Don’t just be a tourist—experience the real Jamaica! Follow the winding road to the rural mountain community of Catadupa where you and your team will have the chance to slow down and experience the simple life. Despite the natural beauty and scenic views, you’ll also see poverty and real needs.
On your Jamaica mission trip, you’ll learn about the difficult history of this once thriving community. Formerly a prominent stop on the railroad line, local artisans would sell crafts, clothing, and carvings to tourists who passed by each day. But when the train lines shut down abruptly, it devastated the local economy. As you walk along the abandoned tracks today, you’ll get a sense of what Catadupa used to be.
Christian mission trip teams work closely with the local church in Catadupa to bring hope and new life into the community. Your team will participate in construction projects on both community buildings and individual homes while interacting with children through Kids Club or sports programs. Will you look beyond and beaches and resorts to meet practical needs in Jamaica?
Want to preview international mission trips to Jamaica? Check out EM Vision Trips for team leaders.
The destination for your mission trip is Catadupa, a small village in the mountains of Jamaica. Catadupa is only about 20 miles south of Montego Bay, but because of poor winding roads and a somewhat indirect route, it is about an hour and twenty-minute drive. While it may be near to the beaches and resorts of Montego Bay, it is an entirely different world. In Catadupa, you are far from the bright lights in a very relaxed, friendly, and close-knit community.
The natural landscape is a mountainous jungle, and the lush tropical vegetation increases the intrigue of the environment. All throughout the area are fabulous vistas. The land is rich in resources from the natural springs and the fertile soil to the fruit trees and bamboo. Local fruits and vegetables include mangos, pineapple, banana, coconut, lime, sugar cane, starfruit, jackfruit, guineps, and breadfruit to name a few. It is rainy much of the year and torrential downpours can occur; however, volunteers are rarely rained out for an entire day. The island paradise would be complete if only it was not hot and humid and full of mosquitoes. Nonetheless, this is a beautiful part of Jamaica that most tourists never get to see.
Catadupa developed around the train line that ran through the center of town. Much of the town was employed by the railroad and even more residents depended on tourists to purchase crafts and handmade items. However, in the early 1990s, the railroad system was shut down, leaving the community devastated economically. Today the railroad station is growing dilapidated, and the train tracks have become overgrown with weeds and brush, yet the community lives on. Many local people still make crafts and clothing, which they are quite eager to sell to volunteers! Others commute to Montego Bay by public bus, and many live through farming. It is evident by the worn out buildings that the community is economically oppressed, but Catadupa is full of life. You will see this when you interact with the people, and you will help to bring encouragement and hope.
We partner with Christian Fellowship Church in Catadupa and nearby Cambridge to reach the community and surrounding areas through service projects and relational ministry.
Family Projects: Many families that live in the mountains of Jamaica have very limited access to jobs and cannot afford to maintain their small homes. As a result the sun, rain, tropical storms and general wear and tear of life take their toll, and homes fall into disrepair. When working with individual households you will be divided into small teams of 6-10 people. These projects are designed to give you the opportunity to build relationships with families and help to repair homes. Many people are in need of kitchens, showers, and especially toilets! Without this, people may be forced to relieve themselves in the pouring rain. Building toilets is one of our primary focuses.
Community Projects: Some teams will focus more on community projects. Examples of past community projects include road repair, an aqueduct for the public spring, a water tank for the church, toilets for the local school, and a community marketplace. Through these projects, you are able to reach a larger number of people. You will work alongside local people and demonstrate God's love to the community.
Because of poor roads and a low number of vehicles, your team should be prepared to walk to your worksites.
Our work in Jamaica does consist of heavy manual labor, but there are opportunities for teams of all different skill levels to serve. EM staff will be available for instruction and oversight, and in many cases local skilled workers will be hired to work with your team.
In this community, connecting with the local children through children's ministry is an important part of what we do each day. Teams coming to this community must expect to participate in Kids Club. Experience Mission will provide the curriculum for your team's use. This Kids Club curriculum will be sent out to Team Leaders in the spring via email. Your team may be asked to participate in multiple Kids Clubs and avenues of ministering to children.
Teams will be responsible to bring the craft supplies needed for their specific crafts and should budget appropriately. While we do our best to make sure the craft materials are cost effective, teams may feel free to augment any materials to make them more suitable to their budget. There are plenty of opportunities to connect with the local children through games like soccer or Frisbee. Tuck in a soccer ball or jump rope as they are sure to come in handy.
*Experience Mission works closely with local leaders to identify work projects and ministry opportunities that address authentic needs within the community. We ask that you come with a servant's heart and willingness to adapt to the unique qualities represented in each location. Opportunities can vary significantly from one week to the next. Your team may work at one location or serve at multiple locations each day. Due to the changing needs of our community partners, we cannot confirm your specific activities until your team arrives.
Your time in Jamaica will be coordinated in cooperation with a local team of leaders. During your trip you will have the opportunity to connect with families in need. This mission trip is sure to grab your heart with a love and respect for the Jamaican people. Below is a basic schedule for the week, but we approach this with flexibility because our ultimate focus is on relationships.
Each morning, there is time set aside for devotions and quiet time. Experience Mission has devotionals/journals that are available for purchase or teams can supply their own. This is a valuable time and we strongly encourage everyone to spend it with God journaling their thoughts and experiences as the days unfold.
Our staff will lead a time of debriefing and a short devotional in the evening (what we call "Evening Gathering") and it is always a great addition to have musical worship. Our programming does not include musical worship as we can't guarantee that our our staff will have this ability. Please let us know if you have anyone who sings or plays guitar on your trip so that we can help to coordinate the musical aspect of worship when able. If teams aren't able to help in the area of music, it may not be a part of the trip.
(All times subject to change.)
11:00a - 2:00p: Teams arrive at the airport in Montego Bay
12:00p - 3:00p - Teams travel from Montego Bay to Catadupa
5:00p - Leader's meeting
6:00p - Dinner
7:00p - Orientation meeting
8:00p - Team time
Day 2 (Sunday Schedule - May be another day for specific trips)
7:30a - Breakfast
10:00a - Sunday school
11:00a - Church service
12:00p - Lunch
1:00p - 6:00p - Recreational activities/free time
6:00p - Dinner
7:00p - Evening gathering
8:00p - Team time
Day 3 - Day 6
7:15a - Breakfast
7:45a - Devotions and quiet time
8:30a - Leave for work sites
12:00p - Lunch
3:30p - 4:00p - Finish work for the day
5:00p - Leaders meeting
6:00p - Dinner
7:00p - Evening gathering
8:00p - Team time
7:00a - Breakfast
7:30a - Cleanup/packing
9:00a - Pictures and good-byes
You will be staying dormitory style at either a local church or school in Catadupa. Both places provide beautiful scenery and a chance to mingle with local people throughout the day. These facilities are rustic, not luxurious but sufficient. Volunteers should come prepared to leave the comforts of home behind. Team members will be sleeping on the floor and should plan to bring a blow up mattress, light bedding or sleeping bag and a pillow.
Your team will be sleeping on concrete floors, so mats/air mattresses are essential. Bring your own bedding. It is generally warm at night; however, it is cool on occasion. A travel sheet and a light-weight sleeping bag rated down to the mid-50's are ideal. Accommodations will be dormitory style with male and female sections.
Natural Spring - There is a natural spring within walking distance, and this is by far the most popular choice for showering among the teams. It is about a 10 minute walk from the church, and a 15-20 minute walk from the school. Water comes down the side of the mountain, and there is a limitless supply. It is an open public area designated for bathing and washing, so bathing suits are required. Teams should bring t-shirts, shorts and sandals to walk to and from the spring. It's a beautiful place and the cool water is so refreshing!
Outdoor Facilities - There will also be makeshift showers at the facilities where you are staying. These consist of PVC pipe and private outdoor shower stalls. There is no hot water but given the warm temperatures cool water can be nice. All water at the facilities comes from drums so there is a limited supply.
There are outdoor toilet facilities. They contain modern flush toilets, but this water comes from a drum and has poor water pressure. When water is low or pressure is down, teams must flush using buckets. These facilities are simply a row of stalls; there is no common area and no sinks. Volunteers wash their hands in outdoor sinks.
There is no running water in Catadupa. There are many spigots and sinks on the facilities, but all water comes from a drum, and water pressure is gravity based. Treated drinking water is available for volunteers 24/7.
There is electricity at the facilities, and there are a limited number of outlets. The electrical service is not as dependable as the United States and outages are fairly common but usually brief.
Your rooms can be locked and local people monitor the facilities to ensure that your possessions are safe throughout the day. Trustworthy Jamaicans designated by the local pastor stay on site all night. While you may have heard reports about gang wars and violence in Jamaica, it is important to understand that this is because of issues in the larger cities. You will staying in a safe, rural community.
A wonderful team of local Jamaican women will be preparing and serving meals. You will have an ample selection of tasty food. We will have purified drinking water available at all times for your team members. Team members should plan to bring their own plate, bowl, cup and silverware for meals.
Upon arrival to Montego Bay, Jamaica, all transportation IS INCLUDED. Transportation to and from the Montego Bay Airport will be by chartered bus.
Destination Airport: Montego Bay
Team members are responsible to cover the cost of their round trip airfare to the Montego Bay airport and should make plans to arrive between 11:00 am and 2:00 pm on the first day of your selected trip.
NOTE: The first meal provided for your team will be dinner in Catadupa the evening you arrive. If your team plans to arrive before lunch, you should bring cash for each of your team members to eat at a fast food restaurant in Montego Bay after you arrive in Jamaica.
Return travel should be arranged with your flight departing after 11:00 am on the last day of the selected trip. If you have trouble finding flights that fit into this time frame please contact us before booking your tickets to make special arrangements.
Each team member must carry a valid passport.
If you do not have a valid passport, it is of the utmost importance that you apply as soon as possible. The processing time for a Passport can take several weeks once your application has been submitted. An expired Passport is not considered valid.
All team members under the age of 18 must carry a written, notarized letter from their parents giving them parental permission to leave the country. They must carry the original notarized copy of this letter. It cannot be a photo copy of the letter.
1) If the minor is traveling without parents, both parents must sign the letter.
2) If they are traveling with one parent, the parent that is not traveling with them must sign this letter.
3) If their parents are separated or divorced and both parents do not want to sign the same letter, they must have a notarized letter from each parent giving them permission to go.
Experience Mission can provide a sample copy of a permission letter or you can create your own letter that must include the following:
1) The full name of both parents and their formal signatures
2) The full name of the child
3) The full name of the Adult Chaperone serving as the Team Leader
4) The specific traveling dates for each country
5) The destination country
6) The reason for travel to the destination country (example- "youth group function")
7) The Airline itinerary (if applicable)
If you have further questions regarding required travel documents we advise you to contact the US State Department: www.travel.state.gov
Experience Mission has specific policies regarding registration and withdrawal. Please refer to the document below for specifics.
All volunteers on a week-long EM mission trip must be part of a team of at least six (6) people, with at least one team member age 21 or older to serve as the Team Leader. Not part of a group? All young adults ages 18-30 are eligible to apply for EMís IMMERSION program.
Wondering what all goes on during our Jamaica mission trips? Youíre not alone! Hereís a list of frequently asked questions about this trip.
What age group can you accommodate in Jamaica?
In Jamaica, we can accommodate a variety of group types as young as Jr. High students and older.
What airport will I fly into?
Teams should book flights into Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay (MBJ).
How will I know where to go at the airport? Who will I meet?
You will have access to specific instructions on how to go through customs and where to meet our staff at the airport once you register for your trip. We will also provide you with the phone number of our staff on the ground to call should you get lost. You can expect a call from this person the week of your trip to communicate any special details.
What seasons do you offer Jamaica mission trips?
Trips are offered in Jamaica year-round! Donít see a date that works for you? Contact us about planning a custom trip.
Do you offer spring break trips in Jamaica?
Yes! Jamaica is a popular destination for spring break mission trips. Teams for spring break typically arrive on a Saturday and return home the following Friday.
What will we do on a Jamaica mission trip?
Mission trips in Jamaica typically consist of a mixture of highly physical construction projects and children's ministry, called Kids Club. Be sure to check the details for your specific trip because individual trips may vary.
Will we work with children in Jamaica?
Yes! You will work with children in a variety of settings, most notably, when your team leads a Kids Club.
What paperwork is required for this mission trip?
Each team member will need to fill out a team member registration form and liability waiver and all adults are required to pass a background check. Additionally, each team member will need to have a valid passport that expires at least six months after traveling to Jamaica.
Will I need a visa for a Jamaica mission trip?
You will not need to apply for a visa ahead of time. You will go through customs upon arrival and provide information about the nature of the trip. We will provide you with all the resources you need for this prior to your departure.
Where will my team stay in Jamaica?
Teams will stay at a local church in Jamaica. There is access to running water and electricity, but teams should expect rustic-style lodging with no air conditioning and we do recommend bringing along bug nets for added comfort.
Are meals provided for Jamaica mission trips?
Yes! All meals will be prepared by local Jamaican staff! This is a unique opportunity to try local Jamaican cuisine.
Are Jamaica mission trips safe?
With heightened security advisories from government agencies, we take your teamís safety very seriously. We have long-term partnerships and work in a rural community far from notorious areas associated with crime. Feel free to contact us for more specific information.
What time can I arrive in Jamaica?
We ask that teams arrive between 11am and 2pm on the first day of their selected trip. If you are unable to arrive in this window of time, please contact your mission trip support person prior to booking airfare so that we can ensure that you will have transportation available upon arrival.
How does transportation work for Jamaica mission trips?
Once you arrive in Montego Bay, local staff will greet you at the airport and get you to where you need to go for the duration of the scheduled trip and return you to the airport on the last day of your trip.
Is airfare included in EM trip fees?
No. Airfare is a separate expense and you will book this on your own.
Can I extend my trip for tourist activities?
Yes! We encourage teams who would like to stay additional time in Jamaica to book a hotel in Montego Bay. Often, an alternative drop-off location can be arranged for you, typically at no additional cost.
What local culture will we experience on our Jamaica mission trip?
Teams will experience authentic Jamaican culture and hospitality by local guides. All meals will be prepared by local cooks and you will have the opportunity to learn about the complex history from local people during your trip.
Who are EM's local partners in Jamaica?
In Jamaica, we partner with Christian Fellowship Church, a denomination spread across the country of Jamaica. Our partnerships mainly focus in the community of Catadupa, a small town an hour outside of Montego Bay.
How does this trip impact the local community?
All work projects are focused on community development and decisions about what the projects will be are left almost entirely up to local leadership. As a result, real community needs are being met and projects have a lasting impact.
What should I pack for a Jamaica trip?
A full packing list will be available once you register, but you should expect to bring along clothing, personal items, bedding and mosquito nets.
Have more questions about Experience Mission trips? Check out our general FAQs, or call our support team at 888-475-6414.
If you still have questions about this community after reviewing Details & Logistics or you want to take the first step toward bringing your team on an EM mission trip, Fill out a Mission Trip Interest Form and someone from our staff will be in touch with you shortly!
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You must have a group size of at least 5 members to join this trip. Please view the Small Team trips or call our Servicing Department for more options at 888-475-6414.
For most trips, you must have a group size of at least 5 members. Please view the Small Teams tab on each Community page or call our Servicing Department for more options at 888-475-6414.