Gearing up for Group Workcamp
By Cyntra Brown
For The Salisbury Post
In June of 2010, 400 youth from around the country, between the ages of 14 and 20, will live at South Rowan High School for one week.
They’ll eat together, worship together and repair 65 homes in the China Grove area.
Group Workcamp is a six-day camp that encourages youth to grow stronger in Christ while they perform home repairs.
Kim Hodges, youth director at Mt. Zion United Church of Christ in China Grove, is helping this national program come to Rowan County.
Mt. Zion is the official sponsor for the camp, but also participating will be First United Church of Christ in Salisbury, CHAOS Lutheran Youth Group, and First Reformed Church Landis.
This is not the first time Mt. Zion has participated in the workcamps. The church has been involved in the service activity for more than 15 years.
“I’ve been attending with the youth for 10 years,” Hodges said.
Rowan County was chosen this year as a camp site after Mt. Zion applied for the program. The only requirement was a school be willing to host.
South Rowan principal Dr. Don Knox heard about the program through a teacher and felt it was a great way to help the community.
“She told me about the benefits for people within the community that may not receive help any other way,” Knox said.
Knox then went to Gene Miller, assistant superintendent for school operations, and Dr. Walter Hart, assistant superintendent, to tell them about the opportunity.
After a few meetings with school board officials and Group Workcamp directors, the workcamp site was approved.
The Rowan-Salisbury School System agreed to provide lodging and facility needs, which will require an extra week of work from custodial and cafeteria staff. All facility costs are funded through the camp fees, providing no cost for the school system.
“My hope is that when all is said and done, all of our visitors will understand what ‘Raider Pride’ is all about” Knox said. “It is more than just a school. South Rowan is a bright light in a shining community.”
Mt. Zion UCC is looking for volunteers to help with site writing and hospitality.
Along with the other churches participating, they are also raising money to go toward purchasing the materials for the work sites. Their goal is to raise $20,000 which will go back into the community through repairs.
So far, Mt. Zion has received donations from church members.
They have applied for grants but will not know the outcome until this winter. A community fundraiser is being planned that will send letters asking for support.
“The residents gain not only some much needed home improvements, but also pride in their homes” Hodges said. “It makes a difference.”
The program is also beneficial for the youth who participate, allowing them to bond with one another, serve others and challenge themselves.
Activities include building and repairing porches, wheelchair ramps and steps and small home repairs such as exterior and interior painting.
There are no special skills needed to participate, just a willingness to serve others and learn.Houses that need repairs will be selected this fall by application. Application forms are being distributed through churches and other local charitable organizations through the summer. Priority will go to low-income, elderly and disabled homeowners.
Through Group Workcamps, nearly 300,000 teenagers and adults have helped over 50,000 families across North America since 1977.
The camps began in Loveland, Colo., when a flood left hundreds of people homeless and searching for loved ones.
Loveland responded by hosting the very first Home Repair Workcamp and creating the Group Workcamps Foundation. They began repairing homes and in the process helped people mend their lives.
Since then, workcamps have moved on to help communities in Canada, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Central Africa.
North Carolina locations for 2010 are Newton, Wilmington and China Grove. Spots are still available for those who would like to volunteer.
The price for the China Grove camp is $424, which includes all meals, lodging and construction materials and supplies.
Registration for this camp and others can be done online at www.group workcamps.com.
For more information about the program, you can call 1-800-385-4545 to speak to leaders who work with the program.
You can also find more information at www.group workcamps.com; or find them on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
You can search “Group Workcamps Foundation” under causes on Facebook for more information, pictures, videos and updates.
Twitter lovers, can “tweet” “/group workcamps.”, and YouTube fans can find videos at the channel “GroupWorkcampsVideo”.
If you would like to donate either your time or money to support Mt. Zion’s workcamp project, call 704-857-1169.
If you would like to simply write a check, make it out to Mt. Zion UCC – National Workcamp and send it to Mt. Zion UCC P.O. Box 1298 China Grove, NC 28023.