Jamaica Service Trip

Every two years, First Congregational Church proudly sponsors a team of up to 16 youth and adults for a service trip to the impoverished community of St. Thomas Parish, Jamaica, far away from the island’s renowned resorts and tourism. Over the course of the 10-day trip, the team works alongside local community members on a project that meets a need identified by and planned in coordination with our Jamaican partners. Our mission is to serve God by serving our global family, build intergenerational relationships, have fun together, and to deepen our understanding of our global community through an immersive cultural experience.

Previous projects include: constructing a playground at a preschool, building a school garden, renovating a preschool for use as a community center, and painting a medical clinic. When we are not working, we have time to relax and enjoy the beauty of Jamaica and to experience the wonderful culture. We shop at local markets, enjoy the local cuisine, swim in the ocean, and visit cultural sites. At the end of each trip, we visit Reach Falls to swim in a river of fresh water under a canopy of trees, amidst beautiful rock formations and waterfalls. 

Contacts:  Sharon Dettenrieder and Carolyn Rushford

Next Trip:  June 2022 (10 days – dates TBD)

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a typical day like?

Who leads the team?

Where do we stay?

What is the cost of the trip?

What are the requirements for joining the team? 

What are my responsibilities prior to the trip?

How do I sign up?

I walked away with a better understanding of the world around me, as well as a better understanding of myself and the people I had come to truly become family with in the year before the trip.

You will gain new relationships, memories, and experiences that will change your perspective on life.

We worked shoulder-to-shoulder, sweating in the searing heat, moving stone, digging post holes, and constructing a beautiful playhouse… I’ve thought about all the people and places every day since returning.

What is a typical day like?

We rise early, eat a hearty breakfast and are transported to the work site. Typically, we work until mid to late afternoon and then return to the hotel for a refreshing swim at the beach. After dinner, we gather for a team meeting to reflect upon the day and to make plans for the following day.  It is important to be flexible and recognize that plans sometimes change, and projects or assignments might be modified “on the fly,”  especially since Jamaica is a poor country with limited resources.

While most of our time will be spent working on a project, there is time to enjoy the beauty of Jamaica, experience the culture, and relax. We shop at local markets, experience local cuisine, attend worship at a local church, swim at the beach, and do some sightseeing.

Who leads the team?

The group is led by two co-leaders who have previous experience leading service trips in Jamaica, and one Church staff member who provides ministerial support and leadership.

Where do we stay?

We stay at a small, locally-owned hotel located right on the beach. The hotel staff prepares delicious Jamaican meals for us. We hire a local driver to transport us to/from the airport and all activities.

What is the cost of the trip? 

The “personal share” for each individual is approximately $800. Team fundraising, proceeds from our annual Calcutta event, and contributions from First Congregational Church cover the remaining cost of the trip. The cost includes all travel, meals and lodging, as well as admission fees to museums and other attractions. Team members may wish to bring a little extra “spending money” for extra snacks and souvenirs.

What are the requirements for joining the team? 

  • Youth members must be 16 on or before September 1 of the trip year 
  • $100 non-refundable deposit, trip application form, and notarized medical release form 
  • Have or obtain a passport that will be valid at least 6 months beyond the trip date
  • Priority will be given to new participants, church participants and family members of youth team members 
  • To promote positive group dynamics and ensure broad participation, a maximum of two participants per family unit will be accepted

What are my responsibilities prior to the trip?

  • Participate in monthly pre-trip team meetings to prepare for this immersion experience, learn about the culture and build team cohesion
  • Submit all documentation and payments by due dates
  • Participate in all team fundraising activities

How do I sign up?

To apply for the trip, please send a completed Application Form and Medical Release (notarized). A non-refundable deposit of $100 is required to reserve your spot. Click HERE to download the Application Form and Medical Release Form. For detailed information, click HERE, and if you still have questions, please contact the Church Office.