ASP Wants YOU!

By Charlotte Long, Youth Ministries

Believe it or not, the 2015 High School Service Trip planning has been in the works since September!

         "You don't have to be a Master Carpenter; your Master is the Carpenter."
                                                           Ruth, ASP Volunteer for 20-plus years

This year, we will be travelling with the same organization as last year: Appalachian Service Project, or more fondly: ASP. ASP has been in the Appalachian Mountains since the 1970s, giving them a deep respect and connection to the culture and the people who call it home. When I was in High School, I travelled with my Youth Group on the ASP trip every summer. These trips instilled in our group a fierce love of country, the desire to actively assist those less fortunate, and the ability to see strangers from very different backgrounds as nothing less than our brothers and sisters in Christ.

The week-long trip is centered on teams of five to seven who, together with ASP staff work, on repairs on or rebuilding a family's home. We eat, worship, sleep next to and reflect with the young adults running the program, as well as much larger groups from different Christian denominations from around the United States. It is some of the hardest work any of us has ever had to do; it is frustrating and rewarding all at once. When a cool breeze blows or the most basic lunch time sandwiches are eaten, it can make the meaning of Grace instantly clear to a 17-year-old who couldn't have told you a thing about it before.

But we can't make all this happen without you!!

WHAT WE ARE LOOKING FOR:

ONE OR TWO more adults to chaperone our group of 15-18-year-olds! If you are handy or have any construction experience, we especially invite you! We try to have an equal male adult to female adult ratio. The trip is JUNE 13th to JUNE 20th, 2015.

While it is in some cases "first-come, first-serve," there are a few guidelines we would like you to look over to see if this volunteer position is right for you.

Firstly, if you are interested in going and are also a parent of a teen going on the trip, we ask that

A) if it is their first time on the trip, you let them go alone and experience it from their personal point of view; and

B) you speak to your teen about taking this trip together beforehand, with the knowledge that you may not see each other that much since we will be placing you on different teams.

Adult Chaperones on this trip must be ready and willing to do potentially all of the following:

  • Help drive everyone down to assigned county in rented SUVs (taking 2 days on the way, 1 coming back). We have chosen Virginia, but we most likely won't know the county, projects or sleeping situation until May. The SUVs also get us to and from the work sites.
  • Sleep on the floor. Air Mattresses are encouraged! Usually there is some basic AC, but sometimes there is not.
  • Shower in basic conditions; showers are sometimes on site where we sleep, but sometimes not. My first year, I showered in a wooden shack with garbage bag partitions. Adventure!
  • Be willing to do manual labor. Our projects are built to fit our abilities, which we communicate to the staff beforehand. Very few of the volunteers are wildly skilled, so no true experience is necessary. However, the ASP staff are busy and figuring things out with us. They are not supervising our work site; we are. Hard work is valued over knowledge of construction!
  • Be a leader, but let the teens lead. While we expect the adults to lay down the law in terms of basic safety and keeping the trip PC, this trip is for and about our teens! We wish to give them every opportunity to use tools, carry lumber, make decisions on projects and push things forward! While it can be frustrating not to get everything done in a timely manner, that is not really the central mission of ASP. They recruit young adult volunteers and unskilled Christians for a reason. The families receiving construction assistance understand the limitations of what we can do.
  • Model sensitivity concerning different backgrounds, economic means, theology and culture. For many of our teens (and adults!), this is a rare opportunity to interact with a very different part of America. We may worship with other teen groups much larger than us and find it unfamiliar. We make it clear to our Youth Group that there is no room for judgment of lifestyle on this trip, and we expect our teens to see us modeling that. Connection is everything! Love in action!
  • Bravely confront the unknown. There is a lot of this going on with ASP. I'm still not good at it. Things get decided in the moment, and projects get done wrongly and have to be done again. Tools aren't rented fast enough, staff have to meet separately to figure out problems, and sometimes we just don't know how to do something. But Fear Not! The Holy Spirit is hard at work in these moments! In the unknown is often where we meet God most purely.
  • Attend pre-trip meetings. We ask that adult chaperones be able to come to a few Youth Groups meetings before the trip (Sunday night 6pm - 8pm), as well as a couple adult prep meetings (working around your schedule, of course).

Despite the intense bullet points above, let me assure you that these trips can be transformative. Nothing is as clear in Jesus' teachings as serving the poor; the ASP trip is a holy mess of prayer, delight, wonder and awe. Our teens will inspire you! The work will invigorate you!

If you are interested, PLEASE EMAIL ME AT cbllong@holycomforter.org.