Maranatha Volunteers International

UW Frequently Asked Questions

What is Ultimate Workout?
The Ultimate Workout is an annual international teen mission project sponsored by Maranatha Volunteers International. It is intended to give teens a physical and spiritual workout through service activities.

What are the age requirements for Ultimate Workout?
The Ultimate Workout is a High School experience. We accept volunteers who have completed their freshman year of high school, and have not yet begun college.

Do you have to be Adventist to go on Ultimate Workout?
Ultimate Workout is open to ALL teenagers who have completed grade nine. There is a spiritual component to the trip and the participants should understand that spiritual discussions and activities will be part of the experience.

What is the cost for Ultimate Workout?
Mission trips are a big investment of time and money. However, we believe the experience is well worth the investment! Each volunteer must pay a participation fee between $700 and $950 plus their own airfare to the project location. When applying volunteers pay a deposit, then submit two more payments to amount to the final participation before the final deadline.
Additional costs beyond the participation fee may include passport fees $140 (if you do not already have a valid passport), airfare $600-800, vaccine costs, and purchase of items on packing list (if you don't already own them).

What is covered by the participation fee?
The participation fee covers your food, housing location, in-country transportation, secondary accident insurance, an excursion, t-shirt, and Bible. The fee also contributes to the cost of building the church. The fee does NOT cover airfare to the country, or additional expenses for snacks or souvenirs. Participants must also fund fees associated with passports or necessary visas.

This year's project seems different from past years. Why?
The Ultimate Workout is an ever-changing, adapting, growing mission trip that has been on an amazing journey for 23 years now. It's primary goals are to provide a spiritually transforming experience, result in quality construction, and supplement the local church activities in the community. Each change that takes place is made with these three goals in mind.

This year (UW 24) will be changing a couple aspects based on this year's location and our desire to make the project more affordable and create a more consistent experience. This year, instead of splitting the large group into 4-6 smaller sites of 30 people, we will all stay together in one location and split up into different construction and outreach projects during the day. This allows us to reduce costly duplication previously incurred on several sites (e.g. instead of five kitchens we only need one) and we can pass that cost savings on to the participants by lowering the participation fee by $100 from last year. Also, with the reduced cost and this easily expandable model, we are able to open the project up to more teens from around the world. This new model also allows us to create a more consistent and deeper spiritual and cultural experience as well as a more advanced construction team. Instead of having to find five spiritual coordinators or five skilled masons, we can rely on one or two extremely qualified leaders instead of stretching our staff too thin.

The small-group feel of the previous "site model" has been the most challenging aspect to address. We have spoken to many UW veterans and youth leaders to collect creative solutions. Ideas include having a team leader for every 6-10 participants, and two teams of opposite genders will join together to form a family group that will worship together in the mornings and do other activities together. These leaders will strive to create that small group experience. In addition, during the day, small groups will travel to the construction sites, outreach projects, and medical/dental teams. These many activities provide opportunities to get involved and interact with each other in a smaller setting than the large group project.

This project will be different, just like every Ultimate Workout up to this point. However, it will still hold the Ultimate Workout goals and values that have been upheld for 23 years. If you have any questions or ideas, please feel free to contact Rebekah Widmer at (916) 774-7700.

Is it OK for my child to travel alone to another country?
Many parents feel a little anxious about sending their teens off alone. Some participants meet up with groups of others at their home airport. Others take the first leg by themselves, then meet other UW participants on their first stop. All the teens are asked to wear their UW T-shirt, so they are easy to spot.

Maranatha does its best to provide lots of information for the young travelers. We’ll also have a phone number for emergency calls at all times during that traveling period, if they should miss a flight, have a cancellation, etc. It would not be the end of the world, and we would have a staff member wait at the airport for the delayed volunteer.

Some airlines offer assistance to minors. However you should know that if you arrange for this service your teen will not be allowed to socialize in the airport with the other UW participants. When they arrive in the destination airport they will go through customs, pick up their bags and exit into the lobby where a huge group of Ultimate Workout staff will be waiting for them. This system has worked well for many years. It will be a growing experience for both parents and teens!

How can I find the best airfare? Does Maranatha have a travel agent? Is there an airline discount available since so many people are going on this project?
We encourage you to do some research in order to find the best airfare. There are a number of online travel sites that search for the lowest airfare such as www.kayak.com. You can also contact local travel agents to see if they can find a better deal. Be VERY careful to make sure you have the correct dates and times before purchasing your tickets! Unfortunately, Maranatha does not have a travel agent on staff and we do not have a group discount since the volunteers are coming from many different places. Participants should purchase a flight from their home airport that matches the guidelines in the information packet. Please do not purchase a ticket until the participant has received confirmation from Maranatha that they are accepted to the project.

What diseases are present, and what vaccinations will I need?
The Center for Disease Control gives suggestions for travelers to specific regions. See the Center for Disease Control evaluation at www.cdc.gov/travel/ for more information. We provide additional information about the specific project location in a the information packet.

Maranatha requires that each volunteer have a current tetanus shot prior to traveling. In addition, each individual should make their own decisions regarding vaccinations and prophylaxis. Do your research early as the vaccine process could take a couple of weeks and some specific vaccines require multiple shots. We recommend speaking with a travel clinic doctor at least a month prior to departure.

Will my child be supervised? What is the adult/student ratio?
There are adult staff members that will supervise and mentor the students. Each staff member has been recruited especially for their interest in mentoring teens in a Christ-like fashion. They will go through a screening and background check process as well as a practical, in-country training prior to the project.  There are usually about ten adults per site giving a 1:3 ratio of adults to students.

I'm an adult. Can I go on the Ultimate Workout?
The Ultimate Workout is for teens but there are possibilities to serve in a staff role. Staff members should have a desire to work with teens and nurture their spiritual development. If you are interested in serving as a staff member, please read the job descriptions and fill out a staff application available HERE.

Can I join my son or daughter on this trip?
Ultimate Workout is a great opportunity for teens to challenge their comfort zones and strengthen their faith, and it is human nature to cling to what is familiar. By not opening this project up to parents, the teens are forced to branch out and meet new people. Teens learn to depend on God who is always there for them. Each year, qualified staff members, who have been recruited and screened, accompany the participants, monitor safety, and mentor the teens throughout the ten days.

This policy is not intended to discourage anyone from serving. It has been created after many years of experience and it has been proven to be the right decision time and time again. If you feel strongly about joining your child on a mission trip, please check out Maranatha's other mission projects including the Multiple Group Project for small teams and the Christmas Family Project.

What official documents are needed?
All participants must present a passport that is valid for at least six months after the scheduled return date from the project. Apply for a passport HERE.

You can find more information about entrance requirements is available at the US Department of State website.

All visitors under the age of 18 must present a notarized written permission from any legal guardian or parent not accompanying the minor. This permission must include the names of the parent, name of the child, name of anyone traveling with the child and notarized signatures of all absent guardians. If the parents are divorced both must sign the form in the presence of notary public, although they can sign separate forms if necessary. If sole custody has been designated please include copies of that court document, and if one parent is deceased you’ll need to include a copy of the death certificate. These precautions are necessary to avoid problems with local officials.

Do you have any fundraising ideas?
There are lots of ways to raise money for a mission trip. One of the most common ways of raising funds is through a letter appeal. Click here to find more fundraising ideas. Be creative!

Are there any scholarship programs available for financial assistance?
Maranatha's goal is to make mission trips accessible to everyone and we do not want anyone to be discouraged because of cost. Unfortunately, Maranatha does not have unlimited funds either and relies upon generous donors in order to fund its construction projects around the world. Volunteers are encouraged to fundraise as much as possible.

If you have a question that is not listed here, please email it to uw@maranatha.org or call 916-774-7700.