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Salkehatchie Summer Services returns after two-year hiatus due to COVID-19 pandemic

Since 1978, Salkehatchie Summer Service has been more than a church outreach program, volunteer group, or just another summer youth camp.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Salkehatchie Summer Service will return to limited action this summer, following a two-year hiatus due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

On Monday, Kathy Hart and Haley McLaughlin stopped by News19 This Morning to talk about the camp’s return.

Volunteers in a Salkehatchie Summer Service Camp work on repairing or upgrading homes where people live and the level or intensity of the work will vary from site to site. Depending on the need, volunteers may be called upon to repair a leaky roof, replace broken widows or doors, or rebuild porches. All work is offered at no charge to the families involved.

More than a dozen Salkehatchie Camps, which is about one-third of the usual number of camps, will operate this summer under COVID-19 protocols. Camp organizers want to ensure the health and safety of all participants, so some camps will hold shorter weeks while other camps have reduced the number of campers accepted. Other camps are allowing commuters, campers who shower and sleep at home.

Volunteers must be at least 14 years of age and camps usually consist of high school and college age students, and adult counselors and volunteers. 

Credit: Salkehatchie Summer Service

The first camp is scheduled to begin in Winyah Bay (Georgetown) the week of June 11 with camps in Laurens County, Union, Bishopville, Piedmont, Bamberg, Black Swamp (Hampton), Santee (Clarendon County), Emerald City, Columbia, North Augusta, Newberry, and Clover.

These COVID-19 safety protocols will be in place at all camps:

  • All campers, directors, homeowners, and others in proximity to campers (such as those serving meals) must be maximally vaccinated at the time of the camp.
  • Camps will focus on exterior repair work, such as accessibility ramps and roofs.
  • Sleeping arrangements will be socially distanced.
  • Masks will be worn inside for evening programs, standing in lines, or working near someone else.
Credit: Salkehatchie Summer Service

From Saturday to Saturday, volunteers experience more than just a week of hard work. Their dedication and love help families feel comfortable and secure in their homes.

The camps are an outreach of the United Methodist Church in South Carolina and has been active for the past 40 years. Since its beginning, 63,000 Salkehatchie volunteers have helped 6,000 families -- with 200 homes updated every year. Registration fees cover some of the costs of room and board, and construction materials, but participants are encouraged to seek contributions to support the Salkehatchie mission.

Click here for more information and a complete schedule of camps.

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