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Spring Service Trip 2017

Kerry Madden - February 2, 2017

Students who know Campus Ministry well often make fun of us and what they consider our overuse of certain words and stories. I am sure for many, Jay’s shells and starfish story is coming to mind. Another common word we use is intentionality. By definition, it is the act of being purposeful. When it came to choosing a location and service site for the Spring Service trip in 2016, intentionality was at the forefront. We wanted an opportunity that would connect with our commitment to care for the Earth, our common home, as well as service that put us in direct interactions with individuals living in the community that we were serving. When we found the Hazel Outdoor Discovery Center, everything fell into place. It gave us the opportunity to combine environmental service and considerations with direct service to the community. Our experiences last year made the choice to return to the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland Area and the Hazel Outdoor Discover Center for the 2017 Spring Service Immersion Trip an easy one to make.
The Hazel Outdoor Discovery Center isn’t just an environmental service site – it creates an immersive experience into “simple living” and demands changes of habits by all who dwell there. Our bedroom is a string of blankets and pillows lined up along the walls of this oversized shed. A small refrigerator makes us conscious of what we absolutely need, leaving little opportunity to waste. The outdoor grill is our only means of cooking, which makes our food options quite basic. Processed snacks? Forget about it. While the HODC does grant us the luxury of two indoor bathrooms, our sole shower is only accessible from the outside and its water temperature ensures each of us will be out of there in less than 5 minutes. There is no Wi-Fi and finding cell phone service was like playing live action “Where’s Waldo?” These experiences and more allowed for the group to connect, away from modern distractions, enjoy the natural beauty of the Chesapeake Bay and question their own habits that affect their relationships with one another and the environment.

The living conditions are only part of the experience of the Spring Service Trip. Each day the team is engaging in service and learning more about the community.  Before we begin our direct service, we will be meeting some friends we met last year. Our community partners will take us through the history and present day realities of the Chesapeake Bay. We will learn to shuck oysters, indulge in the 8-layer state cake of Maryland and take an unruly ferry ride to Smith Island, a destination that will soon be nonexistent due to environmental consequences. While keeping some of the service sites the same as last year, we intend to form new relationships this year. We will be working at Kid’s Café, an after-school program that provides a safe space for students in the Beaver Run school district, where over 40% of the children in the district are below the poverty level. We will be providing homework help, conversation, and a meal each day we are there. We will spend a few days with the residents of Halo Day Facility, a transitional housing program for adults, and concluding our service with friends from the Chesapeake Bay Housing Mission, building a wheelchair ramp for a family in need.

The Spring Service Trip is a challenge on so many levels, but one that students plan for and welcome. It so clearly reflects the values in our mission statement, which makes us  excited to share our experiences with the Rosemont Community when we come home.