The road trip to Eldon, Missouri is a long one… about nine hours, to be exact. In 2012, to pass the time, the kids had a contest to see which van could make the best video to the song, Call Me Maybe. Here’s the winning group’s video.
By Catherine Driscoll, RED Communications LLC
Every June for the past nine years, a caravan of teen-carting rental vans has trekked from Lake Bluff to Eldon, Missouri, armed with hammers, paintbrushes, power tools and good intentions. One week later, the group of 40 kids and adult volunteers returns to Lake Bluff exhausted, satisfied, invigorated and joyful to have helped so many in their travels.
The Union Church of Lake Bluff (UCLB), led by pastor Mark Hindman and his wife, youth minister Tracy, have established a work trip that everyone loves.
“Although every trip is different, the common experience from year to year is the incredible meaning and purpose that we discover in working to help others,” says Mark Hindman. “In the end, lives are transformed — both the lives of those we serve, and our own lives as well.”
The work trip group spends one week in rural Missouri, splitting the time between building projects for at-risk local residents, and assisting campers at Wonderland Camp in Rocky Mount, Missouri. Wonderland Camp is an educational camp for children, teenagers, and adults who are physically and mentally challenged.
“I have probably built two decks and two wheelchair ramps while on work trips,” says Daniel Mosbarger, a four-time work tripper and current freshman at DePauw University. “And I have spent time on the waterfront, fishing and boating through the Lake of the Ozarks with the campers. The campers are some of the most genuine and joyful people I have met in my life. Despite their disabilities, they put a smile on their faces every day, and find great happiness in the smallest occurrences.”
“It’s incredibly rewarding to see how much joy you can bring by doing even the simplest things for others,” says Katie Sorensen, a senior at Lake Forest High School who has attended four work trips. “It’s one of the best experiences of my life. Many people are nervous for their first trip, but everyone ends up loving it. I look forward to it all year.”
Sean Driscoll, a junior at LFHS, loved the experience of designing and building a wheelchair ramp for an amputee. “I don’t think he’d been out of the house for six months because he couldn’t get up or down the stairs,” said Driscoll. “His wife was so appreciative, she made us cookies every day. To be able to help them and make such a big difference in their lives was really rewarding.”
“The small amount of labor that we are able to provide for these families means so much,” comments Mosbarger. “Many of them cry when we reveal to them the final product on the last day. It is an overwhelming feeling to help somebody in this way.”
On this year’s trip, UCLB kids will be re-siding and painting a house, building several decks and ramps for disabled elderly residents, and of course, spending time with campers at Wonderland Camp. UCLB kids play a big part in the weekly activities at the camp, including sponsoring a carnival and participating in an all-camp dance. Says Mosbarger, “This dance is a very big deal for the campers. Because many of them never get to go to any school dances such as Prom, this dance is an experience they greatly enjoy.”
The youth of the UCLB Work Trip are raising money to purchase building supplies for this year’s work trip, planned for mid-June. The estimated expense for building supplies is $6,100.
If you’d like to support their efforts, join them for an afternoon of bowling at Brunswick Zone in Vernon Hills on Sunday, February 10 from 2 – 4 pm. All ages are welcomed. The cost is $20 per person and includes two hours of bowling, shoe rental, pizza and sodas. RSVP by Thursday, February 7 at http://www.uclb.org/id32.html
If you’re not a bowler but would like to support the kids and their mission to help others, you can make a donation of any amount by clicking the Donate button on this page: http://www.uclb.org/id32.html
“To me it seems that every moment on the trip is something to cherish,” concludes Mosbarger. “The positivity that exists in everything we experience on the trip is incredible. It is a time when you can be completely yourself, because that is all that is asked of you. The campers teach us that lesson better than anyone.”