise required monetary support: 9 (22.5%)
         ministry and work experiences (i.e. would work be too hard?): 6 (15%)
         lack of information about trip details: 5 (12.5%)
         travel arrangements: 4 (10%)
         no worries: 4 (10%)
         other miscellaneous concerns: dress code, lack of support from parents.

       "What has been most helpful to you in the training process so far?"

         training in how to witness: 14 (35%)
         team building: 14 (35%)
         meetings: 12 (30%)
         retreat: 11 (27.5%)
         focus reports (students researched topic of country they were going to, reported to group): 7 (17.5%)
         required reading of biography of a missionary: 6 (15%)
         practicing singing they would do on St. Vincent: 2 (5%)
         scripture memorization: 2 (5%)

       "What do you have to do personally to be ready for the trip?"

         raise support: 17 (42.5%)
         work on attitude: 13 (32.5%)
         prepare self spiritually: 9 (22.5%)
         get organized: 9 (22.5%)
         more preparation for ministry: 8 (20%)
         group building: 5 (12.5%)
         nothing-feel all ready to go: 5 (12.5%)
         physical preparation: 4 (10%)
         more knowledge: 4 (10%)

Second Interview (during trip):

       "How are things going for you so far and why?"

         of 20 interviewed at end of 1st week:

      going well: 9 (45%) (going well because of work project: 6)
      going OK: 9 (45%)
      not going well: 2 (10%)-reasons: health, personal attitude

         of 20 interviewed at end of 2nd week:

      went well: 9 (45%)
      went OK: 7 (35%)
      did not go well: 4 (20%)-reasons: personal attitude, work to hard, not happy with accommodations

       "What are you liking about the experience?"

         of 20 interviewed at end of 1st week:

      being with other team members: 12 (60%)
      experience of new/different culture: 9 (45%)
      work project: 8 (40%)
      Vincentian people: 8 (40%)
      changes in personal attitude: 5 (25%)
      ministry opportunities: 4 (20%)

         of 20 interviewed at end of 2nd week:

      being with other team members: 11 (55%)
      Vincentian people: 11 (55%)
      the island: 11 (55%)
      sense of purpose and accomplishment: 7 (35%)
      ministry opportunities: 5 (25%)

       "What are you disliking about the experience?"

         of 20 interviewed at end of 1st week:

      living conditions: 14 (70%)
      physical aspects of work project-being dirty and tired, early mornings, too much work: 13 (65%)
      other team members: 11 (55%)
      rules and restrictions (curfew, dress code, etc.): 7 (35%)
      health problems: 4 (20%)

         of 20 interviewed at end of 2nd week:

      living conditions: 14 (70%)
      other team members: 10 (40%)
      work project: 8 (40%)
      people on the island, especially men who made rude comments to the girls: 6 (30%)
      rules and restrictions: 5 (25%)
      personal health: 4 (20%)

       "What good will this experience do you in life?"

         of 20 interviewed at end of 1st week:

      personal growth/insight: 12 (60%)
      changed attitudes towards/more appreciative of the blessings of their own good fortune: 7 (35%)
      spiritual growth/insight: 7 (35%)
      knowledge of a new culture/more respect for other cultures: 7 (35%)
      would be better able to share faith because of practice doing so on trip: 4 (20%)
      Others: better relationships, taste of missionary life, sense of accomplishment, good memories.

         of 20 interviewed at end of 2nd week:

      personal growth/insight: 17 (85%)
      changed attitudes towards/more appreciative of the blessings of their own good fortune: 12 (60%)
      spiritual growth: 10 (50%)
      understanding of a different culture/more respect, awareness for other cultures: 8 (40%)
      able to share faith more readily: 3 (15%)
      good memories: 2 (10%)

       The author's conclusion regarding comparison of interviews at end of 1st week vs at end of 2nd:

       "What are you thinking about the trip now as you reflect back on it?"

"In response to the first interview question the students cited aspects of the trip which had been memorable for them. They mentioned relationships, experience of a different culture, a sense of accomplishment, personal growth, missionary experience, and the weather, Several mentioned difficulties with the experience such as the lack of time for personal reflection and the long walk each day to the wok site." (p. 136)

       "What could have made the trip better for you?"

         better living conditions: 10 (25%)
         better preparation: 8 (20%)
         better planning of work project-there wasn't enough work for everyone to do, not enough tools, etc.: 6 (15%)
         more ministry opportunities: 5 (12.5%)
         better relationships with groups from other churches: 4 (10%)
         better relationships with people on the team: 4 (10%)
         better personal attitude: 4 (10%)
         also, health, weather, more time for reflection (3 people for each of these), longer trip, nothing could have made it better.

       "Which of the following components were most helpful in making this a good experience for you and why?"

         interaction with nationals and missionaries: 28 (70%)
         other team members: 21 (52.5%)
         leaders: 19 (47.5%)
         work project: 16 (40%)
         support raising: 14 (35%)
         people from other churches: 13 (32.5%)
         interaction with new/different culture: 13 (32.5%)
         ministry opportunities: 10 (25%)
         living and working conditions: 9 (22.5%)
         training meetings/assignments: 7 (17.5%)
         training retreat: 6 (15%)

       "How are you different because of this experience and why?"

         personal growth: 16 (40%)
         spiritual growth: 12 (30%)
         better idea of life in other parts of the world: 12 (30%)
         more appreciation for own circumstances: 10 (25%)
         better understanding of missionaries: 6 (15%)
         others: didn't change at all, built deeper friendships, getting in better physical shape, having something to talk about with friends, ability to witness more freely.