Below are testimonies from 2016, 2014 and 2013 participants. They are a window into what Summer Servants is through the eyes of our participants
NEW!! Summer Servants is a camp like no other. I say this because I have been blessed to be able to experience this week long journey a total of five times. Through my five years at this camp, every year brought upon new and meaningful lessons that I will carry with me throughout the rest of my life.
Out of the countless lessons I talk about that this camp brings to the table, there a couple in specific that have greatly impacted myself. My number one lesson I’ve taken from this camp is to walk through life with an open mind. The natural gifts that Summer Servants offers, contribute to the characteristics of an open-minded leader. Curiosity, the ability to see things from a different perspective, and the acceptance and respect for what others choose to believe in are some of the attributes that have opened my mind tremendously. These traits have been useful to me, especially in this time of my transition from high school to college. Isn’t college the best years of your life? Many will say, “yes” to this and possibly myself once I become accumulated, however it is a certain fact that you will experience change, different roles of responsibility, and a whole new selection of friends in a new environment. Being close-minded in a time such as this will lead only to failure.
Out of the numerous traits Summer Servants has to offer to contribute to a healthy and well-rounded mentality, the one teaching that I am most thankful for is faith. The camp offers an environment to practice one’s faith in God in a meaningful and impactful way, while often adding fun to the equation. No one on Earth lives a flawless life. A big part of discovering who we are in life are given through struggles in which we overcome, and faith has the power to help us overcome these struggles and roadblocks. My faith will not only help me overcome my challenges in college, but it will guide me throughout my entire life. I believe there is a certain aspect of peace that comes with faith, and I think that through the experiences and encounters with the wide range of people I had in Summer Servants, has helped me come closer to achieving this peace.
Summer Servants is wonderful camp if you are looking to grow as an individual and strengthen your faith while having fun. Summer Servants will always be apart of me as I continue to use what I have learned from the camp.
At first, the thought of a week-long retreat without the use of electronic did not sound appealing. To us, not having our phone felt odd even when we didn’t have it at home. Our pocket being empty was very strange. Being brothers, our mom was the deciding factor for doing Summer Servants. She encouraged us to try this new trip together. How bad could it be?
Throughout the week, we volunteered during the day. Some groups worked with kids, others worked on a farm, and all of us served at the rescue mission. In our group, we helped run a kids camp at Hope Print in Syracuse for mainly urban Americans. While working with the kids, our goal was to provide them with a caring and fun environment that they might not have at home. Two of us worked with crafts, others cleaned the house, and the rest worked a theatre camp. The thing that surprised us the most was how similar the kids are there to kids everywhere else. We think it’s safe to say that my group members came in thinking of the stereotypes of the city. We were very wrong. The people in that part of town had the potential to be incredibly nice and grateful. For example, each morning before the kids arrived we picked up trash on the streets. A man who owned a convenience store gave us free water bottles for our work. This showed us that our stereotypes might be wrong. Several days after that, we were picking up trash again and a father and his four year old daughter named Lilipaw from Thailand who spoke very little English helped us pick up trash. That act was so selfless and they didn’t complain at all. It was completely unnecessary.
While we worked there over the week the group developed a bond that we still share today. It is pretty amazing the things we accomplished together. Summer Servants is an experience you will never forget. In the end you will cry like everyone else, because you will be such good friends with everybody. At the end of the day, you will have experienced personal growth. When we came home we were depressed that we were not doing anything to help people. Little did we know everyone else who went to summer servants was feeling the same way.
Overall Summer Servants is an amazing eye opening experience and we encourage our peers to seize the opportunity.
There are instances in each of our lives that we can remember instantaneously and immediately say, “That’s it… that is the moment everything changed.” It can be so many different things, whether it’s when you met your best friend or maybe when you started high school. For me, my moment happened this July during Summer Servants. If someone had sat me down a year ago and told me I would find my moment while spending my days out in downtown Syracuse and spending my nights in the downstairs of a church I had never stepped foot in before, I would have laughed in their face. Yet, that’s where it was… my life-changing moment just waiting for me to finally seize the opportunity and discover it.
At Summer Servants you do a lot of volunteer work as you help play with kids or help out by doing manual labor like minor home repairs or gardening. As the week progressed these little responsibilities changed more and more in meaning. Each weed I pulled, each meal I served, each small child I swung onto my back and ran around with opened my eyes just a little wider. I was stunned. I had lived in Syracuse my entire life, but somehow I had never seen these beautiful people with even more beautiful stories and struggles all around me. I had been living for 16 years with my eyes closed and I never even knew it. Simultaneously as I dove deeper into my relationships with these incredible people that I served and served with, I dove deeper into my relationship with God. It was when I walked and talked with His children that were struggling the most that I truly came face to face with Him.
It’s crazy to me that these people I helped during Summer Servants helped me even more. They helped me open my eyes, and when my eyes were finally wide open that’s when I had my moment. That’s when I saw God. So to everyone reading this I urge you to come to Summer Servants, start to open your eyes. I think you’ll really like what you see.