One thing that is CERTAIN on the upcoming choir tour to Grand Rapids and Chicago is this: EVERYDAY there will be surprises! Every single day something unexpected will happen. The reason that I know this is because it has happened JUST like that for the last 34 years. Some of those things will be really GOOD things and others, we…

One thing that is CERTAIN on the upcoming choir tour to Grand Rapids and Chicago is this: 

EVERYDAY there will be surprises! 

Every single day something unexpected will happen. 

The reason that I know this is because it has happened JUST like that for the last 34 years. 

Some of those things will be really GOOD things and others, well, won’t be.

All any director can hope to do is to minimize the surprises and be as equipped as possible to handle those surprises.

One of the main tools to accomplish that goal of minimizing the surprises is to take a detailed advance preparation trip months ahead of time.

It is too late for THIS summer, but, just like there will always be a Christmas and Easter; there will be another tour! 

Whether you are driving buses from your church parking lot to some distant destination or, like we are, flying to a nearby city and taking vans the rest of the way, make sure that you make the trip just like you are doing so with a group. 

I know that a trip like this is expensive—and the temptation will be to skip the trip as a cost savings for the main trip. After all, that would allow more students to attend, right? 

I also know that in the case of a bus trip, you will be driving miles and miles.

My contention is that the trip will MORE than pay for itself in all kinds of savings.


There are a 1000 details (at least) on every choir tour. 

The more of those details that you can settle months ahead the better the trip will be. 

Where’s lunch? Where’s the concert? Which parking lot is the best to load in the equipment? Where are the changing rooms? Where are the bathrooms? Where are we staying? Do they have laundry facilities? What stores are nearby? What ministry needs are near us? Where is the closest hospital—just in case? Will cell phones work in that remote place? Is there Wi-Fi? Is there recreation nearby? and ON and ON. 

I literally could keep going with questions like this for the rest of the day!

I promise. 

There are just SO many details! 

By going on the trip ahead of time you can determine for yourself answers for the myriad list of details.


It is great to call people and talk to them about the ideas that you have for ministry needs, and that works. 

Social media today really helps to connect people. But face to face is so much better! 

This is especially true when making requests for ministry teams. 

If you ask, “would you like to have a team of 8 people work in your local ministry for a week?” It is important to know if they looked excited about the prospect, or, in some cases, NOT.

Sometimes those subtle differences just don’t show up in an e mail. 

Further, I have found that you can negotiate a better deal.

There was a trip recently where the college dorm’s food service said that they will charge everyone a flat rate for breakfast of $12 each. But when I visited the dorm, I noticed that there were many great breakfast options selling for $2-3 each. After negotiating a cheaper deal (face to face), we simply paid for what the kids actually wanted to eat. 

For some, they did the full breakfast, but most just got the bread and yogurt.

We saved a thousand dollars just on breakfast for that week.

Actually being there saved us money.

Discovering What is the BEST!

On a recent prep trip to England I visited the Coventry Cathedral where we would be singing a concert the following summer. 

Touring the facility with the Music Director, he noted that we would sing our concert from the choir loft in the cathedral.

As I looked at it, there were some significant problems.

It was NOT elevated and it was a split chancel, the sections facing each other, not the audience. That is not really conducive for young voices.

I happened to notice an elevated area near the rear doors that had steps (that could easily be risers) and a hard reflective surface behind it.

I asked, “could we sing—THERE?”

He said no one ever had, but if we wanted to—sure!

It turned out to be the highlight of the tour. 

I never would have noticed that particular space, since it wasn’t on any of the web site photos.

Finally—answering all the right questions

While planning a recent trip to Singapore with a group of high school students, I sensed some reluctance from parents.

There were many unasked questions on their faces—you could see the reluctance.

After I made my prep trip to Singapore to plan the major trip, I was able to answer all of their questions about lodging, food sources, safety, transportation and on and on.

Parents were greatly relieved.

All of the students were allowed to go and had a life-changing experience.

By being there on an advance trip, you can answer all the questions with much more authority

. Trust me on this—an advance trip will save you a lot of headaches, and will likely be the best money you will spend!


Randy Kilpatrick

CueWEB May 24, 2016