6 reasons why this may be the best summer of your life

6 Reasons this may be the best summer of your life


Most camps are in places you know nothing about. Eureka Springs, Arkansas? Copperhill, Tennessee? Famous among the TEAMeffort family, but somewhat non-existent to the rest of the world. The cool thing about TEAMeffort is that you get to make a home in these places that you may not have even known existed before your summer there. A home that you will want to visit over and over again and a home that will always have a piece of your heart

New family!

You’re going to be spending 10 weeks in close living quarters with people who will start off as strangers and eventually become your family. These will be some of the best friends you’ll ever have. Take advantage of every second you have together! TE friendships are made to last a lifetime.

No sleep!

Ok, we understand that “no sleep” does not sound that enticing. But! Some of the best staff memories come from a lack of sleep. Like after chapel Waffle House runs or sleeping in the dining hall because your group is leaving at 3:00 am. Those are the good ones.

Hanging out with youth every day!

There are few opportunities we have in this life to spend every day surrounded by middle school and high school kids.. This summer you get to pour into the lives of some awesome students who look up to you in ways that you’ll never understand. Get to know them. Love on them. Encourage them. See them for who they are and be who you needed when you were their age.


This summer is going to open your eyes to things you’ve never seen. You’ll be heartbroken by some of the conditions your new-found friends live in. You’ll become passionate about people and places you may have never even though about before this summer. Your heart will grow in so many ways and your perspective on life and how you live it will be transformed.

His Glory!

2 Corinthians 12:9 “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in your weakness.” Y’all – you are going to feel SO WEAK this summer – and PTL for that! His power is made perfect in our weakness! You’re going to look back at the end of the summer and think, “How on earth did I make it through all of that?” The answer friends, is that you didn’t. He did. He carried you. Glorify Him and praise His name because His grace is sufficient!

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How we smash our comfort zones on mission trips

How we smash our comfort zones on mission trips (1)

What is it about mission trips that flip students’ me-centered worldview upside down?

How can a one week experience make students desire to meet the needs of people around them?

Over the past 23 years, we’ve seen God do this and so much more through mission trips. So what makes all this happen?

We think it’s because we smash our comfort zones on mission trips by…

Seeing real poverty and brokenness

It’s said that “Empathy is the first step in taking compassionate action for someone.” That’s true for mission trips because we’re stepping into a new culture and into real poverty. Seeing someone struggle to keep a roof over their head or provide for their family can shake us, but it shouldn’t stop there. God uses this brokenness for others to change our hearts and impact the people around us.

Uncovering gifts and learning new skills

On mission trips we’re asked to do things we never thought in a million years we’d do… Like build a roof or lead Vacation Bible School for kids. But through these stretching experiences, we can see the gifts God has given us that we never even knew about. Maybe we even learn a new skill, like using a hammer (It’s harder than it looks!) and that’s empowering! Students see that they can do something to change the brokenness in the world around them.

Leaning on the strengths of others

Something amazing happens on mission trips when students learn to rely on each other. They bond. And working with someone they may normally not hang out with may be an unexpected blessing. They may just discover how each part of the body of Christ is stronger when it works together. Learning to love our neighbors will help us better love the people we serve on the mission trip and back home.

Realizing that our lives are made for something (and Someone) greater

Some people call it a “mountain-top experience” or a “spiritual high.” But the truth is, God speaks when we step out of our comfort zones. Or, rather, we can hear Him more clearly when our focus is on Him. As students step out of their normal life to serve others in need, they realize that they are made for so much more. They realize how they were lovingly made by God and created for a specific purpose. This is faith turning personal. This is smashing our comfort zones.

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Pray As You Go (Chapel Theme 2016)

Pray As You Go

Worship services are probably our favorite thing about the summer. The hilarious skits, the videos, staff testimonies, and, of course, the Thursday night drama… every part of the service is unique and we’re so excited about the 2016 Chapel Services!

This summer we will use the TEAMeffort motto “Pray As You Go”, which comes from 1 Thessalonians 5:17, as the focus of our evening talks in Chapel and our daily devotions in the Camper Devotion Book. Every night in Chapel we will look at a different word of that motto and how it applies to our lives.  We will use different scriptures each night, a testimony from a TEAMeffort Staff member and worship music to make clear how each of those words speak to us individually.

Here’s a quick break-down of each night with scripture references. Feel free to use these to prepare your students before the mission week!


PRAY – We will look at the importance of prayer in our lives and learn how Jesus’ example of praying in the Garden of Gethsemane can be used.  Mark 14:32-58.


AS – Tonight Jonah will be our example and how his circumstances affected him and what we can do in the face of our own challenges. Jonah 1:1-16.


YOU – We will look at who we are in Christ and how we are accepted regardless of our situation.  We will be referencing Luke 8:35-40, the man called Legion and John 8:1-11, the adulterous woman.


GO – We will examine how Paul’s everyday interactions with people lead them to Christ and how we can apply those lessons to our own lives as we go from camp back home. Acts 17:16-34, Romans 10:14-15


We’re praying continually for your groups and we’re excited to see what God does in the hearts of your students!

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3 Benefits Of Letting Students Lead Your Mission Trip

3 Benefits Of Letting Students Lead Your Mission Trip

They want to lead!

Despite the grumbling you may hear about waking up early, not having the type of breakfast they prefer, or having to wear sunscreen when they only want to get a tan- your youth WANT to work!

They take pride in seeing a project completed, a project they have memories associated with, a project where they related to the homeowner, calling a project theirs as a family.


They will ask you more questions than you can handle!

As youth leaders it’s an amazing moment with a youth asks you a question! The best type of question being…can you help me?

Although they might not be asking about personal situations, they will absolutely be asking for your help with building. It’s a great way to get them to move toward asking for help on bigger issues.


Life skills go a long way.

Knowing a little bit about being handy can be a great skill to have!

Your youth will feel proud to know they can connect better with parents or family on projects around the house. It can make them feel more confident about their abilities, and what they always want, to feel more grown up!

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4 Reasons This May Be The Hardest Summer Of Your Life

what to do when you feel stuck

Without a doubt, being on staff with TEAMeffort for a summer is one of the most amazing and memorable experiences. We grow in ways we’d never imagine and we make friends that last a lifetime, not to mention we get travel to places we’ve never explored before!

If you’ve been on staff before, you’d agree that God does something special in our hearts over these few months but it’s not done without a little grumbling from us at first.

So here are 4 reasons that this summer may be the hardest (but quite possibly the best) summer of your life…

You will face things you haven’t faced before

Something about giving your all to serve others for the summer opens you up to growing in ways you wouldn’t have imagined before.

Habakkuk 1:5 says, “…I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told.”

God will do a work in YOU while you’re focused on serving OTHERS. You will face parts of your heart you haven’t yet, and will come out changed in a way that you would not believe if told beforehand.


Your life will intertwine with a group of people more than you’d prefer at times

Living, working, worshiping, eating, laughing, and crying are only a few things that you will be doing with your Staff. Literally 24 hours a day for 10 weeks you will be with this new group of people. You will learn each other’s quirks, favorites, dislikes, hearts, testimonies more than you have with anyone else before.

At times the community will be hard or hurtful- but with hardship comes greater depth, love, and reflection of the Body of Christ.


You will feel inadequate

Probably only about 10% of us have ever built a deck, roof, or ramp.

Probably only about 5% of us have ever given direction on a project to someone who has 3 or 4 decades on us.

Without a doubt, you will feel inadequate!

You will not have all the answers to questions Youth Leaders might ask, and you won’t have all the wisdom to offer to a Camper who’s struggling with being bullied. But, you will have God.

The One who has all the answers, all the wisdom, and all the perfection of leadership. You will be forced to lean on Him and praise when you see Him provide and move through you!


Feeling weak will be an understatement

A “work week” for the summer generally equals…100 hours…maybe more?

There will be nights where you don’t remember getting into bed, where you don’t actually remember getting any sleep at all! Days will pass where you can’t remember when your last shower was, and you will have camper’s voices constantly running through your head. You will feel as though you have nothing left to give, you will feel weak.

But we know- God’s power is made perfect in our weakness. You will experience His power in and through you in incredible ways!


What was your experience like working for TEAMeffort?

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6 Ways To Be An Awesome Chaperon This Summer

6 Ways To Be An Awesome Chaperone (2)

Imagine leading a youth trip without chaperons… The thought is painful isn’t it?

The hard work our adult volunteers do behind the scenes and out on the mission sites is significant, to say the least.

Whether you’re a veteran youth leader or a newbie volunteer who just raised their hand to help out and the next thing you know you’re helping lead a group of middle school students on a trip to Puerto Rico… here are things we can all remember to help us be the most awesome chaperon this summer.

Be flexible.

Through leading tons of youth groups from all over the country, we’ve come to learn something: Leaders almost always set the tone for the attitude of the students.

This means that if leaders are frustrated, students will be frustrated. If leaders are discontent, students will be discontent. However, if leaders handle the unexpected bumps in the trip with patience and grace, students pick up on that attitude too.

One of the best ways to assure your students behave well, learn more about the love of God, and get the most out of their mission trip experience, is by remaining flexible and patient with your group and with your staff members.

Engage in the chapel services.

We all want our students to experience the love of God and be engaged in worship. Sometimes, our students just need permission to be themselves and not be embarrassed about singing or raising their hands in worship. One way they can do that is by looking up to their leaders. If you’re fully engaged in the worship service and freely worshiping without worrying about the people around you, then your students will take your lead and begin to do the same.

Often times we can be a spiritual leader for our students without saying anything, but by just letting them see our hearts open before God.

Find moments with your students.

Just attending the mission trip and helping with logistics is not enough. Whether your students make it known or not, they want someone to look up to and learn from, and just be able to hang out with. On the mission site, find moments when you can encourage your students. Ask them questions about what they’re experiencing on the trip so far. Ask them about how they’ve seen God lately.

Don’t get to the end of the trip and realize that you’ve had the most perfectly organized trip but haven’t had a meaningful conversation with your students.

Disconnect along with your students.

A lot of youth leaders make it mandatory for students to disconnect from their friends back home by fasting from social media during the week. Most of the time it requires taking students’ phones away until the last day of camp, which some aren’t always happy about. But disconnecting for a week does so much for the group’s ability to bond with one another.

Without distractions, students are talking and playing games with one another, and this gives you an even greater opportunity to connect with your students. Try disconnecting along with your students and you may be surprised at how fasting from social media impacts you too!

Support your staff member.

It’s easy to take the lead on the mission site, especially if you have a background in construction work or have some experience in inner city homeless ministry. Our staff appreciates the special skill chaperons can bring to the mission site, but it severely hurts the trip when those skilled chaperons take ownership over the site, leaving the assigned staff member without a leading role.

Staff members are there to not only give guidance on how to do the project in the most efficient way, but they’re there to invest in your students spiritually and encourage them. Be on their team and invest in your students together.

Remember, how leaders respect others is directly related to how students will respect others.

Do something out of the ordinary and create a memory.

Mission trips are about way more than the work we do together. They’re about bonding together as a group. Try try to create spontaneous, fun memories together like…

Making up a song in the van ride.

Treating everyone to ice cream after a hot day of working.

Instead of just hanging around after the mission site, getting everyone at camp to play a group game.


What memory making ideas do you have so far for your summer mission trip?

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Why Do We Choose Missions?

are mission trips worth it- (1)

Thinking about our New Years goals and resolutions, we’re asking ourselves why we keep doing missions as a part of our ministry to students…

Why do we go through the long planning process throughout the year? The fundraising? The parent meetings?

What makes a mission trip worth it?

Over the past 21 years, we’ve seen thousands of students step out of their norm and into a week-long, sweaty, tough, but amazing experience of serving those in need. We’ve seen them with blistered hands from hammering a homeowner’s new roof, covered in paint from a week’s worth of renewing a family’s home, and dirty from hanging out with the city’s poorest under bridges. We’ve seen young lives radically changed. And even more incredible, we’ve seen students come back leading their own group of youth on the same kind of mission trip that changed their life years before.

The reason we think mission trips are worth it is because God designed us for missions.

Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

We are made in God’s image—a God of love, compassion, and mercy. As students learn who God is through nightly chapel services and learn how to serve others selflessly, they become more of who they were created to be in Him. That’s amazing!

And being young doesn’t mean that God gives small callings. God speaks to our students in power and makes world-changers on mission trips!

Another reason, and perhaps the most important, is God commanded us to do missions.

Matthew 28:19-20 says, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you…”

We all started following God for a reason. Maybe someone had compassion on us in one of our darkest moments. Maybe we met someone who was so radically different in the way they cared for others because of their faith. Maybe we just heard someone speak God’s word and it was unlike anything we’ve heard before.

The point is, we all became followers of God because one person was obedient to their call to preach the Gospel through their actions and words. God has entrusted us with telling the good news of His saving grace, and our students have an incredible opportunity to bring this news to their generation!

God’s inexhaustible love for us is what compels us to do missions, in the mundane everyday and on trips outside of our norm. We believe in missions because it has transformed our hearts.

Why do you keep choosing missions? 

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Daily Reading of Joshua: the humble leader


We want to hire Staff who are leaders!

Quiet leaders
Outgoing leaders
Logistical leaders
Worship leaders
Relational leaders

…Our aim is to create Camps filled with young adults excited and ready to lead Campers towards the Lord and His Gospel.

We have so much to learn! Any and every Staff would say they came out of the summer a better leader than when they entered into it, and with tons more knowledge and experience.

During the summer, it seems like our minds and hearts are almost perked to learning and leading. We are constantly looking out for what needs to be done and jumping up to make sure it gets finished. We are looking out for Campers, trying to talk with them about struggles, helping and trying to please homeowners, and ending the week with groups that had an incredible life changing experience.

Sometimes during the year it can feel like we aren’t as prone to lock into leadership and learning. As a Staff team we want to continue to push into being learners and becoming better leaders for the Kingdom, whether in the midst of a crazy Monday morning at Camp, or as we wake up for an 8am class.

On January first, we challenged the 2015 Summer Staff Team to take up the resolution of reading one chapter from the book of Joshua every day during their quiet time.

We see the book of Joshua as an awesome book to learn from about what leadership looks like- humble and God founded leadership.

So far we’ve seen Joshua as someone who hears from the Lord clearly, obeys quickly, holds to the standards the Lord lays out, and receives respect and following from the flock the Lord has entrusted to him. We hope to keep learning, applying, and asking God to make us better leaders for this summer!

As we read through Joshua each day, we are answering a few questions to try and prompt us in interacting with the Text and applying it…

  • After reading this chapter, what stands out to you the most, and why?

  • What does this chapter say about the Lord?

  • How does this affect my view of the Lord?

  • What will be different about my life today because of this passage?

We invite you, as Youth Leaders to join us in working through the book of Joshua for the month of January! Our prayer is to interact with this scripture together as we are spread out all over the nation, and to be unified even more as the body of Christ.

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What Makes A TEAMeffort Summer?

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Can you believe the summer is already over? We here in the office are already planning for next year, but the memories of the summer are still fresh in our minds.

If you’ve ever been on staff before, you might find yourself separating the year in your mind: TEAMeffort Summer vs. the rest of the year…

We are definitely right there with you on that one.

So what is it that makes a TE summer so special? Why are those two short months so life changing? Why do we have the most fun sleeping on church floors and going without showers? (Really though, we didn’t shower a whole lot.)

I asked some of our office staff that very question and here’s what they thought…

Seeing students “get it”… This summer, a student shared about seeing his need for a relationship with Jesus. He talked with his youth pastor and decided to get baptized in our lake in Jacksonville, FL! He didn’t want to wait. That was pretty cool!     (Rachel Boulanger) 

Gaining new “family”… This group of strangers you’re living and working with becomes a family in those two months. When I look back on a summer, I don’t think about lack of showers or sleep, I think of all the people that made the summer special. PLUS, by the end, you know you always have a friend to see when you travel.    (Ren Wilson and Carly Hall)

No sleep = irrational crankyness = funny stories later on… We have quite a few hilarious stories by the end of a summer. (Carly Hall)

Forming relationships with people in the community we serve… This past summer I had to opportunity to work at our New Orleans camp as well as our new camp, Gulf Coast, MS. In each location I was able to form friendships that were focused on the Lord and seeing his glory brought to each community! From Ms. Johanna, our lovely homeowner in Mississippi, who would knit hats and slippers for each of our groups, to Pastor Jack and his church family in New Orleans, who would cook us lunch every Thursday, each camp is filled with loving relationships that bring light of God’s great name to the communities!      (Matt Beyland)

Chapel… There is nothing better than seeing students rejoice in the Lord. To see youth groups lay themselves down before God and worship his name is one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen. A community of believers shouting praise to our Father! What could be better?      (Matt Beyland)

Being completely worn out and overwhelmed… One thing that I’ve noticed during many TEAMeffort summers is that you have to depend on the Lord for so much.  So much is going on and you are so busy, it’s impossible to do everything by your own strength.  There have been so many moments that I have been overwhelmed, but the Lord always gives me the strength or the peace I need to carry on.    (Caleb Vermilya)

Mission site stories… We allow the campers to come up in front of everyone and share how they have seen God on the mission site.  Some stories end up being hilarious and sometimes you really see the kids open up and share what the Lord is doing and it provides some really beautiful stories.  You sit back and think to yourself, “This is it. This is why I’m here. To see these kids and home owners growing closer to Jesus.”  There’s nothing better than that.     (Caleb Vermilya) 

What do YOU think makes a TEAMeffort summer? 

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What the McDermotts learned from their summers on staff at TEAMeffort…


We have been honored to serve four summers with TEAMeffort in Sautee, Georgia (2011), Gatlinburg, TN (2012), and Antigua, Guatemala (2013-2014). Although there have been many incredible adventures, hilarious moments, and lifelong friendships as a result of these summers, the greatest blessing has been the growth in our relationship with Christ. Setting aside a summer (as a staff member) or a week (as a camper) can have tremendous impact on one’s walk with Christ.

Throughout our time serving with TEAMeffort, one of the biggest areas of growth was in our dependence on Christ. All summers, but especially the first summer, were challenging, exhausting, and just plain hard. There were so many times when we felt like a rubber band stretched completely outside of our comfort zones. However, through this time, we learned to totally depend on Christ for our daily bread. He is trustworthy to sustain us, equip us, and strengthen us for the task he’s prepared for us. Christ was sufficient for our weaknesses and our summer was one of the most beautiful and impactful times of our entire lives. Serving in missions shows us that Christ is enough.

As both staff and campers, missions are an intentional time of focusing on God through reading his Word, prayer, serving others, and community with other believers. Whenever we set aside all distractions and focus on God, we draw closer to him than we ever could’ve imagined. Some of the most incredible times were times of prayer together at midnight with a staff that was passionate for Christ and for him to work in the lives of the people we were serving. When we open ourselves fully to God, we begin to know him more intimately as our Father and as our friend.

Serving in any capacity with missions camps or trips is also an awesome opportunity to have God completely open your eyes and give you new perspective. Whenever we follow Christ’s example and lay down our lives to serve others, we begin to see that life isn’t all about us and our needs and our struggles. There are people all around the country and the world who are struggling emotionally, physically, financially, and spiritually and its incredible to be able to reach out and love these people. Even more so, we also begin to see that our lives are ultimately not to be lived for our purposes but for the glory of the one who created us and died to redeem us. Our jobs, our education, our family, our marriage, our dreams, our goals, our talents, and our very lives are all for the purpose of bringing glory to God. This life is not about us.

Beyond the growth and change that occurs during the week or summer serving in missions, our experiences often transform our lives in ways we could never have expected. For us, our time serving with TEAMeffort also was a significant part of God leading us to pursue long-term missions overseas. As we have had our eyes opened to God’s grand story throughout history and throughout all the world, we want our lives to play a part in his story. There are millions of people around the world that God loves deeply and cares about and yet no one has told them the greatest news in the world – Jesus Christ has made a way! He was our sacrifice and lived the perfect life we could never live and then died the death we deserve. And God raised him from the dead showing that he had conquered sin and death forever. Now that’s a message worth surrendering everything in order to tell the world about! May we all join in God’s story as we live our lives for his glory alone.

-Brooke and Aaron McDermott

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