Service Trip Allows Students to Unplug and Give Back
Known for its rolling hills, scenic woodlands, and picturesque lake, Deer Valley YMCA Camp serves thousands of people from across the country, as well as international staff members. Nestled in the mountains of Southwestern, Pa., the camp offers a host of activities and programs that allow families and friends to relax and enjoy the outdoors.
Arke first visited the camp when he was 3 years old, and has continued the family tradition with his own children. “I started leading the service trips because of a desire to give back to the camp which has been such an important part of my life,” he shares. “It has been a place to get away, sign off the grid, and enjoy God’s wonderful creations.”
To help the camp prepare for another summer season, COMMunity students completed a number of jobs this past April, including painting, hauling lumber, and clearing truckloads of leaves and debris.
Journalism major Rose Talbot (’16) says, “It's always fun to get off-campus with a group of students (especially Comm students, although I'm biased) and go somewhere out of the norm. We were up in the mountains with no cell reception or Internet access, so we were forced to unplug, which was actually really nice.” One of her favorite parts of the trip was Dr. Arke leading the group in worship around the campfire.
“Messiah is great about emphasizing service learning, but it can sound like kind of a chore until you actually get out there and engage in it. It's always a great feeling to know your energy and time are going towards helping other people in some capacity,” she adds.
Public relations major Ally Coonradt (’15) notes, “It's not too often that I get deep into nature and have to work alongside weird spiders and bugs. What this trip taught me about service is that doing things that make you uncomfortable can be extremely rewarding for both you and whomever you're serving.
Dr. Arke reflects, “I enjoy the location, the opportunity to serve, and especially the chance to relax with students. Watching the group grow and bond in the short time we are there is especially meaningful, as it reflects the true spirit of Deer Valley.”
The spring 2015 group consisted of Sarah Beckmann, Ally Coonradt, Courtney Donah, Stephen Earp, Susannah Goodman, Preston Griffin, Joel Hoover, Ashlyn Miller, Caleb Ostrander, Madi Shappell, Graham Stabler, Shelby Stanhope, Amanda Strite, Rose Talbot and alum and Messiah staff member Lauren Seneca ‘12.
-Emily Carter ('16)