from the archives

SSP explained.


Before I get into the rest of how awesome this past weekend was, I suppose I should take a minute to explain what this SSP thing that I keep mentioning is.

SSP stands for Sierra Service Project. It’s a nonprofit based in Sacramento that runs weeklong mission trips for church youth groups on Indian reservations throughout the American West, in South Los Angeles and in Mexico and Honduras — although both the international programs were scrapped this summer because of the security situation in each country.

I first went to SSP as a teenage camper in 2002 and barely made any mention of my first SSP experience online. I only posted a snarky comment about how surprised we were upon returning from Loleta in northern California to find the monsoon had already come to Arizona.

The next year, though, I noted that I was going and that I had returned. Then, I posted big, long lists of memories and quotes from SSP SoCal ’03.

My last year as a camper, I was in Duck Valley and documented pretty much the whole dang week on upon my return from SSP ’04.

The next summer, I spent a week as an SIT, a staffer in training, in Lukachukai, Ariz. Then in ’06, I became a full-fledged staffer, working all summer as a spiritual life coordinator in Tsalie, Ariz.

For spring break ’07, I went with the ASU and UA Wesley campus ministry groups on an SSP young-adult mission trip to work on Vermont Square UMC in LA, the home of SSP’s summer LA site.

Then, during the summer months of ’07, I was the SLC in LA. In ’08, I was the LA site director, which entailed hiring the rest of the LA staff in April and then leading the staff during the summer.

And then, I graduated and got a full-time job, which meant no SSP this summer. Someday, I hope to become an adult counselor and take a youth group on a week of SSP, but for now I’m in a sort of SSP limbo.

So now you’ve got the basic outline of my SSP life to date, which should help you understand why my weekend was so great. I’ll get to that next.