The following is an excerpt from our Youth Unlimited Summer Magazine. To view the whole magazine, click here.
The opportunity to have been part of the “Park Rangers” group at my church has drastically changed the way I look at and interact with my church today.
Planning to host a SERVE trip with a congregation of our size didn’t seem possible, but I was amazed to see the abundance of support from the members of our church and community. People were signing up to lead games, cook meals, help out with job sites and be a part of the main Host Team. The Park Rangers group, in particular, became a very tight knit group as we spent the whole week on site together. We ate together, worked together, organized together and if we were ever seen without the others it was very rare!
Being at our church for a week straight was odd at first, but that mentality quickly changed as we made new relationships within our church community. As a group, we got to know many of our staff members better. For example, our cook on site, Donna, became like a member of our family after the week was over. People we never used to talk to at church were quickly becoming people we wanted to be around all the time.
Hosting SERVE was a huge undertaking, but the reward was well worth the effort put in. For the Park Rangers, our group walked away from a week of SERVE with a feeling of genuine community, and many new relationships formed within our own church walls.
-Park CRC Student
As a volunteer youth leader and a member of our SERVE Host Team, it has been such a blessing to work with our Park Rangers and watch them develop into team members and grow as church volunteers. The experience has been incredibly positive in that the students were able to use their talents and energy for God. Relationships between the “Park Rangers” grew and friendships that were not there before blossomed.
As the week progressed and everyone became tired, I was able to see them dig their heels in even deeper to make sure the experience for those at our site was not just good, but great. Members from our church who volunteered throughout the week were able to see our Park Rangers in action, setting things up, tearing things down, playing games, cleaning bathrooms, hauling food, carting supplies, motivating students at worksites and enjoying serving others.
This has allowed many other relationships within our church to grow. I often see our youth talking with some of the people that volunteered in the kitchen or at the worksites. A sense of community has grown that spans all ages. I believe it is so very important that the youth feel valued as church members and I think Park Rangers helps them to be just that. By using their gifts to glorify God, they are a valued member of the Body of Christ.
-Park CRC Volunteer Youth Leader