Youth camp of compassion

REACH youth camp visitors from 12 communities visit Portsmouth to help area residents with work around their houses.

As this week comes to an end, several local families are thankful for work completed on their properties from some young visitors who traveled far and way and raised funds just to be able to come impact local people here in the community.

Portsmouth City Director of Waste Water Rick Duncan explained that as a kid he attended what was called a work camp. It was a summer camp program where youth groups could raise funds to travel to communities in need and complete community improvement projects. When he had sons himself, he sought out a similar program for them because it had meant so much to him. He found the REACH program. Today, Duncan’s son Jeremy Duncan is the REACH Director of Worksites.

Jeremy explained that REACH started 26 years ago when the founder Mike Jones called the programs work camps. Now, they are mission trips that aim at going out and helping people with housing repairs. Most importantly, they focus on making house warming, dryer and safer.

“It’s a powerful ministry, I think, because kids are doing it,” Jeremy commented. “It’s really refreshing to see kids do fundraisers to take part in this.”

Each kids pays hundreds of dollars to take part in the program. REACH is a nonprofit; however, there are a lot of expenses to complete their goals. To cover those expenses, participants pay a registration fee of $400 per person. The fee helps cover materials as well as food for the kids all week. All labor is donated by the participants, who also cover their own travel expenses.

“Every home we work on is done completely free,” Jeremy stated.

Camps were in six communities is six states. The biggest has 450 participants and worked on 35-40 houses. 200 participants is the average. The Portsmouth group was made up of 12 youth groups from states including Florida, Colorado, New York, Illinois and Alabama. They completed work in 17 local homes, where they did things such as painting, drywalling, roofing, flooring and building wheelchair ramps and porches.

Communities are chosen from recommendations. REACH then contacts a community administrator who helps them to choose houses. Sometimes, they literally go out looking and knocking on doors within communities.

This kids arrived last Sunday and worked throughout the week.

“Many of these kids are from affluent homes,” Rick stated. “They have never seen poverty, and they’ve never done this kind of work. It teaches compassion, I think.”

Reach Nikki Blankenship at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931.