A Marysville church is hosting a weeklong work camp not only in the hopes of promoting Christian growth and discipleship, but also to lend a helping hand to those in need.
Dale Scheiderer, co-chairman of the steering committee at St. John's Lutheran Church, said about 258 people from 12 youth groups in eight states will volunteer at the July 6-12 event.
Participants will stay at Fairbanks High School in Milford Center and sleep on air mattresses. Each day, groups of five youth and one adult will work on local homes in need of repair.
"They will be working on approximately 40 home sites through Union County doing light home repair, painting, some construction, wheelchair ramps and things like that," Scheiderer said.
Scheiderer said St. John's Lutheran Church has taken its youth on work camp trips for the last 10 years. A couple of years ago, they decided to bring one to Union County.
"We thought we could do a good job because we do know there is a need in the area. There are always people that are hurting in some way regarding their income or their experiences, or just don't have the money to do home repairs," he said.
The church works with the Group Mission Trips organization each year when it travels. But to be a co-sponsor of a trip, the church had to come up with $19,000. In addition, each camper pays $449 to participate.
"The money goes for buying all the materials for the home repairs, paint, food and staff at Fairbanks for the week," Scheiderer said.
Beneficiaries of the work pay nothing. The homeowners were identified through local agencies, such as the United Way of Union County, Union County Senior Services and Community Action, as well as individual referrals.
"We've learned from the past that this has been a great growth experience for our young people. They've been not only able to realize that many people out there are worse off than they are for whatever circumstance," said Scheiderer. "But they also learn to talk to people. They learn to develop the relationships.
"It's nondenominational and it really ends up being about spiritual growth between the camper and God and the people they're working with," he said.
Each day of the camp, the group will have morning and lunchtime devotionals based around a different theme. Campers are encouraged to share their devotional time with the residents they are helping. The workday concludes about 3:30 p.m., when participants return to the school for a little free time.
"In the evening, they have some really tremendous spiritual programs -- really energizing with music and great messages," Scheiderer said. "It may seem on the surface that it's all about the home repair. But the end result is they've had a great spiritual growth experience."