Camp Habitat: Kids Giving Back by Cleaning Gutters

Gutter Cleaning Camp HabitatSummer break is a golden opportunity for kids to engage in quite a variety of activities. They and their families can take vacations to beaches, go on road trips, or enjoy amusement or theme parks together. Or they can just sit around and do nothing.

Some — more adventurous — kids choose to spend a week or more at a sleepaway camp. Typical camp activities include everything from swimming, canoeing, and horseback riding to campouts, arts and crafts, and fishing.

But there was a summer camp of a different sort which took place during the last week of June in Kentucky: Camp Habitat.

This summer was the second year of the Camp Habitat program, and it brought in 60 middle and high school kids from across the county. As the name implies, Camp Habitat was organized by the Habitat for Humanity chapter in Simpson County, which sits on the state’s southern border with Tennessee. The county’s biggest city is Franklin, which is about 20 miles south of Bowling Green and 43 miles north of Nashville, Tennessee.

On each day of Camp Habitat, the students fanned out across Simpson County to help residents who were in need of some assistance. The camp’s efforts were generally focused on people who were elderly, widowed, or disabled. The teens were divided into teams of five kids and two adults, and each team visited a different resident on a given day (sometimes they were able to visit more than one home each day).

Upon arrival at their destination each morning, the teams performed various outdoor maintenance chores, including cleaning gutters, trimming bushes, painting or cleaning siding, and even redistributing dirt. During the evenings, everyone returned to Franklin-Simpson High School, where they ate dinner and engaged in recreational and devotional activities. They also slept overnight at the school.

Camp Habitat organizers said that the purpose was to show the students the value of Christian service to their community. The participants seemed to get the message; about 60% of them were campers in Camp Habitat’s inaugural effort in 2011. And many of them said they would return next summer as well.

Too often, teenagers are portrayed as apathetic slackers who care only about themselves. However, the students who attended Camp Habitat reminded us that many teens are hard-working, caring, and community-oriented. And these students are not just the volunteers of today; they are growing into the leaders of tomorrow.


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