As I was paging through a student travel magazine a few days ago, I happened to come across an interesting article. It was written by Matt Poe, and entitled “Memory Makers.” Included were several ideas that made great memories for students, and simultaneously helped with the execution of a student trip. I found the original article in a copy of Student and Youth Traveler, but for those of you who are more likely to surf the internet than to peruse old magazines, I thought I would include the main points from the article, as well as some of my own thoughts, in convenient web form.
The first suggestion Poe makes is to consider having a group T-shirt. This has several benefits: it provides something for students to take home and remember the trip by, and also helps them feel like part of a group. Students can even help design the shirts, or choose the color scheme. Something that Poe doesn’t mention is that matching t-shirts also provide an excellent way for group leaders to keep track of their students while traveling. When my high school church group went to Mexico I saw this benefit firsthand. Keeping track of 16 high school students was no easy chore, so our youth pastor had bright red shirts designed for our group, and required us to wear them on the way to Mexico and back. We would often overhear him counting, “…13…14…15…wait…where’s Ro?” but we never lost anyone.
Another idea the article sets forth is to make luggage tags and ID cards for the students. ID cards are a safety precaution, and can contain the student’s name, as well as the group’s name, the hotel the group is staying at, and important phone numbers. Luggage tags are also helpful, especially when traveling by air. Anyone who has ever spent 45 minutes at a luggage claim trying to distinguish their standard black suitcase from all the other identically black standard suitcases knows what I’m talking about. For safety reasons, it may be helpful to only include the group’s name, and not the student’s personal information. Luggage tags and ID cards can double as great memory makers for students who like to keep a scrapbook or memory box.
A final tip for creating a memorable experience for students is to have a group photo or video. A group photo can be attained with relative ease, but consider having a photographer along to capture footage of the students; the various places they go and the things they do. A professional photographer may be too pricey, but you can always ask a parent to man the video camera. When the trip is over edit the footage and set it to music for a memory that students can actually watch. This is another thing I can personally vouch for. On all the trips I took with my church, whether to camp or on a missions trip, our leaders had videos made. It was so fun for us to look back at our experiences, and was also a great way for our parents to feel like they were part of our experience.
These are just a few tips to create lasting memories for students. They will also help the execution of the trip to be smooth and safe. I enjoyed Poe’s article, and hope that the summary will be helpful in planning your own student tour.