Each summer our Youth travel to Philadelphia to work and spend time with students of St. James School, taking part in a unique opportunity to love, support, and deepen relationships with our friends there while having fun! Read what the Youth who traveled to the St. James Episcopal School this year have to say.

July 16–21, 2023

What is the “one” thing you want to remember from this trip? This was a question presented to our eight youth at the end of their week in Philadelphia at the St. James School. Each day we had time for reflection on the days’ events, but this question in particular elicited a wide range of responses.

  • The St. James teachers and staff are incredibly dedicated! From knowing each and every student’s name, to working an 11-month school year, they always seemed positive and upbeat.
  • Lunchtime at St. James is unique compared to the lunch our youth experience at their schools. Prior to lunch being served, a staff member and select students (that changes daily) lead a brief liturgy and blessing. The entire school eats lunch together. A hot lunch is served family style. The students take turns selecting their portions and no one begins eating until everyone is served.
  • St. James School is special in part due to the sense of community they have created both on the campus and in the surrounding neighborhood.
  • Our St. Paul’s, Ivy youth remarked on the strong sense of belonging and immense school pride especially among the graduates who have dedicated space to gather on campus after their high school or college experiences with special staff to support them in their post-graduate endeavors.
  • The St. James students appeared to be more joyful and happy than our youth had anticipated. Due to some of the challenges presented in an inner-city environment, our youth assumed that the children would be less fulfilled somehow. The St. Paul’s, Ivy youth over the course of the week had some self-realizations about their own outlooks and associations with what makes a person fulfilled and thus “happy”.
  • For one of youth in particular, the special legacy of how the school came into being was memorable. That the school had such humble beginnings and is celebrating tremendous growth in numbers as well as support from donors was inspiring.
  • Taking a guided driving tour of the surrounding neighborhood was illuminating. One of the St. Paul’s, Ivy youth remarked on the condition of the public school alternatives as resembling prisons.
  • Many times, the youth commented on how wonderful it was to get to know the St. James students and interact with them.

In summary, the unanimous take-away from the trip for our youth was not how “little” the St. James students have, but the abundance they have. The youth learned to look at the school and surrounding community’s assets instead of its deficits.

Our youth were amazing ambassadors for St. Paul’s, Ivy in all that they did and encountered throughout their week-long experience. They performed many hours of service from cleaning up trash from the surrounding school property; erecting a memorial to lives lost due to illegal gun violence; providing a much needed reorganization to the teachers workroom; demolishing old school lockers; making welcome back to school posters for each individual student; to cleaning donated shoes at a local “giving factory”. In addition they spent a day exploring historic sites around Old City Philadelphia.

Click here to see photos from their journey!