United Methodist Youth ARMY in Seguin, Texas
copied from article in the Seguin Daily News
By Joshua Hughes
(Seguin) — Young Texas Methodists are currently renovating homes in Seguin. The United Methodist Army has spent the past week replacing floors, painting doors and making other basic home repairs. The group that is currently in Seguin is made up of about 85 youths and two dozen adults, according to Scott Robertson, U.M. ARMY Southwest Texas board president and camp co-director. Robertson says that the youths are committed to sacrifice to help the people in this community.
“The kids pay to come here to sleep on the floor and work all week, and if you got out and ask them…they will tell you that this is the best week of their summer,” Robertson said.
Christian Groves, a young woman from Boerne who is participating in her second year of U.M. ARMY, said that work was a rewarding way to spend part of her summer.
“I came to UM Army because I really like the humble feeling you get after helping people and it’s really fun to be with all your friends, and help people at the same time, and it’s just a really good experience.”
The young people came from different churches and cities across southwest Texas, and the chance to make new friends was echoed by many including Andy Comuzzie of Boerne.
“I just like being able to meet new people and have a lot of fun with everyone,” Comuzzie said.
Robertson said that the group hopes to renovate 36 homes during the it stay in Seguin, which ends on Saturday. He if they do not have all of those completed, Seguin’s United Methodist Church has a program in the fall that he hopes will assist those that his group could not get to.
Come each summer, thousands of United Methodist youth head for camps where fun takes a back seat to Christian service. What’s more, they pay for the privilege.
All are soldiers, of a sort, in the U.M. ARMY (United Methodist Action Reach-out Mission by Youth), a nonprofit that organizes youth into teams that provide a week’s worth of household repairs for elderly or disabled homeowners. Participants pay a registration fee of $200 to help cover food and supplies. Many of the kids help with fund-raisers throughout the year to pay their portion.
Youth camp out at host churches, worshipping each night and sleeping in classrooms. At 8 a.m. the next day, they’re off to the work sites, where they pause at noon for a bag lunch and daily devotions.
“It’s the best of a mission trip, a spiritual retreat and a student life camp—all combined,” said Brian Smith, executive director at U.M. ARMY’s national office in College Station, Texas.
It all started in 1979, when 36 campers from three churches served residents of Athens, Texas, dividing into work teams of two adult leaders for every five youth. Thirty years later, the model remains the same, but the program now draws some 4,000 campers in three U.S. regional chapters located in the United Methodist Church’s Southwest Texas and Texas Conferences, and the Northeastern Jurisdiction.
(extract from article by Bill Fentum)