These kids live to SERVE
You'll see them out on Penelakut Island, at Cowichan Station's Hub and under the Silver Bridge.
They are Christian youth, 200 of them from across Western Canada, and, thanks to the SERVE program they are bound for Cowichan next week for a week-long exercise in community service.
Look for them at more than 50 Cowichan locations, rolling up their sleeves to dig, haul, garden, clean and paint.
Their hosts will be Duncan's New Life Baptist Church.
"I can't wait to welcome the kids," New Life youth director Tammy Klassen said. "Other years we've taken our youth to SERVE projects elsewhere but this year we have the opportunity be hosts and serve our own community."
"Youth who sign up for SERVE do so to grow in their experience of learning to serve God by serving others," New Life spokesperson Marita Judson said.
"The week allows the youth an opportunity to build friendships and to be stretched and challenged as they work alongside each other improving the Cowichan Valley.
Hosting is not exactly a small job.
"Since the decision to host, New Life has been revving up to meet the needs of bunking and feeding over 200 kids plus 40 volunteers for six days — a feat that's being organized with military precision," Judson said.
Mid Island Bus Services has donated the use of two big yellow school buses to truck the youth and their supervisors around the valley
Coolers and lawn chairs are being collected and freezers are being stuffed with home-baked cookies and muffins to complement the meals that will be prepared by volunteers in the New Life kitchen.
The Duncan Christian School gym will be home for the kids — age 13 and up — during their stay, which runs from July 6 to 12.
"All of this is lending to a festive air that will probably not rival the energy level when the kids hit the decks in July," Judson said.
The event will be a swan song for Klassen, who is retiring after 25 years as the New Life youth leader.
"She has participated in many SERVE projects over the years," Judson said. "Truly a local who has dedicated her life to serving the youth in our valley.
Donations of plastic lawn chairs are still needed. Call Klassen at 250-748-6521 Ext. 41.