Experiences allow a person to learn about the varied ways in which people of our world live. Each summer UD students are gifted with the opportunity to live and work with a culture in our United States that is very different from the one they have grown up in. Fourteen UD students will be spending nine weeks this summer living in community and doing service as members of the University of Dayton Summer Appalachia Program (UDSAP) in Salyersville, Kentucky.
The University of Dayton Summer Appalachia Program comes out of the University of Dayton’s Catholic and Marianist, Christian Heritage. It is a Heritage of building a strong faith community, sharing prayer together and doing service for others.
Two goals the UD students have for each summer are to learn about the people who live in Appalachia and to appreciate their Appalachian culture. UD students hope to achieve these goals by living and working in solidarity with the Appalachian people, their families, their children and their elderly.
In the ministry, with the Salyersville community, the UD students will offer the following programs: A Day Camp for kids 5 to 12, a Teen Center, and visit a local nursing home. The programs for the teens and children will be educational, inter-active and fun. The UD students will also take time to visit with the families of the teens and children who take part in the programs. The hope of the program is to build good and lasting relationships with all the people the UD students work with and visit, and then to continue these relationships by visiting during the school year.
Another goal for the summer is for UD students to live a very simple life in a faith community setting. They will build strong, respectful, relationships among themselves. They will share things in common and have daily prayer and meals together. In living simply the UD students will recycle and reuse things, being respectful of nature and the environment.
The University of Dayton Summer Appalachia Program is in its forty-eighth year!
The UD students will continue the wonderful and relational connections that others in the past have made with the people of Appalachia. Students interested in this service program have to be open to this new experience and hope to learn over the nine summer weeks much from the people in Appalachia and their Appalachian culture.
The 5 Experiences of UDSAP:
The UDSAP community lives in a simple old farm house on Mine Fork Road, six miles from the town of Salyersville, Ky. Students choose to live a simple lifestyle forgoing many of their material possessions for the summer. The UD students form this community by sharing frequent prayer, daily meals in common and working hard on the service programs. Each UD student signs a Covenant of respect and concern with each other in the community. They take time to be with each other developing strong and lasting friendships. The leadership in the community comes out of a Servant leadership model. Two members of the group lead the group as Co-directors.
UD students create and run an outdoor Day Camp program for young children 5 to 12 years of age. The Day Camp program takes place in Salyersville's community park. Each daily Day Camp program consists of three parts. An educational activity, projects and games and one to one relationships with the children in the program. Use of the Public Library for reading is fostered. The Day Camp programs try to enhance the social skills of the children, and strengthen in them good moral values.
Teen Center exists for high school age students 13 to 19 years of age. The Teen Center operates on the grounds of the UDSAP house and the outdoor recreational area of the local grade school. Daily programs are planned to enhance the educational and social concerns of the high school age students. Teen Center provides a safe space for the teens to be together, enjoy each others company, learn a few new things and get to know and trust the UD students. UD students work hard to build good, healthy relationships with the teens. Field trips to local colleges, to the University of Dayton and fun places are planned for the students during the summer.
Visits to the local nursing care facility take place twice a week. This full care facility houses young and old alike, though most of the residents are elderly. Bingo games, old Gospel sing-a-longs and other activities are planned by the team running the Nursing Home program. The most rewarding moments are the one-on one encounters with residents who have few or no visitors. Stories, prayer and quiet times happen regularly between the UD students and the elderly in the home, forming strong and trusting friendships over time.
Perhaps the most eye-opening experience is the warmth and welcome of the families as they invite the UD students into their homes. It is during this family visits that the real Appalachian culture is experience first hand. During the visits UD students take time to play with the young children, have one to one time with teens and or listen to the stories told by family members both young and old. UD students hear and learn of the joys, the challenges and concerns of people of Appalachia. Relationships between UD students and families have lasted for many years after the initial summer program.
The commitment to the UDSAP program involves three stages. The first is to participate fully in all the planning sessions and fundraising efforts during the second semester, before the summer program. The second is to participate fully in the nine week UDSAP program in the summer. Anytime away from the group (graduations, weddings, etc.) are to be arranged before the group leaves for the UDSAP program. The final stage is to participate in the Appalachia Club on campus, bringing interested students down for visits and if possible, help in the recruitment and publicity for next year’s UDSAP program.
Upholding a Tradition
It is important to remember that each UD student is participating in a Tradition much greater than their summer experience. For the UD student it may be one unique and wonderful summer, but each year the UDSAP program makes a difference in the lives of the families who expect the “Dayton Group” to come down each summer. A whole generation of children and teens from Royalton, Tick Lick, Gun Creek, Mine Fork and a whole generation of UD students have experienced UDSAP, and it has made a difference in the lives of everyone!
It is essential that all UD students applying for the UDSAP program understand that this experience in an interchange of living, learning and service. We learn as much as we teach, we are given to as much as we give, we are served as much as we serve. This attitude makes for effective service and an overall profound experience for all involved.
Complete information packets can be obtained from the Center for Social Concern in Campus Ministry located in Liberty Hall. Click for application forms and recommendation forms. Applications are due on January 22nd by noon.
Please e-mail Brother Tom Pieper with any questions!