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Frequently Asked Questions

(Click any question below, or scroll through all questions)

What is SMP?

SMP is a service project.  Accommodations are often very basic which means sleeping on the floors and having limited access to shower facilities.  Everyone is expected to help prepare food and perform other chores.  The work is often physically challenging and the work conditions can be difficult.  Everyone participates in daily Bible study, worship, and prayer.


Why would I go on an SMP?

1.  to build your relationship with God
2.  to serve others
3.  to build a relationship with a group of committed Christians


Who goes on SMPs?

SMP (Summer Missions Projects) is designed for middle school students, high school students, and college students, as well as young adults and adults and families.  Students are assisted and lead by adults of all ages from college age up.  The family trips include families with young children.  STMP (Short-term Missions Projects) is designed for adults.


Where and When? How much?

2015 Youth/Adult SMP Trips At A Glance:  Click a trip location to see more information about a trip, or to register for a trip.

Trip LocationDatesCost

High School (For rising 10th-12th grade students) & adults

Pittsburgh Project, PA (HS)
(Registration is closed)

6/21 - 6/27


You must be 16 or older AND have finished your sophomore year of HS

Jacmel, Haiti
(Registration is closed)

6/27 - 7/04


For rising 10th-12th grade students & adults

Sports Outreach, Lynchburg
(Registration is closed)

7/05 - 7/10


You must be 16 or older AND have finished your sophomore year of HS

Accion Ministries, Mexico
(Registration is closed)

7/07 - 7/14


Middle School (For rising 7th-9th grade students) & adults

Pittsburgh Project, PA (MS)
(Registration is closed)

7/13 - 7/17


For rising 10th-12th grade students & adults

Team Effort, Union Beach, NJ
(Registration is now closed)

7/26 - 7/31


For rising 7th-12th grade students & adults

Local Missions Week, Vienna, VA
(Registration is now closed)

8/03 - 8/07


1Cost is approximate.

2015 Adult-Only Trips At A Glance:  Click a trip location to see more information about a trip, or to register for a trip.

Trip LocationDatesCost

Adults (You must be 18 years old by June 1, 2014)

Colombia, South America

2/22 - 3/02


Adults (You must have completed 1 year of college and be at least 18 years old)

Sports Outreach,
El Salvador



Adults (You must be 21 years old prior to the trip)

Santiago de Cuba




1Cost is approximate.

What does the cost include?

Transportation, lodging, food, building materials, training, t-shirt, recreation activities, and administrative costs.


What if I can't afford the cost?

Scholarships and fund raising opportunities may be available.  Forms for applying for a scholarship can be found on the SMP website (under Forms and Resources).  Support Raising options will be discussed by trip leaders at trip meetings.


What kind of work do we do?

The work is often physically challenging and the work conditions are often difficult.  Work varies somewhat from trip to trip so see details on individual trips.


How do we get there?

For domestic trips we travel by car or van.  For international trips we fly and then take local transportation.


What are the accommodations? (sleeping, food, showers, etc.)

Accommodations are often very basic which means sleeping on the floor and having limited access to shower facilities.  At the Pittsburgh Project, for example, sleeping is in a large dormitory space; showers are available in the host facility.  For more information on specific trips, contact the trip coordinator(s) listed in the Trip Details section.


Who do we serve?

The host agency identifies those in need in their area.  This usually includes children, the elderly, handicapped and low income families.


What do I bring?

It depends on the trip, but you will be provided with a detailed list at a trip-specific meeting.


What is the food like?

Again it varies from trip to trip.  Meals are not fancy but are usually very good.  Trip coordinators will provide more information at trip-specific meetings.


How can I support someone else who is going?

Pray for them or become a prayer partner.


How can I support my child who is going?

Pray for them.  Be a prayer partner for another participant.  Come to the training sessions and the reunions.  Make certain their paperwork gets filled out.


What does a prayer partner do?

You’re assigned an individual on the trip that you’re asked to pray for everyday while they are on the trip.


What happens in case of an emergency?

We have emergency contact forms and health forms for every participant that we keep with us at all times on the trip.  The trips working with outside organizations have their own emergency forms and procedures.


Can I bring a friend(s)?

Absolutely, we encourage people to invite others.


What if my friend is not a Christian?

They are welcome if they have a heart for missions and service and are willing to participate in all the activities of the group including worship.


What is a typical day like?

For the domestic trips run by VPC, on a typical work day we rise between 6:30 and 7:00 (those preparing breakfast or making lunches usually rise earlier) and have breakfast at 7:15, followed by a short devotional.  We pack up and head for the work site.  We usually have frequent work breaks to make certain everyone stays hydrated.  We break for lunch about noon and eat on the worksite.  Lunch is followed by a quite time Bible study.  Work resumes in the afternoon and usually we work until about 4:30 or 5:00, depending on the time required to travel back to the host Church.  The crew responsible for dinner usually leaves a little earlier.  We stop for showers before returning for dinner.  Dinner is usually at 6:00 or 6:30, followed by a short amount of free time.  Usually worship and crew meetings start about 7:30 and go until about 9:00.  Lights out is at 11:00pm.  The trips working with organizations have their own schedules; refer to their websites for more detail.


Do I need to get a Tetanus shot?

Yes, make sure that your Tetanus immunization is up to date.  The Centers for Disease Control recommends every ten years.  Participants on international SMPs should have immunizations per the Centers for Disease Control recommendations.  You will be advised by the Trip Coordinator.


Do I get a tee shirt?



Will participation look good on my college resume?

That’s the wrong reason to go on an SMP, but yes it probably would.  More importantly it makes you a more complete person, more certain in your faith, and more knowledgeable about your priorities.


Who are the trip coordinators?

The trip coordinators are listed in the Trip Details section.


Can I bring my guitar?

This is a question we wish somebody would really ask.  We’re always looking for students or adults to help with music leadership so the answer is an emphatic yes.  For the foreign trips you should check with the coordinators to see if there are any transportation issues.


Do you have needs for any special skills?

No but these are especially welcome:  home repairs, food coordination, worship coordination, music leadership, or guitar playing.


What are the rules?

(You may download and/or print a copy of these rules.)

Summer Missions Projects are great opportunities for building intergenerational relationship, learning some practical life skills, and experiencing life in a Christian community, all to the glory of God.

In the summer of 2015, the VPC staff seeks to reaffirm its commitment to providing a physically and psychologically safe environment for all participants.  Recognizing however, that SMP, like much of life, is not without risk.

At the end of each trip, we will seek your input to give us insight as to what the “rules” should be as we work with the different challenges we will face in SMPs around the world compared to “how we have always done it”.

Each work project/site will be organized for a group dynamic where there is a healthy ratio of adults to students, as well as males/females.

One important rule for all is that at no time should there be adults and students in one on-one situations out of the view of the group.  Per the VPC Child Protection Policy, a rule of three is in place at all times.  This is for the protection of both students and adults.  It is preferred that when possible we travel in groups.


  • Cell phone usage is to be at the discretion and direction of the Trip Coordinator, and is also subject to rules of the organization we are working with.  Cell phone use should be kept to a minimum, and only during designated personal time at the project site.  Cell phones are for operational usage as travel coordination, work party communication, and emergency situations.  Cell phones are not allowed to be a distraction during group activity time.


  • No alcohol, tobacco products, drugs, pornographic material, weapons or inappropriate sexual activity.
  • Be aware of your surroundings, and do not allow yourself to be alone, out of view, with anyone you are not familiar with.
  • SMP is about being in community.  Everyone participates in all activities: meals, recreation, work, and worship.  NO headphones until lights out.
  • Everyone stays with the group at all times, unless permission is granted.  Work crews with their leaders may have outings which increase team building and camaraderie.
  • Restricted areas:  Leaders are to establish common (co/ed) areas where participants can meet/relax/enjoy fellowship together.  Male and female needs for privacy will be respected.  Participants should never be in the sleeping areas of the opposite sex.  (If an awkward situation presents itself, it should be discussed with the group leader.)
  • Please exercise prudent use of materials on the worksite.  Avoid waste of materials, and avoid causing safety hazards.
  • Feel free to share and all concerns with your group leaders.


  • Lights out at 11:00 pm.  (There is a need to be flexible here, as wonderful discussions or completion of games are great reasons to let this slide now and then).  However understand that participants need to be awake and good spirits in the morning to be able to work, though recognizing that students may not need as much sleep as adults.  An adult should be with the students, and the activity should be quiet enough so that others can sleep.


  • Minimum age for drivers is 25, except for VPC employees, who may be 21.


  • Music on the work site is allowed.  However, it should not have explicit, offensive lyrics.  The volume level should be appropriate for the situation, so as to be considerate of neighbors, tenants, and children.  The music should not be a distraction from tasks and situations which require undivided attention.
  • Music off the worksite is permitted.   Inoffensive music may be played aloud, including guitar.  No headphones until after lights out, because they are too isolating.


  • Work site – work boots or hard-soled shoes; shorts or jeans depending on the type of work.  When considering the length of shorts, be aware that you may be working “up high” and that others may be below you.  ALL participants should wear a t-shirt on the site.  (Sleeveless ok).  NO tanks, tubes, spaghetti straps, or strapless garments.
  • Off-work site – please be respectful and modest.
  • Swimming – Girls, please wear one-piece suits.  If wearing a two piece suit, you will be asked to wear a colored t-shirt over it.