Global Innovation

September 2019 Global Innovation

Did you know?

  • The hardest question for a military teen is “where are you from?”

  • 1 of 5 Military teens has made a plan to end their own life (USC survey)

  • Military teens move 10 times more often than civilian families -  on average every 2-3 years. every 18- to 30-months, and start all over again…

  • Since 2001, more than 2 million American children have had a parent deployed at least once.

  • More than 900,000 children have experienced the deployment of one or both parents multiple times.

  • Young Life has focused on military teens since 1959


Young Life has been working to reach military teens since 1959 when Jim Rayburn identified the teen-aged children of U.S. Military Families stationed in Europe as a unique demographic that Young Life needed to reach, reporting to the YL Board of Trustees that, “…these kids are stranded. If we don’t go after them, no one will.”

Since Sept. 11, 2001, the U.S. Military has endured the longest period of sustained armed conflict in the history of our nation, according to the Department of Defense. The current generation of teenagers has known only a post-9/11 world, which has been characterized by the frequent extended deployments of their military parents. 

As the “Did you know?” opening statements share, military teens face unique challenges, but the broadening experiences of military life and the military community values of resiliency, service, and sacrifice give these teens high potential to become leaders and world-changers. Helping these teens find faith can help them avoid the negative factors of their high-risk profile and can help them fulfill their full God-given potential.

Young Life Military is authorized to bring the Club Beyond ministry on-installation, “inside the gate,” at individual military installations around the world, and conducts ministry to military teens at these installations in close coordination with Military Chaplains and Installation Commanders.  Young Life Military has staff openings at installations in the United States and around the globe, and filling these openings to keep up with the military’s demand for Club Beyond ministry is YL Military’s #1 challenge. Perhaps you are hearing the “call of duty” to serve in ministry to military teens, or you know someone who is hearing that call. If so, please contact Phil Alfrey at

Please see this month’s survey question, which asks you about personal connections you may have to the Military.  We’d love to hear your story!

Written by Marty McCarty, VP YL Military (

Global Innovation August 2019



I have the privilege of hearing incredible stories from around the globe of leaders and staff using camping activities with friends of every age. There have been some amazing sightings of innovation in action, as we all strive to maximize every opportunity to share the Good News! Let me share with you just a few…

Did you hear the one about…?

  1. 217 young men and 40 of their leaders attended Young Life’s Basketball Camp in Erie, PA.

  2. “Fowling” became a new free time activity at Timber Wolf Lake. It was a big hit!

  3. Escape Rooms have been a great cabin unity game at Cairn Brae.

  4. Kids of all ages and abilities went Adventure Camping this summer with their leaders! Of note,

    • WyldLife kids went backcountry hut camping, a brand new trip option with Adventures RMR Backcountry this summer.

    • Capernaum kids went Adventure Camping at Pioneer Plunge, Adventures Northbound, and Adventures Wild Ridge.

  1. Young Life College students helped 17 camps prepare for summer by serving at “Work Week.” All combined, they performed over 50,000 hours of labor to help prepare an extraordinary environment for kids to encounter Jesus!

  2. 360 families experienced camp and heard the Good News together at Trail West this summer. They came from 26 states and 79 of those families have a spouse serving in the military!

  3. 202 kids came to camp in the U.S. from overseas this summer. And, 1,321 Americans have traveled to 28 countries so far this year with YL Expeditions. YL kids, leaders, adults and families are connecting around the world!

  4. Macedonia hosted its first summer Young Life camp ever! There were 63 campers and over half chose to receive a Bible.

  5. 58 Capernaum friends and 23 YoungLives teen moms served on either Work Crew, Summer Staff, or Assignment Team this summer. That is the most ever in one summer!

  6. Over 9,500 volunteers and staff shared a common daily devotional this summer – Rooted, by Crystal Kirgiss.

  7. This school season, our camps are planning to serve around 230 YL weekends. All combined, at our camps and through the other creative ways you are camping with kids, we will exceed 103,000 Young Life guests in the U.S. this school year! 

What a privilege it is to work together to extend appealing and meaningful invitations to kids to encounter Jesus and grow in their faith. Thank you for striving after the best ways to reach kids in your community. I can’t wait to see what we say yes to next, as we continue to serve Christ together and set leaders free to minister to every kind of kid!

With Gratitude,

Chad Sievert

VP of Camping

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 (



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 (


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


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.” ||


“Broadway” to Africa and the Middle EastHow did that happen?”  What do Broadway Musicals and ministry in Africa/Middle East have in common?  Well, at first glance...not much.  However, this innovative fundraising event actually makes perfect sense.  In the greater Denver area, there is a dynamic faith community of music lovers, theater goers, and committed Young Life fans who get together each year to put on a performance like none other.  The ‘Big Idea’ surrounding Broadway to Africa (BTA) (a vision started by Shelley Sadler and a few others) was simply to have a musical experience, focused on Broadway show tunes, with the proceeds from the performances going to support ministry in Africa and the Middle East.  What could be easier? ...just wait. 


Young Life is present all over the country and around the world.  From small towns to International, cities to college communities, to 103+ countries around the globe to over 1,300 YL Areas, 81,000 Volunteers and 5000 staff.  In the midst of being in so many locations it can become a challenge to be truly together as ONE MISSION.  The scripture verse that has surrounded BTA over the years has been Zephaniah 3:17, “...ours is a God who is with mighty to save...delights in us...quiets us with His love...and (even) rejoices over us with singing”--a message we long to share.  Ours... We... Us…  Together  language!

When BTA began in 2011, there were 18 cast members, one performance, one dress rehearsal, and the event raised funding to offset the cost of one Young Life Africa Women’s Leadership Summit serving 35 staff.

Now, 8 years later there are:

  • 92 cast members, 

  • 4 months of rehearsals 

  • 10 sponsored Camps  (8 in Africa, and 2 in the Middle East). 

  • 4 performances

  • 3000 campers who will experience summer camp 

Without a doubt, the most beautiful part of the Broadway to Africa experience over the years has been the privilege of watching the Lord move in and tangibly affect not only students in Africa and the Middle East. However, the 125+ people involved in production (i.e., cast and crew, band, costume designers, directors, and “sponsors”) and the hundreds in the audience are also deeply impacted. Broadway to Africa is a really creative and powerful tool in helping change lives both in the US and all over Africa and the Middle East.   Steve Larmey (SVP A/ME)  reminds the audience each year that “literally thousands of young people go to camp and have an experience that, in Africa and the Middle East, they rarely get to have. When they may otherwise live in utter poverty, war zones, or orphanages, at camp these kids are are fed, cared for, safe, loved, known, and noticed, all in the name of Jesus.”  On the US-side Senior Director, Jennifer Condreay who has given her time to BTA since the beginning celebrates that  “each year our practice and rehearsal season is an amazing 16 weeks of hard work, joy, and fellowship!” 

It may be true that it takes a whole community to reach a community and when you do EVERYONE IS CHANGED!  That is what we have seen happen each year at Broadway to Africa. 

For more information about how you create your own ‘Kingdom-minded’ event contact Shelley Sadler  or to learn more about the production, just click here. This year the production in Denver is June 7-9th. Being one mission is not easy, but it really can be beautiful and you may just find yourself singing.  See you on Broadway! 



In late January, I experienced my YL Training Timeline class at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City UT.  One day as I waited in line for my 3rd film of the day, the person next to me leaned over and asked, “Are you a filmmaker?” I laughed, “Me? Nope! I’m here with Young Life staff for training!” Another “Only in Young Life” moment.


A group of 15 YL staff joined 250 Students from 22 Organizations, Seminaries, and Universities for a week of looking at the intersection of Faith and Film through conversations with each other Directors, Producers, Screenwriters and Actors.  It was amazing and so instrumental in equipping me in my day to day work with kids. Robert Redford is credited with starting the festival in 1985 believing that “society relies on storytellers”.  Over the last several decades, the chance to share your story at Sundance has become a filmmaker’s dream. Over the course of the Festival over 40,000 people descend on Park City,UT (pop. 8,378). This year, there was an astonishing 14,259 film submissions, of which only a select 112 feature-length films were chosen! The filmmakers are truly cultural theologians in how they identify longing, brokenness, need, and hope.  One short film “Period. End of Sentence” was founded by a high school, listing a bake sale and yogathons as funding in the end credits. It felt like “us,” how we’ll do whatever it takes to fundraise get a kid to camp.

So….how did we end up there? The Windrider Forum gathers a group of believers at the Festival to explore faith in the midst of culture’s primary form of storytelling - film.   The group was named after the Hebrew word ‘ruach’, meaning “wind” or “spirit.” The class was engaging, challenging and informative. Truly, the Sundance Film Festival may be one of the last cultural events that allow the YL Staffer to truly be 1 step ahead of the culture. We were challenged to have eyes to see and ears to hear where the Spirit of God was moving as we watched.

“Filmmakers are the poets and sages of our time” was a mantra we kept hearing. Each filmmaker risks to say something, to tell a story, to ask a question about real issues – mental illness, the death penalty, race, immigration, disability. And yet so many directors paint the world as they see it – broken, dark, unjust, without any sign of hope. The average Netflix user watches 71 minutes per day….numbing, consuming, grasping for something, being spoon-fed some version of truth. When I think about my Young Life kids’ learning about life through a screen, it doesn’t seem fair, it’s not the whole story, it’s not often a complete picture.

One film called “Gaza,” showed raw and broken snapshots of daily life in a war-torn streets of the Gaza Strip. I was trying to have eyes to find a glimmer of hope amidst scenes of wreckage, but I struggled. Another YL staffer later said, “You know, they have Young Life in Gaza.” Young Life in Gaza!! I got tears in my eyes, there it is:  hope! God’s writing a way bigger story sending light onto the streets of the Gaza strip.

So we wrestled with questions - how can we, as believers, become redemptive storytellers?  How do not only be students of students but also be students of the culture? It’s what YL does so well, we go into the world of kids. What if we watched with a different lens – looking for hope?  Then we would truly have a message worth seeing and sharing.

Keep an eye out:

Some of our favorite films to look out for include “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind,” “The Farewell,” “Luce,” and “Moonlight Sinata.” Missed it this year? No fear, you should save the date for the next year it is offered.

Written by: Kaitlyn Ousley (

Unwrapping the Gift of Healthy Supervision

A recent 5 for Friday ‘ONE QUESTION SURVEY’ asked a simple question about supervision:

“What are the top three qualities you want in a supervisor?”  Hundreds of you responded! Thank You, for responding! Below are the qualities that were listed to choose from:

  • strong leadership

  • emotional stability

  • encouragement and affirmation

  • clarity on expectations

  • empathy and compassion

  • integrity

  • disciplined and focused

  • solid communication skills

  • coaching and mentoring skills

  • flexibility and accessibility

  • clarity on expectations

  • wise and strong knowledge base

  • Confident

  • Others?  _______________





The results may not be surprising because the qualities we want from a boss are understandable.  

  • We want to be noticed so we want someone to SEE us,  (Accessibility)

  • We want to give input so we want someone to HEAR  us.  (Communication)

  • We want to learn and grow so it makes sense that we want someone to stretch,develop and CHALLENGE us.  (Leadership)

But wait, in the COMMENTS section these desired qualities were also suggested:

  • Spiritually mature

  • Humble

  • Macro-manager

  • Detail oriented

  • Visionary

  • Speaks truth in love

  • Servant leader

  • Innovative/creative

And what about these attributes that didn’t make the list:

  • Loyal/committed

  • Teacher

  • Courageous

  • Listener

  • High EQ, CQ, OQ, SQ (all the Q’s)

  • Holds accountability

  • Health conscious

  • Learner/listener

  • Professional

  • Authentic

  • Trainer

So, what about a second question- “How do you 'get’ what you need from a supervisor?”

We know that no one can be all of the things listed above. Besides, our ability to receive good supervision is filtered through our own perspective.  Although we may never agree on the most important qualities in a supervisor because of our own uniqueness, there are different qualities we need in a supervisor as we grow, mature and change.

Bottom line:  You can’t design your supervisor, but you can design your supervision.

Supervisors, have the conversation with the people you lead. Let them know what you expect and what you can offer them. Let staff know why you believe what you believe about supervision. Importantly, it’s not just up to the supervisor to design.

Staff person, a form of “leading up” is letting your supervisor know what you need in supervision. In no way is it a demand, it is a conversation. Sure, you won’t be asking your supervisor to be MORE confident, but you can ask them to be clear regarding expectations. Maybe you let them know you respond best when you have time to ask questions for clarity or that mentorship is of great value to you.

Together, you can work to meet the needs.

Now what?  So, do you as the supervisor or staff person need to have a conversation? Is it a good time to provide clarity or ask for what you need? If you think yes, then do something about it right now. Make a call now, set up a check-in, write out what would be helpful and discuss supervision. Supervisors want to be effective and as staff people we need to be supported----Have a conversation.

Written by Reid Estes


teachers think

There is a large pool of potential volunteer leaders in your area right under your nose. Many have a vibrant faith, love teenagers and all of them are on campus doing contact work every day.

Who would that be? Teachers!!

Let me ask you a few questions:

  • Do you actively seek out teachers to be members of your team?

  • Do you do contact work with teachers, seeking out believers, striving to know them and helping them to become missionaries to their classroom?

I highly encourage you to do this. Teachers do more contact work with kids day in and day out than you or I would ever be able to accomplish. Partnering with teachers to know more kids will help ministry grow and go deeper.

During my 11 years in the classroom, I found myself connected much deeper to kids than my 10 years as a non-teacher volunteer or my last five years on full-time staff.

Our area has been blessed to currently have over a dozen teachers actively serving in my area. Some of these teachers simply lead a Campaigners group, while others serve in a full-on capacity. Many of our teacher-leaders have a minimal role in club but a considerable role in introducing our other volunteers to kids from their classroom.

When allowed, our teachers champion club and Young Life events. In more closed schools, they merely introduce kids to leaders at after-school events. I spend much of my time with teacher-leaders, encouraging them on how to be intentional with kids.

Here are just a few examples of the impact teachers can have when they are involved in their local Young Life area:

  • They can spend one passing period per day being intentional in the hallway.

  • They can use their before-school duty station to start conversations with kids they don't know well.

  • They can spend one planning period per week connecting with other Christian teachers to pray for the school.

  • Imagine what happens when a new teacher catches a vision to invite a cabin full of kids to summer camp.

Much of the expectations for teachers is the same as is is for my other leaders, but some of it is more flexible. I seek to be intentional to avoid events during busier school times (quarterly exams, meet the teacher night) or not expect to see them at club on those days.

Ultimately, I discovered during my time as a teacher-leader that ministry gave me life even when I was overwhelmed by my teaching load. Being connected to students deeply through the Young Life ministry gave me a greater purpose and led me to pursue my calling versus just having a teaching career. Leading Young Life during those years kept me in the classroom for years longer than if had I simply been teaching my subject.

Seek to help teachers find their calling and fulfill the calling to truly be missionaries in the classroom through the mission of Young Life.

For more information or resources for connecting to this vast pool of potential volunteers in your area, contact Carrolton Area Director Michael Cone at

Learn more about teachers in the mission HERE.

A 1% Difference For Your Ministry

Football has started, kids are in school, and fall is in full swing. Of course the reality of Young Life is that “fall” is in full swing by mid-August. Here at the “beginning” of the year I’d like to offer a few thoughts, things that might make your year more productive.

An idea that has captivated me recently: Kaizen (the term means small continuous improvements).

“Put simply, the Kaizen approach is based on the belief that continuous, incremental improvement adds up to substantial change over time.”

Small adjustments can make a BIG impact:

Here’s the effect of a one-degree change in a flight plan:

  • After 100 yards, you'll be off by 5.2 feet. Not huge, but noticeable.

  • After a mile, you'll be off by 92.2 feet. One degree is starting to make a difference.

  • After traveling from San Francisco to L.A., you'll be off by 6 miles.

  • If you were trying to get from San Francisco to Washington, D.C., you'd end up on the other side of Baltimore: 42.6 miles away.

  • Traveling around the globe from Washington, D.C., you'd miss by 435 miles and end up in Boston!

Sometimes this is called “1 Percent Improvement.” Over time, 1 percent can make a big difference. The question is: WHAT 1 percent are you going to focus on? What small thing could make a big difference for your area, committee or club next year? What would produce the greatest impact if you focused your energies on a few critical small changes*, and didn’t get distracted by the hundred loose ends tugging on you daily?

*Notice I didn’t say “easy changes,” (they never are), and you have to stay with them doggedly to get the benefit.

ACTION STEP: What if next year … ?

  • You spent more time planning committee (or club) meetings and always finished on time?

  • Every adult meeting started with a great devotional, a kid sharing, or a leader giving a ministry update?

  • A group of adults prayed for club every week?

  • You identified the 10 most important donor relationships for the area and did a great job thanking them and keeping them informed?

  • You identified the three critical things that would make your area/club better and focused on that till it happened?

You get the idea. I don’t know what your 1 percenters are, but you do. Think about it. It’s worth it.

A lot of people are focused on football right now, but I’m thinking, what will be the few “1 percenters” that will be my highest priority this year?

— Written by John Evans ( )

The Cost (and Benefit) of Living in Community

“This is a true story of six strangers picked to live in community and work together to find out what happens when people start getting REAL!”


When we kicked off the GLOBAL CITIES FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM in Hong Kong we felt like we were getting ready to live a season of MTV’s Real World “Young Life Young Life.” We didn’t know exactly what would happen if we put three 22-year-olds from all corners of the earth in one global city to live and work together for two years. It had the potential of getting messy really quick. What happened was nothing less than a miracle and far exceeded our hopes and dreams!

There are primarily two needs of every Young Life area: 1) People, and 2) Resources. Since Hong Kong Young Life’s beginning five years ago, our biggest need has been — PEOPLE! People who understand Young Life and the unique culture of Hong Kong. We had open doors at schools but didn’t have the people to walk through those doors. Since we were too young to have “grown our own,” we needed to find a creative solution, which birthed the Global Cities Fellowship. The fellowship was initially a two-year program designed for young people with Young Life experience to come to Hong Kong to be team leaders and be a part of a training leadership program all done in community to eliminate loneliness and build a greater sense of team. Time, Experience, Responsibility, Community and Fellowship became some of the tenants of this program.

We expected to have all Americans but ended up with one American , one Thai and one of Nigerian-British heritage. We couldn’t have designed things any better. Why? Because of their intentional community! They each were able to bring and share their knowledge and experience of Young Life, Hong Kong culture, and youth culture. Each week they spent three hours in training together growing in Christ, learning Young Life principles, and discussing how to implement them in Hong Kong in their individual school context. They also lived life together — shared apartments by gender, socially hung out, were inclusive of each other and treated each other like family. We learned that the combination of experience and background was far greater than just having people come who know Young Life. The fellows’ diversity has made us a much stronger team and continues to breed more diversity and unity as we identify future cohorts. “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity” (Psalm 133: 1).

The benefits far outweigh the costs of the fellowship, but they are still a reality. Hong Kong is the third most expensive city in the world, and providing housing for the fellows is expensive. Also Hong Kong Young Life currently carries a majority of the burden of their cost as opposed to the traditional Young Life sending process, and your situation may be different. That being said, the fellowship answers our need for a pipeline of staff associates and helps us “grow our own” faster and develop a rich environment of diversity and cultural understanding, making our team stronger together.

Cohort 2 (Hong Kong Young Life Season 2) launched this past month with the orientation of three more fellows each with their unique background to Young Life, Asian culture, Hong Kong school culture, and Hong Kong culture. We are excited to see the outcome of this group’s community. There is a cost to community — but it is a small price to pay!

If you are interested in talking more, please feel free to email me at

Some other useful information Hong Kong Young Life Website — GCF or follow them on Instagram at younglifegcf.

Written by Suzanne Sittko (

View September 2018 Email

Global Innovation August | The Day My View of YL Got Bigger (and Smaller) At The Same Time


This is how I remember it …



  • The Time: 7–9 p.m.

  • The Town: Mackay, Idaho

  • The Location: According to my handwritten directions — the house 5 miles down a county road on the left-hand side just passed the split rail fence.  

  • The Purpose: Interest meeting to start Young Life.

  • The Agenda: Starting club at Mackay Junior/Senior High School — enrollment: 92.

    • Prayer

    • Coffee, pie and brownies

    • Introduction and sharing

    • Discussion about kids at the local school  (Mackay High — Home of the fighting Mushers!)

    • What is Young Life?  

  • The Attendees:

    • 12 adults (1 local pastor, 2 ranchers, 3 teachers, 5 parents and 1 forest ranger)

    • 3 dogs were left in trucks parked outside.

For much of my more than 40-year career with Young Life, this has been my life. It involves driving a few nights each week from small town to small town all over the Western United States with names you have never heard of and on county roads you have never been on. It involves traveling with the hope of getting to talk with people about bringing Young Life to their community.

One of many pivotal moments was at a Young Life interest meeting sitting in Hilda Goddard’s living room one fall evening. “We need to tell our neighbors in Challis, Idaho, about this Young Life thing!” was the reaction of Harold, (one man in attendance) at the end of the night. I soon discovered that the “neighbors” in Challis lived at least 60 miles away! My understanding of the word “neighbor” began to grow that night. The gap of distance was overcome by the closeness of circumstance. Even internationally, I have been struck by the countless villages, townships and small towns dotted all around the globe that share common traits and challenges. My constant prayer is that there are people in these places who will reach out to these kids to love them, walk with them and tell them about the hope that comes with a faith in Christ.

Harold, whether he knew it or not, shared the heart and vision of Jesus. He understood how God works through the ministry of Young Life to not only transform individual lives of students who attended Mackay Junior/Senior High School, but to a greater extent, the entire community. The book of Matthew tells us that “Jesus made a circuit of all the towns and villages. He taught in their meeting places, reported kingdom news, and healed their diseased bodies, healed their bruised and hurt lives” (Matthew 9:35, MSG). Jesus wanted His message to get to everyone, so He went places most people would pass by. He had a heart and vision for the next small town!

We pass by our small towns and villages every day, giving them very little thought, but there are so many!

Here are a few interesting observations that I have learned in the past year.

  • In the United States there are 18,025 small towns.  

  • There are over 32,000 schools in small towns; 18,000 are secondary schools.

  • 21 percent of the U.S. population lives in small towns.

  • 94 percent of the total square miles of the U.S. (3.4 million square miles) are considered rural.

  • At-risk behavior statistics in rural communities are identical to urban centers.

Here are some facts that you won’t find on any U.S. government website.  

  • Many small town high schools adjust schedules around the harvest or hunting seasons.

  • The nearest Walmart may be over an hour away.

  • The local high school may have special parking for students’ tractors or horses.

  • It is a community event when a new fast-food restaurant opens!

  • Young Life leaders have been known to reschedule summer camp dates to not interfere with the County Fair.

… And there is a pretty good chance that you have a small town “neighbor” right down the street within 60 miles or less. So what do you do? Four steps to think about the NEXT school!

  • Never Forget to Pray — Get a map and draw a circle with your town in the center of a 60-mile radius. Pray for towns in this circle; pray for the towns that jump out at you; pray as you drive through them; pray for the Lord of the Harvest to raise up workers. Do a prayer walk through the town. TRY THIS: Set an alarm on your watch to remind you to pray at 9:38 (Matthew 9:38). Pray each day for one or two of the towns in the circle of your “neighborhood.”

— Ask your committee, leaders, friends, who knows somebody in these towns? TRY THIS: Contact Young Life Alumni & Friends to help you find people in town who may have a Young Life background. Make some calls to pastors, civic leaders, and business people.

  • eXtend a Hand — Get a leader, a committee member, club kid, friend and make a road trip! TRY THIS: Go to the town; spend time in the community. 1. Pray at the school. 2. Eat at a local restaurant. 3. Meet with a local pastor.

  • Take the Next Step — Mobilize someone in the town to host a meeting of people who care about the kids in their community and need to know more about Young Life. You can check out the Small Towns Tool Box to give you ideas for this meeting.


There are Small Towns everywhere we go. Slow down, take some time to notice them and then do the NEXT steps. Email me if you would like to receive the Small Towns Newsletter or would like to attend the Small Towns Summit in December. To learn more or if you have any questions, check out the resources below for help.

Resources to Help: Small Towns — The Atlantic Magazine

Small Towns Director — J.C. Bowman —, 208-866-0540

Jump Starts — Don Stuber —, 360-789-6676  

Ken Purnell —, 541-620-0270      


Written By J.C. Bowman

Global Innovation - The Biblical Mandate That Comes With A Harvest

“Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”  (Matthew 9:38)


"I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their words; that they may all be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in you; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me" (John 17:20, 21)

Lists.  We use them all the time.  Every time I go to Costco I have a hand-scribed list from Marni.  I see others just like me in the grocery store… lists on paper, lists on phones, and calling in for a verbal list.  Everyone in the famous movie that was on Schindler’s “list” actually lived. It was a powerful list.

More than fifteen years ago, I challenged a campaigner group to pray for ten of their unsaved friends.  A mom called me and asked if I could come by while her son was in school. I came by and she marched me into her son’s bathroom and there on the mirror was a scrappy piece of paper list of ten kids names.  “What is this?” I told her that these were the kids her son was praying for… all were in 9th grade.  Today, everyone on that list knows Jesus and 4 of them are on Young Life staff.

We list out projects.  We list out prayers. We list out who can come to a gathering.  We have wedding lists. We have Christmas card lists. We are list people… and today, I want to challenge you to consider a new type of a list.  The “Discipleship List.”

The Discipleship List was an assignment that really stuck with me when I went through the official “Young Life Practicum I and II” sometime in the late 80’s. This list has two parts.  First, who are the kids that you are discipling? Second, what are you wanting them to learn, experience, and do while they are under your tutelage?

It starts with YOU knowing the kids that you are discipling.  (Discipling means teaching them to follow Jesus with their life, to love the word, prayer, to have fellowship, to be obedient, and to strive to follow the great commission.)  The famous quote, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” You want to have a plan for who you are discipling.

Again, it starts with a list.  Who has the Lord laid on your heart to “pour into.”  We call it so many things in Young Life. There are phrases you might use that I don’t:  my campaigners, small group, discipleship group, student leadership team, green beret campaigners, student leaders, etc.  I would say it is as simple as a list. Who are the kids that you are going to give it all to?  You are pouring your life into them – you are available to them always, and your life is an open book.  They know they are on your list, and you know they are on the list.

I remember going to a restaurant that was owned by long-time Young Life supporter Bob Farrell.  Sometimes when you went to his Stanford’s restaurant you would see a person following the waiter or waitress around the restaurant.  They literally just followed. At times, it even felt a little awkward. Well, it was actually a beautiful thing. They were “in training.”  Bob wanted them to see it all, the full scope of what it meant to take care of multiple tables, crunch time, mistake orders, etc. Who is following you around?  What are you wanting to make sure they see?

My first year of Young Life training my trainer Jeff said, “What do you want to make sure your sophomore followers of Christ leave with in two-years?”  Oh my, did this open up my mind of the possibilities! I wanted them to know so, so much. You could, and should, make some notes right now, on what you want your kids leaving within 6 months, in a year, in 2, or even 3 years.  (If you have a Wyldlife and a College ministry – you could have a 6-year plan.) What do you want to make sure they know about Jesus? About the Holy Spirit? About the Word? About scripture? About lifestyle evangelism? About service?  About how to “do Young Life?”

In Young Life, at least in this 5 for Friday, I would hope people would make a “list.”  Who is in your life? What list do you want to make sure they end up learning, experiencing, and doing?  

Here is a sample list to get your mind going – would love to have others add to this list by sending me an email:

My brainstorming of what a list could look like of what to impart:

  • Have an accountability relationship/partner

  • Treat your body with respect – temple of the Spirit

  • Be able to write down 50-75 high school/junior high students by name from memory

  • Develop a plan for your disciples

  • Practice Spiritual Disciplines:

    • Reading

    • Memorizing

    • Church

    • Prayer

    • Journaling

    • Solitude

    • Sabbath

  • Be a “come with person” – bring people with you to club, church, run errands

  • Memorize TMS

  • Lead a Campaigner Group

  • Give your testimony

  • Go on Work Crew (Summer)

  • Go on Work Crew (Weekend)

  • Do a service project

  • Have a quiet time for 30 straight days.

  • Do the Thread Journal — and give one away

  • Have a list of 10 non-believing friends

  • Be a student leader for Monday Club

  • Speak well of others


Written by Eric Scofield (


Ministry In Unlikely Places: Serving The Refugee Population


We all have pictures in our mind of what Young Life camp looks like, right?  However, there are a few camps happening this summer that look a little different from what we typically picture in our minds.   Let’s take a look at two camps to see what I mean:  one you know and one you don’t know.

Let’s start with the one camp you probably don’t know: Nyarugusu. You don’t know it because it’s not a Young Life camp; it’s a refugee camp. Located in western Tanzania, between 139,000 and 400,000 refugees from DR Congo and Burundi live here in tents.  Some have been here for over 20 years and some have just arrived. Over half of these residents are under 18 years old.  They have fled warlords, rebel groups, tribal wars, genocides and food shortages.

One of these residents is a Young Life leader Pascal (name changed). He decided to follow Jesus at a Young Life camp in Congo and became a Young Life leader before he and his family were forced to flee insecurity caused by rebel groups. Pascal is recruiting leaders and working with our team in Tanzania to begin Young Life in Nyarugusu. We hope to bring kids from this camp to a very different kind of camp soon.

Now let's look at the camp you know: Timber Wolf Lake. Fast forward to July 3rd of this year. Picture 46 kids rolling off a bus at the welcome. Some are in headscarves, most laughing and speaking to each other in Arabic, a Burmese dialect or in Kiswahili. They are from Syria, Myanmar, Congo and half a dozen other places. All of them are from Southport High School in Indianapolis. Their leaders, Joe and Rachel Snyder, direct the area on the south side of Indianapolis where tens of thousands of these refugees have been placed. Many of them are part of the club at Southport High School. On July 3, 2018, they will experience a new type of camp...and Jesus' love for them.

  • Across the world there are currently 22.5 million refugees and over 65 million people displaced internally in their own countries. More than half of these people are kids.
  • Over 56% refugees live in sprawling tent camps in Africa and the Middle East.
  • Over 3 million refugees live in the US.

There are hundreds of thousands of kids, most of whom have experienced trauma people in Western Europe or the US cannot imagine.  Most of these kids do not know, or may not have even heard of Jesus, and are being gathered in unprecedented numbers into our countries and neighborhoods. What an opportunity we have as a mission that cares for kids who are lost and looking for a place to belong!  

In YL Africa/ME we are committed to figuring out how to reach these kids. And people like Joe and Rachel are showing us all how to do it in our own cities. Ministry to widows, orphans, strangers and captives—this is real gospel ministry.  God has positioned Young Life perfectly to be His hand in the lives of these kids and God is literally dropping these kids from the worst and hardest places on the planet into our backyards. Wow! Join the leaders in Africa, the Middle East, the Snyders and others as we figure out how to love and reach these kids and their families.

Written By:  Steve Larmey


**If you, or someone you know, is working with refugees in a YL context please email ( ) The YL Global Innovation and Training office so we can help them connect to others who are reaching these students in these unlikely places.



Young Life Summer Camp Packing List

Ever wonder how you pack for a Young Life camp in Uzbekistan?

Author:  Gary Parsons


A YL Staff leader’s packing list can include anything from t-shirts to shaving cream to candy and costumes.  We asked Gary Parsons to give us a little insight into what goes into packing and preparing for camp over in ___________.  

Gary said...

“You load up the biggest bag you can carry of potatoes on your back and hike up four hours to the site where you will be hosting kids for a week of camp and then you repeat that hike five more times to get the rest of the food and supplies up there before the kids arrive. It’s a good time for prayer as you seek God for the hearts and lives of these kids and their families, communities and future of their country. You pray for the wars to stop, for Christian persecution to end and for clubs to be safe from government raids. That’s the Uzbek version of our 10 hour bus ride to camp.”  

The commitment is the same in neighborhoods all over America as it is across the world. Loving kids unconditionally wherever they are and whatever circumstance we find them in, doing everything we can to create an opportunity for them to hear the gospel and to know the love of the Father.


In Matthew 4:19-20 Jesus calls us to be fishers of people, “‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, 'and I will send you out to fish for people.' At once they left their nets and followed him.” Dale Bruner said it best when talking about this portion from Matthew, “Come be my students and I will turn you into fishers of people. Jesus furnishes his invitation with an exciting promise. It is the promise of catching persons and of being effective with people.” As leaders go off to camp this summer across the globe we must hold on to this central truth, that every day we must follow Jesus with all that we have and trust his life living in and through us to bring the gospel alive in the lives of kids we serve.


The calling is the same across the world whether it be in Uzbekistan, Nicaragua or Texas. What we pack in our bags physically may look very different, but what we pack spiritually is filled with the same life of the Holy Spirit and the same calling to be fishers of people. In John’s gospel chapter 15:16, Jesus says, “you did not choose me but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit - fruit that will last and the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.” This summer all of God’s resources, wherever you serve in the world are available to you through this truth. Ask God and he will supply all your needs.

Camping Internationally may require some creativity in what we pack but no matter where you are we BRING the same thing- a heart devoted to Christ and passionate toward adolescents.  If you want a checklist of what to pack for camp this Summer- double click HERE!  




An Innovative Addition To Your YLForward Plan Student Leadership Project

Author:  Vern Hill, Cesar Castillejos

“This experience changed the way I saw myself, my life, the world, God’s love, and everyone around me!" -2017 SLP Student Session II
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Since 2002, the Young Life Student Leadership Project (SLP) has been ushering in God’s kingdom by training students to be multi-ethnic leaders and sending them into clubs, communities, and the world.  

Make SLP part of your Froward Plan to transform kids who will transform your club, area, and the world!

SLP is a 10-day leadership development/discipleship program for high school students completing their junior or senior year of high school. To promote a deep sense of mission, each SLP group is racially diverse, gender balanced, socieo-economically varied, and host students from different parts of the country.  This summer approximately 100 students will attend SLP at sites in Grand Rapids, Michigan; Chicago, Illinois; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; St. Paul, Minnesota; and St. Augustine, Florida. Nearly all students who have experienced SLP’s transformational program of classroom instruction, service, and personal formation become active professionals and volunteers in ministries and nonprofits in their communities!

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The purpose and content of SLP mirrors FORWARD’s goals. This makes it easy to include SLP in any FORWARD Plan. SLP has four “Pillars” of learning that interlock with Forward’s four strategies.

Deeper – SLP students learn and apply spiritual practices. Students are taught and have quiet times in scripture and prayer each day. In addition, students experience worship and regular prayer times with others.

“I learned hearing God and understanding is a matter of practice.”

Together – Cultural Awareness is another pillar of SLP.  Students explore the impact of their own ethnicity, learn about healthy interactions with others, and experience cross-cultural life with their SLP peers.

“I found there is something to be learned about God through every brother and sister I have in Christ.”
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Innovation – SLP students learn to be effective, innovative leaders by understanding their Calling. Primarily called to love God and serve others, SLP students explore how to do successful ministry based on their unique passions, talents, life experiences, and the opportunities God places in their lives.

“Sometimes we decide something for our own future, but God has better plans.”

Growth – Using the example of Jesus, SLP students learn Servant Leadership principles.  Students are challenged to identify a personal mission for the 12 months following SLP. This year this will include organizing a project in their area in conjunction with YL Expeditions “YL Serves” on MLKJ Day, 2019.

Here are some practical ways SLP can serve your ministry:

  • Areas can send a student to SLP to help advance FORWARD in their community.
  • Big Areas and Metro Areas can send several students for a shared SLP experience to help initiate multi-ethnic ministry between schools and within a community.
  • Regions can send a cohort of students to SLP to create a network of young leaders in the region and promote student led projects.
  • Divisions can support an SLP site for their Division, identify and send students who show staff potential as a gateway to staff development.

Learn More:

Contact: Vern Hill ( 612-414-8157 or Cesar Castillejos ( 612-619-1532


You Have Never Seen This Kind of Cow!

The Central American Camp On Wheels (C.O.W.)

Written by Rodolfo López and Kevin Suwyn


Young Life Staff are Creative, Entrepreneurs and Innovators.  Innovation is not just something we are giving attention to now - but rather - it IS who we are as missionaries, pastors and leaders. Over the past few decades the International YL staff and leadership have exemplified the heart of Innovation as much as anyone in the Mission. Taking a concept from the ‘idea’ stage to something that is translatable across geographies and leadership is sign of a true genuine ‘movement.’  One such idea that has slowly made its way across the mission is the Camp on Wheels or COW.  

There are a few simple steps/questions that a leader needs to answer to create a Movement/Innovation.  Read below to see how the staff in Central America answered those questions step by step.   

Step 1 DEFINING the Problem/Opportunity

We know it’s true: camp was the best thing to have ever happened to so many of us as teens. Marty Caldwell and Dan Jessup were prodding us to consider how mobile camping could help us with high quality camping even though most countries don’t (and probably won’t) own their own facilities.  We had to take everything we loved about the ‘core’ of YL Camping and fit it to our International ‘context.’  

Step 2: DEVELOPING a Solution

As we met together to consider, dream and pray with the local Costa Rican team, other questions came to the surface as well: 

  • What about the thousands (and millions) of our young friends who won’t ever get to go to camp? 
  • How do we remove hurdles of funding and distance?
  • How do we train and support new ministries (countries) in leader-centered, gospel-centered camping?
  • How could we take camp to them, if they couldn’t come to us?

This pushed the conversation to new places as we considered implementing a Camp on Wheels.

Step 3: DECIDING what to Measure

In a “Mega Club” (a one-day activity) we have the capacity to bring together more than 700 kids simultaneously, providing a place that is safe, healthy and fun. We have witnessed first-hand the success of this project as a highly attractive and innovative tool for the most disinterested kids to hear about Jesus. In Costa Rica, the last five COW's have been a key strategy to helping double our impact of kids reached over the year. 

In countries like Nicaragua, we have had the opportunity to carry out a series of Mega Clubs helping local areas impact more than 3000 kids over a months’ time (30% being first timers). This happens in coordination with local team of volunteer leaders and community adult support who are the key facilitators during these events.

The teams in Panama, Honduras, and El Salvador have benefited tremendously by traditional-camping support, and now have developed their team toward healthy leader-centered and gospel-centered camping. COW still is on-call to join in, but as countries have grown, more responsibility is being taken locally in each country.

Step 4: DESIGNING the Pilot


Going back to the planning stage: We moved forward, not really knowing what to build but knowing that we needed to act on something. We shared ideas with Skeet Tingle (Camp Manager at Wilderness Ranch) who made vital decisions, built the COW, packed it, and shipped it. Meanwhile, in Costa Rica we worked on the “urban day camp” or Mega-Club idea. 

  • The COW team would work in concert with the local area leaders, prepare a place, obtain the permits, and involve parents and former leaders. 
  • Leadership teams would invite their far-out friends and campaigner groups would join this effort as they reached out to their friends as well. The COW team was gathering volunteers to set up, run, and take down the “camp.” 
  • One version of COW would be this amazing day event with unique leader/kid events, hospitality, and closing with an evening club event.  This also became a way to model and reinforce great “club” principles and proclamation to the local leaders.

Additionally, we made plans to send the COW to new country ministries with a team. This augments the substandard camp property with a camp-in-a-box set of resources. But even more importantly, brings COW-brought training, a camp speaker, and head counselor when needed. This allowed the receiving team’s leadership to focus on bringing their kids to camp and being the camp leaders.

Step 5: DELIVERING A Model

What came out was a "complementary" approach of truck/trailer and key "space" and "wow" components:

  • Augment a rented property having basic services for traditional camp in new countries.  This provides an excuse to send seasoned leaders to support the new work, do assigned team training, and model Christ-centered, leader-centered camping. It was a hit.
  • Mega-Club set up in the center of cities, offering simple points of leader-kid connection like carnival games, inflatable climbing wall, wii, octoball, field hockey etc. This has supported area leadership right at home, within walking distance, and in plain view of where kids live:  culminating in the verbal proclamation of the Gospel.

We are thankful to God for the creative and innovative way He has surprised us through COW and we are also very thankful for all the people who in one way or another support us, be it through prayers, volunteering or giving financially. This keeps us dreaming of reaching the next kid.