There are several common stereotypes of how teenagers spend
summer vacation. One might have them lounging around the house
playing video games. Another might have them hanging around the
local swimming pool while gaining a bronze-hued tan. Or perhaps
they are slaving away at a local fast food restaurant, putting away
money for college.
There are several common stereotypes of how teenagers spend summer vacation. One might have them lounging around the house playing video games. Another might have them hanging around the local swimming pool while gaining a bronze-hued tan. Or perhaps they are slaving away at a local fast food restaurant, putting away money for college.
The truth is, however, many teens experience a reality that defies these stereotypes, devoting precious leisure days to performing community service projects. For example, Gilroy’s First Baptist Church has benefitted from two separate groups of traveling teens this month because extra volunteers from out of town allowed staffing of sports camps offered to Gilroy youth.
Likewise, the Morgan Hill United Methodist Church hosted a group of 16 teenagers and three adults last month. These volunteers traveled from a United Methodist Church in Huntington Beach. Joined by eight youth from the Morgan Hill congregation, they spent three days painting the historic buildings at 17175 Monterey St.
The results were quite remarkable as the exterior of the Church Annex (two-story former parsonage now used for offices) and Carriage House (Sunday School building) were repainted, as well as the classrooms inside the latter building.
The Orange County group has participated in several summer service projects over the years, usually in partnership with other large groups. This time they were looking forward to teaming up with a smaller group, so when they finished a project in the San Ramon area, they stopped in Morgan Hill on their way back home to Southern California.
Jeannie Clayton, youth ministries director at MHUMC, points out several ends these missions serve:
– Participants have the satisfaction of helping others
– Participants learn how to perform manual labor and use tools, skills which can be valuable in adult life
– Participants enjoy forming new relationships as they work together toward common goals.
Of course, it was not all work for the youth. One evening everyone traveled to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk to enjoy the amusement rides and cool ocean breeze. Another night, a planned barbecue was interrupted by a freak rainstorm, but the burgers were brought inside to cook on the stove while the youth enjoyed swimming in the rain.
Clayton says one of the high points of the visit was quite unplanned. A pancake breakfast was served to the group one morning, and a lot of food was left over. Everyone packed it up and took it to Main Street to serve the hungry day-workers who gather there.
The MHUMC Youth Group has a tradition of helping others:
– They serve food to the homeless at the National Guard Armory in Gilroy on a regular basis.
– Last summer, they spent a week in San Francisco and Oakland experiencing something of the life of the hungry and homeless, eating at St. Anthony’s Dining Room, living at a halfway house and helping infirm patients at Laguna Honda Hospital enjoy a stroll through Golden Gate Park.
– Next week, they will help provide staffing at the church’s Vacation Bible School, PandaMania, by supervising crafts, games, snacks and music.
Also on the schedule for this summer is a visit to Sacramento for Youth 2011, a conference attended by some 2,000 teens and sponsored by the United Methodist Church. They will participate in Christian music concerts, educational programs and a choice of service-related activities aimed at strengthening their faith and their enthusiasm for “ministries of justice and reconciliation and Christian hospitality.”
All local junior and senior high students are invited to attend gatherings of the Youth Group, held from 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays. More information is available at www.mhumc.com where there is a “youth” tab, or call Jeannie Clayton at (408) 779-4044.