Connecticut youth among final volunteers for "Camp Victor"

Connecticut teens dispatched by Camp Victor volunteer by painting a home on the Gulf Coast.
Connecticut teens dispatched by Camp Victor volunteer by painting a home on the Gulf Coast.

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Since Hurricane Katrina, "Camp Victor" in Ocean Springs has sent out thousands of volunteers across the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Those volunteer workers have repaired hundreds of storm-damaged homes for the past seven years.

But that group is sending out its final teams of visiting volunteers this week.

"We'll pop this out and do it parallel to the house," said Pastor Daniel Hille, as he moved a painting ladder in place beside the historic home.

Young visitors from the Northeast are giving an old home on Morrison Avenue in Biloxi a little TLC.

"We brought seven kids from Avon, CT, which is a suburb of Hartford, down to the Ocean Springs-Biloxi area of Mississippi, as part of Camp Victor outreach," said Pastor Hille.

While his friends stayed busy with paint brushes and ladders, Manny Harden preferred the rakes and shovels of the landscape team.

He was hesitant to join the summer mission team, but glad he did.

"At first I was kind of reluctant. But then I realized it would be a great experience to help others and get out of Connecticut and get down South. I've never been to Mississippi or any of the states around here," the teen explained.

It's the first visit to the Deep South for many of these teen volunteers.

"For a couple of years, we've been doing some local community service, but we decided to go further out and explore the South and help people out," said 16-year-old, Zoe Van Kirk.

Impromptu face painting and singing helped break-up the monotony of manual labor home repairs.

But you'll find few complaints among this group. Team members said they're honored to be a part of the "Camp Victor" legacy.

"As much as I love the air conditioning and being in the cool Connecticut, there's something about connecting with people who are in need. And if I can do this and somebody else can't, I'm going to do everything I can to make this happen and help people out," said team member Alison Williams.

"Plus, we get to teach them what barbecue and hot weather is all about, so you can't argue with that," said the pastor.

Some soon-to-be-tired teenagers would likely agree.

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