Apart from going through blogging withdrawal for the second week, this was an absolutely electrifying experience for me.
We headed down to Darby, Pennsylvania (a borough of Philadelphia) with 8 teenagers and three old fogies from church for a week of workcamp set up and run by Group Workcamps Foundation.
Without spending hours and hours writing about it, there is no way I will be able to capture how great my week was (but it you catch me somewhere and ask to see my photos I’ll be sure to keep you occupied for a while!).
The very first thing to strike me was how we were welcomed. As we drove into the parking lot of the local middle school, we were deafened by sirens from the local fire and EMS crews welcoming us. This welcome and warmth didn’t stop until we left (in fact it is probably still going on).
Cool thing number two was how well organized the whole event was. With 400 or so people living in one school and working in 40 or so homes it had to be. The folks at “Group” obviously know what they’re are doing and put together a wonderfully structured program with some tremendous staff.
The theme of the week was “Love out Loud” and that we did for sure. I was in a crew of 6 (Crew 9 to be precise). As a first times I was paired with another adult and four teenagers. We joined up with another crew of 6 (Crew 10) to work on a two storey row house just around the corner from the school. Our crew was tasked with scraping, priming, and painting the 13 windows while Crew 10 worked inside.
I had heard stories of how sometimes people weren’t really welcomed when they arrived, but this could not have been further from the truth in our case. The whole street seemed to come out and thank us for being there, and some even picked up a paint brush. We worked there for three days. What a tremendous group of young people. To see them serve and grow and learn was a real joy.
We finished our work there on Wednesday, so for Thursday and Friday we were paired up with another team (Crew 45) to help finish off theie work on a gorgeous old Victorian home that needed to be reminded of better days. By the time we left, I’m pretty sure that home was feeling suitably sprightly and we were all the better for having got to know a new crew and family.
The evenings consisted of free time, showers, food, and an evening program of music, dance (you should see me strut my stuff), and activities. Calum and his guitar joined the band and did a tremendous job leading the rest of us. Again you couldn’t help but be impressed by the “kids” you were sharing you week with. In fact, even the other adults were rather cool!
On Wednesday we even got a half day! :-) We headed into Philadelphia, said hi to the Liberty Bell and then headed down to South Street fro some exploring and cheesesteaks!
We left this morning exhausted, but better, happier people and already looking forward to next year!
I know a bunch of folks I have bumped into through Therap have done similar things, if you haven’t and do get the opportunity to, please take it. It is an experience that you will never forget.
:: Justin ::