Q: Our church is sending a group of high school students on a 10-day missions trip. What sleeping arrangements would result in the least risk? Should there be an adult in each room containing minors?
A: I am often asked about the appropriate sleeping arrangements for church-sponsored overnight trips that include minors. For a camping trip, minors usually sleep in tents or cabins. But for other trips, minors often stay in hotels. Here are several points to consider:
1. Separate boys from girls. Boys and girls should not sleep in the same tent, cabin, or hotel room.
2. Separate minors from adults. Avoid having adults sleep in the same tent or hotel room with minors. Some churches allow a parent to be in the same room as his or her child. But, this arrangement is a potential risk if other minors are present in the room, and this risk increases if the parent is a step-parent.
3. If you allow parents to sleep in the same room as minors, they should not be permitted to sleep in the same bed with a minor (other than their biological child).
4. Avoid power imbalances that are created when adolescents spend the night in the same tent or room as younger children. Adolescents who are victims of sexual molestation often will "act out" by molesting younger, defenseless children.
5. Adult supervisors should be prohibited from entering a room in which minors are sleeping without a second adult being present. If there is a need to enter a room, the supervisor must contact another adult so that they, together, can enter the room.
This article is adapted from a Q&A that appeared on ChurchLawAndTax.com.
Help protect minors and your ministry with these resources: Draw the Line: Relational Boundaries for Safe Youth Ministry; Preventing Sexual Misconduct in Youth Ministry, and Essentials for Screening Youth Workers.
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