Taking Time to Serve

Submitted by bstephens on Mon, 06/13/2022

High school graduation is a huge milestone, and a growing number of high school graduates are deciding to take a gap year before heading to college. According to the College Board Blog, “A gap year looks different for everyone. Basically, it’s a full year or a semester of learning experiences that might include travel, volunteering, paid work, an internship, or a combination of these things. It’s typically taken after high school graduation before starting college.”

Carter Brownrobie already had plans to attend college to become a high school history teacher but chose to take a gap year serving for one year with Christian Appalachian Project’s Volunteer Program helping people in need in Appalachia. He is nearing the end of his one-year service commitment.

“When I graduated high school, I already knew my next steps. The gap year for me was more like taking a rest,” said Brownrobie who will be attending Earlham College in the fall. One-Year Volunteer Corps and AmeriCorps members, like Brownrobie, are the foundation of CAP’s Volunteer Program. They make a commitment for an entire year to help address issues such as education, poverty, hunger, substandard housing, and rural isolation while living in intentional community and making a commitment to personal reflection.

Brownrobie served in CAP’s Home Repair Program, during the year where he learned how to build ramps and porches, make repairs, and supervise the safety of Alternative Spring Break and Mission Groups. He is spending this summer at Camp Shawnee where he will be a counselor. During orientation he was excited to learn new songs that he can share. “I’m really looking forward to kayaking with campers and my fellow counselors,” he said.

He learned many life skills that he will take with him to college and credits staff with creating a nurturing environment where he could serve the community. “The staff really does care about you and helped guide me through this year,” he said. “I learned that I enjoy living with other people more than I thought I would, but also learned that you spend a lot of time thinking about your participants or the project you worked on that day, even after you get home.”

According to EdSurge,“students should reframe a gap year or part-time enrollment not as a year off, but as a year on purpose. Rather than see it as a step backward, it’s an opportunity to take a 'discovery year' to learn about themselves.” As an additional incentive, our AmeriCorps members also qualify for living allowances and educational awards that they can put towards future academic endeavors.

Brownrobie believes his gap year provided lessons that will stay with him a lifetime. “I've gained some new friends and an understanding of what living with other people may look like in the future, but my primary takeaway is that a person's attitude really can shape the entire day.”

And that is a lesson that can benefit us all.

To find out more about making a gap year a CAP year, email sbrownrobie@chrisapp.org, text 859.797.3059, or visit christianapp.org/volunteer.

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