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10 Best High School Mission Trips

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by Abbie Thiebaut Abbie is a full-time member of the EM staff who uses her experience leading mission trips to encourage others to serve in communities across the U.S. and around the world.

High school is a formative time. Students are learning about the world, deepening their faith, and forming exactly who they will become later in life. During this time of life, mission trips can be an incredibly impactful way to challenge students and help them engage deeply with service at a local and global level — and that’s worth pursuing.

Not sure if mission trips are for you? Check out our blog, "Why I Still Believe in Mission Trips"

Once you’ve decided to go, you still need to determine where exactly you’d like to take your students.

It's good to spend time thinking about what your high school students might have to offer on a mission trip and what you hope they might take away from the trip. 

Some questions to consider:

1. How can your students engage in a helpful way with what God is doing around the world?

Before jumping in and committing to a location or trip, reflect on your group’s starting point. It’s important to understand where they are spiritually, but also what sort of skills and gifts they already have. If you’ve got a construction-savvy church, lend a helping hand on a hurricane relief trip. If you think your students would do well working with children or focusing on relational ministry, you may consider an urban location.

2. What do you hope to take away from the trip?

We all have areas to learn and grow as we seek to love and serve others like Jesus. As you consider your options, reflect on areas where you hope your students will grow and continue to develop their faith. From navigating cross-cultural experiences in Latin America to rolling up your sleeves and hanging sheetrock after a natural disaster and learning from local families, or preparing and leading lessons for children in an urban park, there are endless challenges and learning opportunities in store for your group.

Check out “What to Do After Your Mission Trip” for ideas on how to continue fostering growth for your students after your mission trip is over!

3. Where do your students want to go?

High school students are capable of so much, and many are already faithfully seeking what God has planned for their lives. Give them a voice in what mission trip you’ll offer next year. Including them in the decision-making process will give them a vested interest in fundraising, recruiting their friends, and actually engaging with relationships and service on the trip.

Now that you’ve considered how might want to serve and what you hope to take away, it’s time to consider where that might take you! We’ve compiled a few ideas to get you started, but don’t forget to check out all our mission trip locations—high school students are welcome in all EM mission trip communities!

Urban Mission Trips

New York City

In one of the world’s largest cities, your students will be exposed to countless cultures and a way of life different than what they may be used to. Your team will have an opportunity to serve alongside ministries that seek to serve some of the more than 40,000 homeless men and women that reside in the city, foster healthy environments the children, and truly live their mission all year round. In the process, your students will have their views challenged and be inspired to take a posture of service and learning back home with them.

Learn more about NYC Mission Trips.

Portland, Maine

Over the last several years, there has been an influx of refugees from war-torn African countries to this coastal city. As families seek to settle in and make a home for themselves alongside long-time residents, you can take an active role in the lives of parents and children in this community. Your students will have the opportunity to build meaningful relationships with children and teens from diverse religious, social-economic, and ethnic backgrounds as you support the ongoing work of Experience Mission’s partners in this community.

Learn more about Portland mission trips, or serve in neighboring Lewiston!

Washington, D.C.

In the shadows of vast national monuments and the hub of government operations, families struggle with poverty in a variety of forms. Your team can serve alongside ministries that seek to meet tangible and relational needs for their community.

Learn more about Washington DC mission trips, or check out a similar trips to Atlanta, Georgia.

Construction-Based Mission Trips

Coastal Texas

In 2017, regions of Texas were entirely flooded and destroyed in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Initial relief efforts were encouraging and life-changing for so many families. But others still sit in gutted homes (some without electricity two years later) and wonder if help will ever come. Your students will hear stories from families who lost everything and serve them in practical and meaningful ways as they work with our ministry partners to restore what was lost.

Learn more about how you can help rebuild in Coastal Texas or Houston.

Navajo Reservation, New Mexico

In a world where teens are constantly connected to their cell phones, it can seem impossible to get them to engage in meaningful relationships. On trips to “the Rez,” your students will do just that. Teams serving in New Mexico will work alongside local church leaders as they serve their own communities. You’ll have meaningful opportunities to slow down, build relationships, serve with dignity, and learn about the unique culture of the Navajo people.

Learn more about New Mexico trips or similar Navajo mission trips in Arizona.

Jackson County, Ohio

While your students may have trouble locating Jackson on a map, the time that you and your team spend there could be pivotal for your students and the community alike. The region of Appalachia is marked by poverty and unemployment as industries have collapsed and left the area without jobs or an economy. Your students will hear stories from homeowners and community leaders as they seek hope and move towards the future.

Check out Jackson, Ohio mission trips, or explore another Appalachia mission trip!

International Mission Trips


Is your team ready for a bigger challenge? Join local Haitians in life and ministry as you and your team seek to understand the unique challenges that locals face and take part in meeting tangible needs. Your students will engage with their Haitian peers, lead kids club, and take part in various building projects to improve the lives of local families. They will also have the opportunity to learn more about the long-term mission to empower local students through RISING, EM’s education empowerment initiative based in Haiti.

Learn more about mission trips to Haiti.


Looking for a good introductory international mission trip? Belize could be a great fit for your team of high school students. While the official language is English (making it easy for you to get around), EM partners with a network of Spanish-speaking churches. Your team will have the opportunity to serve alongside local leaders as they continue to extend the reach of the local church and meet the needs of their neighbors.

Learn more about mission trips to Belize!


Partner with the rapidly-growing house church movement in Cuba. On your mission trip, students will have the opportunity to immerse in vibrant Cuban culture and live life with local people. Your team will go beyond the headlines or what they think they know about Cuba, meeting real people and serving alongside them as they seek to improve the lives of their neighbors.

Learn more about Cuba Mission Trips.

Bahamas Hurricane Relief

On September 1, 2019, Hurricane Dorian stalled over the Bahamas, destroying many homes and flooding the rest. The path to recovery will be long and difficult for the majority of Bahamian families. Your students could play a critical role and do some of the heavy-lifting for families as they seek to restore all that was lost that fateful day.

Serve on a hurricane relief trip in the Bahamas, or help families continue to rebuild in Puerto Rico where the needs are still great!

There are countless ways your high school group can serve—and a member of the Experience Mission staff would love to help you discern what the right fit is for your group. The best place to start is to fill out an interest form to get in contact with our team.

Looking for trips that fit a mix of high school and middle school students? Check out all of our teen mission trips.


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