Creating mats for homeless people from plastic grocery bags was the service project for more than 54 students from church youth groups from Santa Fe; Austin, Texas; and Monroe, Louisiana.
Other youth groups weeded gardens, some helped paint a mural for the Giving Garden at First United Methodist Church. Some campers assembled solar units, while others washed church vans or painted a weathered gazebo.
About 1,000 middle school and high school students were in Durango this week participating in the Generate YM360 interdenominational Christian camp organized by Youth Ministry 360, said Lindsey Tillman, event coordinator with Youth Ministry 360.
The camp combined Bible study, service projects and recreational events in an effort to strengthen bonds among the students and their youth ministry leaders from their home churches. The goal was to instill a sense of service among students, deepen their understanding of the Bible and build relationships, Tillman said.
Events were planned, organized and led by church volunteers and YM360 staff members to allow the students and their individual church youth ministers time to team-build. YM360 expects to hold the camp in Durango again in 2020, Tillman said.
“The congregation saved plastic bags for two months and other churches helped out, too,” said Cindy Schofield, who organized the group that made mats out of plastic grocery bags. “The whole community helped to get things ready for the kids.”
Students from the three church groups making plastic bags took measurements of specially built looms so they could build their own looms at their churches. They wanted to continue making mats from plastic bags – helping homeless in their communities and also reducing the amount of plastic that goes to landfills.
Jules Masterjohn, who helped lead students painting a mural for the Giving Garden at the First United Methodist Church, said the mural’s design symbolized the landscape of Southwest Colorado – from the brilliant sun down to the rivers and mountains.
“I was so impressed by kids who wanted to give back,” Masterjohn said. “You hear about people not doing so well. So it was nice to hear about kids who know what they are doing on the planet.”