By Hannah Shultz
During the summer months, the Church of the Brethren holds a variety of workcamps in various locations around the country. Workcamps provide participants the opportunity to express their faith through action by serving local communities, practicing simple living, and building community with one another. Christian worship and devotions are an important aspect of workcamps as youth and adults share together and learn how to connect faith to service. Workcamps also provide a place for play, recreation and celebration through opportunities to explore what the local community has to offer.
Workcamps are offered primarily to junior and senior high youth, although there are opportunities for all ages to participate. Every other year, the “We Are Able” workcamp is offered to youth and young adults with intellectual disabilities, ages 16-23. In the summer of 2015, this workcamp will be hosted by the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., from June 29-July 2.
“We Are Able” provides a unique opportunity for those with disabilities to participate in a workcamp, work together to complete service projects, and enjoy recreation in Maryland. In past years, these participants have volunteered with SERRV International, an organization that sells fair trade products in an effort to support artisans and farmers around the world and reduce poverty. Workcampers also have volunteered in the Material Resources warehouse of the Church of the Brethren. Work projects often include sorting and packaging products for health kits or school kits.
Todd Flory, a previous “We Are Able” director, reflected on some of his experiences at the workcamp: “I've been a part of the leadership for the ‘We Are Able’ workcamp for two years. Each experience is unique with different people, personalities, and activities. But each workcamp furthers my belief that God is working through individuals in often subtle ways to increase love, compassion, and understanding in the world. Through the two main service projects during the workcamp--working in a fair-trade store and assembling health kits to be distributed worldwide--a sense of community is brewing. Working to assure the proper items are included in a health kit or correctly packaging a fair-trade Christmas ornament, participants spend hours talking, laughing, collaborating, and supporting one another. Community and fellowship are forged amid the many simple good works spreading love and justice.”
This workcamp also is offered to young adults who feel led to work with those with disabilities. These young adults spend the week working side by side with the “We Are Able” participants, volunteering with them and getting to know them.
Although many workcamp participants are members of the Church of the Brethren, workcamps welcome those from any faith background. Anyone who is interested in “We Are Able” either as a participant or a young adult assistant should contact Hannah Shultz in the Church of the Brethren Workcamp Office at 847-429-4328 or firstname.lastname@example.org . More information can be found at www.brethren.org/workcamps .
Online registration for all workcamps opens Jan. 8 at 7 p.m. (central time) at www.brethren.org/workcamps .
-- Hannah Shultz is a Brethren Volunteer Service worker and assistant coordinator for the Workcamp Ministry of the Church of the Brethren.