DANSVILLE – A new program held by Hope Valley Camp this summer encourages young people to get involved in the community, providing household repair and clean-up work for the elderly and disabled.
Nathan Welton and his wife Jessica originally founded Hope Valley Camp as a Non-Denominational Christian camp in 2009, and bought the current Hope Valley Dansville property in 2012. Since its start, site development with volunteers and community members helped Welton spark an idea.
“We said ‘We have a lot of staff that are experienced with construction, all these tools and all this experience, so why not build a summer camp to teach kids how to go and serve the community?,'” said Welton. “My wife and I felt that there was a need in the area for a summer camp program that is doing what we’re doing, not for just having kids out in the woods, isolated from society, but alsoout in the community to learn skills and grow as people.”
The campers will be staying on-site and do fun camp activities in the evenings, but during the day the campers will travel into Dansville providing repairs, improving living conditions, and cleaning up for the elderly and disabled.
“Driving around Dansville, I am constantly seeing run-down houses,” said Welton. “And a lot of that is because the people who live there just can’t do house repairs.”
Beyond the yearly calling for summer camp, the Hope Valley property works in the Upstate and Western New York area year-round, providing lodging, meals, and services for groups, as well as opportunities for locals.
“We work with social services out in Mount Morris, and have a couple of guys on welfare working at the camp, providing a whole lot of assistance…it’s been a real blessing to connect with so many agencies,” added Welton.
By bringing resources to and working with people who come, Welton says Hope Valley has developed into an ‘incubator for other people’s ideas.’ New York State Grange, an Albany-based farmer training program that works with Welton to extend its operation to the west, is another example.
Community Restoration Camp is open to kids aged 12 to 21 and youth leaders aged 21 and older for the first time in summer 2016, and is run by Welton. Welton has 10 years of summer camp leadership experience, according to the camp’s website.
Community Restoration Camp will be held in three sessions, from July 17 to 21, July 24 to 27, and July 31 to Aug. 4. Each session costs $225 for kids aged 12 to 21, which will cover lodging, meals, transportation and worksite materials. Attendance of youth leaders aged 21 and over is free.