Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT IS THE FOCUS OF BE THE NEIGHBOR?
We know it is important for youth to have an opportunity to work and serve others, but we believe it is most important for youth to learn about root causes and systemic issues and go back their communities with a vision to serve and work for justice beyond the mission trip week. Be the Neighbor weeks always include service but are centered around educational and relational experiences. We believe that the combination of direct service, indirect service, relational ministry, and intentional learning opportunities will have the most impact on youth, and ultimately, on your community and our world.
WHAT KIND OF TRIPS DO YOU OFFER?
At Be the Neighbor we offer Reach trips and Connect trips. In 2023, Reach sites are Albuquerque, Austin, Chicago and Tulsa. Connect sites are Dallas, Fort Worth, Mayfield, Kansas City, Nashville and Tucson. CONNECT trips help participants answer the question, "How do I connect with my neighbors in my own community, whose life experience is different from mine, so that we can work together to make our communities places where all of us can thrive?" Focusing on the justice topic of each site, Connect trips help participants meet their neighbors affected by the injustice, learn a myriad of ways to address the problem through relationship building, service, and justice work, and leave equipped and excited to go back to work for change in their own neighborhoods. REACH trips help participants answer the question, "How do I reach beyond my own community and understand the root causes and systemic nature of the injustices that affect me and my neighbors?" Focusing on the justice topic of each site, Reach trips help participants begin to understand the big picture of the issues that affect their community. Through direct and indirect service, experiential learning activities, and conversations with expert guest leaders, participants learn ways to address root causes and systemic issues, so that they may go back to their communities with a vision to serve and work for justice beyond the trip week. CONNECT and REACH trips can be stand alone trips, but also work great in tandem with each other. Consider rotating between Connect and Reach trips over the years to help your group be equipped to be the faithful, just, and loving neighbors Jesus calls us to be.
WHO MAY REGISTER?
We accept registrations from congregational or judicatory leaders, college groups, and school groups. Registration is for the entire group. We do not accept family or individual registrations.
WHEN DO WEEKS BEGIN AND END?
Weeks typically begin on Sunday evening and conclude on Friday morning; however, you may stay through Saturday morning in most locations so that you may enjoy the city on Friday. If you plan to stay through Saturday morning, please let us know.
WHAT AGES MAY COME?
Different Be the Neighbor locations are appropriate for different age-groups. Appropriate age-groups are noted at the top of each location description page. Some locations are specifically for youth who have completed grades 6-12. Some locations are appropriate for all ages. Intergenerational weeks include ages 3 and up.
HOW MANY ADULTS DO WE BRING WITH CHILDREN?
GRADES 2-5: Adult leaders must be 21 years of age and know your children well. We require a ratio of 1 adult leader for every 3 children. Interns ages 18-20 who are serving on your staff may come as part of your adult team, but they may not be counted in your adult to child ratio. For the protection of all participants, your church is required to complete a national multi-state criminal background check for each adult over age 18 that will participate in your week. Groups must provide Be the Neighbor with written confirmation (form provided) that a national multi-state criminal background check has been completed by your congregation within the past year prior to your week. INTERGENERATIONAL Groups: We welcome intergenerational groups that include children as young as three years. We require a 1 to 1 ratio for children ages 3-7 (completing first grade). For the protection of all participants, groups must provide Be the Neighbor with written confirmation (form provided) that a national multi-state criminal background check has been completed by your congregation within the past year prior to your week for your group leaders and a release of liability.
HOW MANY ADULTS DO WE BRING WITH YOUTH?
GRADES 6-12: Adult leaders must be at least 22 years of age and know your youth well. We require a ratio of 1 adult leader for every 6 youth. College-age interns serving on your staff may come as part of your adult team, but they may not be counted in your adult to youth ratio. For the protection of all youth participants, your church is required to complete a national multi-state criminal background check for each adult over age 18 that will participate in your week. Groups must provide Be the Neighbor with written confirmation (form provided) that a national multi-state criminal background check has been completed by your congregation within the past year prior to your week.
WHAT WILL OUR ADULTS DO?
Your adult leaders are important to the success of Be the Neighbor. In addition to working alongside your children or youth, your adult leaders will drive a small group to service sites, lead your evening group conversations (guide provided), and most importantly, work alongside your children or youth at service sites. Your adult leaders are responsible for the safety of your group and need to be able to follow through with any behavioral issues.
ARE THERE OTHER GROUPS?
If your group has 20 participants or less, your week may remain open for other groups to register. Your youth will be divided into small teams. Your group may join with youth from other groups at service sites. An adult from your group will always be with your youth.
WHO PROVIDES TRANSPORTATION? WHAT TYPE OF TRANSPORTATION IS BEST?
Your group provides transportation (vehicles, gas, and mileage) to and from service sites. If your group is large, you will need designated transportation for every 10 to 12 participants because your group may be divided into small service groups several times during your week. Mini-vans, large SUVs, and 12-passenger vans are best choices.
WHERE DO WE STAY? HOW IS HOUSING ASSIGNED?
Adults and youth are housed in a local church or dorm facility. In traditional 2 people per room dorm facilities, you will be able to assign your participants to rooms. In churches, your group will be assigned designated sleeping spaces that you may use in the way that is most comfortable for your group.
WHO PREPARES MEALS?
Meals are intentionally simple. Breakfast meals might be catered, prepared by dorm staff, by local congregations, or by BTN staff. Simple fixings are provided each morning for you to make a sack lunch to take with you for the day. We provide ice and coolers. Dinner is on your own. Most locations offer kitchen facilities for you to prepare evening meals, but we encourage you to take advantage of local eateries. We’ll provide a snack each day.
WHO LEADS THE WEEK?
Your week will be facilitated by a leadership team of one or two young adult summer staff under the supervision of a Site Director. The leadership team will ensure that everything is prepared and ready so that you and your adult leaders may experience the week alongside your youth. The leadership team will make certain that you have supplies, directions to service sites, food, and lodging. The team leads morning focus, afternoon learning activities, and hosts guest leaders. Our leadership team members are not camp counselors, but rather, are servant leaders who are well-trained and ready to help you lead your group through an amazing week! Our staff have passed a national multi-state criminal background check and have received extensive training which includes First Aid/CPR Certification, Safe Conduct Training, Food Handling Certification, Special Needs Training, Anti-Racism Training, Inclusive Language Training, in addition to Leadership and Program Training.
WHAT IS THE CURRICULUM?
Be the Neighbor provides a biblically based justice education curriculum that addresses poverty, charity, justice, and systemic issues. The curriculum includes learning about advocacy and developing a plan of action beyond the mission week. We expect that you will bring adult leaders capable of leading a small group, who know your youth, and who can discuss biblical texts and justice issues from your church's theological perspective. Your group will participate in learning activities and hear from guest leaders who serve in social service, public policy, government, ministry, and justice advocacy organizations.
WHAT IS INCLUDED IN THE COST?
Breakfast Monday through the final morning of your week
Simple sack lunch fixings
Lodging/showers in a local church or a college dorm
A dedicated Site-Director and one or two fully trained staff to facilitate your week
Fully planned service and educational experiences
Honorariums for speakers, costs for activities, entrance fees, donations to service partners
A t-shirt and a lunch bag for each participant
Printed guides for small groups
Online consultation with Be the Neighbor planning staff in the spring.
Online training for your adult leaders two weeks prior to your trip.
Be the Neighbor is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit, funded by participant fees, grants, and donations.
WHAT IS OUR DENOMINATIONAL AFFILIATION?
Be the Neighbor is related to the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ. We are intentionally ecumenical and have also hosted groups from the United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church USA, the Alliance of Baptists, the American Baptist Church, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Episcopal Church.