About the Ultimate Workout


The idea for Ultimate Workout was created by  Chris Blake, editor of Insight Magazine at the time, who was running on a treadmill a friend. They began to talk about the importance of giving their souls a workout, along with their bodies. How could they make their sweat count for eternity? Chris couldn’t get the conversation out of his mind and began dreaming up ways to encourage teen readers of Insight to exercise their faith. Soon the magazine teamed with Maranatha and the Ultimate Workout, as we know it, was born. The first adventure consisted of 14 teens. Twenty-six years later, Maranatha welcomes nearly 150 participants to Ultimate Workout each year.

As with all Maranatha projects, Ultimate Workout revolves around the construction of a church or school. Volunteers are usually split into smaller teams to create a family-style living arrangement. The teams work on separate sites or together at one place, depending on the project. There are also opportunities for volunteers to jump into various outreach efforts, such as medical clinics, community service, and children’s ministries.

In addition to the work, the Ultimate Workout is intensely focused on spiritual and leadership development. Teens lead out in many areas, including worship, construction, and outreach. Faith is stretched and strengthened in incredible ways while out in the mission field!

There is also time for much socialization. Strangers quickly become close friends. And there is always a fun excursion to end Ultimate Workout, to close the project with a bang. From there, volunteers usually keep in touch, reconnect on another Ultimate Workout or mission trip, and sometimes even meet in college!

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 up through recently graduated seniors who have not yet begun college.

Do you have to be Seventh-day Adventist to go on Ultimate Workout?

No. Ultimate Workout is open to ALL teenagers who have completed grade nine. There is an intense spiritual component to the trip, and participants should understand that spiritual discussions and activities will be part of the experience.

What is the cost for Ultimate Workout?

Expenses can vary, but typically volunteers pay a participation fee that is between $700 and $950, plus airfare to the project location. When applying, volunteers must pay a deposit. The remaining balance of the participation fee must be submitted 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 the UW 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.

Is it OK for my child to travel alone to another country?

It’s normal to feel nervous about sending your teen to another country alone. To ease the anxiety, Maranatha does our best to provide lots of information and ways to connect with fellow travelers.  And at the destination airport, our staff will be waiting for volunteers at the airport to escort them to home base.Tips for the traveling minor:

  • Wear the Ultimate Workout t-shirt provided while traveling!
  • At some point in your travel, you will probably see other volunteers wearing UW t-shirts. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself and travel together.
  • Get on the UW Facebook page and ask about travel itineraries. If you meet another volunteer with the same route, plan ahead of time to connect at the airport.
  • Airines offer assistance to minors by having chaperones between connecting flights. You can request this, but this does mean they will not be allowed to interact with other UW travelers between flights.
  • Keep Maranatha’s emergency number with you while traveling. If you miss a connection or if your flight is cancelled, you can always call us and we will help you figure out the rest of your trip.
  • When you arrive at your destination airport, go through customs, pick up your bags, and then exit into the lobby. Our staff will be wearing the UW t-shirts and looking for you!
  • If you ever feel anxious, ask airport personnel for help!

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 research for the best airfares. 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 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. 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?

Check out the website for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to look up health advice for travelers to specific regions. We provide additional information about the specific project location in our Ultimate Workout information packet.

Maranatha requires that all our volunteers 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 teens. Christian staff members have been recruited especially for their interest in mentoring teens. All staff goes through a screening and background check process as well as in-country training prior to the project. Maranatha strives to keep a 1:4 ration of adults to teen participants.

I'm an adult. Can I go on the Ultimate Workout?

The Ultimate Workout is for teens but there are opportunities 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 contact Maranatha.

Can I join my son or daughter on this trip?

No—and this is for the good of your child! By not opening this project up to parents, teens are forced to branch out and meet new people. Rather than staying in their comfort zones, they learn to depend on God who is always there for them.

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 our popular Family Projects.

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 through the U.S. Passports and International Travel website.

 You can find more information about entrance requirements at the U.S. Department of State website. 

All visitors under the age of 18 must present 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. Check out Maranatha’s Resources page to find more fundraising ideas.

Past UW Projects

1990 Debut Trip
1991 UW1: Honduras
1992 UW2: Dominican Republic
1993 UW3: Guatemala
1994 UW4: Mexico
1995 UW5: Mexico
1996 UW6: Panama
1997 UW7: El Salvador
1998 UW8: Venezuela
1999 UW9: Honduras
2000 UW10: Nicaragua
2001 UW11: Costa Rica
2002 UW12: Dominican Republic
2003 UW13: Dominican Republic
2004 UW14: Peru
2005 UW15: Peru
2006 UW16: Peru
2007 UW-India: Orissa/Andhra Pradesh, India
2007 UW17: Ecuador
2008 UW-India
2008 UW18: Chile
2009 UW 19: Ecuador
2010 UW20: Mexico
2011 UW21: Mexico
2012 UW22: Nicaragua
2013 UW23: Ecuador
2014 UW24: Dominican Republic
2015 UW25 Milo: Oregon, United States
2015 UW25: Panama
2016 UW 26 USA: California, United States
2016 UW 26 DR: Dominican Republic
2017 UW 27: Panama