A lively group of 20 youth and 4 adults from the congregations throughout CERG (Central East Regional Group) travelled to Pipestem, WV, June 24-30, to participate in a learning and service experience arranged in cooperation with Appalachian South Folklife Center. The week was described as "transformative" by many of the youth and adults. Below is a brief description of their activities and some photos of the youth at work.
The primary purpose of the trip was to provide assistance to a local resident needing some work on their property... The Appalachian South Folklife Camp, made arrangements for the youth to tackle a project that included scraping, priming, and painting a 1.5 story house. They also scraped a picket fence out front in preparation for another group to paint. The typical work day was 9am to 2pm. We quit at 2pm because the week was one of the hottest on record, and it was simply too difficult to continue past that time. On Monday we went to Pipestem State Park and went swimming in the indoor pool to cool off. The homeowner was very gracious and friendly. She connected with the youth and encouraged them to refill water bottles as needed and opened her home to us. Part of the program is designed to create relationships between those being assisted and those providing the assistance.
But it wasn't all work.... there were activities in the evening... The Folklife Center arranged for two evening programs. On Tuesday evening a singer/storyteller, John, came and shared a bit of West Virginia music and lore. The campers received him enthusiastically and several purchased the CD he made available. Wednesday evening’s program was a park ranger who shared West Virginia history with a slide presentation. Campers asked good questions and seemed engaged in the program.
And a Field Trip... On Wednesday we took a field trip to Kayford Mountain. We met Mountain Top Removal activist, Larry Gibson, who showed us around his property at the top of the mountain and shared how his life had been threatened and his property (including pets) destroyed by those who opposed his fight to keep the land intact and the air and water clean around Kayford Mountain. The campers were taken by Larry's moving story and by the opportunity to witness the devastation of mountain top removal. The air particulates were very bad; so bad that we had to cut the visit short (no trail cleanup as originally planned). Rev. Rose Edington (Charleston) arranged the field trip.
You can learn about our host camp, Appalachian South Folklife Camp at www.folklifecenter.org. Learn more about Mountain Top Removal and Larry Gibson's work at http://mountainkeeper.blogspot.com/. View additional photos shot by Scott Harrigan, one of the adult volunteers at www.flickr.com/photos/78807421@N00/.