SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A national service program is making an impact right here in KELOLAND.

Another summer is in the books at Leif Ericson Day Camp, but the list of fall projects is a long one.

“We offer horseback riding, team building, we have a high ropes course but none of it can exist without volunteers assisting in maintenance and upkeep of the camps,” YMCA Director of Development Kadyn Wittman said.

That’s where AmeriCorps enters the picture.

“The AmeriCorps team is working on cleaning up our nature trails, fixing any broken facilities that need to be fixed and just making sure that we are ready for summer of 2023,” Wittman said.

“All of it is about the service really, helping communities in need,” Corps member Gage Martinez said.

22-year-old Gage Martinez is spending ten months traveling from state to state as part of this domestic peace corps.

“Basically a program run by the federal government to funnel people into various nonprofit and state organizations to help with volunteer work,” Martinez said. “It provides an experience that you really can’t get anywhere else, especially at your age, living with a team, traveling across the country, getting to see all sorts of different communities,” Martinez added.

A group of six people is spending four weeks living at the YMCA in downtown Sioux Falls and working to maintain the grounds at Leif Ericson Day Camp.

“Here at camp it’s a lot of chainsaw work, so processing trees, felling trees, as well as clearing out space for various programs because there is a big space requirement here,” Martinez said.

A space that will be better suited to welcome thousands of kids thanks to these volunteers.

“Everyone knows nonprofits don’t always have the biggest budgets so having help like this for a whole month is so impactful to our work,” Wittman said.

The volunteers will spend another two weeks in Sioux Falls before moving on to their next project in Bemidji, Minnesota, where they will be trail building at a language village.