BAKER — Madison Stanley’s mom, Sherrie, was just a little concerned when she found out what her 11-year-old daughter’s plans were for Wednesday.
“She told me, ‘Guess what Mom? I’m going up on a roof and nailing shingles today!’” Stanley said.
Madison was part of several teams of about 130 children and teens who fanned out around the area as part of Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church’s July 17-23 “Do Something” camp.
Following the camp’s 2014 success, planning began for this year’s camp, the church’s youth pastor, the Rev. Justin Douglas, said. The church plans to have the camp every two years, he said.
Pilgrim Rest solicited applications from residents who had a need the crews could meet, Douglas said.
“When we say we do it by need, it’s not because they wanted a different-color shingle, it’s because they had buckets (of rain water) in their living room,” he said.
16 JOB SITES
With youths from First Baptist Church of Mount Dora and West Haven Baptist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee, the kids each paid $200 to join the camp, raising enough money, including donations, to fund the projects.
“We have 16 different job sites, all free for people,” Douglas said. “We’re reroofing, replacing siding, painting houses. Anything we can do for people in need in our community, all the way from Laurel Hill out to Holt, Crestview, Mossy Head and around Baker.”
The kids camp out at Baker School. By 7:30 a.m. they’re up, have eaten breakfast and they’ve headed to work.
“They’re sleeping on the floor in classrooms, using their showers and having our worship service at night in the auditorium,” Douglas said. “It’s a real Christian camp. It’s a missions-minded camp.”
“A lot of our adult members are helping out to feed the crews as they go out to work on the houses,” church secretary Lindsay Carlisle said.
Douglas said the Do Something camp concept is inspired by James 2:14-26, which states, “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.”
When students returned from a mission camp in Louisiana a few years ago, they and Pilgrim Rest adult leaders realized there were local needs as well.
“We tell people we love them and Jesus loves them, but we don’t always show it,” Douglas said. “That’s what this week is all about. We’re going out and doing what we’re supposed to do as Christians and show them.”
Strong believers in supporting their communities, “We buy all our materials local,” he said. “We’re going to keep it local and support our local businesses.”
Douglas estimated each of the 16 projects used an average of $2,000 in materials, “some more, some less.”
While most of the youths rehabilitate homes, several more conduct three daily Backyard Bible Club meetings in different Crestview Housing Authority neighborhoods.
Those volunteers provide snacks, drinks and, through Bible study and games, spiritual nourishment, Douglas said.
By 4 p.m., they and their fellow campers from the construction crews head back to Baker School for supper and evening worship — tired, sweaty but enthused, Douglas said.
“And we’re going to do it again in 2018,” he said. “You gotta get out into your community. We want to do something here for our people.”