Beginning this week, Youthworks will spend 11 weeks on the College of St. Joseph campus this summer, contributing hundreds of hours of community service to the area.

About 600 youth will come though the campus in total, with each group staying about a week, living in the CSJ dorms. Students will come mainly from the Northeast, including groups from Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Virginia, Maine and Ohio, according to Youthworks site director Zach Robson.

“Our goal is to serve the community, help the youth know and understand who Jesus is and put their faith in action,” Robson said.

Robson said it is great working in Rutland, which the group is has done for eight years, because there is a lot of pride in the community, and the campers come here to build strong relationships and work hard.

Robson said the group helps youth understand that they can have an impact in their hometowns and in throughout their lives.

“The impact is for them to understand that even their home is a mission field – that they can serve people wherever they are,” Robson said. “They can learn their goal in life is not to be comfortable. That their values lie not in money or possessions, but in service. That they can do many of these things in their own homes.”

This year the group will be working as volunteers at Camp Thorpe, Pine Hill Park, Rutland’s Community Gardens and Kids Club at Meadow Street Park.

Robson said the service is great for both the youth and the communities.

“I’d say it bridges a gap between church and the community,” Robson said.

Youthworks was founded in 1994 when 35 churches sent 400 students to serve on mission trips to South Dakota and Mexico. It now partners with more than 70 communities, including urban and rural areas, and Indian reservations across North America. The purpose of Youthworks is to provide Christ-centered youth mission opportunities through fun and significant adventures, targeting the needs and capabilities of youth ages 12-19.