Once again this summer, “angels with hammers” will perform their handiwork in Fairfield County. Salkehatchie, a Methodist based summer service camp, will be in the area from Saturday to July 21.
This year, organizer Frank Gravely of Fort Mill says the group will work on 17 homes.
The goal is to do repairs to make the homes dry, warm and safe.
They are working on one additional home than they did last year and he said that will spread the work crews out a bit over the county, but that is a logistical challenge for which they are prepared.
The more than 230 teens and college aged youth who will be ministering here once again will be housed at the Fairfield Central High School. Area churches will supply them with lunches, as well.
This is Evans’ 16th year working as site leader for Fairfield County.
“It is such a blessing for me every year to come back to my Fairfield County family and participate in God’s Good work,” he said. “The Winnsboro and Fairfield County communities have played a phenomenal part in the continuing success of this mission. I can’t say enough good things about the people who come to this camp and those who continually support us.”
After a long day working beneath the hot sun, sweaty and grimy campers return, shower and share a meal.
Following the meal, the do devotions and a worship service for an hour each evening.
Then the group breaks up into smaller “family sized groups” for games and team building activities.
If the sign of an effective ministry is the number of repeat staffers who are coming back, then this one certainly has a solid foundation. Over 180 of the teens and college age staff have worked Fairfield County before.
There are a handful of youth from Fairfield County working in the camp, but Evans said that typically they try to send teens away from the area they live. So, those teens could be staffing camps throughout South Carolina.
This reduces the likelihood that an awkward situation could arise by a teen working on a classmate’s home, for instance.
They are thankful for the opportunity to reach out to others in need, however, many times the youth working at this camp wind up receiving more than the residents they come together to help out.
Founded by John Culp in 1978, Salkehatchie Summer Service began as a ministry to repair homes for impoverished residents on South Carolina sea islands.
Forty United Methodist youth ages 14 to 18 helped that year and the one time service project became a movement that grew in the coming years.
Youth are trained to use power tools safely and learn about construction techniques, yet they are also rebuilt from the inside out as their hearts are transformed through service and interacting with the families they are helping.
Often youth say they benefited more from the week than the family because of the personal and group growth that come from the experiences.
Though a majority of youth are from the United Methodist Church, Salkehatchie is not limited to that denomination.
It is open to any with willing hearts and capable hands who are willing to dedicate one week of summer to something larger than themselves.