This is no ordinary camp, though participants will spend time outdoors learning valuable skills. No merit badges here - just personal growth and the honor of serving people in need.
The youth are participating in a massive volunteer effort, July 7-11, doing home repairs for residents of the Navajo Reservation, Westwater, Blanding, White Mesa and Monticello. The program, now in its ninth year, is sponsored by the state Division of Housing & Community Development together with the national Group Workcamps Foundation.
An estimated 319 youths from 13 states will travel to Utah for the experience, at their expense. They’ll log more than 12,000 hours on 46 home improvement projects, including: building wheelchair ramps, replacing roofs, painting, repairing walls and siding and constructing decks, porches and steps.
“These kids spend all year fundraising and preparing for this trip. When they get there they practically work non-stop. I’m not sure which is more gratifying, seeing the smiles on their faces or the smiles of the home owners we’ve helped,” said Mike Johnson, manager of Utah’s Weatherization Assistance Program.
The Weatherization Program was created in 1976 by the U.S. Department of Energy in response to the national energy crisis. The program pays for home improvements aimed at helping low-income households reduce their energy consumption.
“The repairs we do help home owners maintain their homes, save money on utilities and live more comfortably. But we nearly always have a waiting list for services,” said Johnson. “Partnering with Group Workcamps helps us leverage our weatherization dollars.”
The Group Workcamps Foundation, based in Loveland, Colo. was created in 1976. The non-profit organizes dozens of domestic and international service “missions” annually for youth church groups. For more info, go to www.groupworkcamps.com