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Getting paid to do a little yard work is a typical summer activity for a teenager, but not many teens pay someone else for the opportunity to pull weeds in the July heat. Earlier this month 20 teens from Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish did just that.
They paid for a chance to travel to Prescott, Ariz., to clean up yards and paint houses for the elderly and underprivileged. They returned wishing they could have done more. Along the way they met and helped some wonderful people, such as the 93-year-old woman who inspired the teens with her stories of faith and her commitment to service and the couple who take into their home and care for several elderly members of the community who have no place else to go.
It wasn’t all hard work in the hot sun, however. Through talks, games and quiet reflection campers spent the evenings learning about the virtues of prudence, temperance, justice and fortitude. The “super hero” theme for the week challenged them to live those virtues to a heroic degree. Time was given for prayer, small group discussions, reconciliation and a little free time to chat or play volleyball with summer staff and other young people. There was even an unexpected opportunity to defeat some fears on a high ropes course and zip line.
By the end of the week the teens and chaperones who attended the work camp had fixed plumbing leaks, shingles and stairs, landscaped one home for young pregnant mothers, finished much needed yard work at four houses, painted a kitchen, a laundry room and the outside of five homes.
While work campers would have like to have accomplished more, the residents they helped were grateful. As the students put into practice what they learned about virtue, they realized that it doesn’t take a super hero to bring a little justice into the world, only a kind heart and some elbow grease.