Many parents in Craig County have inquired about more opportunities for their children to have a safer socialization arena in the community.
Recently, an organization called “Young Life,” (YL) is working hard on starting a local club for the teens between the eighth and 12th grade.
YL clubs have been around for over 80 years, with groups in over 100 countries. They are very active in Virginia, especially in Craig County and the neighboring counties; forming in Roanoke in the 1970s, Montgomery County in the 80s and Salem for over two decades.
Young Life is a Christian outreach for both high school and middle school students. They have similar goals to church youth groups but take a different approach. Their message is to reach young people who would not likely hear the message of Jesus Christ or experience the life-altering confidence and character-building relationships that can come from the positive interaction with Christian youth and mentors.
“They reach youth by organizing teams of leaders who go to schools (and related youth activities) and spend time working with students getting to know them,” Area Developer Steve Schmitt noted. “Through this informal partnership with the schools, they build relationships with students and then offer opportunities for kids to become involved with other clubs or camp programs.”
Schmitt explained that the interaction with students is ongoing. Establishing a mentor-like relationship with them is the ultimate objective Participating in the club is optional.
The saying is true, “Kids don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Young Life takes this statement to heart.
The bible gives wisdom and encouragement to teens. In I Timothy 4:12 it says, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”
“Young Life is in various communities and supported by a group of adults who back the leaders working with students,” Schmitt added.
It’s easy to see what teens are bombarded with today. Whether it be social media or just the cultural environment, teens do best when they are surrounded by adults who care and make time for them.
“Many times, teens need an additional source of encouragement outside of their families. Spending time with their peers gives them an opportunity to establish a foundation of good friendships,” Schmitt said.
Organizers view YL as a club or a “party with a purpose.”
”It’s controlled chaos that’s almost impossible to describe, but kids know it when they see it. And, before the party ends, a simple message about God’s love for them is shared,” said Schmitt.
Many kids have described camp in Rockbridge as “the best week of their life.”
Some adults in Craig County have come together to form a Start-Up Team to bring Young Life to the community. They include Brenda Bostic, Pam Dudding, Maury and Sam Duncan, David Givens, Larry and Jeannie Guthrie and Pam Paradzinski-Lucas.
John 13: 1-17 states that: “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”
For those interested in being a part of this ground level club, any of them can be reached on Facebook, through email [email protected] or by visiting the YoungLife.org website.
“We are working with and receiving guidance from full-time Young Life staff in both Blacksburg and Salem,” Schmitt said before adding, “This Start-Up Team gets to take the time-tested ideas and methods of Young Life and implement them in our community in a way that best serves children.”