World Race: Gap Year
How World Race: Gap Year prepares your son or daughter
Meet Our Leadership
I’ve never heard of World Race or Adventures in Missions. Who are you?
We’ve been around since 1989, starting with planning and mobilizing youth group mission trips and growing to include programs such as the World Race, family trips, adult trips, disaster response trips, overseas bases, on-campus discipleship programs and more. In that time, we’ve sent over 130,000 people to the field. Our 2019 Annual Report has a 30 year anniversary video, a great timeline and an overview that you may find helpful.
We are a non-denominational ministry with a basic evangelical Statement of Faith. You can read our Statement of Faith, as well as our Ministry Distinctives here.
We are a 501(c)(3) organization in good standing with the ECFA (Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability).
How are you going to keep my son or daughter safe?
As with any international travel, there are risks. Sending thousands of missionaries to approximately 40 countries annually, Adventures in Missions places a high value on participant safety and the stewardship of our participants.
We have implemented a multi-pronged approach to risk mitigation that includes consulting our local contacts on the ground, reviewing data from multiple risk alert sources and government agencies, aggregating data from our organization’s experience, training and equipping our participants in industry best practices, enforcing a high frequency of communication, and managing a robust incident reporting system so we can provide assistance in the event of an injury, illness, or safety related incident. The majority of our focus is on being proactive, but we are readily available and equipped to provide assistance when a situation arises.
Every situation that arises on the field is unique and is handled with care. Adventures in Missions has developed a Crisis Action Plan with the involvement of global insurance specialists and risk mitigation experts. This plan defines the various levels of severity and how we respond.
The specifics regarding the data that we collect is used internally to continuously improve our processes, procedures, and communication, as well as make well informed decisions regarding where we send our missionaries, and how we train.
We monitor global risk and the political climate on a daily basis. We have only very rarely had to implement evacuation plans, but they are specifically tailored to each unique situation. In most cases, we’re able to make a route adjustment (if we deem it necessary) far in advance of needing to worry about the possibility of an evacuation. Participants are registered through the U.S. State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), so the U.S. Embassies are aware of our team’s general whereabouts when in-country.
Hospitalization is actually quite common when you understand that in many developing nations they do not have walk-in clinics or quick care facilities. If a person gets sick, they go to the hospital. We train, extensively, on ways that a participant can mitigate personal risk as it relates to food and insect borne illnesses (most are preventable through proper hygiene, avoidance, or medication). Resources are also made readily available through our participant dashboard that are specific to each country. In addition, we provide our participants with a database of recommended international medical providers, and we’re always helping them navigate each situation.
Fundraising - how does that work and what happens if they don’t raise it?
One: A reminder – While we do believe in being faithful to the “work” of fundraising, we have also seen God show up in unexpected ways – often building the faith of both the Racer and their parents. These “God stories” can be just the beginning of what He does throughout the Race.
Two: The process – We are committed to supporting Racers in the fundraising process. For Gap Year, there will be several fundraising deadlines, both pre-launch and post-launch, to help them stay on track. Their Admissions Advisors have fundraised both for their own Race and for their role on staff at Adventures in Missions and they know how to be helpful and encouraging. Fundraising roadmaps, practical tools, ideas and other resources are all available to the Racers. Parent Ministry, a few months before launch, holds a FB Live for parents in order to share ideas and answer questions.
We do not believe that parents should be the primary driving force behind the fundraising efforts. This is one of the places we ask the Racer to take ownership of the process and we hold them accountable for meeting the deadlines. Parents who love helping are certainly welcome to help, but no parent should feel backed in the corner and “forced” to come up with the remaining funds.
If Racers don’t follow through and do it, and either can’t launch or have to come home early, it will likely be painful for you as their parent. But letting them “fail” in this – and learn from this – could ultimately benefit them more than the trip itself.
Three: Fundraising policies and legalities – There are legal constraints, IRS regulations and ECFA guidelines, that we must comply with as a non-profit. Therefore donations are non-refundable and non-transferable (in that we cannot transfer them to another person’s fundraising account). In legalese, all of our participants are “deputized fundraisers” for Adventures in Missions since tax-deductible donations must be made to an organization or program rather than to an individual. Adventures in Missions must maintain full control and discretion over the funds.
For someone who realizes, before they launch, that they are going to fall short, they have the option to defer to a future trip or switch to a shorter trip and have the funds they have raised be applied to that trip instead. There are certain time and program limits, but our Donor Relations department can help with any specific questions. For someone who does not make a fundraising deadline goal after they launch, World Race works with them on an individualized fundraising action plan. Our goal is to do everything we can to help Racers stay on the field.
You can find a fuller version of our financial policies here.
Visit our Donation FAQ page here.
For a short video interview with the head of Donor Relations, click here.
What expectations should I have? Especially about communication and information.
To some degree, communication with your Racer will be influenced by the availability of wifi at their field location. But there’s a bigger picture.
We encourage Racers to invite their families into their Race experience. Specifically, we encourage them to invite their families to Parent Launch and to invite their parents to attend the Parent Vision Trip. And we expect them to be telling their stories so that those at home get glimpses of what God is doing on the field.
However, we also believe there is a critical “letting go” that needs to happen. Whether they are on the World Race: Gap Year or at college, this is a season where they need to more fully step into young adulthood – with it’s increased responsibilities and accountability. Your role as parents, while still very important, begins to look different. It’s important to let them “own” their own Race. “Owning” their Race means there is some information we won’t communicate to you – we’ll ask you to talk to them about it. This includes things such as travel plans, details about ministry hosts and specific locations, etc. We will never ask Racers to hide information from you and we encourage them to keep you updated if they are sick (or in other similar circumstances). With delayed internet access it may mean waiting longer than you like for non-emergency information. For more about what we believe about letting go, click here.
A number of years ago we established a Parent Ministry department in order to improve our communication with parents. Parent Ministry’s purpose is to serve you well, answer questions and provide information. If you have a concern or a question, contact Parent Ministry and they will listen, provide answers or find out the answer for you.
The Parent Resource Site, specifically the downloadable Parent Guide, has much more extensive information about what parents can expect from Adventures in Missions, what they can expect in terms of communication with their Racers, and what they can expect for themselves in terms of their own journey.
Is a Gap Year really a good choice? Won’t it put them behind?
The short answers are: “Yes – for many students, a gap year is a great choice” and “No – it won’t put them behind”.
On the Parent Resource Site, under Reviews and Other Resources, you’ll find a list of articles talking about the benefit of a Gap Year. Across the college landscape – including Christian colleges and Ivy League schools – colleges and universities are realizing the benefit of a Gap Year. It is often the maturing and clarifying experience a young person needs to enter college more focused and with a greater sense of purpose. That translates into finishing degrees more quickly (and the corresponding savings on tuition, room and board) as well as providing more direct experience in developing perseverance, resilience and problem solving ability.
Gary Morris has a 30 year career in Career Services, at both private and public colleges. He says this.
“Working with employers every day – and supporting the enrollment management mission of a variety of colleges – has provided me unique insight into how to convert lived experiences into a tangible portfolio that is sought after by employers and colleges. A solid gap year program can be one of the best things your son or daughter can do. It is not a matter of whether it will cause them to miss out on something – or put them “behind” – if they don’t follow their friends immediately to college or the work force. It is really an experience that grows them and grounds them in ways that provide a distinct advantage as they then move to their next step.
Admissions and employers want to see a core set of career-readiness competencies including critical thinking, problem solving, teamwork, work ethic, perseverance, intercultural fluency, digital technology and much more. Having tangible – and even unique – experiences to point to, that build those characteristics, can provide an advantage to students and job applicants.”
For families of faith, the statistics of young people walking away from their faith in the college years are staggering. A large majority of entering freshmen, who identify themselves as believers, will leave with their degree at the end of their college years and will no longer identify in the same way. A faith based Gap Year provides the opportunity to make their faith their own in much deeper ways, to wrestle through the hard questions that arise when they see poverty or sex trafficking or overwhelming injustice – and do it in the midst of a team committed to Jesus. In the process, they grow significantly closer to, and stronger in, the Lord in ways that are just not possible when they stay in their comfort zones. In addition, they can learn the life-giving value of authentic Christian community. All of these things change how they approach their college years.