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Reflecting on Salkehatchie Summer Service

by Kelsey Blackburn

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Kelsey Blackburn has attended four Salkehatchie Camps in Huntersville. She is registered to attend again in 2008, this time as an adult. In this article she reflects on her first experience at the Huntersville Camp in 2004.

The trip to Huntersville, North Carolina was both exciting and fearful at the same time. What was I getting myself into? At first glance, Salkehatchie Summer Service didn't seem that great - a week spent out in the hot summer heat working on a stranger's house (and having to pay for it too!). Apparently, I was oblivious to all the joy I would experience in the week ahead of me. It was truly a life changing experience.

"Her name was Mrs. Baxter, and I think she is one of the sweetest women I have ever met. Never have I seen a person so appreciative, kind, and faithful."

Kelsey Blackburn

Monday morning I woke up to the sounds of pots and pans clattering at 5 am. The Methodist Men had come to cook our breakfast. I dreaded the first day work, but at the same time I really wanted to prove myself to others. I yearned to make a difference in my own life as well as the life of my chosen homeowner. Her name was Mrs. Baxter, and I think she is one of the sweetest women I have ever met. Never have I seen a person so appreciative, kind, and faithful. That first day of work was definitely not easy, and there were many people in the surrounding area who didn't think we could do it. They called Mrs. Baxter crazy for letting us "children" come and rip apart the place she called home. But she had faith in all of us, all seven of us, and that was the single factor that got us through the week.

Scraping the walls of the kitchen in the Baxter home

Friday came way too soon and I took one last glance at the house I had helped to fix and realized that that wasn't the only thing I had accomplished that week. My faith in God had grown tremendously and I realized that I had a passion for helping people. It was one of the greatest times of my life and I didn't want it to end. What I later discovered was that it didn't have to end. My service to others could be applied to my own community in many different ways.

From that point on, I have been heavily involved in my youth group and other church activities and organizations. I am currently the vice president of my youth group at McMannen United Methodist Church and I take pride in guiding other youth toward a better understanding of their faith and service to God. My goal is to be their Christian role model - I hope to graduate at the top of my class, go to the college of my choice, and eventually earn my DVM so I may become a certified veterinarian. Now it all comes down to my senior year. I currently uphold a job as a kennel assistant at a local vet hospital. I have worked there for over half a year now and the exposure has only given me more confidence in my chosen career area.

Installing the flooring in the Baxter kitchen

My life has come to the end of one chapter and the beginning of another. I look forward to many new opportunities to apply my community service and leadership skills and I have faith that wherever I go, I will work hard and try my very best, as I always have in the past.

I've been going to Salkehatchie Summer Service for three years now. Each time I leave, my faith is reinstated and I am truly awakened to all the opportunities life has to offer. My experiences there will never be forgotten. I learned many life lessons and become a stronger person and those qualities I gained will never be lost.