In our congregation, the High School Youth Group participates in a short-term trip each summer. For summer 2021, we created a service learning trip. Given continued uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to be flexible, we decided to plan our entire trip “in-house” so that we could make appropriate decisions regarding travel, housing, and pivoting activities as needed. For this trip, we travelled to Atlanta, Georgia, where we spent two full days exploring museums and civil rights sites. Then, we returned to our home city of Indianapolis and engaged in three days of service with local community partners.
Trip Purpose & Goals
We decided that the purpose of this trip was to engage our youth in learning about racial justice. We titled the trip Walk, Love, Serve based on Micah 6:8. During the trip, we invited youth to walk alongside each other and the members of the communities we visited and served, learn about how we can love others through difference, and serve neighbors in our city.
Some of the specific goals of this trip were:
- To engage our youth (and the adults who accompanied them) in learning and discussion about racism and its impact on our city
- To provide participants with the courage and skills to have conversations about racism in their homes, schools, and communities
- To help youth identify their role in antiracism work as people of faith
- To strengthen our congregation’s relationship with local nonprofits and neighbors by providing relational service opportunities for our young people
Our pod of six youth and four adults learned and grew together in so many ways.
- We worshiped, prayed, and shared highs and lows every day.
- We explored the history of racism in the United States.
- We practiced how to have conversations about racism with other people.
- We played games with children.
- We participated in the ministry of an urban garden.
- We ended our week with a gathering around the font, giving thanks for Baptism and by recommitting ourselves to the work of antiracism in our church, community, nation, and world.
To view a PDF of our itinerary, click here.
The Highlight: Sharing Our Learnings
Although there were so many good moments, a highlight of the trip was watching our youth share their experience with others. On the final night, we invited family and friends to join us for a presentation on all of the things we learned during the week. Youth talked about what they saw and learned: topics ranged from the history of redlining and housing discrimination to sharing what we learned about Burma from refugees we met in our own community. Our group also created a list of the things we watched, listened to, and experienced that we shared with family, friends, and trip supporters in order to promote continued learning and conversation (click here to view our resource list).
This was a new type of service trip for our youth, and we hope that this experience empowers our young people to continue their journey of antiracist learning and practice. We also hope that this trip leads to more conversations about racial justice within our own congregation.