This is the second half of a two-part series on planning a successful Youth Choir Tour. This segment addresses places to sing and serve, daily details and how to make the experience meaningful for all involved.
Places to Sing and Serve
A key component of your tour will be leading worship and/or performing. Begin by finding a church that will host you in their Sunday morning worship. Make sure that the repertoire your group can sing is a good fit for their worship style and take time to communicate with the pastors and music staff at your host church to ensure a successful collaboration. For additional singing opportunities, find out if there is a Vacation Bible School in the area the week you are traveling. Or, maybe there is a church that provides a concert series you could participate in.
Retirement homes offer an obvious concert opportunity, but try to include some additional interaction with the residents. Try a game of bingo or other recreation to help connect the youth to the residents. Preschools, daycamps, community shelters, prisons and senior centers might also offer opportunities. If you can add a service component along with your singing, the experience becomes even more meaningful for all involved.
Just be sure that each place you choose will result in a positive experience for your singers. If you have choir of 12 singers trying to fill a large worship space, they may leave feeling defeated. Singing outside, at a shopping mall or providing background music at a loud event may initially sound appealing, but often proves to be a less than satisfying experience for all involved.
Your planning should include a detailed itinerary for youth and chaperones. Every meal should be planned and it should be clear if youth are expected to bring money for certain meals. You need to plan times and a place for daily rehearsal, worship, and devotionals. Include some planned recreation time each day, sightseeing activities where appropriate, and a limited amount of free time. You want your youth to have enough time to ‘power down’ and not feel rushed from one event to the next, but you don’t want to be so unstructured that they have time to get into trouble (a fine line!). It’s also nice to give your chaperones some time to relax so that they are fresh to help you along the way. Two things I include on every tour are a couple of extra hours on check-in day (it always seems to take longer than you think to get checked into rooms and deal with any issues that may come up) and an easy morning in the latter part of the trip. Teenagers inevitably seem to run sleep-deprived on these trips and they will appreciate a later morning to catch up.
Making the Experience Meaningful
You have worked hard to plan a great trip and you’ve conquered a thousand details to get everyone there. Make sure that you take some time for everyone to find greater meaning in what you are doing. Talk about the worship services you participate in and compare those with your home church. What was better? What did they miss? How can you improve your own worship at home? Take time to analyze the teamwork that happens on your trip and the musicianship that is built. How can that strengthen your choir in the coming year? Consider having your older youth mentor the younger ones throughout the trip to build those connections. Use the texts of your songs as a basis for worship and devotion. Challenge your singers to strengthen their prayer life and become more spiritually centered during your time together. Finally, don’t forget to share some of the great stories and experiences of your youth choir tour with your congregation when you get home so they can help celebrate the good work your youth are doing. Blessings to you as you embark on Youth Choir Tour!