What do you do with 1,400 teens when school is out?
On Friday, June 29 this question was answered when youth from the greater Vancouver and Portland areas came to Clark County to participate in a mass service project that included parks, homes .
These young people provided more than 5,500 hours of service, fanning out in groups of 50-300 to pre-assigned locations across the county, where they painted, weeded, sorted, cleaned, raked, planted, mowed and hammered.
The service project was part of a youth conference, sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Many of the projects were for the Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation department, including one at Lacamas Park in Camas.
Jarin McKague, 16, was one of approximately 300 kids helping to clean up the park.
He said that as the teens worked, many people walking through the park commented on how much they enjoyed the park and how grateful they were for the work being done.
Work for the county parks department also included projects at the Heritage Farm, Pacific Park, Lewisville Park, Salmon Creek Greenway, Frenchman’s Bar Park and the Clark County Food Bank.
In a Second Step housing area, two homes were washed, a playhouse was re-roofed and painted, and several lawns were mowed.
Clothes and other donations were sorted and organized at the Share House.
One project which had a particular impact was tearing down and rebuilding a deck for a 60-year-old disabled woman and her 81-year-old mother, who had fallen through the old deck and injured herself.
The entire project, with adult supervision, was finished in four hours.
The Remme home in Salmon Creek was also in need of some maintenance since 85-year-old Walter Remme is no longer able to paint, weed and otherwise maintain the home as he has in the past.
In four hours, two large sheds were red again, the vinyl siding of the home was washed and the weeds were gone.
According to the teen workers, Remme had a big smile on his face.
According to organizers, the phrase “We loved doing it” was heard frequently from the young participants.
After the projects were complete, the youth spent the rest of the three day conference at Skyview High School in Vancouver.
Activities included talent shows, classes, a dance, games, entertainment and 14,000 cookies.