Over its 36 years in operation, Teen Missions has grown into an International mission organization, running mission programs for teens around the world. Each summer teenagers on about 45 teams, working in over 30 countries, learn Christian ideals through work and evangelism projects. Teen Missions has also expanded to operating Bible schools and orphanages. Teen Missions has a staff of approximately 50-100 individuals who raise support and serve in the many different properties owned by the organization around the world.
Teen Missions has recently constructed a life size replica of the Old Testament tabernacle, which can be toured by the general public. The display was originally housed on the Teen Missions property in Florida and later displayed in various locations throughout the United States.
Teen Missions states that it has throughout its existence sent over 40,000 North American youth on evangelistic and building projects to over 110 countries.
The largest and most popular of these groups is the Teen section. Members of a Teen team range in age from 13 to 20 (13 year olds can choose between Teen and Preteen). On average there can be 600-1000 teens shared between the two Super and Early Boot Camps, which each run for two weeks (with one week of overlap). Length of Teen mission trips vary slightly depending on location, but they average in around two months. Those that are closer to the states tend to stay in the field slightly longer than others.
Preteen teams are the second most popular group, with an age range of 10 to 13 years of age (with 13 year olds having the choice between Teen and Preteen). Preteen teams are usually much smaller, and their stays in the field are additionally shorter. A typical Preteen trip runs around a month and a half. Locations of trips, like Teens, are all over the world, but seem to focus a lot more in, or near, the American Continent. Preteen Boot Camps run for a week and a half, and overlaps with the second week of Super Teen Boot Camp.
The other three age groups are Peanuts (7-9), Mustard Seeds (4-6) and adult-only teams.
An aspect unique to TMI is their form of dicipline, referred to as Special Blessings (SBs to staff and team members).
Special Blessings can be "awarded" by almost any staff member, at any time, for very little reason. There are very few second chances. If a Special Blessing is "awarded" by a staff member , i.e. not a team member's leader, that member is obligated to do the work.
Special Blessings can be worked off during the "awarded's" free time (usually reserved for swimming in a pond, bucket bathing, or doing "laundry" in said bucket), in a number of ways. Tasks range from kitchen duty, to mopping, laying sidewalks, digging holes, organizing the missionary barrel, organizing a junk yard, etc. If something needs to be done, it can be used as a Special Blessing.
Over time, if Special Blessings are not worked off, they can add up. If a team member has a two hour break, his or her only choice is to work on any accumulated Special Blessings. After so many SBs begin to add up, or if the team member continues to get them, drastic measures can be called. These boil-down to either a phone-call to the unruly team member's parents/guardian, or in even more extreme cases, dismissal from the team and a ride to the nearest airport.
Special Blessings are easy to get and difficult to avoid. They are never fun, and generally not worth the point in getting. If a team member wishes to avoid them, they should not go on a Teen Missions team. On top of personal SBs you may be "awarded" a Team SB if your leader gets in trouble for any reason, such as not being on time to meetings, etc, if your team is disqualified on the obsticle course,if a member of your team is heard talking after lights out, or really any reason that staff deems appropriate.
Teen Missions believes that it is important to send out well trained and unified teams. Therefore, as part of boot camp (usually lasting about 2 weeks) teams run a vigorous course of obstacles to help promote team building, sense of accomplishment, and reliance on others. Obstacles include running around and over Mount Sinai, a very large tire mountain, Jacobs Ladder, a large cargo net ladder, and The Slough of Despond, a rope swing over a usually muddy pool of water. Obstacles are carefully monitored by staff and team members learn to run together and to encourage anyone who is struggling.
Teen Missions usually announces the new year's locations in the November-December period. Ex. The 2008 Summer Teams will be announced sometime in November-December 2007. Then the 2009 Summer Teams will be announced in November-December 2008, and so on.
Number of available teams varies from Age Group to Age Group.
As to be expected, Teen Teams have the largest variety, followed by Preteen, and so on.
Please note that just because a team is offered, that does not mean that it will happen. Team's can be canceled at any moment, for any reason. These reasons usually consist of a)lack of interest or b) a failure to work with a Missionary or Organization within the field.
Most teams are work/evangelism, but some are exclusively evangelism. Work teams go to project locations to do a construction or landscaping project for the host ministry or Teen Missions property they will be staying. The work can include masonry, carpentry, landscaping, painting, plumbing, etc. Work teams do evangelism programs mainly on the weekends when they don't need to do the work project. Evangelism can include singing, drama, puppets and sermons/testimonies. On Sundays teams will take part in the worship service of a local church. Evangelism teams will focus mainly on doing evangelism presentations. These will also include singing, drama, puppets and sermons/ testimonies; but may be specialized. Some specialized evangelism teams have gimmicks which includes motorcycle, clown, boat, sea doo, foot washing focused ministry.