Young Life continues to support kids in community

A new adult committee through East Central Minnesota Young Life is focused and committed to building healthy relationships and opportunities for area youth.

Greg Carlson explained the newly-formed adult committee through Young Life called C.R.E.W., stands for “Committed, Recruiters, Encouraging, Workers.”

East Central Young Life serves kids in the East Central Minnesota area, including Cambridge, Isanti, North Branch, Princeton and surrounding areas.

Young Life programs are custom-made for kids throughout their adolescent years. Young Life is the term it uses for its program with high school students. The middle school program is WyldLife. The initiative for college and university students is called Young Life College.

“Sometime in early January, we brought a group of people together to look at the vision of Young Life and offer some strategic planning,” Carlson said. “A large number of those gathered said they’d like to be a part of a get-together for a second session and asked to be a part of a leadership team going forward.”

The C.R.E.W. committee meets every other Saturday morning.

“We have a good cross-section of individuals as far as ages and backgrounds,” Carlson said. “Our focus right now is to build a relationship again between the community and organization, and hire an area director.”

Carlson added the community needed time after an incident involving the former area director resulted in criminal charges.

“We recognized a couple years ago some healing needed to be done in the community,” Carlson said. “But now we are at a point where we need to know if there’s a future for Young Life in the community, and our committee overwhelmingly feels Young Life is very important to the community.”

Carlson said the next steps for C.R.E.W. is to build financial support to hire an area director.

“We haven’t started a search yet for an area director because we first need to rebuild financial support from the community,” Carlson said. “Once we’ve clearly established support, we will work with the Young Life organization to begin the search process.”

Young Life offers several opportunities for students to get involved through camps, clubs, weekly gatherings, Bible Study and other fun opportunities.

“Young Life is a great place to hang out with your friends, play lots of fun games and learn about God in a fun and relevant way,” said Peter, 18.

One Young Life member said he was skeptical about joining, but has made life-long friendships.

“I had fallen in love instantly,” said Jake, 19. “My first year I went to Castaway, a fall camp in Detroit Lakes, and that was amazing. My next year as a sophomore, I went to Malibu in British Columbia, Canada, and proceeded to have the best week of my life. To this day, Young Life remains one the most important things in my life. It has kept my faith in God so strong, and I’ve become a better person because of it. Now I’m in college and still try to keep contact with my leaders and some friends from there and occasionally drop in a time or two to surprise everyone.”

Carlson explained Young Life will be holding a fun, interactive event April 7 in Cambridge, with more details to be released closer to the event.

“It will be an opportunity for the community to learn about Young Life and find out what we are doing,” Carlson said. “In order to support an area director and staff, we’ll need more than $100,000 per year. Our kids also need help earning money in the community to help pay for summer camp and do that by bagging groceries, mowing lawns, yard work and other fundraising activities.”

Carlson said Young Life is about building healthy relationships in the community with kids and introducing them to Jesus Christ.

“All functions being done right now through Young Life are being done through volunteer leadership,” Carlson said.

Carlson said around 45 kids from all over the area participate in weekly activities.

“Kids want to have structure in their lives,” Carlson said. “We live in a world with so much uncertainty, and things are always changing so fast. Kids look for a place to belong, be accepted and this can be affirmed by mature leadership.”

Young Life helps teach children about having a relationship with God.

“Young Life is a bundle of fun,” said Travis, 15. “The one thing I love the most is how much our leaders care about us. Young Life to me is a place to get free and get closer to God and learn and understand the stories of the Bible.”

Students feel hope for the future by participating in Young Life.

“Young Life has meant so much in my life,” said Tim, 19. “My Young Life leaders helped bring me to Christ and helped show me how to live a Christian lifestyle. Young Life had given me somewhere to go where there wasn’t a worry in the world. Lastly, Young Life has helped show me what I want to do with my future; be involved as an area director somewhere and be involved with helping lead kids to Christ. Without Young Life, my life would not be the same as is it is right now. “

Meeting new people is a positive benefit of Young Life.

“Young Life gets you to step out of your comfort zone and allows you to experience God in a totally different setting,” said Alexxis, 17. “I have met a lot of new friends at club and camp, and Young Life Camp was just what the leaders told me—the best week of my life.”

All of Carlson’s children went through the Young Life program.

“Since my kids were involved with Young Life, I’ve been involved with it and continue to be a part of it even now that my kids are grown,” Carslon said. “Young Life had a positive influence on all my children and taught them about helping others. We need to continue the Young Life program to make this a stronger community for our children. By making an investment in Young Life, you are making an investment in the lives of our children.”

For more information on East Central Minnesota Young Life visit http://eastcentralminnesota.younglife.org or call 763-689-3823.

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