A: There are many different roles that need filling by volunteers on a youth retreat. We’ve outlined many of these in our youth retreat book, but here is one that you may not have considered:
Designated Emergency Contact
We’re not talking about having emergency contact details for parents and guardians, although that is something that should always be included on the registration form.
Instead, we mean having someone who’s a designated emergency contact for the youth retreat for both parents and yourself. This should be an adult who’s available 24 hours a day for the duration of the retreat. They don’t have to be one of your regular volunteers, just someone who’s willing to perform this role.
This responsible adult should be given phone numbers for:
- All the parents
- All the other volunteers at the youth retreat
- The retreat center
- Any other location you might visit (e.g. theme park, climbing center, high ropes course, etc)
Why You Would Call Them
If you have any emergencies at the youth retreat and need to contact parents, you can call this person who can then communicate with the relevant parents. This means that you only have to explain the situation once and can focus on the emergency on hand, rather than potentially having to call several parents.
Why Parents Would Call Them
If parents have an emergency (e.g. a family member has passed away unexpectedly), they can call the emergency contact who can then call you.
Having someone perform this role ensures that you won’t be interrupted at inopportune times by parents who don’t have an emergency, but who just want to make sure that their little Johnny isn’t feeling homesick. This middleman can therefore make a judgment call to decide if they should contact you immediately.
For situations that aren’t an emergency, you could pre-arrange a time for this volunteer to call you each day – one that fits in with your youth retreat schedule, such as during free time or at lunch.
Recruiting a designated emergency contact as a stay-at-home volunteer therefore helps ensure you have a safe youth trip by having an effective communication structure, while also ensuring you don’t get interrupted by non-emergency phone calls.
Question: What one youth retreat volunteer do you consider to be essential? Let us know in the comments below.
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