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Gap Year Program

So you are looking for a challenging gap year program? Great idea! A gap year is a great opportunity to develop yourself, step out of your comfort zone and do things you have never done before. You probably want to travel, learn more about yourself, develop new skills and get life experience by living away from home and from your safe environment. At the Shelter Youth Hostel Ministry we understand this desire. We offer year-round gap year opportunities for people between 18 and 30 years old in which they grow in a personal, professional and spiritual way. Read here everything you need to know about a gap year and the gap year opportunities we offer!

Overview of this page:

  • What is a gap year?
  • Reasons for doing a gap year abroad
  • About our gap year program
  • 10 reasons to volunteer in our ministry
  • Start dates and practical information

What is a gap year?

You probably heard other people about taking a gap year. And maybe you were wondering: "What is a gap year?" or "Would a gap year be something for me?". A gap year is any year between educational transitions: after graduating high school, as a break during your studies, or right after you graduated. So strictly taken, a gap year means that people take time away from their education to pursue something different. We rather define a gap year as an experience of a lifetime: a unique opportunity to take a little detour from your regular life and do things you’ve always dreamed of but never had the chance to do. It is a great time to invest in yourself and discover more about who you are. And where can you do this better than in a foreign country?

Gap Year Options

Reasons for doing your gap year abroad

You might have to convince people around you about this whole gap year thing. Therefore we wrote down some reasons that could help you explain why taking a gap year is a good idea. One of the best ways to find out who you are and what you’re capable of is by going out of your comfort zone. Doing a gap year abroad, instead of in your own country, challenges you to do this. Being away from home will help you to become more independent, mature and grow on a personal level. While there are loads of opportunities for a gap year abroad, the advantages are universal:

  • Get out of your comfort zone
  • Get life experience by living away from home and from your safe environment
  • Broaden your horizon and your network
  • Get in touch with people from different cultures and religions
  • Learn new skills, like communicating with people from other cultures
  • Take time to think about your future and next steps in life
  • Gain work experience, when you spend (a part of) your gap year volunteering or working
  • Return home with a fresh perspective on life and renewed energy

Why settle into a career so early on in life? You have plenty of years ahead of you to settle down and get rooted. But young adulthood is a unique opportunity to venture out and gain a new perspective. And at the end of your gap year, you will most certainly be different. You’ll likely have different values and a deeper understanding of the people around you. In short: no matter how you choose to spend it, a gap year can be a hugely significant time in a person’s life.

Gap Year Volunteering

About our gap year program: learn more about yourself and God

We have two Christian hostels, called ‘Shelter’, in the heart of Amsterdam. Our mission is twofold: first of all, we want to share God’s love with travelers in our hostels. Every year we receive around 40.000 guests. For us this means 40.000 opportunities to share the good news of Jesus! All year about 35 Christian volunteers (18-30) spend (a part of) their gap year volunteering in our ministry, by running the hostels. Preparing food, serving guests, being a great host at reception or leading our cleaning program: it is all part of work. But most important is connecting to our guests – travelers from all over the world. Our desire is to make guests feel welcomed and at home. By creating this safe atmosphere, we hope that people feel free to open up and connect about deeper things in life.

Grow in your faith and personality

Secondly, we want to equip and disciple our volunteers for a life of ministry and service. People who join our team come from different backgrounds. Some have experience in evangelism and ministry, and for others it is a very new experience. However, we don’t offer different gap year programs. All volunteers, whether they stay for one month or a full gap year, are offered the same program: our Ministry Training Program (MTP). In weekly MTP sessions we will provide you with the necessary tools to run a hostel and grow in evangelism. But most of all we want to help you grow on a personal level and in your relationship with God. We don’t expect you to know everything when you come to work with us. Above all, we just want you to be open and willing to grow with and learn from other Christians in our community!

Gap Year Training

10 reasons to become a volunteer in our ministry

If you are looking for a great way to spend your gap year abroad, we might have a perfect opportunity for you. We offer a Christian gap year volunteering program in which you can:

  • Set a time apart for God and grow in your faith
  • Discover and grow in your talents and learn more about yourself
  • Live in an international community of Christians of your age
  • Grow in confidence and personality
  • Learn how to talk about your faith with unbelievers and to share God's love in a practical way
  • Get life experience by living away from home
  • Get in touch with people from other cultures and religions
  • Improve your English or other second languages
  • Take time to think and pray about the next step in your life
  • Take the chance to grow in leadership by leading small group, supervising the cleaners and hosting events

Over the years we have had lots of people who spend a full gap year with us. For example, Albert from the Netherlands, who spent his Christian gap year in Amsterdam. You can read more about their experiences here.

Start dates and other practical information

Most people start their Christian gap year around August 1st or September 1st. But you can also start January 1st, March 1st, May 1st, June 1st, July 1st or December 1st. Moreover you can choose the number of months you want to volunteer. However, we recommend to stay at least 6 months to make the most out of this opportunity. So, if you are interested: don't hesitate and join our team! For application, expected expenses and other practical information about our gap year program, you can read more in Application information.

We want to be a place where you have the opportunity to grow in your personality and to discover your unique gifts and talents given to you from God. Come and spend your Christian gap year at the Shelter, experience ministry and life in Amsterdam, live in an international community, grow in your faith, and share Christ with others.

Still have questions about a gap year and whether you should do one? Check out our blogs:

  • What is a gap year?
  • How to prepare for your Christian gap year abroad?
  • What to do during your Christian gap year?
  • Why should you do a Gap year before college?
  • Looking for a cheap Christian gap year?

Gap Year Program Picture