Spoke Folk is a ministry passionate about living and sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Through biking, music, and community, Spoke Folk trains youth how to be missionaries in their daily lives.
I’m still not clear on what this is
Spoke Folk is unique…it’s part mission trip, part summer camp, part missionary training…it’s often difficult for someone involved with this ministry to accurately and fully explain what it is to someone new to Spoke Folk. Here’s what we know for sure; God has been working through the programming of Spoke Folk to affect youth and young adults for His glory since 1979 and there’s nothing else like it. Watch national director, Ryan, explain in his words what Spoke Folk is!
What happens on a Spoke Folk tour?
Every year Spoke Folk holds several 12-day bike tours of up to 30 participants (15-20 years old) and 10 adult counselors (21+ years old). Do you need to be a biker? Absolutely not! These people, from different places all over the country, encourage one another, grow in faith together, and become like family on tour…and biking is just one small part of what makes up your Spoke Folk experience.
Each tour begins at a home church, where the group completes four days of training. During training, the group practices music, prepares puppet shows and skits, takes training bike rides, and begins to bond as a group. After these four days, the tour is ready to share their program with the congregations they visit and the love of Jesus with the people they meet.
Once on the road, the tour bikes around 40 miles each day to a new host church. Support vans transport luggage and equipment and provide snacks and water support. While participants typically bike in small groups, the entire tour eats a picnic lunch together halfway through the day.
What about the spiritual growth?
In the evening, the tour shares their music program with the host congregation. After the performance and spending time in fellowship with the congregation, the tour takes time for worship and discipleship training focused on four spiritual habits (prayer, being in the Word, alone time with God, and engaging in a discipleship relationship). This happens through large group devotions, small group “family time,” and individual time with the Lord.
You mentioned the amazing Spoke Folk community…
Although a Spoke Folk tour ends after just 12 short days when the tour arrives back at the home church, the community of Spoke Folk continues off tour. Lifelong friendships that encourage faith in God are often formed through Spoke Folk. If you are a follower of Jesus, we hope you’ll consider joining us on an upcoming tour. If you feel depleted or spiritually empty and are looking for a place that will build you up and help strengthen your relationship with Jesus and with others, join us this summer!
Counselors (21+ year olds): without you, we can’t have a tour! Click HERE to apply. Counselors must submit to a background check, provide references, and share their faith story. We want to make sure all counselors are well grounded in their faith and ready to help lead a tour.
Counselors participate in all the same activities as participants. Spoke Folk is like one big happy family where everyone is involved in the program, biking, devos, one-on-ones, etc.
Each tour’s group of counselors will need to participate in 2-3 pre-tour virtual meetings to discuss logistics, counselor jobs, and to get to know each other so as to be on the same page on day 1 of Spoke Folk. You are also encouraged to arrive earlier in the day on the first day of tour.
Spoke Folkers will fly, take the train, take the bus, or drive in to their tour’s home church. Each person is asked to provide their travel information so that Spoke Folk can arrange to make airport, bus depot, and train station pickups & drop-offs as needed. If you need to be picked up, look for a small group of people carrying an orange bike flag! We’ll also have your cell number on hand to make sure we can find you quickly.
Spoke Folk is $395 for participants (15-20) and $250 for counselors (21+). Spoke Folk recommends writing letters and sending them to family & friends for fundraising as that has always proven an effective fundraising tool. Within Spoke Folk’s registration system, each person also gets their own online fundraising page. You can send that link out on social media and through an email blast to try to raise money as well.
While it can be intimidating to go on Spoke Folk without knowing anyone else on tour, many would say that’s the best way to go! It forces you to meet and connect with others quickly vs staying next to the person you came with. Spoke Folk as a community is very welcoming from the moment you arrive and after the first day or two the whole tour feels like a family.
Biking on Spoke Folk is not as difficult as you may think. We have lots of time each day to complete the ride, you are always with at least one other person if not a group, and stops along the way are part of the fun on Spoke Folk.
Each night after the program and after some small group time and devotionals, we camp out on the church floor using sleeping bags, air mattresses, camping pads, etc.
There are 2 large vans and a trailer that haul the equipment and luggage from church to church. They also serve as biking support, handing out bananas, refilling water bottles, and picking up any bikers that need a break.
Anyone ages 15-20 is welcome on Spoke Folk. Our main focus is to encourage and grow Jesus followers into disciples both on and off of tour. If you aren’t quite sure what you believe, that’s ok. You’ll be surrounded by an accepting and loving community that will encourage you in your faith.
You don’t need to be! For those that are less musically inclined, you will still be part of the large group choir singing during the program but there’s no obligation to play an instrument or sing a solo if you don’t want to. Lots of people without any musical experience go on Spoke Folk every year.
If you have your own bike, there are many companies that offer bike shipping for around $140 round trip. You can usually consult a local bike shop in your area to get a free bike box from them. If you do not own a bike or don’t wish to ship it, Spoke Folk has a limited number of rental bikes that can be rented for $115. Rental bikes have bike bags and are stocked with bike tools, mini pump, and extra tubes in case of flat tires.
If your resources allow, bike shorts/jerseys are nice to have since they are designed with biking in mind. They are not required however. As long as you have shorts and a t-shirt, you’re good to go! As for the bike, any multi-speed bike will work. If you have the choice between a mountain bike and a hybrid/road bike, we recommend the hybrid or road bike option as the tires create less friction on the road and easier biking. Single speed bikes are not allowed or desirable on Spoke Folk.
Through the first few days of tour, Spoke Folk is providing all the meals and will work with anyone with dietary restrictions to make sure they are fed. Once on the road, the churches provide breakfast and dinner while Spoke Folk continues to provide lunch at the stops along the bike rides. The food coordinator on your tour will work with you if a church hasn’t provided something you can eat.
Each church may have a different solution for showering. Some have access to a local YMCA or community pool. Others arrange for host showers at nearby congregation members’ homes. Most of the time, Spoke Folkers throw on their swimsuit and shower in the church parking lot with a garden hose. It’s cold but after a long day of biking on a hot day, it….is still cold. But it’s the fastest way to get 20-40 people showered and has been a Spoke Folk tradition since the beginning!
As a requirement for going on Spoke Folk, you must provide proof of health insurance and a liability waiver which also grants permission for Spoke Folk to seek medical attention if needed. It’s rare and the more common issues might include mild dehydration or heat stroke. Our counselors and specifically our medical coordinator remind everyone on tour to hydrate throughout the day, to stretch, to apply sunscreen and to get sleep to avoid these issues. There are 2 support vans that are available to pick someone up along the bike ride if any medical issue arises.