“Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only” James 1:22.
This passage is the central theme of Senior High Youth Conference (SHYC), a camp for highschoolers, with a focus on giving back to the community. In addition to traditional camp activities like hiking, swimming, and singing, SHYC leaves the Shrine Mont campus during the week for service projects. This is a camp that takes itself beyond the mountain; it’s mission requires going out into the valley of the world, to do the work they are called to do.
At Volunteer Farm in Woodstock, Virginia, that work was down in the dirt, manual labor. Volunteer Farm is a project directed by the World Foundation for Children whose mission is to answer God’s call to “feed thy neighbor.” All of the food grown on the farm goes to food banks, reaching over a third of Virginia. Through the efforts of volunteer groups like SHYC, the farm is able to feed over 150,000 people a month.
In the heat, SHYC campers spent most of the day rotating through tasks necessary to keep the garden growing: they put in to place drip tape irrigation lines, planted new rows of squash, and weeded row after row of tomato plants. One camper remarked that weeding was his favorite part because that was the project where their efforts were the most visible. Watching these overgrown green plots turn into rows of healthy plants over the course of the day and knowing their labor was responsible for the change was a powerful experience.
And through all of this, not a single complaint. SHYC kept their spirits up by telling funny stories -- inserting their fellow campers as characters in the stories -- and singing Disney songs.
Of course it was hot and the work was challenging -- campers were exhausted stepping off the bus as they returned to camp. Talking about it later, however, after rest period and time at the pool, spirits were high. Many felt like they had really accomplished something today, something with immediate consequences for the hungry, possibly even people living in their own neighborhoods.
Spreading the good news of Shrine Mont Camps into the Valley of the World.
The View from the Mountain is written by a rotating cast of staff writers and contributors.