For nearly 15 years, 6:8 has provided local youth with the chance to take an annual mission trip. Now through January, the group is accepting applications for its 2018 trip to Joplin, Missouri.

During the trip, participants will work on a variety of service projects such as construction, painting or working with children. Students eat together, participate in team-building events and listen to faith-related talks at night, said 6:8 co-director John Ramthun.

The group typically takes between 30-40 students who fill out an application and are interviewed. Ramthun said youth in grades nine through 12 as of the 2017-18 school year and those recently graduated are welcome to apply.

“We look for a willingness to serve first and foremost,” Ramthun said. “We do a lot of mission trip meetings and training prior to the trip so the individual has to be committed to more than just the week of the trip. They apply and then come in for an interview with their parents and we talk about their reasons for coming; it’s a way for us to make sure they are committed to all of it and not just looking for a fun week away.”

Ramthun said while it is a fun week, everyone works hard and learns a lot.

Supplies are gathered up, water jugs are loaded and they arrive to their worksite by 8 a.m.

The participants are separated into rooms by gender, and sleep on the floor in the church they stay at for the week.

“Part of it is about losing some of the comforts of home,” Ramthun said.

Carissa Brickl, a sophomore at UW-Madison, first went on the mission trip her junior year at Sauk Prairie High School. She went again her senior year and last year returned for the mission trip as a leader.

Brickl said the mission trip is very different from others.

“I saw it as an opportunity to really grow as a person,” Brickl said. “Each time I went it was a different experience because I was at a different place in my life each time.”

Sawyer Haag, a senior home-schooled youth from Sauk City, has been on the mission trips twice and plans to return in 2018 as a senior leader.

“I enjoy volunteering,” Haag said. “It’s always a fun thing to do and mission trips are a great way to do that.”

Haag said he found the trips especially beneficial in meeting new people and making friends, although admitting it was a challenge at first.

“You get to meet a lot of new people that are really great while working to help people that need it,” Haag said. “But it was my first time being in a new environment I’d never been in before. Being homeschooled, you don’t get to meet as many people as you would if you attended school, so it was a little difficult at first.”

Ramthun said after doing the mission trips for almost 15 years, he enjoys seeing some of the kids that came in the beginning now coming back as leaders.

Ramthun said it’s also been great to see what paths some of the kids have gone onto after participating in a mission trip. He said one kid discovered a love of building and now owns his own construction business. Another is now studying elementary education after working with children during a trip.

“It’s such a great opportunity to give back,” Brickl said. “The week of time you give is so worth it in the service you give to others. It’s very challenging but worth it at the same time.”

Follow Autumn Luedke on Twitter @Apwriter1 or contact at (608) 393-5777

Reporter, Sauk Prairie Eagle