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Joyce Endee

Camp Berea tackles the town

A "swarm of B's" hit the shoreline, the trails, the roadsides and the conservation areas in the Town of Hebron as part of Camp Berea's Service Work Weekend. Youth Campers from three Nashua churches raked, cleared brush, cleaned 14 miles of roadside and broke trails in the Hebron Town Forest during a hot summer experiential weekend program on Newfound Lake. (Photo by Marcia Morris) (click for larger version)
June 09, 2016
HEBRON—It was an impressive experiment about how to be a good neighbor, and it succeeded beyond anyone's expectations.

Last weekend, Newfound Lake's Camp Berea took on the tough jobs as over 100 youth campers from three separate churches in Nashua, attired in neon-yellow Iserve@Berea T-shirts, fanned out throughout the Town of Hebron and swept the place clean.

At the Hebron Beach Saturday morning, dozens of hearty community volunteers assembled for the annual Town Beach Cleanup Day. When they arrived they could only stare in dismayed disbelief as they encountered a shoreline littered with an historically unprecedented amount of mucky leaf debris along the entire shoreline, extending deep out into the swim area.

No one present had ever seen the beach in such a sorry state after the wounds of winter had taken their toll. There were many theories proffered on how such a voluminous accumulation of leaf litter had managed to end up smack dab in the middle of what is ordinarily a lovely sandy beach, suitable for kids and grandkids.

And then, undeterred, the determined crew of Hebron resident volunteers dug in with rakes, pitch forks and shovels to try to tackle the epic cleanup job. Ultimately, it took the precision equipment expertise of Hebron Beach Committee member Stan Newton, with a hefty front loader and a Town Dump Truck to make a dent.

Meanwhile, volunteers of all ages worked diligently side by side, and succeeded in raking the picnic area, putting out the swim lines, and getting the popular summer site ready for the upcoming season.

But their spirits began to flag when it came to the tackling that tough, heavy, murky, mess of leaf litter that just seemed limitless and insurmountable. Beach lovers speculated that even more heavy equipment would be required to complete the seemingly hopeless job, or maybe expensive professional help. For a moment there the adults were stumped…

That was when Camp Berea Director, Nate Parks, Hebron Beach Committee Chairperson, Cindy Newton and Hebron Selectboard member Patrick Moriarty put their heads together and came up with a plan.

It was decided to try and see what "kid power" might accomplish. Soon, well over fifty of Camp Berea's weekend Service Work Campers came to the rescue, descending upon the beach with indefatigable energy and enthusiasm. Knee deep in muck, they waded out into the water, raking and reaching in with double-fisted fervor to clear the swim area of the murky mess.

Fortunately for all concerned the water temp was considerably warmer than usual for this time of year and the young volunteer campers said they truly enjoyed working in the water in the unseasonably hot, sunny weather.

According to Berea's Director Nate Parks, the Youth Pastors from the three Nashua congregations said that the service weekend was a tremendous success. "The kids loved it. The campers worked really hard and came away from the experience hot, sweaty and exhausted, but also feeling really good about themselves because they had truly accomplished something in an effort bigger than themselves," said Parks.

Parks explained that from Berea's perspective, the service work weekend gives youth a way to begin to experience the kind of "servant leadership" that is so important in spiritual development, especially in a self-centered, broken world that needs hope and healing.

"This is a life expression of our belief," said Nate. "We are learning how to work on a 90 degree day, come back exhausted, but gain this perspective – that the world is not all about me. There is something much bigger than me that I can be part of. We are trying to help kids understand this, to try to create a different picture of what can happen if more people lived like that on a regular basis. We would have a different world."

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