I find that, though I am not naturally inclined to do so, writing down what happens right after it happens is amazingly helpful. I make sure that everyone on my mission trips has a journal and we designate time each night to write down thoughts from the day, even if it’s simply recalling significant events. Something I started doing a few years ago is a group journal, which can be an incredibly reflective activity. Each night, I put out a group journal and ask the kids to write something, if they feel so moved. Sometimes is a favorite quote or joke from the day, often times it’s something goofy or embarrassing thing their youth leader (me) did, and sometimes, it is something incredibly profound. The act of writing it in a common journal gives them the opportunity to share memories and thoughts in a different way, as opposed to sitting around and discussing things aloud, which doesn’t happen as often as we as youth leaders would like. Instead, they write poems, doodle, share jokes, insights, prayers…whatever occurs to them to share. It can be a slow process, so guide them at first. With encouragement and the a leap of faith, they will engage.
These journals can be an amazing record of the trip through the eyes of your youth. Chronicle them, share them, publish them for the youth to read…as long as you read them and listen to the collective voice of the youth. I use it as a tool to evaluate the trip from their point of view, and occasionally I use quotes or ideas from the journal in presentations or videos about the trip.