Introduction to the Bus Core

Introduction to the Bus Core

Table of Contents


About STLF1


What is the Bus Core?2

Norms of a Strong Core2



Overall Role of the Bus Core8
Pre-Tour Roles8
Pre-Tour Responsibilities Chart9
City Planning10
Google Doc Itinerary 11
Core Quest11
Where to Go for Support12
Communication Tips12
Post-Tour Roles12

Where to Find Resources Chart13
Recruitment Guide 14-17
Supplemental RecruitmentResourcesBack Pocket

Introduction to the Bus Core

About STLF

STLF Reveals Leadership

STLF works hard to fulfill its mission every day by engraining core values into every program, in efforts to strive for its vision.

STLF Mission
Revealing leadership through service, relationships, and action.

STLF Vision
To energize generations of servant leaders.

STLF's Core Values
Believe, Passion, Community, & Initiative


The Founding: September 18, 2003

Four college freshmen at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities were up late on September 18, 2003. They wereeating Ramen and Easy Mac, chatting,sharing about their lives, discussing how they could make a difference, and --most importantly-- they weredreaming. That night, STLF and the Pay it Forward Tour was born. Nearly each night after that, the students would meet in the early hours of the morning, brainstorming what a perfect world would be like--wouldn't it be awesome if stereotypes didn't exist? Wouldn't it be great if people believed in young people? Would it be cool to go on a cross-country road trip? And do service over spring break?
These teenagers set out to make a difference. And they have. Not alone, but through the commitment, support, and dedication of thousands of people. Never underestimate... anyone.

Growth through Student Initiative

The growth of STLF has been driven by the expansion of the Pay It Forward Tour program, and has been made possible through college student volunteer leadership working collectively in STLF’s self-created leadership model, the Core Model.

What is a Bus Core?

A Bus Core is a group of four to five peoplethat oversee the logistics, event planning, finances, and recruitment of a Pay It Forward Tour for Students Today Leaders Forever. They are united by their shared goal of leading a successful. Being on a BusCore is a role that spans from Fall Conference to Spring Break, with multiple trainings and a lot of work along the way. The Chapter Core, Regional Core, and STLF Nash exist to support the efforts of the Bus Cores throughout the year.

Norms of a Strong Core

  • Hold weekly meetings
  • Maintain frequent, honest, and productive communication
  • Collaborate and share responsibility
  • Trust one another
  • Set goals and hold each other accountable in order to reach them
  • Have fun and remember to enjoy the ride!

Bus Core

Annual Timeline

The Pay It Forward Tour

Overall Role of the BusCore

The role of Bus Core in the PIF Tour is to plan the itinerary, recruit, and facilitate the Pay It Forward Tour. The role formally begins at Fall Conference in early October, where Cores learn the first steps they will take to plan and execute their trip. Early in the process, it is important for the Bus Core and Chapter Core members to discuss their roleswith one another, as Bus Core will be taking care of some tasks on their own (ex: planning service projects and housing sites for the tour), sharing some tasks with ChapterCore (ex: shopping for food and supplies), and leaving some tasks entirely up to ChapterCore Leaders (ex: paying for the bus).

Pre-Tour Roles

  • Choosing a Route:Each year, Chapter Cores will work with Nash to pick Celebration Cities and Nash will share the route guidelineswith Bus Cores. After Fall Conference, Bus Cores will use the Draft System to submit their route.
  • All Bus Cores are asked to have two options for each stop, and Nash will do their best to ensure that every bus will be able to visit one of those.
  • Please be open and honest about preferences while being flexible based on the needs of other chapters and/or Nash
  • Recruitment: Everyone in a formal STLF leadership role needs to be involved in recruitment for the tour, including Chapter Core, Bus Core, Regional Core, and any other formal cores (ex: Recruitment Core). This “all-hands-on-deck” and collective mindset can make recruitment a much easier task.
  • Bond with your Core: We ask that all Bus Cores meet weekly or bi-weekly to plan, but also to get to know one another. Discussing norms, visions/dreams, accountability, and concerns will help prepare cores for the tour.
  • Planning your Cities: Utilizing the resources provided by Nash, it is critical that each core plans housing and service for the first five cities of the Pay It Forward Tour. Work with your core to ensure your projects are diverse, aim to get meals donated, find inexpensive or free tourism options, and look for free housing that can accommodate 40 sleeping people and nighttime activities. The planning deadline is DWB.
  • Communicate with Participants and City Contacts: Both participants and city contacts are counting on you for accurate details of what’s to come. Give them as much notice as possible, and check in to see if they have questions every few weeks
  • Create Shopping Lists and T-Shirt Designs: Work with your Chapter Core to ensure that your shirts, supplies, and food are purchased/delivered on time!

City Planning

Planning a city is one of the biggest components of being a Bus Core Leader, but that doesn’t mean it has to be one of the biggest challenges! Here are some tips to help you plan your route. Follow these steps to have at least housing and service planned BY DWB.

  • Talk with your core: It’s smart to create a plan so that your bus doesn’t have 5 of the same type of project, or 3 days without showers, etc.
  • Start early: Do some research to learn about your city and the potential places you can stay and serve. Utilize STLF’s Service and Housing Database as well as Volunteer Match, the United Way, the Hands On Network, and Google!
  • Focus on a certain area of the city if you are planning a large city: You don’t want service and housing sites to be 30-45 minutes away from one another. Especially with morning traffic!Your bus driver will GREATLY appreciate good planning here!
  • Prepare and practice: Make a list of who you will contact, what you will say, important dates and times, and any questions you will have for your contact. It is also VERY helpful to have a plan for what you’ll say when you leave a voicemail!
  • Keep track of where you are calling and what the response is: Using the City Planning tab in your itinerary will help you stay organized. When making tons of calls, keeping track of names and organizations will be a lifesaver!
  • Call!: Don’t rely on email to ask people for housing, service, and/or meals. Unless a contact asks you to email details, it is ALWAYS best to call. It’s harder to ignore/forget about phone calls than emails!
  • Ask for details: Know if you have access to showers, kitchens, room size/space, etc.
  • Get multiple numbers: Once the site is confirmed, ask for a second phone AND an emergency contact. You don’t want to be locked out of the site when you arrive at 9pm with only an office number!
  • Confirm details:Send a confirmation email to your contact to ensure that you are on the same page and have everything in writing. Also, because you’re planning far in advance, keep in touch every few weeks to confirm and keep STLF on their radar!
  • PMA! Due to liability or restrictions, some places are not able to host us even if they really want to. If someone says no, ask for recommendations or connections in their city you might try.

Components of City Planning

  • Housing: Housing sites should have room for 40 sleeping bags AND nighttime activities! Showers, kitchens, or even bunks are an added bonus!
  • Service: Your project should last from approximately 8:30 or 9am to 11:30am or 12pm
  • Bus Driver Hotel: Work with your Chapter Core to book hotels near your housing site
  • Meals: Ask housing sites for dinner/breakfast and service sites for breakfast/lunch!
  • Tourism/Enrichment: Free/cheap activities.Could be planned for the afternoon you arrive in a city, or after lunch before you travel to your next city

Google Doc Itinerary

The Google Doc Itinerary is a resource that is provided for every bus core by STLF Nash. It is organized to be an easy-to-use itinerary for Bus Core Leaders AND Bus Drivers. Here are some details that will make using this Doc easier:

  • Fill in your route, mileage, and drive times! Bus companies NEED this info, so once you have your finalized route, please add these details to all cells highlighted yellow. An easy way to do this is to go to the Edit menu, and select Find and Replace.
  • Your Google Doc has tabs! In addition to your itinerary, there are three extra tabs along the bottom of the page that contain resources.
  • City PlanningTab: Use this tab to track calls made to housing and service sites, including the contact info, the response from the site, and notes. Keep all cities in one tab, or duplicate the tab to make one for each Bus Core Leader – your choice!
  • Core Quest Tab: There are over 12,000 points to be earned in the Core Quest Competition! Read the info below and track your Core’s points in this tab!
  • Contact Sheet Tab: The info that you enter into your itinerary will automatically be sorted in the last tab. Print this tab off for an easy reference sheet on tour!

Core Quest

Core Quest is a friendly competition between all Bus Cores. The intended purpose is to help each core build relationships and promote the tour. We believe that the strength of the tour is a reflection of the strength of the Core, so start early and try to break the Core Quest record of 8,000 points!

Here is a small sample of activities you can participate in to earn Core Quest Points:

  • Awkward Family photo shoot.
  • 200 points—bonus 100 points to the best “family photo” pose/outfits
  • Rake someone else’s yard of leaves OR Shovel someone else's driveway as a core.
  • 400 points
  • Bake cookies for another core.Write an encouraging poem to go along with it!
  • 400 points—bonus 100 points if they’re from another Chapter
  • Learn "Thriller" dance and video tape your core performing
  • 500 points
  • Have 30 people signed up online by DWB Retreat.
  • 800 points

Check the third tab on your Google Doc Itinerary to see the full list and start tallying points.
Have another idea we could add to Core Quest?! Email to suggest it!

Where to go for Support

In addition to the Pre-Tour Responsibilities Chart, there are different groups that will be best suited to help with various areas of support. Here are the primary areas of support of Nash, Chapter Core, and Regional Core:

  • Nash:Routes, STLF Resources, Training, Core Dynamics, PMA
  • Chapter Core:Finances/Fundraising, Recruitment, On-Campus Resources,Core Dynamics, PMA
  • Regional Core:City Planning, Recruitment, Core Dynamics, PMA

Communication Tips

Frequently, Bus Cores run into issues that stem from communication breakdowns. Here are a few tips that will help strengthen communication with your core as well as other STLFers:

  • Frequent Communication:Be sure to update each other frequently on planning, recruiting, personal announcements, etc. Make use of email, phone calls, texts, social media, and in-person meetings, and talk with your core about the preferences you have about communication norms.
  • Check-in meetings: It is important to schedule face time with one another! This is a time when you can come together, hang out, ask questions, and communicate with one another about what is going on.
  • Tone is important:The tone of typed communication (email, text, facebook message) can often be misconstrued or misunderstood. Especially when core members are stressed or nervous, PMA and enthusiasm as you share information can go a long way!

Post-Tour Roles

  • Debrief: Work with your Chapter Core and Nash to debrief the tour, share ideas or opinions on improvements, and make sure all loose ends are tied!
  • Participant Communication: Encourage participants to stay involved with STLF through reunions, Spring Conference, or applying to be Bus Core
  • Send Thank You Cards: We rely on our contacts to host us in the future. Be sure they know how much we appreciate their generosity and hospitality!
  • IMPORTANT NOTE: We ask that Bus Cores DO NOT host a party where alcohol is present during the first week after Tour, and that STLF or your bus theme are not prominent parts of any reunion parties your bus hosts if alcohol is present.