July 2019-3.png

Putting on a fundraiser can be daunting, frustrating and overwhelming. Or… It can be awesome.  After speaking and singing at 400+ Young Life fundraisers I’ve seen it all.

Here’s my top 10 list, ranking what things are most important to focus on when you are striving to ‘up your fundraiser game’ (ranked from least important to most important). Drum roll, please!!!

10.  PROGRAM. Good program characters can add the YL flavor to a fundraiser, but be careful because skits and games can end up being huge ‘time suckers’ which can be counter to a tight event.  If you do it- Make it great! 

9.  FOOD. It’s important to make your fundraiser feel inviting, but don’t spend a gajillion dollars on food! Most people just want to have something good and simple. Go for elegance over extravagance.
8.  A/V. Invest in a sound system that suits the needs of the venue and hire a pro to run it. It is worth it, I promise!! If you are using videos, make sure you have the A/V person practice showing them several times over before the event. How many times have you been to a banquet where the video failed? My answer… WAY too many. 

7.  VENUE. Choose a place that facilitates great communication with your guests. Outdoor venues can be great, but they also come with the biggest risks:  uncertain weather, sound issues, etc. That is stressful!! Choose a place that is right for the size and ‘feel’ for your audience. Also, it’s often overlooked, but lighting matters! Ambiance matters! People will focus and enjoy themselves much more when you have cozy lighting with a spot lit stage. 

6.  CONNECTION TIME. YL fundraisers can be one of the greatest ways to bring a community together. Make sure you carve out time for people to mingle, laugh and connect as a community!

5.  SPEAKER. I’ve been the ‘keynote speaker’ for most of my 400 plus fundraisers, but I’ve also attended plenty of YL banquets as a guest, and I can tell you this for sure… Who you choose to speak and ask for involvement and financial support matters! A great speaker will not only engage your guests, but they will also take the opportunity to share the gospel and inspire them to get involved and give (in the form of invitation, not obligation). When you hire a ‘professional’ to cast the YL vision and ask for involvement and funding, it almost always translates into more engagement and more money pledged. That’s a fact, Jack (Just ask ‘Ash’☺)!

4.  STAFF Presentation. Other than the kids you are ministering to, who do guests want to hear from the most? YOU! They want to hear where you’ve been, where you are and where you are going so they can get a vision for what you are building in your area. ‘Area updates’ can either be a boring numbers ‘blah, blah, blah’ or an opportunity to inspire your guests with ‘God stories’ and amazing accounts of Him moving in your area!!

3.  TIMING of the Night. You may be surprised this is #3, but timing is essential! I’ve been a part of too many fundraisers that go way too long. If your guests run out of the room when your banquet is over (or even before it ends), you probably went too long and lost out on a big opportunity. You’ll know you’ve timed it right when your guests linger after the final ‘thank you’ has been said. 1.5 - 2 hours in length is the ‘sweet spot.’

2. KIDS! When people are deciding to support a ministry, they want to see who they are supporting. If you are able, do whatever you can to get kids involved. You can do this with kids welcoming guests, serving dinner, sharing individual stories at dinner tables, cardboard testimonies, etc. Also, individual kid testimonies can be the most powerful and compelling part of a fundraiser, so invest time and work into training kids on how to share their stories effectively. Kids are key!! They are only 2nd to #1 and that is….

1. JESUS. Of course I was going to say this! He is the reason you give your life to serving in this mission. Fundraisers are a unique opportunity to share Jesus with so many who may not have otherwise heard about His transforming love. You have already ‘earned the right to be heard’ with many parents and supporters because you have spent your life giving to their kiddos. Invite Jesus into every detail and the rest will follow.  

In conclusion, my biggest advice is this...  Keep. It. Simple.

Go for ‘sleek,’ avoid ‘clunky,’ and make sure Jesus is the lens through which all is  communicated. If you do that, you will have successfully ‘upped your fundraiser game’.  

Jonah Werner is an award winning musician and speaker who has played music for YL all around the world. He’s done 33 month-long YL assignments and has a deep passion for the mission. You can bring Jonah to your area fundraiser! He speaks, entertains with music and story and is a professional at asking for involvement and funding. His hope is to ‘take the work out of the fundraiser for you! Contact him at  You won’t be disappointed!!  

Also, see what other staff are saying about Jonah as a YL banquet speaker HERE.

Global Volunteers July 2019 - YOUNG LIFE’S KODAK MOMENT

Singer/songwriter Paul Simon once immortalized Kodak Kodachrome film in a #2 Billboard charting song.



They give us those nice bright colors

They give us the greens of summers

Makes you think all the world's a sunny day.”

That sunny day lasted for quite a while as Kodak captured 90% of the US film market in its heyday and became the world’s fifth largest company. However, the bright colors and greens of summer came to a dull end in 2012 when the company declared bankruptcy.  

What went wrong? Was Kodak blindsided by the digital camera wave? Actually, no. Steve Sasson, a Kodak engineer invented the first digital camera in 1975. 

The problem was that management saw digital as a threat to the sale of Kodak film and instructed Sasson not to tell anyone about it.

As writer Avi Dan put it in Forbes Magazine, “Kodak made a classic mistake: it didn’t ask the right question. It focused on selling more product, instead of the business that it was in, story telling.”

Focusing on the wrong thing and not asking the right question can have the same detrimental effect on Young Life as well.  Kodak mistakenly thought they were in the film business.

What business are we in?  

Fundraising?  ‘NO’...Camping?  ‘NO’ ...Ministry Management? ‘NO’

We are in the business of -

Relationships...Going where kids are.  

Contact work...Earning the right to be heard 

Sharing the gospel...and giving students a chance to respond.   

When we serve AT CAMP during the summer it is to leverage and develop the relationships we have fostered over the year. When we plan for year toward our FUNDRAISING BANQUET, it is to hopefully showcase the effect and impact that the gospel is having on adolescents in our community. The funding need will follow. .  We go to TRAININGS and RETREATS so that we can  sharpen our ministry skills.  We DELEGATE and DEVELOP TEAMS so that we will have more time to be in the lives of kids. 

Perhaps the one thing you should never stop doing as a staff person is contact work. It has proven to be the non-negotiable of ministry and one of the historical ‘marks’ of YL. After all, there is not a staff person who got into this gig to sit in an office all day. So go. Go to the game tonight. Show up at school today. Go to the pep rally. Camp out at Starbucks or Chipotle closest to the school. What could be more fun or energizing for the other parts of our job? Go. 

























Contact work may not be the most photogenic thing we do , but it is the most beautiful. 

‘GO’ by Lauren Bocci 

Global Discipleship July 2019 -THE ART OF THE ICEBREAKER QUESTION

Highs and lows..Roses and thorns...Brownies and frownies...Happies and crappies.

However you might word it, “best/worst” icebreakers have become a traditional opening schtick in many smaller-deeper-discipling-Campaigner groups. 

They’re easy. They’re foolproof. They’re prep-free. They don’t require deep reflection. They focus on “me and what happened to me” – always a popular topic.

Breaking ice is a noble and necessary endeavor, especially in a group of adolescents who are often still learning the fine art of thoughtful conversation. But if the goal of our smaller-deeper-discipling contexts is spiritual growth and formation, it might be time to move the needle on our ice-breaker strategies. Perhaps now and then, we could be a little less predictable, a little more reflective, and a lot more focused on how “me” relates to God and others.

What if we started with something like this:

“What’s one way you brought help or hope to someone this week?” 

This question (riffed from Lindsey Osborne, Midwest Divisional Training Coordinator) invites people not to reminisce about their perceived experiences of personal life (i.e. talk about me for my own sake), but rather to reflect on their actual engagement with Christ-centered faith (i.e. talk about how God and my understanding of him is affecting the way I think and act).

That’s a significant shift in both perspective and processing.

Many students haven’t yet made the connection between following Jesus and daily life. This type of question helps connect those faith-and-life dots in significant ways, first internally as they reflect and sort their thoughts, and then verbally as they articulate their experiential reality and spiritual awareness.

Research shows that articulated faith shores up foundational faith. In other words, “saying becomes believing.” 

When we provide opportunities for our friends to speak honestly about how their faith impacts their attitudes and actions, we effectively cultivate formational space. In truth, many of our adolescent friends have no idea yet that their faith actually is impacting their attitudes and action ... that is, until they discover it through a well-timed and intentional question.

Open-ended statements can work just as well. How about starting with something like this:

“This week I struggled to obey (hear/believe/etc.) God when...”

Completing that kind of statement requires self-awareness, honesty, and humility, all of which are vital to a growing and lasting life of faith.

Starting with a thoughtful and reflective opener isn’t a buzz-kill. It’s energizing and empowering. It’s meaningful. It’s life-giving. Whatever their age, people appreciate being challenged and given the chance to talk about real things, deep things, things that are bigger and beyond themselves.

Take time to brainstorm a collection of opening questions that offer a range of depth and reflection. That way, you’ll have plenty of options to keep you from getting stuck in the “high/low – happies/crappies” loop.

  • What were you afraid of this week, and what did you do about it?

  • How did God bring joy to your life this week?

  • What’s one doubt or question you had about following Jesus this week?

  • How/when did you help someone this week?

  • What’s one thing God taught you about himself this week?

  • This week, God....

  • This week I prayed about ..... because .....

  • This week, I thought of God when ....

  • The week, God helped me ....

-Written by Crystal Kirgiss, Vice President of Discipleship (

Global Training July 2019 - PREPARING TO LAUNCH


Everyone in Young Life would agree: we want to grow Young Life in new communities, believing that every kid deserves a chance to hear and respond to the Gospel and to be loved regardless of their response. We also want to start things in a healthy way.

But everyone in Young Life would also agree that launching a new Young Life Area can be daunting and exciting. Every step forward requires deep community support, sustainable fundraising practices, and committed/engaged leaders and staff.

There are plenty of stories – successful and unsuccessful – of new startup areas across the entire Young Life mission. Learning from these stories is extremely important, as helps us build on valuable practices and avoid common pitfalls.

As such, Jon Houghton and Annie Udell (Young Life Chicagoland) have compiled “Pathway to Healthy Young Life Launch,” a guide to establishing a healthy and sustainable new area. This startup strategy emphasizes the importance of a communication hierarchy (when to communicate what to whom, and how). It also gives helpful milestones to achieve along the way, leading you through the process of recruiting adults, securing financial support and, eventually, hiring a dedicated staff person. The purpose of this document and its resources is not to eliminate the need for guidance from someone who has the lead the start up process previously but to minimize the need for guidance and streamline the process. Our hope is that this will give you and the people you lead confidence that there is a coherent plan.

What does it take to get YL started?

- Prayer for a vision and guidance of new areas to reach

- The launching group must have an understanding of the mission of Young Live

- Establish a local Committee

- Understand the Financial Structure and Raise Money

- Hire Staff (some communities will choose to hire a staff person at this point and some will focus on recruiting

volunteer leaders)

- Recruit and Train Volunteer Leaders

Learn more about the steps above in the full Pathway to Healthy Young Life Launch guide HERE .

By Jon Houghton (

Global Innovation July 2019 - ARE WE THERE YET?  

Time to plan your Summer 2020 Discipleship Adventure Camp

“Are we there yet” echoes through the forest up the mountain, across the glacier, up the inlets on a daily even hourly basis on our Beyond Malibu trips. The answer is often “no” followed by ”it’s just around the corner,” “it’s when we get out of the forest,” or “it’s not long now.” These responses are more describing the journey rather than the end.

Adventure camping experiences are a great opportunity to turn the “Are we there Yet?” question into a conversation about how the  journey we are on can translate to our journey of faith and our journey in life. 

Adventure camping experiences are in large part about the journey. On adventure experiences you do the best you can with what you’ve got, from where you are, right now. You are focused in the moment on solving the next step. Soliciting help from those around. You are embracing the moment and journey.

These are tangible experiences that serve as a great metaphor for our lives and faith. 

Young Life Beyond Malibu seeks to change lives through adventure ministry. Week-long challenging sea kayaking and mountain adventures in British Columbia, Canada are designed to challenge high school and college students, and adults of all ages to explore who they are in Jesus Christ and their relationship to God.

Looking for an adventure of a lifetime? 

We have 8 National Young Life Adventure camps that are designed to help you encourage your high school friends in their journey with Jesus Christ.  They range from camp based adventures to Pioneer experiences to hiking on islands in Lake Superior, or in the San Juan mountains of Colorado or the coastal mountains of British Columbia Canada to sea kayaking on Lake Powell and the inlets of the coast of British Columbia. There is something for everyone.

Considering going Beyond your regular camping plan? As you contemplate the journey that you are taking your Young Life friends on whether students, leader or committees and you think of Going Deeper in your area, consider including one of these adventure camps, which are focused on providing discipleship experiences for your participants, in your camping strategy. Start planning now! Consider a graduating senior trip or a student leader trip as they go into their senior year, or a milestone trip as students move from accepting to walking with Christ.

Young Life Adventure Camps:

YL Adventures Baja

Scotts Valley, CA


Yl Adventures Beyond Malibu

Seattle, WA


Yl Adventures Northbound

Lake City, MI


Yl Adventures RMR Backcountry

Fraser, CO


Yl Adventures Santa Cruz

Scotts Valley, CA


Yl Adventures Wild Ridge

Mt. Nebo, WV


Yl Adventures Wilderness Ranch

Creede, CO


YL Adventures Pioneer Plunge.

Weaverville, NC


Adventure Camp Pilot

Written by Rob Duyker (

Young Life's Impact Over 8 Decades

Screen Shot 2019-06-10 at 10.57.17 AM.png

Recently I was at a meeting with a prospective investor to one of our Young Life camps. This person said something that many have said in a variety of ways, and we need to have an answer. Does Young Life have an impact? Do you have statistics or hard facts to back up what you say?

Historically, what I have said are these two statements:

  1. 90% of all adults who profess to be followers of Christ made this decision before their 18th birthday, and this is the target audience for the Young Life mission.

  2. 33% of all summer campers meet Jesus for the first time. (This is based on our own camp director reports as to how many Bibles we gave out, how many kids went on new believer walk, and those who stood at “Say-So.”)

These are true statistics I am sure, but there has been no way to “footnote” them that I know of so that we can put them in a foundation request as a statistic with a bibliography or a citation.

Young Life Forward, i.e., Newt Crenshaw our very own president, has an Executive Campaign Committee gathered around him as he leads us. They said to Newt nearly two years ago, “You know, if you could say, ‘Barna says,’ this would be very helpful in documenting what we already know: Young Life has an impact.” And so, we commissioned Barna to do just that.

Who is Barna? “Barna Group is a visionary research and resource company located in Ventura, California. Started in 1984, the firm is widely considered to be a leading research organization focused on the intersection of faith and culture.”

Young Life wanted to put into the hands of our area directors, regional directors, SVPs, and our executive campaign committees across the mission some gunpowder. We know that Young Life is making a difference, but what do donors say, staff say, alumni say, students say, as well as pastors and believers in the U.S.? We aimed to find out!

Thousands upon thousands of unique people filled out surveys, and Barna consolidated, scrubbed and did their own version of analytics on this data to come up with the following:

  • 4.9 million U.S. adults participated in Young Life as students and are still practicing their faith today.

  • 6% of pastors are Young Life alumni.

  • 1.1 million adults CREDIT Young Life as the MAIN influence in developing their faith.

  • 3.2 million adults CREDIT Young Life as ONE OF the main influences in developing their faith.

  • Before participating in Young Life, 22% of our alumni say their faith was very important in their lives.

  • Today, 85% of alumni say their faith is very important.

You can see for yourself, and truly, this is just a fast highlight reel to get you excited to digest this material for yourself.

We know, you know, and people out there need to know that Young Life is making a difference. This may be an entrée for you to consider serving up in some way, shape or fashion. Here are a couple of fast ideas for you to consider:

  • Take the poster, digest it a bit, and send it alongside a letter from you to all of your current investors.

  • Have this poster be a “placemat” at a thank-you dinner this summer, or for that matter, your fall banquet.

  • Share this with your local committee and use it as a discussion starter as well as a brainstorm for how you could use this in your local area.

  • Equip leaders and staff to at least have two or three notable quotes at their fingertips to be able to use.

  • Share with school officials who are insiders and may find this survey helpful as well.

There are growth areas we have as a mission, and as you look at this survey you will see them. We have a lot of room for growth for sure. I will let you see these for yourself and how they might be fleshed out in your area/region.

Young Life is having an impact, and this will not be our last survey. As for now, let’s aim to use what we have until another one is completed.

Read the full summary HERE.



Around the world, it is estimated that anywhere from 0.2%-2% of Deaf people say they know Jesus. In the USA, that statistic is slightly higher at 2%-4%, but when you consider that 96% of Deaf people would say they DON’T know Jesus, that makes the Deaf community one of the most unreached people groups in our communities. That’s what makes Deaf Young Life so special and so needed.

I’m honored to be part of this unique and special ministry. As a senior in high school, I found myself on a soccer bus with a Deaf freshman who had made the team. My school had a mainstream program, so I went to school with Deaf students right in my own classrooms for years. As I got to know this girl, I invited her to come to Young Life and eventually she started bringing a few other Deaf friends to club too.

I felt a distinct tug from God to start a club just for this community, so in 1997, we started the first club at the Oregon School for the Deaf in Salem, Oregon. A few years later I stumbled upon a club happening at the California School for the Deaf in Fremont. We started collaborating with the California club for camp and other club ideas.

Deaf Young Life club looks a lot like any other Young Life club you’d walk into on a Monday night. It’s the same everywhere, but different everywhere at the same time!

The logistics of an all-Deaf club is where it starts to look a little different. Deaf kids often live further away from the actual school they attend because school districts will often place all Deaf kids in one school to help meet their needs. Travel to club can be a little tricky. Music sounds a little different sometimes with mainly a drum beat that kids can feel, and it’s really loud. Physical touch (tap on the shoulder) or flashing lights is how we get everyone’s attention.

Theater, improv and story is important in Deaf culture, and we incorporate that into club. Deaf culture is highly interactive and interrupting with questions is not uncommon at an all-Deaf club.

I remember being just shocked to learn one of my girls didn’t know what the cross meant. Around Easter, one of the girls finally heard the gospel through sign language and said “THAT’S what the cross is about? I had no idea.” She had been going to church with her family for years and never fully understood it because English was not her first language, and no one had ever shared it with her in her main language.

I’ve learned so much more about this community over the years. Deaf people are so unreached, and starting down this path raised that awareness tenfold. My eyes were opened to the fact there simply are not many resources focused on reaching Deaf teens.

In a lot of ways, we’re building something new here. There’s a lot of potential, with 100 Deaf schools in the United States and only a handful of ministries. Young Life has four active Deaf Young Life ministries and countless clubs around the world who have Deaf students popping in. 

But, we can do so much more!

Where to start?

Do you want to plug into Young Life ministry to the Deaf? Do you want to help start a club specifically for Deaf teens? I’d love to help you find a way to plug in.

Be aware. For Deaf students, being Deaf is how they identify culturally. The culturally correct term is Deaf or hard-of-hearing, not “hearing impaired.” If you aren’t sure, use what term they use or use “Deaf.”

Remember that visual cues are vitally important for anyone with hearing loss. Don’t assume everyone can read lips, or even if they do, that they understood 100% of the message.

Pray for our Deaf teens. Be aware of the needs in your own town and ask God if there are ways He wants you to get involved.

Written by Araya Williams (



What can your weekly Young Life club learn from a world-famous, fine-dining restaurant? I wasn’t sure of the answer to that question myself until recently. I stumbled across the Season 2 opener of the “Building a Story Brand” podcast in which author Donald Miller interviews Mark and Brian Canlis. These two brothers own and run Canlis, an upscale restaurant in Seattle, Washington. Ranked one of the top 20 restaurants in America by “Gourmet” magazine, the staff at Canlis know how to put their customers first while delivering unforgettable experiences.   

As I listened, I could not help thinking of applications when it comes to kids’ experiences when they walk into our clubs. Below are three questions I began to ask myself as I thought through the Canlis experience and the Young Life experience:

  1. Does our Young Life club create a sense of belonging or exclusivity?

It would be interesting to go back to the first time you walked into a Young Life club. I asked my seniors to do that every year. I wanted them to think back to when they were a lowly freshman and felt insecure about showing up.   

According to Miller, at Canlis, “You walk in wondering even if you belong here. You walk in going ‘I hope I fit.’ And within seconds you get this overwhelming rush from their customer service that you belong here — that you have always fit here. Any insecurities you’ve had are absurd.”

Is that the feeling kids get when they show up at club? Are they greeted? Is there something for them to do (corn hole, giant jenga, frisbees, T-shirt table, leaders and seniors greeting, music playing) rather than standing around awkwardly as crickets chirp?

How do popular dress-up theme clubs (Disney, Harry Potter, America) affect whether kids feel like they truly belong just as they are or don’t fit in? What if you are the kid who can’t afford a new costume every week? What if the “America” theme club does not necessarily make everyone feel welcome in today’s political climate?

Club is our widest open door and it always should be. Kids should always feel welcome and within seconds know “any insecurities they had (about fitting in) are absurd.” Let’s do our best to remove all obstacles to opening that club door wide so that all are welcome.

2.   Are we trustworthy with two of our kids’ most precious assets — their story and their time?

Each student walks in the door of club with a unique story and a finite amount of time in their day. They have chosen to give it to you to care for that hour. They come from different places that day, and I don’t mean just geographically. Their SAT score came and it was not as high as expected. They just broke up with their boyfriend or girlfriend. Someone just asked them to prom. Mom and Dad just had a fight. They just got their first new car.   

It is our charge to take those kids, no matter their story, and welcome them to a place where they can see, hear, and experience the gospel.

The staff at Canlis understand being a good steward of their customer’s time and story, and so should we.

“They understand that a guest walks in the door and tonight needs to matter. That guest brings their most valuable asset … almost like a treasure … their time. They walk in the door with this fragile memory, and they are offering it to you and saying ‘can you take care of this.’ They’re coming to make sure tonight will matter, and that’s what our staff get so excited about.” — Mark and Brian Canlis.

Is that what you still get excited about? Like the Canlis staff, is that what your leaders get excited about? Or has club become something you “have to do” and “paint by numbers” rather than something you GET TO DO and a work of art that you can’t wait to share with your kids?

We have the greatest job in the world! Kids run in the door, laugh hard, sing loud, engage with leaders, and then we get to open up the Bible and talk about Jesus. May we always say like Canlis, “That’s what our staff get so excited about!”

3.   Do you have a strategy or do you simply follow the rules?

“Pay attention to strategies and not to rules.” — Brian Canlis

Let me try to make sense of this in a Young Life context. Young Life rules might include raise money, form a committee, have a banquet, turn in your GPS and R1 and R2, do your Concur, have an assignment.   

I’m certainly not saying not to do the above Young Life “rules.” I just wonder if in our day-to-day experience if our attention is in the wrong place. A staff person who recently went through our “Brilliant at the Basics” training in Dallas said, “We got back to our areas and tried that ‘Ministry Strategy’ stuff but quickly got distracted by other things.”

Other things than charging the hill and going after the next kid? That’s focusing on the rules my friends. Again, no great coach’s inspirational speech ever began with the words, “Boys, we’re going to go out there and not kick the ball out of bounds! Now go get ‘em!”

Start and end with strategy, not rules.

Do yourself a favor and listen to Season 2, Episode 1 of the “Building a StoryBrand” Podcast with Mark and Brian Canlis. There are so many more applications to our ministry in what they share. And you might want to stop by Canlis next time you are in Seattle. I guarantee they will be trustworthy with your story and your time.

The 7 reasons you MUST start Wyld Life this year.

  1. Middle school kids need Jesus. Because of the ways God created their minds and hearts, young teenagers are often more open to the gospel. “Recent studies we have conducted show that the beliefs a person holds at age 13 vary little during their adult years. The most effective way to influence such beliefs is by teaching people when they are young and still in a spiritually formative stage,” said George Barna, founder of the Barna Group.

  2. You have a longer window to help kids grow in their faith. When kids begin a relationship with Jesus in sixth grade, your leaders get to spend the next six years helping them learn what it looks like to follow Jesus and give their lives away. Imagine the fruit that can appear in those years.

When your area has WyldLife, you will be a part of changing kids’ lives for eternity. WyldLife can also impact parents, donors, leaders and the area as a whole. A healthy WyldLife ministry can produce these significant secondary benefits:

  1. Parent connections. Because parents manage the schedules, transportation and finances of their middle school children, WyldLife leaders must get to know, earn the trust and communicate regularly with parents. Relationships with WyldLife parents can efficiently and organically open doors to parents serving in many ways.

  2. New and longer-term donors. Parents are still actively involved in the lives of their middle school kids, so they will notice leaders who care for their kids. Because of what they see firsthand, they may be willing to give financially throughout their children’s time in middle school and high school.

  3. High school discipleship. WyldLife started in some areas more than 40 years ago because leaders wanted their high school Campaigners kids to know how to share their lives and the gospel with others. When your area has WyldLife, you have a built-in discipleship opportunity for your high school friends.

  4. Bigger pool of leaders. High school students can be great WyldLife leaders, but they need to serve alongside adults who provide maturity and stability. Teachers, coaches and middle school parents are great potential leaders. WyldLife may include only two clubs and two Campaigners a month, and contact work is often done with groups instead of one-on-one. This lighter schedule may make WyldLife an option for some great adult leaders.

  5. Area stability. Staff who start with WyldLife in an area before adding Young Life point to WyldLife as the stabilizing factor. The solid parent support and existing relationships with kids contribute to this consistency.

For more information about how to start WyldLife, visit the WyldLife Toolbox on Staff/Volunteer Resources, or contact your WyldLife divisional representative.

Written by: Julie Clapp, Mission Director of WyldLife



On two occasions, the risen Christ had significant but very different encounters with people as they travelled on specific roads.

When Paul walked toward Damascus to oppress and imprison Christians there, he was blinded by a bright light, knocked to the ground, and overwhelmed by a booming voice from heaven that identified itself as, “Jesus, the one you are persecuting!” (See Acts 9 and 22 for the whole story.) Today, when someone has a sudden and radical life-altering encounter with Jesus, it’s often referred to as their “Damascus Road” moment. This summer, thousands of adolescents will have this type of experience during outreach camps at Young Life properties.

On another occasion, two of Jesus’ disciples were walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus, discussing everything that had happened in the previous few days, most notably the crucifixion. Suddenly, they were joined by an unknown third person (Jesus Himself, though they didn’t recognize Him) who asked what they were talking about. They gave a summary of the events, including this admission: “We had hoped [Jesus] was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel.” (Read the story in Luke 24:1-34). The stranger called out their shortsighted disbelief, and “took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” What an incredible seven-mile long Bible study that must have been! And yet the two travelers still didn’t get it. It wasn’t until they invited Jesus to stay with them for a meal that they finally recognized who He really was. I imagine after Jesus disappeared from their midst, these travelers’ lives were never the same. They likely continued to follow their traveling companion, Jesus, for the rest of their lives.

The difference in these two road encounters is much like the camping ministry we do with adolescents. At our outreach camps, we introduce them to Jesus Christ in a Damascus manner. Under bright lights, in a context of bold proclamation, crowds of kids have a radical change of heart.

Our adventure camps in Young Life are more like an Emmaus experience. Things aren’t flashy or fancy. Usually there are no sound systems or stages, big events or bold surprises. Things are smaller, simpler, quieter and more drawn out. Whether at base camp or on the trail, discipleship experiences offer a slow walk outside, a chance to ponder Scripture, eat a meal in a small group, and allow God to make our “hearts burn within us,” just as He did with His two disciples near Emmaus thousands of years ago.

Both types of experiences are needed. Bold proclamation and steady growth are equally valuable parts of our journey with Jesus.

My wife and I have had the privilege of serving in Young Life for over 25 years; the first 10 were working directly with kids, first as volunteer leaders and then as area directors. There was a heavy focus on introducing adolescents to Jesus, but we were always sad if a teenager walked away from their initial commitment to Jesus. For the past 18 years we have fully given ourselves to the second part of Young Life’s mission statement — “helping them grow in their faith” — through running discipleship adventure camps in Santa Cruz, California  and Baja Mexico. These discipleship experiences, like all of our Young Life adventure camps, have a profoundly lasting impact on teenagers as they fully embrace following Jesus for life. In that sense, they are surprisingly like that simple walk to Emmaus.

We invite you to start thinking now about how you walk with your high school or college friends at an adventure camp next summer. As you head home from outreach camp, and while the excitement of kids standing at Say So is fresh in your mind, please consider what the next best camping opportunity is to help build the new faith of your friends. Young Life adventure camps exist to equip teenagers with the tools they need to live life with Jesus beyond the “camp high.” Whether it’s through daily adventures, pioneer living, sea kayaking, backpacking, or learning to serve others in Mexico, these discipleship camps provide experiences designed to help kids encounter Jesus through being in an intimate community and learning to spend time with Him.

What road are your teenage friends on? Are you ready to take the long slow walk to Emmaus to help their “hearts burn within them” as they learn to follow Jesus for life?

Click HERE to view the YouVersion Young Life Reading Plans to go deeper with your students!

Writer: James Thomsen


The Committee Chair/Area Director Regional Summit

Here is what we knew:

  1. We knew the WORKING RELATIONSHIP between the committee chair and the area director was important.

  2. I am not sure we ever appreciated how key THE FRIENDSHIP between those two individuals would be.

The conversation about an Area Director and Committee Chair (AD/CC) Summit really started way back in September 2018 for us. We both were in the planning stages of our largest regional times of the year; the Annual Committee/Leader Weekend was imperative to provide some solid, intentional training for all of of our local committee and volunteers. The training was always good and appreciated, but we wanted committee care to be an emphasis, and how to demonstrate that care was the challenge.

We decided that in addition to training the hundreds of committee members annually, we would FOCUS on the dozens of committee chairs with an entirely separate summit. Elevating the key role of our committee chairs across our regions became the linchpin to our vision for the Summit. The missionwide committee office shared a global vision to build relational ownership between the local area director and committee chair. Concentrating on that relationship with energy and focus tapped the much-needed expertise in the mission. When we announced our goal of an inaugural AD/CC Summit, the excitement was immediate. The themes of the relationship between committee and staff were obvious:

  • Transformation rather than transaction.

  • Partners more than fans.

  • Joint ownership and vested interest and partnership.

  • Aligning the needs of the area with the gifts of the committee.

  • Shared responsibility.

We had undervalued and underappreciated the role and significance of the committee, and specifically the committee chair. That was going to change!

From that moment the prep work began for the Summit.

We benefited from some of the work the larger Young Life mission had done regarding committees, but the real game-changer was our “lead team” that involved local and regional board members. They planned, designed and led our time. It was nothing short of amazing. Step by step we had advice and direction to how the day would flow and how to really prioritize the AD/CC relationship. They were all instrumental in making the day come together.

The agenda was simple. Sample Schedule

  • All areas were asked to come (committee chair and AD).

  • The whole summit was six hours total (four to five discussions/trainings/conversations).

  • Each person filled out an area assessment before the day (provided by YL).

  • Interaction and specific training toward the CC/AD relationship.

  • The time was nationally facilitated and regionally owned and taught by staff and committee.

  • We highlighted healthy committee chair/AD relationships that were attainable and transparent.

While fun and engaging, it was groundbreaking to not only rally the key decision makers and our staff at the same time, but also for us as regional directors to see vision come to clarity. Even though we are in different phases in the process, we both see the landscape shifting toward more community-centric thinking and relational equity building in the local area. This is KEY.

A few stand-out highlights:

  • Everyone heard from two co-committee chairs from Akron, Ohio, — Chad Crawford and Josh Stephan. They provided an honest look into how the deep-rooted community within the Akron committee had sustained them through some challenging times in the area.

  • We took a different perspective of strategic planning via committee member, Dave Chalmers.

  • The committee chair is the most important volunteer in the local area. We now do all we can to foster that relationship. The AD/CC Summit was the catalyst to propel us in this relational endeavor long-term.

  • We heard from many that one of the main highlights was the time together traveling to the summit, conversations around a meal, knowing that there are other committee chairs “out there.”

It’s amazing to see what happens when the Young Life area “decision makers” get in a room together. Committee Chair/Area Director Summits are being scheduled (by U.S. regions) for next year. Next year there are ONLY eight total dates available! If you are interested, email the national committee office here and contact your regional office.

Have questions about what we did in Ohio? Email us!

Rich Dargenio, Regional Director — The Buckeye Region (

Chris Kessick, Regional Director — The North Coast Region (

Dave Chalmers, Regional Board (

Todd Long, Regional Board (

Written by: Rich Dargenio & Chris Kessick


I have been on staff for 28 years. That’s a lot of contact work, J.V. sports, Chipotle burrito bowls, last-minute mixers, whipped cream, and Monday night clubs.

When I add up all the summer assignments, fall weekend camps and countless summer experiences, I realized that I have been on a trip, at a camp, sleeping under the stars or on a bottom bunk for over 4.5 years of my adult life. Literally that is “years of camping.” With so many trips over the last few decades, you would imagine that they are all a blur, however, it is not hard for me to identify my favorite type of trip. NOT favorite property, adolescent generation or graduating class, but my favorite style of camping.

The answer? Adventure camps! Whether backpacking, houseboats, mission trips or sea kayaking, those have been some of the richest experiences I have ever had with students.

What happens on these trips that is different?

  • The 168 hours (a seven day week) of an adventure camp is a rare un-programmed event so you have to be INTENTIONAL.

  • On a trail, or in a boat you are forced to talk, and over time the conversations go from the superficial to the REAL.

  • Most of these trips are designed toward second-timers or students at an “AGE AND STAGE” that is pivotal in their discipleship and maturity. Those “crossroad” moments are few and far between.

  • In a culture that can be comfortable and numb (physically, emotionally and spiritually), BROKENNESS is rare.

  • Jesus was “dangerous” in a few contexts: when He asked questions, when you were with Him one on one, and when you encountered Him on a road or trail. ALL THREE of those happen during an adventure camping week.

  • Believers grow when they ask heartfelt, sincere QUESTIONS too. It takes time to ask the question behind the question.

Over the past few years we have had an opportunity to focus on the second half of the mission statement through discipleship experiences. When you design your camping plan for all 11 years of ministry (from junior high to college) it makes sense to include some of the gems of our adventure camps.


This fall you will have the opportunity to apply to be part of an adventure camping pilot where Young Life areas that have not yet had a long history of camping at these camps would be given the opportunity to schedule trips, receive a discount and foster a culture of discipleship camping.

The draft application is on this link. The application opens up in September and each U.S. region can submit one area that fits the criteria. We want Young Life areas that have NOT traditionally utilized adventure camps to start fostering a culture of discipleship camping. The pilot application process opens in the early fall of 2019, but look over this LINK and contact your regional director.

Hope to see you on the trail!

Written by: Ken Tankersley


Trolley55 (1).jpeg

Like many city school districts around the nation, Pittsburgh City Schools are on a lottery system, which means kids can apply to a different public school than the one in their district area. Young Life leaders in a given community can do contact work in a neighborhood and meet kids who attend schools all over the city.

Doing contact work at dismissal is pretty universally utilized by Young Life leaders across the board and is still effective in the city. However, trying to find alternative places where critical masses of students meet and hang out can pose a real challenge. Recently, I had the opportunity to brainstorm with some of our staff and leaders in the city about different means of contact work and going to where kids are as we attempted to think outside the box.

Someone brought up that they had noticed waves of high school kids after dismissal hanging around the Wood Street Subway Station, which serves as a main transportation hub for mass transit in the city with subway cars and multiple bus stops. We became more curious about what contact work would look like post-dismissal at the station. After deciding to see for ourselves, we fought through traffic and eventually found some parking spots near Wood Street. Two of our staff members, Sly Williams and Olivia Horner, were able to join me.

We walked down into the subway terminal and took a loop around. Discouragement was beginning to set in as we hadn’t seen any students at this point. Suddenly, we bumped into two kids. One student attended Taylor Allderdice and the other Perry Traditional Academy, the two schools that Sly and Olivia lead in. We were encouraged by this Spirit-led interaction! It re-confirmed the brilliance of the intent to “go where they are” and “meet them on their turf.”

We persevered, and as we began to meet more kids, we thought, “OK, this is not a bad option and can be somewhat useful.” Soon after, the subway car pulled up and 100 students poured out!

We were surrounded by high school and middle school kids:

We talked to them and realized while they were from schools all over the city, a vast majority of them attended Brashear High School. We do not have Young Life in Brashear High School currently.

Since that day, I have been praying and brainstorming about what it would take to get Young Life going there. The idea of being able to do contact work in the station with access to so many high school kids spurred imagination and excitement. The day was a huge success and sparked multiple conversations about hitting up other stations in town and strategic bus stops in the city. At one point Sly, Olivia and I rode the train down a few stops and popped out where we thought there might be other critical masses of students.

Stopping and thinking outside the box with our team was a thrill for all of us, and it helped us unlock and discover new and innovative ways to reach kids. We’ve now even begun discussions on what it would look like to run a club near the Wood Street station so all the kids would have access to transportation. This had been one of the most energizing times of contact work I can remember! It truly was the best 45-minute window of contact work I could imagine.


  1. Pray for the Lord to help you think in a different and creative manner about the kids He would like your team to reach. No idea is too far-fetched. Pray for a “God-sized” vision.

  2. Identify the challenges in your “context” to reaching students at school. Busing, district policies, scheduling issues, distance and more.

  3. Identify the opportunities or non-traditional and “out-of-the-box” ideas that could be available, like the Wood Street subway station opportunity.

    1. What could be a ripple effect of the ideas you’re discussing? (new schools, ministries, clubs)

    2. What could help us reach new kids, different kids?

    3. Are there any adjustments we would need to make as a team to ensure success? (Funding? Travel? Commitment for consistency? More volunteers?)

  4. Try Something! Land on an idea or two and try it. Give it several weeks. Be faithful and consistent.

  5. Measure/Debrief/Tweak what you tried. What worked? What didn’t? What should be changed? What next?

  6. Thank the Lord! You listened, you acted, and you were obedient. That is the heart of contact work!

Contact work is the most flexible, informal, innovative and creative thing we do. As we reach a new generation of students with immeasurable challenges, our “out-of-the-box” thinking should be vibrant. Try something! What could go wrong?

Written by: Mike Chilcoat


The prophet Jeremiah harkened, “This is what the LORD says: ‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls,’” (Jeremiah 6:16)

5.4 verse.jpg

Three years ago we came to a crossroads in Young Life. Our leadership conducted a missionwide listening exercise and clearly heard a few core things.

  • We want to go deeper in Christ as a mission.

  • We wanted to give a renewed focus on the second half of the mission statement.

  • We wanted to have significant depth in our own life in Christ.

  • We wanted to lead our volunteers in a way where their experience of faith was transformative.

These convictions led us to one question:

“What will we offer our staff in response to this clearly stated need and desire?”

This spring we are completing the first year of a three-year pilot designed to answer that question, at least in part. The Good Way is a Training Timeline cohort dedicated to deepening our lives in Christ in the midst of the unique and complex demands of ministry. The feedback expressed to our senior leadership suggests we are meeting a felt need. Here is a representative example:

“This has been the single-most valuable training I have been to in 17 years of Young Life staff. I hope and pray that all staff get to experience The Good Way.”

The Good Way consists of multiple cohorts of 24 senior staff that meet three times across the course of the year. Check out the Staff Resources page for more information and/or to register, then have a conversation with your supervisor to determine your plan. Judging by the feedback, the LORD is making foundational changes in our staff that is generating a new rhythm of rest for their leadership and their lives through The Good Way. We invite you to prayerfully consider whether you are drawn to this offering at this time.

Registration Click HERE.

Written by: Donna Hatasaki (



This spring I took 15 college guys from Colorado to the West Coast for a week.  Our daily itinerary was simple.

  • Morning: Sitting with the Lord for several hours.

  • Meals: Sharing meals and life together.

  • Afternoon: Random adventures and surfing into the evening.

  • Nighttime: Process what we saw, what we learned, what is being changed in our lives.

We have been doing this trip for 10 years. It is popular, it is a highlight, it is compelling, and it is needed. I'm thinking about the richness of this trip over the past decade as I mull the question: "Where are all the men?"

In the mission of Young Life, we have seen a steady decline in involvement from men.

  • Less men in Campaigners and discipleship.

  • Shortage of men in summer staff.

  • Oftentimes less men in leadership or attending Young Life College.

  • Fewer men applying for field staff or other positions.

  I think boys and men today have a deep longing for apprenticeship, which requires a master artisan. I know that in our culture we are losing the deep wisdom that comes from sitting and doing something slowly and repeating that process for years until we are masterful in our craft. I believe the art of making disciples (building Christ into boys and mending Jesus through a man) is one of those tradecrafts where there are fewer and fewer masterfully skilled workers to be found. Part of the reason why the art is being lost is because it takes so much time.

Even the new ways to connect, engage and train men are found lacking. Purchasing an app or going to church on your phone from the comfort of your couch, listening to a podcast and going to a weekend retreat don’t address the core problem. The make-a-disciple curriculum we watch Jesus employ stands in stark contrast to what we practice today. With 12 and with 72, Jesus' method was one of radical submission to His authority, shock therapy and enormous amounts of time spent together. I do not believe that the result of the new ways offered today will yield formed young men who can weather the elements and be found standing as old pylons against a rising tide. But we need those kind of men.

Young men are being discipled in a culture that teaches and rewards people for gaining "followers" who do not actually follow you anywhere. This inevitably bleeds into our understanding of what  it means to follow Jesus. I think if we want to see pockets of authentic-faith, character-compelling, follow-worthy men arise, they are going to graduate from a different line.

I believe if we want to be a part of shaping the hungry hordes of guys looking for someone to tell them the way, we are going to have to lead from a different cut. We must be the ones who are marked not by efficiency but by lives of withdrawing often to lonely places to drink deep droughts with the Lord. Then we return. We spend much time with a handful and freely give a few the best of what we have fought for in Christ and hard-won through obedience so that they can outrun us … and our names are forgotten.

To not lose the men, we need to spend the time to do a few key things.

  1. Make yourself available.

  2. Run with the men who run and ask to be poured into.

  3. Give parameters of the relationship and make sure your voice has “weight.”

  4. Be committed to the cost of discipleship — time.

I see men who are hungry, starved and desperate. If we raise our expectations, they will come running!

Written by: Greg Hook, Area Director (Young Life College Director), Fort Collins, Colorado




“Do I have the time to travel to Colorado this weekend?”

“Is this camp going to be lame?”

“Is anyone cool going?’

“Are we going to be singing “Kum-ba-yah” the whole time?”

Although these statements could be quotes from an average high school student (anywhere in the world) before they experience camp, in this case they weren’t.  Rather, they were the questions I was getting from men who were going with me to MAN CAMP at Frontier Ranch this past month. To be honest, I had some of the same questions myself!  250 Men at a YL Camp for a Weekend? I couldn’t only imagine the possibilities for something less than great.  I was a little skeptical going into that first year; I had no idea what to expect. I’ve had the privilege the last three years to attend the Young Life Man Camp at Frontier Ranch, and thankfully, none of my fears or hesitations came true. Actually, the reality was the opposite.

What DID I find? I found myself laughing, resting, being challenged, entertained, inspired, and having meaningful conversations with men that I have been friends with for years as well with others I met that weekend. My revelation was that ‘most of the men in my community are longing for deeper relationships, but they either think they are too busy to cultivate them or have no idea how to make it happen.’ Man Camp was the vehicle to help those deeper relationships flourish.  I can honestly say that each year I have gone I have returned changed! Not an easy thing to do.

I think Man Camp provides a great place for guys to begin the journey of sharing life and space with other guys. We desperately need safe, humorous, life-giving places for men to be able to be themselves, while still being called to live into all that God is calling them to be. It is so fun to watch a room full of adult men laugh, sing, listen, and truly experience Christ in such a freeing, significant way. We all know how beautiful camp is for our teenage friends.  What I’ve always believed, and have come to know, is that adult men are just as hungry and open to God as our adolescents, they just don’t have many spaces where it is provided for them. In fact, although the ages change, the questions remain the same surroundingife, and God and what life with God could look like. Get a glimpse of Man Camp by clicking this LINK.

Man Camp is an easy way to invite some guys into something more, with typical Young Life excellence, humor, and focus on Jesus. It can be a great reminder or introduction to Young Life for men in your community. EVEN BETTER, have you ever wondered how to get your COMMITTEE or a group of dads better connected to Jesus or the world of Young Life? Invite them to a weekend with you at Man Camp, and watch their love for each other and Jesus deepen! Better yet, get one of your committee guys to own Man Camp for your area and help them fill a cabin like we do our teenage friends.

They will thank you, and even if they can’t come, being invited to be involved does wonders for people.  

* BONUS!  If you want your Committee Men to go, contact (Jonathan Schultz and be entered into a drawing for $500 in Campership (to help keep the cost down for next year’s weekend).

Written by: Rodney Huffty (


As pain often opens the heart of an adult, fun and laughter pry the lids off the hearts of kids.” — Charley Patten


“So you’re tellin’ me there’s a chance?!” In 1994, the movie “Dumb and Dumber” had every high school guy in America quoting that line and dreaming of riding a moped to Aspen, Colorado. At the time, my friend Tim was about to enter his senior year of high school in Raleigh, North Carolina. One of his Young Life leaders, Eric, invited Tim and his buddy Jason, on the adventure of a lifetime:  a road trip to Aspen.

Eric made the guys clear it with their parents, but later Tim confessed that he’d just ask his mom if he “could go to the mountains with Eric.” He didn’t tell her he meant the Rocky Mountains.

Their four-day road trip began with a 24-hour sprint to Colorado, only stopping when they needed gas. Once they hit the Rockies, they decided to keep going and eventually detoured through Mexico on their way to L.A. and the Pacific Ocean. On the way home, instead of stopping in Raleigh, they passed through their hometown and added four more hours to the drive, just to put their feet in the Atlantic Ocean and make it official that they’d driven “coast-to-coast.”

6,000 miles. 26 states. 4 days. 3 friends. 2 countries. 1 Ford Explorer.

Tim is now 40 and has been doing Young Life for close to two decades. I once asked him when he started following Christ. That’s when he told me the story of their trip. Tim told me, “Over those four days, Eric not only talked with us about Jesus, but he showed us Jesus. And that trip sealed the deal for me. After that, I was all in with Christ. Cold turkey. My life has never been the same.”

When you read the Gospels, you may notice another road trip: one that happened 2,000 years ago.

3,000 miles. 13 friends. 3 years. 1 Rabbi.

The Teacher had a few years before He was heading off to His Father’s house, so He invited 12 guys, maybe some around the same ages as Jason and Tim, to take a three-year road trip with him. The plan was to go about 3,000 miles on foot. The Rabbi asked them to drop everything, to abandon their jobs, leave their families, and to follow Him. And they did.

Isn’t that what most teenagers would’ve done when given the choice between responsibility and adventure? Over the course of those next three years, the Teacher showed them what real love looked like. That trip sealed the deal for 11 of them. After those three years, they were all-in with the Teacher. So much so, that 10 of them died a martyr’s death. They were so convinced that Jesus was the Messiah, they gave up their very lives, cold turkey.

What would it look like for you to tap into your teenage friends’ instinct for adventure?

The summer offers great opportunities for spontaneity, and it doesn’t just have to happen at a Young Life property. For the past 20 years, I’ve been taking guys on a summer adventure trip in the North Carolina mountains. We hike, camp, fish, jump off cliffs, and ride down waterfalls. We sleep in ENOs, build campfires and have cabin time under the stars. And it usually only costs about $75/person.

Here’s a link to help you plan your own mini-camp.

The best way to begin is to simply make a list of 10 names you’d like to invite.

Start praying for them (and the trip) now. Brainstorm with them.

Few things are as bonding as choosing your own adventure.

Written by Drew Hill ( Drew is a pastor in Greensboro, North Carolina, and has been doing Young Life since the ’90s. Ten years ago, he started the The Young Life Leader Blog and last year released a book for Young Life leaders called “Alongside: Loving Teenagers with the Gospel.” ||


Recently, my pastor began the Sunday morning message with this statement:

“I am best discipled through my eyes.”


It was a powerful statement that led me to wonder: How am I best discipled? How is each person in my family best discipled? How are the ministry volunteers I lead best discipled? What about the kids in my high school and middle school — how are they best discipled?

As ministers of the gospel — whether in a staff position or as a volunteer leader — it’s very important that we consider the many varied ways that individuals and groups are best discipled.

As in all things, Jesus is our model for this. When we look carefully at His life, we see that He had deep wisdom and discernment on how to disciple each person He encountered.

  • The bleeding woman was discipled best through touch ✋ (Matthew 9:20-22).

  • Peter was discipled best in the simple, routine context of his everyday vocational life of fishing 🚣‍♂️ (Luke 5:5-11).

  • The Samaritan woman was discipled best simply by being acknowledged, spoken to and heard 👂 (Luke 4:17-26).

Jesus knew how to specifically disciple individual people by doing a few very basic things: being with them, listening to them, and asking them questions. In other words, Jesus’ individualized discipling strategies didn’t depend on His divine power or knowledge, but rather grew out of His intentional and relational humanity. We can, and must, follow that example.

  • We must pay attention to how people learn.

  • We must pay attention to how they interact and engage with others.

  • We must pay attention to how they process experiences and information.

  • And we must pay attention to all the different ways that Jesus discipled the individual people He was with. He used sight, taste, touch, sound, tangibles, and more.

  • We must also pay attention to the different ways that Jesus discipled the large groups of people around Him.

  • The 5,000 were discipled best through the taste and sharing of a meal 🍞 (Matthew 6:1-10).

  • Jesus often discipled His closest friends by telling stories and parables. ❓

  • And He discipled the religious leaders — through a powerfully nuanced challenge — by drawing in the sand ☝️ (John 8:1-8).

As we disciple a growing diverse population of kids — different ages, different cultures, different abilities, different interests, different backgrounds, different family structures and more — are we considering all the different ways individual kids need to be discipled? Are we getting to know individual kids deeply enough that we can tailor our method, style, conversation and interaction to meet them in a way that effectively engages both their heart and mind?

Jesus’ life and ministry makes it clear that we are called to do just that. Now it’s up to us to know our kids (and leaders, as the case may be) well enough to disciple and lead them in a way that best connects with and serves them on their path to becoming more like Jesus.





Summer staff is a WIN-WIN-WIN for camps, areas and college-age students! Everybody wins on this deal.

CAMPS: When over 2,500 summer staff volunteer at Young Life camps, camps WIN because they rely on lifeguards, boat drivers, bakers, cooks, housekeepers, and landscapers, among other key roles, to make camp hum.

Summer staff work hard, yet it is meaningful service with ample doses of care, discipleship and encouragement from staff. There is still time to apply if you know a college-age student who would benefit.
Simply check out the camp’s website for openings HERE.

AREAS: Making summer staff recruitment part of your area’s camping strategy is a WIN for the area because you are providing a continuum of leadership development for alumni Campaigners and club kids.

On summer staff, they will learn, refine and apply leadership skills that can translate into solid volunteering back home in the local area. Serving on summer staff also provides a continuum of care in discipleship. It’s a rich discipleship experience as they work and live with a diverse community of peers under the shepherding care of summer staff coordinators. Finally, the community-building skills summer staff learn will only enhance your ministry community in your area.

SUMMER STAFF: The biggest WIN of all is for our college-age friends who serve on summer staff. It provides a space and place for them to live and serve as their authentic selves, which is often lacking in everyday life.

Because it’s such a win, we are in the process of enhancing the summer staff experience. Last summer we studied how we prepare and care for summer staff through  THE SUMMER STAFF PILOT PROJECT at specific camps with hand-selected summer staff. Before their session, these summer staff created personal discipleship plans in order to prepare spiritually and attended a training session led by a Young Life College staff person, who in most cases, was also their summer staff coordinator.

From the findings, it was clear that summer staff who had pre-camp preparation and a strong relationship with their summer staff coordinator experienced higher ratings of spiritual growth, ability to work hard and being prepared to live in community while at camp. These critical findings prompted us to expand the pilot project this summer to include more camps, more summer staff and more summer staff coordinators. Selected summer staff coordinators recruited students from their ministries to serve on summer staff with them.

As part of phase two of the pilot project, summer staff will receive pre-camp spiritual guidance and in-person training to help them better prepare spiritually, prepare to work hard and live in a diverse community of peers at camp. As we continually invest in and care for summer staff, the win of deeper discipleship, leadership development, meaningful service and rich community will only become stronger for all. Volunteerism, Leadership Development, Discipleship,  WIN,WIN,WIN!  - Summer Staff!! Learn more about the Summer Staff Project Pilot HERE.

Written by: Tami Ostlund

A MASTER'S DEGREE IN 5 YEARS!  (Look inside) 

Q.  Would you like the letters “M.A.” behind your name?

Q. Would you like to complete a degree in less time and at less cost than you thought possible?

Q. Would you like to complete that degree while working full time with Young Life and completing your normal training requirements?


Fuller Seminary has recently approved a 12-course M.A. in Ministry Leadership degree that is only available to YOUNG LIFE STAFF. This degree program is built on the 50-year relationship of trust between Young Life and Fuller Seminary.

While you’ll travel to Young Life trainings such as New Staff Training, Area Director School, or Winter Training, there is NO TRAVEL or time out of the area for any Fuller classes, since they are all delivered online.

There is some flexibility in the order classes can be taken, but we imagine the typical approach will look something like the plan below. Please note that six of the courses are delivered by Young Life, and six are delivered as online classes through Fuller.

Screen Shot 2019-04-22 at 11.45.42 AM.png

TEN of these classes fulfill Young Life training requirements. The only exceptions are the theology and Bible electives.  As a part of this partnership, Young Life will pay the upfront tuition cost for each course, and charge staff a $650 transcription fee for each of these classes for FY20; which is about half of the normal tuition cost. Your area, or PDD, account can be used to pay for the transcription fee for all of these courses. Please talk with your supervisor and/or committee chair about your options as you think through how to budget for this degree.

We have a variety of options for staff to pursue academic degrees with any of our excellent partners, and each offers significant discounts. This new degree consists of fewer classes, at a lower total cost, than any other degree available to staff.

What would this look like for me if …

… I am just coming on to Young Life staff and starting my training track?

    • Staff who will begin with Young Life this summer/fall and come to New Staff in August can register at that time.

… I started with Young Life in the last two years and took my training for credit?

    • You can easily move into this degree program. Please refer to the FAQ document on the Staff Resources page linked below.

… I have been on staff longer than two years?

    • You can still move into this program; specific requirements will vary from person to person based on what classes have been taken for credit already, but in most instances it will make sense to move into this degree. Please refer to the FAQ document on the Staff Resources page linked below.

You can find more information on the Fuller/Young Life Partnership page on Staff Resources.

Staff who have taken classes for credit from Fuller will receive further information from Fuller and Young Life.

We’ll provide informational conference calls for interested staff this spring and summer. Dates and call information are posted at the link.

Bottom line: If you’ve thought about completing a master’s, this is a FANTASTIC option. The major roadblocks of time commitment and affordability have been greatly reduced.

We encourage you to check the link and take the next step!

Written by: Ken Knipp (