U.M. ARMY offers high quality weeklong mission programs for youth and young adults that serve people in need and build leadership skills in young people!
Basics About Our Program
Participants sleep, eat, worship and enjoy fellowship at a local church beginning on Sunday evening and ending on Saturday afternoon of each week. Every weekday small teams consisting of one adult and 3-5 youth set out to a worksite in the local area. Additional adults act as support to the teams bringing needed tools, supplies, technical expertise and safety checks to the site each day (We also bring popsicles, watermelon, and other cooling treats)
The Clients and Projects
We believe our relationship to those being served is the top priority and central to our work. Our clients are referred by local social service agencies and churches. Generally they are elderly but some are families who are unable to do the work for themselves due to financial concerns or disabilities. The work is anything from simple projects such as yard work or painting to small home repairs on doors, windows, stairs, porches and construction of wheelchair ramps. The teams bring a lunch to share with their client each day and are encouraged to interact as much as possible. Often the idea that someone cares is much more important than the actual work!
Throughout the week, fun evening activities are planned. They often include swimming, dancing and/or games. One evening during the week is reserved as “Client Night”. We invite those whom we have served to a dinner at our host church and they are given the opportunity to speak to the young people about what their service has meant. (Definitely a highlight of the week!) We begin each day with a 15 min devotional service and end each evening with a worship service that is uplifting to youth.
People of all denominations and beliefs are welcome. While our primary participation has been from United Methodist youth groups, most weeks will have a blend of faith traditions in attendance. Church groups of all sizes attend. Some churches will send groups as small as 2 others will have 50 or more. We really make an effort to help smaller groups feel comfortable right away. Each participating church is asked to bring 2 adults for every 5 youth. Our staff is completely volunteer but most our leaders have several years of experience and extensive training. While most participating adults will be assigned to work with a team, there are also opportunities in the week for adults who would prefer to help with kitchens, tool organization, administration, worship and activities for the week.
Our registration fee is very affordable. It includes all activities, work materials and meals (except for one dinner out at a family restaurant during the week). We are able to offer lower fees than other youth mission programs for a variety of reasons:
- Our programs are housed in United Methodist Churches. Our gracious hosts see us as an extension of their own outreach to their local community and do not charge us for their hospitality.
- Church groups are asked to bring vehicles for all adult participants and to gather tools for the weeks use. These practices avoid expensive rentals and create a true experience of sharing in mission.
- We do not hire our staff. Instead we train and empower devoted and passionate volunteers as leaders in the program.
- We do not spend larges sum of money on fancy advertisements. Our mailings aren’t glossy and glitzy arriving in your box several times per month. Instead, we believe that like the Gospel, word of mouth and heart to heart are the best ways to spread our message.
- Good stewardship allows us to commit a large portion of each participant fee toward building materials and the actual mission projects.
There are trainings for adult participants and also each church is asked to do a pre-trip tool and safety training with the youth. New churches can request a visit from a U.M. ARMY representative prior to the week to help prepare adults as well as youth and parents. We ask churches to bring tools. The director at each location will send a list of the necessary items to the youth director in charge.
Planning For You!
We love feedback, ideas and suggestions! The organization is run by a volunteer Board of Directors who carefully evaluate after every season. Our organization has been in existence for 35 years yet the program is constantly being refined and improved based on regional and contemporary needs.