Learning to Serve at a Young Age

In cooperation with G.O.D.'s Camp Skillz program, SLAM youth will provide day camp activities to hundreds of children in low-income neighborhoods. Our Camp Skillz: Antioch site is particularly focused on children of immigrants and refugees. 

Can you remember a time in your youth when you volunteered to help meet a need for someone else?  Statistics tell us that about half of us did that because our friends were doing it.

In the same way that peer pressure can lead an impressionable youth down a dangerous road, such pressure can also work in the opposite direction.

This is a dynamic we are blessed to be able to watch take place each summer as we facilitate almost two straight months of week-long service opportunities for youth from all around the US, right here in Nashville.

Adolescence is a time of self-absorption--especially in the selfie generation.  From the development of one's physique, to finding a sense of independence, to a desire to develop a certain reputation, youth often have a hard time thinking outside of what benefits them.

This summer, however, nearly 700 youth will give a collective 13,000 hours of service to those in greatest need in the Nashville area, just with our organization alone! They will experience how life-giving serving another in need can be. 

Our service to the elderly is largely environmental, cleaning houses inside and out, taking care of yards, and spending time getting to know the individual, which is often the most impactful part to students. 

Some will enter into the home of an elderly person who has received very little visitation and assistance with the upkeep of their environment. Through that experience, they will learn that their time, energy and a listening ear can be a tremendous blessing in a fast-paced world where the elderly are often left alone or ignored.

Others will go to 1 of 4 apartment complexes where they will facilitate kid’s camps for predominantly immigrant and refugee children. As they prepare crafts, games, and lessons, they will see the children's anticipation of their arrival each day, and see how their choices can create joy in the life of a child. They will also observe the gratitude of the parents of these children, who know without their help, their kids wouldn't have an opportunity like this.

Many of our SLAM students have been deeply impacted through witnessing the need of the immigrant and refugee in Nashville, and return for repeat service opportunities.

In the end, youth serving with SLAM will give an estimated $94,000 of volunteer labor over the next two months.

Jesus teaches us that when we make the decision to spend our lives serving others, we find the best kind of life. Dying to selfishness and giving oneself in service isn't supposed to be a punishment, but an opportunity to experience the fullness God has for us.  We believe this is a lesson that shouldn’t wait for adulthood. In fact, what better way to learn this lesson than alongside your friends, while you still possess the energy of youth?  

So here’s to a great summer of service to those in need. Don’t forget to bring a friend along with you!