About YSOP

Teak dinnerYSOP’s intense immersion program of Work camps helps student volunteers to understand service and homelessness. During Work camps, students, in small service teams, volunteer at different sites around the city.

YSOP volunteers prepare and serve meals at soup kitchens; they provide recreational activities and companionship to young, formerly homeless children; they distribute food and supplies at food pantries; they socialize and bring snacks to people in drop-in centers. Occasionally they join in special projects we have been asked to staff, such as painting a new shelter with residents or distributing clothing at a clothing bank.

YSOP carefully and regularly monitors all worksites where we volunteer. This ensures that the sites are organized and safe, that YSOP volunteers are utilized efficiently and that everyone is treated with respect.

Marymount3 Jan 04Before the Work camp experience, YSOP holds an orientation that prepares participants for the day of service, paying careful attention to issues of safety and expectations. After each day of service, everyone returns to YSOP to share their impressions of the day. Each team describes its work and the challenges faced. Team members answer questions from the group and make comments. Participants are encouraged to think of ways they can connect the YSOP Workcamp experience to their daily lives.

Weeklong Workcamp

A typical YSOP Weeklong Workcamps begins on Monday morning with breakfast and orientation at YSOP. The Workcamp begins with a discussion about volunteering and preparation for serving. Each participant, youth and adult, shares what he or she will bring to the service work for the day. We also emphasize measures to assure the safety of all participants. Then the Workcamp group is divided into smaller teams, each with an adult mentor. The teams travel on foot or public transportation to service sites in neighborhoods throughout the city.

YSOP volunteers prepare and serve meals at soup kitchens; they help at clothing and furniture banks; they provide recreational activities and companionship to young children; they distribute food and supplies at food pantries; they socialize and bring snacks to people in drop-in centers. YSOP carefully and regularly monitors all worksites to ensure that the sites are organized and safe, that YSOP volunteers are utilized efficiently and that everyone is treated with respect.

Everyone returns to YSOP to share impressions of the day. Each team describes its work and challenges faced. Team members answer questions from the group and make comments. The evening is free to explore the city.

On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, the team goes to a different service site each day so that, by the end of the week, the team has seen a variety of different services provided in the city and different neighborhoods in that city.

On Tuesday evening, the YSOP Workcampers prepare a meal for homeless people who sleep in a shelter nearby. The shelter guests and YSOP’ers come together for a relaxing dinner and social time. This relatively brief service project gives all Workcampers a common experience and begins to break down stereotypes about homeless people.

After spending the day working at a site on Wednesday, the students meet with a resource person, someone involved in direct service to homeless and hungry people or advocacy. In sharing frontline experiences and reflections, the speaker draws the YSOP’ers into a discussion on the causes of homelessness and hunger, society’s response to homelessness, and the students own feelings about these issues.

For the final day, the Workcampers return to YSOP after working at their site for a final gathering. In that gathering, each Workcamper, student and adult, is encouraged to reflect upon and then share with the group their impressions of the Workcamp experience. Participants are encouraged to think of ways in which they can connect the YSOP Workcamp experience to their daily lives.

Sample Weeklong Schedule

One day and several evenings are free to explore New York City and Washington, DC. The YSOP staff is happy to suggest and help arrange recreational activities for groups.
Groups usually arrive over the weekend and begin their time with YSOP early Monday morning; however, we are flexible and try to accommodate the special circumstances and interests of each group.

Typical Weeklong Schedule

 Monday

 8:00am Meet at YSOP for breakfast and orientation
 9:00am Depart for worksites
 3:30pm Meet at YSOP for discussion of service work
 Evening Free to explore NYC or Washington, DC.

 Tuesday

 Morning  Go directly to worksites
 3:30pm  Meet at YSOP for reflection
 4:30pm  *Preparation and sharing dinner with shelter guests
 8:00pm  Escort guests to shelter, then discussion of dinner

 Wednesday

 Morning  Go directly to worksites
 3:30pm  Meet at YSOP for reflection and guest speaker
 Evening  Free to explore NYC or Washington, DC.

 Thursday

 Morning  Go directly to worksites
 3:30pm  Meet at YSOP for Final Circle and reflection on week
 Evening  Free to explore NYC or Washington, DC.