MHS grad helps with camp for fifth year
by Robert Joseph Baker | July 13, 2017 1:50 pm
Shortly before a group of youths from Manning United Methodist Church left Clarendon County to stay in Bishopville for eight days and work on home repairs there, another Manning resident was returning from a similar trip.
Manning High School graduate Jesse Surette attended the Salkehatchie Summer Program this year for the first time as a young adult. Surette worked at the program’s Wateree Camp in Camden from June 18-23.
“I was introduced to the program five years ago by Troy Bagnal through his church,” said Surette. “I have went every year since then.”
Salkehatchie Summer Service is a program of the South Carolina Conference Board of Global Ministries and consists of a number of work camps for United Methodist Youth in South Carolina. More than 50 camps are established annually throughout the state, and youth work from May to August where need, opportunity, personnel and facilities allow. More than 3,000 youth and adult volunteers participate annually.
Typically, youth are sent away from home. Thus, while Clarendon County may have sites in which youth are actively working throughout the summer, Clarendon County youth working in the program will likely be active in other locations.
“We repair all sorts of things on houses that need it,” said Surette. “We work all week on things like the roofs, decks, doors, bathrooms, flooring, kitchens and walls. We do repairs and we paint. We do all sorts of things.”
Surette said his particular program worked on four different homes this year.
“But we separate people at the camp so you have different people working on different houses,” he said. “So you as a participant only work on one house the entire week, but all four get worked on because everyone is split up.”
Campers are allowed to attend starting at age 14. Now 18, Surette said he continues to go each year “because these people need someone to help them.”
“They are in need, and I have the time and capabilities to lend a hand,” he said. “At the beginning of the week, we see a person in a house, but we leave a homeowner in their home.”
Longtime Wateree Camp Director Richard Haigans said that while the work on the homes doesn’t last forever, “the way that we help rebuild our homeowners and the lessons and skills we learn ourselves will last a lifetime.”
“That’s why I go,” said Surette.