Blanchet School photos
Cameron Elmore with children in Mexico.
Blanchet School photos
Cameron Elmore with children in Mexico.
SALEM — Cameron Elmore joined Blanchet Catholic School as a sixth grader after transferring from Whiteaker Middle School in Keizer. Now a freshman, Cameron continues to be a high-achieving student and a stand-out athlete. But it's in serving others that he finds his inspiration.

A couple of years ago, Cameron decided to get involved with the Missions and Outreach Ministry Team of his church, Court Street Christian. At first he stayed local, spending spring break week of seventh grade putting down new bark dust and filling in an old pond at Waldo Middle School.

Two or three times each year, this same team sends work groups to Mexico to the small town of El Porvenir, north of Ensenada. There, they sponsor an orphanage, Casa de Paz, home to more than 60 abandoned and orphaned children. Casa de Paz is the only orphanage in the area that houses children with special needs.

The first mission trip Cameron took was during spring break last year when he decided, at the last minute, to join the work group heading south to Casa de Paz. At that time, the orphanage was working to make an olive grove more productive, providing extra fruit to sell while teaching children to manage farmland and eventually become self-sufficient. Cameron’s work group dug reservoirs around each of 210 olive trees so that water could easily get to the roots. In addition, the orphanage has no garbage service, but discards trash in open pits where it is later burned. Cameron helped to build a safety fence around the new pit.

That spring trip inspired Cameron to return the following July. The goal of the second trip: paint the orphanage’s school and weed fields.

The second trip has Cameron planning a third, possibly next spring break.

Cameron is not only willing to give up his vacation time to travel a far distance to help children he does not know, but he pays his own way to do so by working odd jobs for friends, neighbors and family members. When asked what drives him to want to help others in such a significant way, he answers simply, “Because God tells me to.”

The Rev. Chris Bartmess is Cameron’s youth pastor.

“It was great to see his heart for the orphans there and to see the change in him as he continues to grow with the Lord," Rev. Bartmess says. "He is a strong leader in the youth group, and I am excited to see how he matures in ways that are like Jesus. I am very proud of him."

Cameron’s mother, Heather, says service is important to the whole family, but Cameron has a unique drive.

“Cameron has such a kind and giving heart," she explains. "Since he was little he has begged me to volunteer at the mission or this or that. He often volunteers to set up and tear down events at the church and has volunteered at the harvest party overseeing games and helping the kids find their way around."

Last year, Cameron joined a church group that went through the neighborhood and surprised people by raking up their leaves.

"I’m pretty sure they got every house in a four-block radius," his mother says.
More recently, Cameron helped a neighbor clean her mother’s yard, which helped her avoid a large fine from the city.

Blanchet officials say Cameron serves as an excellent role model for students and adults alike.