Tips for Future Next Step Summer Staff

By Brian Ledtke, Internship Director

You will get tired. 

This may seem like an off putting first tip for future summer staff, but it’s incredibly useful to know and accept this as you begin a summer with Next Step. The mornings are early, the days are long and hot, and usually the nights are late, but there is such beauty in tiredness brought on by hard, tough work. 

Think about the feeling you get after working really hard at something; when you give something your all. That sense of accomplishment, of pride, of knowing that what you did mattered, of even some muscle ache, and then collapsing into bed is an incomparable feeling. By the end of the summer, you’ll look back and realize how God brought you through and gave you abundant strength to accomplish all that He had for you to do. 

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” – Colossians 3:23-24

There are plenty more tips than just “you will get tired,” so let’s look at some favorite tips from former summer staff!

Andrew Colby: Remain flexible. Not everything will go according to plan. Always be willing to volunteer your help to the rest of your team — that will make things go so much faster and smoother.

Kinsey Tucker: Pack more socks than you need! Nothing feels better than putting on clean socks. 

Marissa Martinie: 

  • Eliminate expectations
  • The days are long, the weeks are short
  • You’ll never get enough sleep
  • Thursdays are the best
  • It’s all about connections

Brady Westlake: 

  • Step out of your comfort zone. Next Step summers challenge and stretch you in many ways, but just like anything else, it is what you make it. Challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone and try new things as much as you can. 
  • Invest in relationships. Be intentional with your time and your conversations during your summer. Although the summer may seem never ending at times, you will look back and wonder how it was over so fast.  Be present and try to really get to know people while you are serving. 
  • Journal, journal, journal. Take a journal with you on your trip and challenge yourself to document the day-to-day, the things that God was showing you, and the people you met.  You will definitely want to look back on those experiences and relive such a cool time in your life. 

Jessica Dunn: 

  • Bring church clothes. I wish I had been prepared with a nice set of church clothes (especially for an international trip). I awkwardly walked into a Jamaican Church Service in jean shorts and a t- shirt and stuck out like a sore thumb! 
  • Don’t doubt yourself. I wish I had trusted that God was going to use me, no matter what our team dynamic looked like each week. Walking in confidence of who He is and how He made you changes how you show up to serve others. 
  • Lean into your team. You are not going to see eye to eye with everyone on your team all the time. That is actually a beautiful thing! Learn to lean into them anyway. Find ways to encourage and serve them because you are going to need each other. 
  • Not all groups are the same. Each week, you will have a pretty standard routine…but with a different team! Even as it starts to feel repetitive, remember it is all new for the students you are with each week. Learn their names, their group culture, jokes and games that are specific to that group, and ways you can uniquely serve each group every week. 
  • Learn from the locals. You are not the experts on the communities you are serving in, so go into the summer excited to learn. Learn new recipes, new techniques, new terms and sayings, and new ways to worship the same God. You will be surprised how much more fulfilling the summer will be when you come in ready to embrace all you don’t know yet!

Another tip I’d like to leave you with is to lean into the uncomfortable moments, much like Brady suggested above with getting out of your comfort zone. For example, before I did my first summer with Next Step I was really awkward around people (though…I’m still awkward now). But for the first few weeks I believed the lie that I wasn’t good at talking with people so I avoided getting to know any of the students. 

I was soon called out by my teammates and encouraged to just start talking to them despite me feeling uncomfortable, and guess what? It turned out great! Sure, it felt weird at first but God grew me and gave me the courage to keep on talking even when I didn’t feel like it. He ended up using me to have some really important faith conversations with students. So lean into those uncomfortable moments. Don’t run from adversity. 

Hopefully, these tips have helped you even a little bit as you prepare for your summer or think about doing an internship with us. 

If you’d like to learn more, or apply, head over to

Next Step Ministries