I was dismayed at Jennifer Murch’s disparaging descriptions of our youth (“Let’s Revolutionize Youth Mission Trips“). She has seen them complain, refuse hospitality, make fun of the host culture and skip out on work. She has observed bad manners, an entitled attitude and a dragging work ethic. But I have seen something much different. Working with Mennonite Disaster Service for 24 years, mostly as a crew leader, I have led many youth groups. Youth come with enthusiasm and energy, eager to learn and work. With instruction and supervision they perform many tasks to professional-quality standards. Sure, sometimes things need to be done over, but that goes for all of us. Their attitude and willingness to work is to be applauded. Murch says she wouldn’t want high school students working on her house. But if her home was damaged by a storm and she was uninsured, had no financial resources and needed volunteer assistance but only wanted experienced people, where would she go? Close to 90 percent of MDS volunteers are not experienced trade people, yet with leadership MDS has restored and built thousands of homes using these volunteers. Among them are a large number of youth. I will defend our teenagers and welcome them on projects any time.
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