poverty simulation

like nothing you've done.

Our signature event, the Poverty Simulation Week is not a typical "mission trip" and more than merely a retreat. We will lead your group through a life of poverty. From the moment you arrive, you step into the world of the working poor -- those tens of millions of Americans who work hard and never really get anywhere. 

Poverty, you'll soon see, isn't just about money; it is about what you eat, where you stay, how you work, how much or little control you have over your circumstances, what surprises and anxieties you encounter day-to-day, and how it never ever ends. What would it be like to be a single parent of 3 living on minimum wage in America? We’ll help you find out. You’ll work, live and pray, earning low wages and trying to provide the things your family needs. Of course, no simulation is perfect, but this one will push you to your limits and leave you wondering how we let people live this way. Food, shelter, health care, child care, work, hygiene, transportation, leisure— all these and more become part of the challenge as your try to build a life from scratch.   


You will work hard in conditions you cannot control, eat less than what you're likely accustomed to, and sleep on concrete at least once -- probably multiple times. You will live without your smartphone, without your comforts of home, without your credit card. But you will live. For youth and adults, this is a discovery of character, an exploration of faith,  and a new look at the American dream. When you're done, you'll get a diploma and you'll know that you've earned it.


"Tuesday I began to worry, to think that I had led the group in the wrong direction... I thought I would have to pull everyone out and take them some other place... Never have I been so wrong. Not only was this a great place to go, but this was the best mission experience I have ever had." 

simulation dates in 2017

Our targeted simulation dates for Summer 2017 are: 

June 18-25

July 23-29

If you have a large group (25+), can register before January 30, and absolutely must have a different date, send us an email, and we'll try to work with you. No promises, however. 

Registration works like this:  

You must have a group of 10 or more, with at least 2 adults. Participants must have completed 6th grade. We strongly recommend 8th grade, but you know your group.

Capacity for each of these weeks is 30 youth and adults. You must have at least one person over age 21 for every 4 people under age 18.

  • Review the covenants and orientation materials (linked below), so folks know what they're signing on for. 

  • Send us the registration form, Trip Leader covenant and a non-refundable deposit of $75 per anticipated participant. (While you can add participants until 14 days before your event space permitting, you'll want to be as accurate as you can. Small groups may share an event, while groups of 24 or more will likely have the week to themselves.)

  • Wait for your confirmation by email from our registrar. 

  • Make sure we receive your final payment 30 days prior to your event start date. 

  • Make sure we receive your completed covenants and health forms for all participants. Even the adults. Don't leave anything blank. Really. Not even the part about your last tetanus shot. 

Program Costs

Registration is $325 per person. That includes all program fees and leadership, lodging and meals. If you think costs may keep you away, please call us. We sometimes have limited scholarships available for those in need. 

forms & Details

Group Registration Form  (to be included when you register)

Trip Leader Covenant (to be included when you register)

Poverty Simulation FAQ (to help you prepare your group)

Participant Covenant -- Youth/Young Adult (due 14 days in advance)

Participant Covenant -- Adult Leaders, including the trip leader (due 14 days in advance)

Health Form -- All Participants (due 14 days in advance)

Orientation materials (to help you prepare your group)