My SSP SIT Experience

My SSP SIT Experience

By Sara Platnick

Spiritual Life Coordinator in Chiloquin, OR


I always enjoyed my experiences with SSP as a youth. I loved travelling with my church over a long car ride to some remote place where I would get to learn more about the community I was in, gain some construction skills, and meet new people.

Being a Staff-in-Training (SIT) at SSP helped me see a side to SSP that I never got to see as a youth. Though I am the daughter of a board member and went as a camper six times, I never truly understood what SSP is and what it stands for until I spent a week as a staff-in-training.

I never truly understood what SSP is and what it stands for until I spent a week as a staff member.

SSP brings a sweep of change to the cities it helps. In Smith River, youth were clearing acres of non-native plants, building fences, stairs, and ramps, and painting buildings. On the more personal level, I began to see what SSP brings to youths’ lives. SSP is a safe space, a place for people to explore and figure out who they are and what they believe. This was a place that I helped shape and contributed to.

Beyond that, being an SIT helped me to understand what it means to be a staffer. Staffing requires more time, energy, and responsibility than anyone would bargain for. I admit that before my SIT experience I never gave the staff credit for how much work it is. You are up late building a community with the rest of the staff and up early cooking breakfast or preparing construction tools. You are constantly moving and doing something, whether that means preparing snack or the evening program, organizing the tool shed, or spending time with youth.

You are up late building a community with the rest of the staff and up early cooking breakfast or preparing construction tools.

But even after seeing this exhausting side to SSP, it has made me even more excited to be on staff this summer in Chiloquin. Now, I know exactly what I get to look forward to. I know that this summer I get to build a great and supportive community with my staff, I get to meet youth and counselors, I get to watch construction projects get completed, and I get to grow in my faith in God.

I know I am going to learn a tremendous amount over my 10 weeks on staff because if I could gain so much joy and growth from one week, I can only imagine what I will get over a whole summer.

So if you have ever wondered what the other side of SSP looks like, or if you’ve ever thought that being on staff looks like I lot of fun, I encourage you to apply to be an SIT. Even if you are unsure about being on staff, I would still say apply because you never know if your mind will change plus you gain great friends, experiences, and growth in the process.


Editor’s Note: Staff-in-Training applications are available now and due May 15. If you know a young adult who would benefit from the SIT program, encourage them to apply today!

Introducing Brenda, SSP’s New Student Intern

Introducing Brenda, SSP’s New Student Intern

Editor’s Note: Brenda will be SSP’s Student Intern through June. She will assist with many jobs in the SSP office and we are excited to have her!


Hello my name is Brenda and I’m currently a freshman at The Met Sacramento High School. The high school that I currently attend is very different from traditional high schools in the Sacramento area. The Met gives students like me an opportunity to intern at different sites and businesses to gain a working experience and a working environment. We also have to create our own resumes and cover letters to obtain a shadow day. A shadow day is a day where a student goes to a specific site that they’re interested in and learn what a possible mentor does in their everyday job and the student can also help out. As a student, we have to be responsible enough to do all of our work including reading reflections, health and wellness, and community service.

Brenda harvesting fruit with Harvest Sacramento where she met Megan Walsh, SSP's Director of Programs.

Brenda harvesting fruit with Harvest Sacramento where she met Megan Walsh, SSP’s Director of Programs.

I needed to complete my community service since it is a school requirement. On my school’s website, I saw a flyer for a harvesting day through Harvest Sacramento at Pacific Elementary. I decided to go since I’ve never harvested fruit before. That day, I met Megan Walsh, the director of programs for Sierra Service Project.

I was actually in her group along with five to six other people including my brother as well. When I harvested my first fruit, it was fun and when we finished harvesting throughout the day, it felt good helping out the community. Knowing that the fruit that I harvested was actually being donated to the Sacramento Food Bank felt really good because by doing something small, I helped out a lot of people. That is when I realized that I was passionate about helping others in need. Since Megan gave me her business card for my community service sheet, I decided to email her and ask her if I could have a shadow day with her, and she said yes!

It was a great experience at my shadow day and decided to go back and see if I could actually be an intern for Sierra Service Project and she was glad to have me as an intern. As of now, I’m currently interning at Sierra Service Project and hope to get an awesome experience from this site.

See You in Washington!

See You in Washington!

By Laura Sieling

Spokane Site Director from Community United Methodist Church in Pacific Palisades


As anyone who has met me can attest, I’m a very positive and excitable person. Therefore, I am going to use this quality as a motivator to make sure as many people as possible join me and my staff on the Spokane Indian Reservation this summer! This is the first time that SSP will be serving in the state of Washington and we’d love to serve alongside even more people than are already signed up, over 200!

I’ve compiled a short list of reasons people might not have signed up for this site yet, then matched them with reasons to allay any hesitation:

  1. “It’s a very long trip.” True, but think of how much bonding time you’ll have with your group! Have you had many opportunities where you can practice a skill like spending an extended period of time in close quarters with others? Also, that’s a quality we look for in summer staff members!
  2. “If SSP has never been there before, how do we know if it will be a successful site?” Every year’s challenges and successes are different, no matter where SSP serves. And what an exciting prospect to be the first to begin a positive relationship with the Spokane Tribe of Indians!
  3. “It’s in Washington, but will it be rainy?” Not really! It might be confusing to hear that a site in Washington is in the high desert and can get up to 85°F. But, that means that our materials and work sites will stay dry, reducing the risk of having to cut work days and Adventure Wednesday short!

I hope that those reasons get you excited to join those of us serving in Spokane this summer! I don’t make promises, but I can say for sure that this opportunity is not one to pass up!


Editor’s Note: There is still space for groups up to 45 in Spokane this summer. Register your group today!

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  • #SSPsitevisit is underway in #SSPsmithriver. Volunteers will experience the profound power of the redwoods and North Coast. Check out updates on the site IG account: @sspsmithriver17
  • Just two weeks to go until the @bigdayofgiving! #GiveTogether to help us raise $10,000 to empower teens and repair homes. Mark your calendar to give on May 4th, or schedule your donation today! (Link in bio.)
  • WE LOVE @dayspringtempe! Not only have they participated in our programs for 15 years, their foundation just made a two-year financial commitment to SSP. This church body has contributed hundreds of youth volunteers, dozens of summer staffers, and $3,000 both this year and next (the cost of two wheelchair ramps)! If your church has a foundation dedicated to funding programs like ours, visit the link in our bio for more information.

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