ANNVILLE, Ky. — Three high school students decided to spend spring break in Jackson County at Christian Appalachian Project’s (CAP) YouthFest. What started as a service trip for these teens from Louisville, Ky. turned into much more. They learned that even as you give you can receive when the homeowner treated them to a tea party.
Kelly Yurt and her daughters, Kennedy and Kendra, have fun at an impromptu tea party hosted by the homeowner at their YouthFest worksite.
“The tea party was a loving gesture of their hospitality, kindness, and service to us,” said Kelly Yurt, whose two daughters took part in YouthFest for the first time. “We were welcomed into their home and treated like family. This has been an awesome experience for my daughters and me to make memories and change lives.”
Anna Peterson, coordinator of youth ministry at St. Gabriel Church of the Archangel, was previously a long-term volunteer with CAP. She knew from first-hand experience that CAP would provide a safe working environment for her high school students with supervision by skilled worksite crew leaders.
“I wanted to be a community organizer so that I could be involved in social justice issues that worked to address the root causes of poverty,” Peterson said. “Camp AJ gave me those initial opportunities to invest in the lives of students at the camp and in local schools.”
The experience Peterson had at Camp AJ mirrored those of other volunteer counselors who came from hometowns across America. They wanted to expand the horizons of the campers and school children they met in Appalachia.
“We wanted them to know there is more outside of these mountains, just like someone had shown us other places outside of where we came from,” Peterson said. “Now, I get to pay that forward with the youth at St. Gabriel by giving them the same opportunity to experience life outside of Louisville.”
Kendra Yurt, a freshman at Mercy Academy in Louisville, expressed the impact of YouthFest. “I wanted to be a part of making a change in society, to help others. This week has been life changing. You learn how do to do construction work, things you never thought you could. YouthFest changed me as a person, it made me better.”
Her mother agreed about the life changing impact. “Our goal before we left home was to return a little bit better, to come home changed. My daughters were very passionate about this experience. We had to be willing to take a risk, and get out of our comfort zone.”
Spencer Brown, a junior at Trinity High School, benefitted from YouthFest as well. “Service trips open an opportunity to disprove stereotypes. The family was very nice and the tea party gave us a chance to get to know them. We definitely saw a need that we could help address. I’ve gotten a lot out of my time at YouthFest.”
“I wanted to get involved in community service,” added Kennedy Yurt, a junior at Mercy Academy. “I know that Ms. Angela will now have more access to get out of her house. When she saw the ramp, she was so emotional. I know the impact of this ramp will be great for her and her family.”
YouthFest, which runs March 27 through April 21, has already had five groups take part in CAP’s one week, spring break alternative for high school students. Nearly 100 students and adult leaders have participated thus far.