COVID-19 Updates & Summer 2020 postponement

As we’ve continued to monitor the latest news and guidelines from the CDC, WHO, our local cosponsors and various state government agencies on how to mitigate this pandemic, we recognize there is too much unknown risk and we have an important role to keep as many people healthy and safe as possible. Therefore, after much prayer and consideration, we are postponing our entire 2020 domestic mission trip season to next year. We are heartbroken for how this decision impacts you and your students, our residents and cosponsors, and our staff who’ve poured their heart into preparing this season for you. But we trust in a God who is good and has plans greater than we can imagine. And we have faith that something truly amazing is brewing for Group Mission Trips in summer 2021. We’re looking forward to sharing some spectacular God-sightings together.

COVID-19 Updates

If there’s one thing we’ve learned after 30+ years of leading mission trips, it’s that God often shows up in the greatest way when our plans fall apart.

We hear it over and over again when we invite campers and leaders to share God Sightings during our evening programs—and the common theme always emerges of how something went sideways but God revealed something awesome. 

If you’re in youth ministry, you know exactly what we’re talking about. You’ve learned that ministry breakthroughs don’t require perfectly executed plans, or record-breaking attendance, or sky-high budgets. Ministry happens in the mess, and God shows up in beautiful ways when we’ve dropped to our knees and handed the broken pieces over to him.

We know you’re dealing with the pain of interrupted ministry plans right now, and you’re doing your best to navigate these waters of uncertainty and fear for yourselves, your families, and your students.

We are doing the same.

For the past year our staff at Group Mission Trips has poured our time, passion, and resources into preparing for the 25 Workcamps, 13 Week of Hopes, 3 Merge Conferences, and dozens of international mission trips all over the world. We’ve put the final touches on our 2020 program theme. We’ve recruited, interviewed, and hired 76 amazing college students as summer staff leaders, 100 MC’s and Camp directors, set-up directors, site writers, and recruited and placed more than 400 red shirt volunteers into our mission trip programs throughout the summer.

As COVID-19 began to lurk in the background our staff jumped to action working with every individual cosponsor and local ministry partner to plan for more stringent protocols in hygiene, sleeping arrangements, sanitation, and food preparation. We restructured our spring training plans for summer staff and volunteers, and we assessed individual home repair sites through the wonders of technology. And we hoped and prayed this virus would be contained by summer.

But now we’re reminded once again that even the best-laid ministry efforts don’t always go according to our own plans.

As we’ve continued to monitor the latest news and guidelines from the CDC, WHO, our local cosponsors and various state government agencies on how to mitigate this pandemic, we recognize that there is too much unknown risk and we have an important role in being part of the solution to keep as many people healthy and safe as possible. The health and safety of our campers, leaders, staff, volunteers and the communities we serve has always been of utmost importance and is a responsibility we don’t take lightly.

Potentially risking lives by hosting mission trips later this summer in order to lessen the devastating economic impact to our ministry does not align with our overall missional values. Safety has always been our number one priority. We understand that spiritual growth, sustainable service, and transformative relationships can’t happen if the environment is not physically safe.

Therefore, after much prayer and consideration, we are postponing our entire 2020 domestic mission trip season to next year.

Our customer care team will be reaching out individually to every registered church to explore the options for your group based on this announcement. We will also be connecting with all of our cosponsors, summer staff, and red shirts this week and ask for your patience and grace as we work together with you to make the best of this situation. Until we have chance to connect with you, we have created specific FAQs on our website to address 2020 related questions.

If you are registered for an International trip, we are working directly with our ministry partners in each country to make the best decisions for our partners, our teams, and those we serve. Some international teams may still travel as planned to their locations. Please contact Robin @970-800-4000 to check on the status of your trip.

We are heartbroken for how this decision impacts you and your students, our residents and cosponsors, and our staff who’ve poured their heart into preparing this season for you. But we trust in a God who is good and has plans greater than we can imagine. And we have faith that something truly amazing is brewing for Group Mission Trips in summer 2021. We’re looking forward to sharing some spectacular God-sightings together.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”-Jeremiah 29:11.

Summer 2020 Postponment FAQs

Our customer care team will be reaching out individually to every registered church to explore the options for your group based on this announcement. We will also be connecting with all of our cosponsors, summer staff, and Red Shirts this week and ask for your patience and grace as we work together with you to make the best of this situation. Until we have chance to connect with you, we have created a list of FAQs to address 2020 related questions.

Our group has already made a partial payment (which was due in March) for our 2020 mission trip. What are our options now that 2020 has been postponed?
  • Credit on your account: Payments that were made in spring 2020 for your 2020 mission trip will be credited to your account for you to use on any of our mission experiences within the next three years. Also, we will extend an ADDITIONAL $50 per person discount for each of your registrants on your next trip. The credits will be deducted from your remaining balance. Standard payment deadlines will remain (including payment of fall deposits to secure each spot as well as your partial payment in March.)
  • Donate it to our non-profit ministry: As a small non-profit ministry, 99% of our revenue comes from our summer mission trip payments. We charge the lowest prices possible while providing an exceptional experience, which covers our mission trips costs and basic operating expenses at a break-even model. Because of this decision to operate a bare-bones mission-minded ministry, we have no additional financial reserves to draw from in crisis situations like this, no financial endowments, no operating-expense grants (grants typically go directly to our local cosponsors) and very few consistent monetary donations. Losing the majority of our revenue for 2020, as well as offering to refund the payments that churches have already been invested into the 2020 mission trip development process, leave us empty handed and trusting God for provision. Therefore, we are prayerfully asking for your help in keeping this ministry running and able to provide mission trip experiences for you and your students in the future. If you feel led, we would be so grateful if you’d consider donating any or all of your payment amounts to GMT as a way of helping our ministry continue.
  • Refund: We understand that our refund policy allows for the return of partial payments (excluding deposits) through May 15, and despite this unimaginable crisis we feel ethically bound to honor that policy for those who request a refund. Please be understanding that your partial payment has already been invested in the development of 2020, and we are praying for and seeking funding in order to refund you. We have applied for a loan with the Small Business Administration and we are in conversation with our bank on other funding options. We understand your church and students’ families are struggling financially—as we all are—and appreciate your patience.
Can I get a refund on my $50 per person deposit?

Refunds will not be given on deposits. We have always had a non-refundable deposit policy, as we invest these deposits to prepare for summer mission trips working with local cosponsors to develop hundreds of detailed work sites, organizing logistics for camp locations, recruiting and training the 120+ summer staffers, directors, and MC’s as well as recruiting and coordinating the roles of 400 volunteers who serve behind the scenes at every mission trip location.

Will the locations that were available in 2020 be available in 2021?

We hope so! We are working with all our 2020 locations and when possible, we will include them in 2021. Look for our complete list of 2021 locations in the coming weeks.

Can I register now for our trip in 2021?

Registration for 2021 will open in July. Spaces can be held, for free, until October 31st, 2020 when deposits are due.

Will high school seniors graduating in 2020 be allowed to attend in the summer of 2021?

Absolutely! We welcome older students who’ve graduated; however, we do require a background check on all individuals age 18 or older. Pro tip: If you have college students age 21 or older you can count them as adult chaperones to reach your adult/student ratio!

Would you be willing to help our church do a hometown mission experience this summer?

Yes! We’d love to come alongside you and help in any way we can, and we have hundreds of contacts all over the country we can connect you with to explore the possibility of local service experience for your students this summer. Just give us a call and we will do everything we can to support you.

How does this impact international trips?

If you are registered for an International trip, we are working directly with our ministry partners in each country to make the best decisions for our partners, our teams, and those we serve. Some international teams may still travel as planned to their locations. Please contact Robin @970-800-4000 to check on the status of your trip.

Summer Staff: What does postponing summer 2020 mean for my employment

Because of the decision to put health and safety first and postpone our mission trips this summer we will unfortunately not have an employment opportunity for you this summer. If you have completed the Summer Staff interview process and were accepted to serve in 2020, we will automatically accept you for 2021. We are so sorry that we have to postpone our opportunity to work together but we would love to serve with you in 2021. Our staffing team will be in touch with each of you shortly.