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Church Youth Choir, Touring Advice

 Friends - I lead (among other things) a small church youth choir of about 12-14 kids.   I feel that their focus and enthusiasm has been very weak, and also feel that the goal of a tour would be one of the best bonding experiences we could do. (If you disagree, I welcome your thoughts!)
Our church does not have a large active youth ministry, but does a very strong summer missions work project for teens through adults that is THE pervasive event for youth in the summer.
I really need some experienced advice (as "veteran" as I am these days, you'd think I should know this stuff!)
* I fully support the summer mission event, but feel the need to build this kind of experience with the youth choir.
* I will have the hurdles of 
1. families who are loyal to and commit to do the mission trip every summer
2. the financial issue (if tour costs much at all) of families paying for more than one summer thing at church
3. The church culture in which kids will not be able to see the vision very well for tour until we actually DO it.
4. a youth praise band that competes for some kids, while some kids do both choir and praise band.
We are a United Methodist Church ... the youth choir intentionally does some traditional choral music and some praise music some ethnic/global, etc.  It's too small a group to sing with a "band".  
I'm asking for some words of wisdom and direction - ideally from some who have built from a smaller number up, and perhaps who have figured out how to balance the support of a church mission trip with a youth choir tour.
Dan Wagner
Minister of Music
Grace UMC, Naperville, IL
on June 2, 2010 12:51pm
Hi, Dan; it's good to hear from you!
Just a thought, but why can a youth choir tour not ALSO be a mission?  Or perhaps be introduced as a new aspect of the existing mission, rather than a competing activity?  That takes care of the pre-production vision thing, but leave you free to work with your kids and parents to refine a specific vision.
My late wife was definitely a case of starting from something small and building the program up, but neither touring nor missions were a regular part of our church's youth activities.  However, her Choristers were given responsibility for the Family Service every Sunday during the academic year, and their one "tour" of the year was a parent-supervised trip to Colonial Williamsburg the weekend after school was out, an Evensong at Bruton Parish Church, and a day at Bush Gardens theme park.
All the best,
on January 25, 2011 12:54pm
Good morning, Dan.
I agree with John that you can successfully combine the youth choir "tour" with a mission trip.  We have done a combined choir/mission trip for years at my church in Katy, TX.  What we eventually decided to do was to alternate years where one year we would have a choir tour exclusively with the choir  and then the next year we would combine the youth group with the youth choir and participate in a mission/choir tour trip.  The combined scenario provides a built in audience since many of the youth group do not sing in the choir.  It is helpful to have a healthy, cooperative relationship with the youth group leader.  Once you take the plunge and take that first choir tour the students will be on board.  Make certain you take a trip that involves some singing, a fun thing or two that they will really enjoy, and many opportunities for the students to interact.  Just last year we took the youth choir to Florida and rented a beach house.  They played and hung out on the beach most of the day, sang at several nursing homes, sang for a church one night, rode go-karts, etc.  Most important element is to have lots of food!   A few years ago we took a combined mission/choir trip after a hurricane had hit the coast and worked together during the day cleaning houses, painting, construction, etc. and then in the evening the choir would sing a concert at the church or sing for a nearby nursing/retirement home.  It really worked well.  You could even include your praise band.   Feel free to contact me if I can be of any further assistance.  I have been doing youth choir tours for 16 years.  They are wonderful and the students love the time together.
David Galasso
Director of Music
St Peters UMC
Katy, TX
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