A group of 37 young adults, nine adults and Pastor Kathie Adams-Shepherd from Trinity Episcopal Church set out for Norristown, Penn., in late June, to complete their 21st successive summer mission trip with Group Workcamps.
The Group Workcamp Foundation Mission concept, started in 1977 in Loveland, Colo., after a series of disastrous floods, brings together youth and adult chaperones from churches of all denominations around the country for a week of outreach, encompassing lots of hard work, fellowship, spirituality, Christian music and years of memories.
The Trinity Workcamp team, having recently helped with the Ben’s Lighthouse project, met at the Main Street church on Saturday, June 23, to load tools, clothing and sleeping gear, and celebrate a worship service together with their families before their departure. Well over one-third of the group were first-timers and new to workcamp, with the majority being graduating eighth graders.
This year’s full workcamp, sponsored by the Norristown Building Code Enforcement team, involved 405 youth and adults from 18 church youth groups, including Sacred Heart Church in Southbury, working in 56 crews across 65 residences. Workcampers repaired a large number of broken decks and porches, built wheelchair ramps, mended leaks, honed sheetrock skills, and scraped and painted old houses and garages. Most importantly, there was the sharing each day of religious devotions with their residents.
The residents ranged in age young single parents to from 93-year-olds with multi-generational families together. A great many were handicapped with serious, life-threatening illnesses and all drastically impacted by the harsh economic times in the area.
Each year the youth and adults of Trinity return to Newtown following workcamp, uplifted by their individual experiences and with a newfound devotion to God’s workings, as a result of their accomplishments. A number of the first-time workcampers were awed by the scope and magnitude of their accomplishments and commented about starting planning for next year’s workcamp.
The youth participating in this year’s workcamp were members of the Trinity Young Adults in Church (YAC) and Journey to Adulthood (J2A) Groups, as well as friends and invited guests from other churches across Newtown.
The accompanying adult leaders and chaperones included Peter Anderau, Garrett Mettler, Jen Peterson, Dave Pierce, Tony Romano, Sue Vogelman and Ellie Zarifis. Many accompanied their youth(s) at this and previous workcamps over past years. Three of the young adults within this year’s group are graduating high school students.
In addition, Larry Coleman and Curt Symes, with 20 and 18 workcamps under their toolbelts, respectively, accompanied the Trinity team, both as a part of the Youth Group and as volunteer Group Workcamp Foundation Staff (a/k/a Red Shirt Site Coaches), working across the crew sites.
As workcamp drew to a close on the morning of Saturday, June 30, youth and adults alike prepared for very emotional and often tearful good-byes to old and new friendships that sometimes last for years through the spirit of workcamp. Some of the workcampers from around the Northeast have been together three or four times.
The Trinity Youth Group is already planning for next year’s workcamp. To learn more about workcamp and the Trinity Youth Program, visit www.TrinityNewtownCT.org, find the church’s Facebook page or call 203-426-9070.