NOMADS help at Blue Lake

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 15, 2014

1114-Blue-Lake-Nomads3-webThe NOMADS are back visiting Blue Lake Camp and volunteering their time to makes some much-needed repairs and improvements to the facility.

NOMADS is a mission outreach program that is specific to individuals or couples with RVs who travel the country volunteering services to United Methodist Church related organizations.

“NOMADS are mostly retired people who have RVs and in exchange for us working here at the camp, they give us full hookups,” project leader Scott Anderson said.

UMC affiliated organizations can apply to have NOMADS visit their location for a standard three-week duration, in exchange for RV parking and hookups. During that time, the NOMADS work Monday through Thursday on various projects including remodeling, painting, new construction and gardening.

Blue Lake Camp applied to have the group visit, and they have been helping make repairs on the Oakwood and Dogwood buildings, as well as painting the dining hall and gymnasium.

“Terry Pickard (Blue Lake board member) set up a priority list for what it would take us five weeks to do,” Anderson said. “So we’re working our way through this long list of projects.”

Anderson and fellow member, Kris Niehaus, worked on replacing the siding on the Oakwood Lodge, while other members repaired the roof of the Dogwood Lodge.

Blue Lake also applied for a grant through the NOMADS and received $1,000 to help pay for supplies needed for some of the projects.

Blue Lake program director Eric Hindmon said they have already exceeded that grant money by purchasing paint.

The group has been at the camp since Nov. 3 and will be leaving on Nov. 20 to visit other organizations needing help.

“We don’t all work on the same projects,” Neihaus said. “We’re new people generally all the time.”

“Where else can you volunteer, pull up in your RV and instantly have new friends?” Kathy Waters asked.

Waters and her husband Bill hail from North Carolina, and have been volunteering with the NOMADS since 2010.

Waters worked on painting the gym with other “stick house” owners Bill and Kathy Schroeder, who still own their home in Ohio.

Stick houses is the term NOMADS use for homes that are built and attached to the ground.

“We come from all over,” Anderson said. “We have people here from Ohio, Texas, North Carolina and I’m from northern California.”

Many NOMADS full-timers give up their “stick houses” in favor of living on wheels, including Anderson, Neihaus and Betty Uithoven.

“I have a storage unit with an area just for my piano,” Uithoven said. “That’s the only thing I couldn’t give up.”

Additionally, when visiting different project locations, the group enjoys visiting the local area.

“We like to do the touring of towns in the areas we are at, we like to see the culture of the towns,” Neihaus said.

“One of the things I do when I come into a town is visit the chamber of commerce,” Anderson said. “The director there wouldn’t let me leave. She said she wanted me to be the city’s Santa Claus this year.”

But Anderson said he has obligations in Florida, where many NOMADS are heading in order to avoid the colder weather.

“We have a joke,” Anderson said. “NOMADS stands for Nomads On a Mission Active in Divine Service, but we joke and call it Nice Old Methodists Avoiding Deep Snow.”