A Summer for Others

A Summer for Others


Christiansburg, VA

Summer has the longest days and shortest nights, which makes it the opportune time for teens to party through the day, making memories that last their four years of high school. However, a group of fifty-seven rising seventh graders to college freshman from Leesburg United Methodist Church spent a week at ‘Project SPY’; giving up those late nights for early mornings and pool time for hammer time (and not the dance).

Project SPY (Summer Project Youth) began over eight years ago as a way for teens to reach out to the less fortunate in the New River Valley community, making their homes “safer, drier, and warmer”, according to SPY’s Facebook page. Since then, Fieldstone United Methodist Church in Christiansburg, Virginia has been home to numerous churches and campers over a span of six weeks every summer. From July 9th to July 15th, Leesburg UMC, Culpeper UMC, and First UMC gathered together to complete various construction projects around the area. Tasks included building wheelchair ramps, replacing stairs, repairing broken porch rails, installing wood floors, painting, and fixing plumbing.

“SPY’s not about us, it’s about other people, and a lot about summer is about going on vacation for yourself and hanging out with your friends because it makes you happy, but we are doing this for other people and to get closer to God,” said Tuscarora alumni Hope Sikora. Throughout the week, the campers are challenged by the staff to find what makes them “Real Happy”; the theme for the week. “A couple years ago we went to Taco Bell for lunch and one of the employees there told us we were working on her house. She was so happy and excited but we hadn’t even done anything yet. That improvement to someone’s life is what makes me really happy,” Sikora said.

Not only does this program change the lives of homeowners, it forever changes the lives of the campers involved. “It makes me more aware that there are bigger things I can be doing in the world and that so many people out there need help and SPY is a great program that allows me to do something to make a lasting impact,” said Tuscarora senior Maddie Dobscha.

As school starts in August, many students will share the stories of beach vacations, concerts, and days by the pool, but fifty-seven kids will tell their friends of the week they spent collectively changing the lives of seven homeowners. These students will never forget the endless memories they created at SPY.