This is Part 2 of my review of The Pittsburgh Project (TPP) – be sure to read Part 1 if you haven’t already. In Part 1, I focused on pre-trip communication, registration, and promotional materials; in Part 2 I will look at the actual workweek.
Housing: the housing at The Pittsburgh Project is awesome, and TPP owns a LEED Green Certified dorm. Each room has about 14 bunks and a set of lockers. The rooms have a single window, but are very comfortable if you bring a fan. The bathroom facilities are good and everyone always had adequate water even during peak times, although I do wish TPP had promoted separate shower times for adults.
Food: The only draw back at TPP was the food – it is not very good! Some of my picky eaters really struggled finding things to eat. The meals are served cafeteria style. If you are at TPP during a big week, they serve meals in shifts. During one meal they ran out of food, but the staff made more. Most meals consisted of a protein, a starch, a vegetable, and an iceberg lettuce salad. I would plan on bringing some extra granola bars in the very least.
Work Site: The work sites were very well organized. The week I was there they had 22 different sites going at once. One the day you arrive, you receive a notebook with directions to your site and a list of projects. TPP owns a tool building and we found that in general we were able to get everything we needed. Each site has an assigned work tech. Our work tech stopped by our site every day to help us complete our project. The projects obviously varied from site to site; one of the sites built a fence, another painted the interior of home, another roofed a home, and still another sided a house. Please check with your insurance agent before going to TPP to make sure you are properly insured.
Support Staff: The support staff at TPP was awesome; TPP hires about a dozen college students to run the camp for the summer. While I realize the support staff will change every summer, the staff was very well trained and very knowledgeable. Our small group leader, Brooke, did an awesome job! She facilitated a great conversation among a diverse group of students.
Evening Program: TPP owns an old church that they use for their evening program. It is a beautiful space and has a very nice stage. The band this year was really good and they did an awesome job leading worship. The speaker was Matthew Belgie, who works for World Vision as their National Youth Development Specialist. Before working for World Vision he was a Youth Worker for 15 years. Over all, Matt did a great job. Our students connected well with him and he spoke some difficult truths to them. The only criticism is that Matt was a little to pejorative towards parents. He did not paint parents in a positive light at all (even those most kids would not be at TPP without their parents).
Over all TPP was an amazing experience; you definitely should consider bringing your students The Pittsburgh Project.