By Rachel Kytonen
The Young Life and WyldLife season is in full swing, and students, staff and volunteer leaders are focused on the future.
Young Life, for high school students, and WyldLife, for middle school students, has been in the Cambridge community since the 1960s. It’s an international organization whose mission is to introduce adolescents to Jesus Christ and help them grow in their faith.
“Young Life is a party with a purpose,” said committee member Greg Carlson. “It’s an opportunity to have a positive influence on kids, and for our adults and leaders to have a positive influence on kids. Kids face so many negative images out there, and Young Life can break down those negative images.”
Area Administrator Shannon Muehlberg, who joined the organization in July, said the new season of Young Life and WyldLife just began, and coincides with the school year.
She said approximately 40 kids regularly attend weekly WyldLife club meetings, and 25 attend weekly Young Life club meetings. During the clubs, kids laugh, sing, get involved in skits, play games and hang out with their friends and leaders. Activities are designed in groups so kids don’t feel singled out.
“Our numbers continue to grow each week and we are excited about the future,” Muehlberg said. “We have a lot of fun during clubs. We have skits that are fun but tie-in a meaningful purpose; cake eating contests; sumo wrestling; guests speakers who share on different topics and much more. But we always introduce the Gospel to the students.”
Young Life and WyldLife are open to any middle school and high school students in the area. Muehlberg noted both clubs regularly have students from surrounding areas such as Princeton and North Branch.
Carlson’s four children were involved in the Young Life program, and two of his daughters worked in the Young Life program.
“My two daughters attend weddings and family events of kids they have mentored, and see the wise choices these kids are making now,” Carlson said. “They really do make life-long friendships.”
Carlson said Young Life has put into place different elements as a result of the events that transpired the past year when the former director of East Central Minnesota Young Life was charged with criminal sexual conduct.
One of those elements is the formation of a committee, who is a faithful group of adults in the community who support Young Life and WyldLife behind the scenes.
“As committee members, in response to what transpired, we reiterated how important it is to have mutual accountability,” Carlson said. “We reaffirmed how we are supposed to act and say things—it’s a positive thing. We encourage students and parents to get to know us, and become reacquainted with us. We want the community to know we are doing really good things in the community.”
Muehlberg noted any parent or student is welcome to stop by any of the club meetings to watch and participate in the activities. There aren’t any annual dues associated with Young Life or WyldLife.
She stressed the organization can always use more adult volunteer leaders who have to sign a position of faith statement, pass a background check, pass a driver’s test and adhere to a specific code of conduct.
Another part of the Young Life program is the week-long camp students have the opportunity to attend each summer. There is a cost to attend the camp, but if families can’t afford the cost, the organization will help the students try to raise the funds.
“The summer camp is a wonderful experience for the students,” Carlson said. “The camps are comparable to the nicest resorts and all have different themes. The closest camp for our kids is at Castaway Camp, located in Detroit Lakes. It is a beautiful facility, and has well maintained grounds. It’s a lot of fun and students have an opportunity to hear the story of Christ.”
Muehlberg said another part of Young Life is the Campaigners, which is a small-group setting for kids who are ready to learn more about God and grow in their faith. In Campaigners, kids talk about God, study the Bible and its relevance to their lives and pray. She said the group meets weekly on Tuesday nights.
Carlson said Young Life is primarily funded through private donations from individuals. Three evening socials are planned through the East Central Young Life Committee for community members to learn more about Young Life and offer financial support.
The socials will be held Tuesday, Oct. 25, Sunday, Nov. 6 and Monday, Nov. 14, from 7 to 8 p.m. in Cambridge at the home of one of the committee members. For an exact address, contact the Young Life office.
“Young Life is working hard to raise funds to continue to provide opportunities for our students,” Carlson explained. “The socials are open to anyone who wants to learn more about us, and perhaps can’t volunteer their time, but may want to offer a financial contribution. Part of the financial contributions help send students to camp—either the fall camp coming up in November or the summer camp.”
The Young Life Club meets every Wednesday from 8:28 to 9:29 p.m., with its next meeting Nov. 2. The WyldLife Club meets every other Monday from 7:27 to 8:28 p.m., with its next meeting Nov. 7.
The Young Life Club meetings are held at the Young Life office in Cambridge, next to McDonald’s and Anytime Fitness. For more information call 763-689-3823 or visit www.younglife.org.