A youth group that is open to all high school students and introduces them to the Christian faith
By Jillian Chesney
Everyone loves a good donut on a Friday morning. Luckily, the leaders of Dexter Young Life hand out free donuts to make Friday morning’s a little better.
The mission of Young Life is to “introduce adolescents to God and help them grow in their faith,” according to Young Life’s website. They do this through their club, campaigners, camp, and by building relationships.
“I go to Young Life because it’s a really welcoming environment for people who are just exploring faith, and it’s a good place to learn about God in a way that doesn’t feel as serious as going to church,” junior Mary Mendez said.
Young Life, a Christian organization open to all high school students, is led by college students. At Dexter, it’s led by students who attend the University of Michigan. As Young Life continues to grow, many more Dexter students are becoming involved.
Dexter’s leaders are Michael Bradshaw, Maria Luciani, Natalie Greenhalgh, and Tessa Binkley. These students are not paid to be leaders, and are not associated with politics. Young Life is a non-denominational Christian organization.
“I decided to be a Young Life leader because I was apart of a youth group in high school and really loved it, so I wanted to continue doing something like that in college,” Binkley said. “I love being a Young Life leader because it’s super fun putting on club and building a community and relationships with high schoolers at Dexter.”
Young Life offers many different youth groups for a variety of people and their stage of life. Also, Young Life offers service expeditions for people seeking to serve God. DHS alumni Megan Paddock went on one of these mission trips to Tanzania.
“I decided to go because I love the mission of Young Life to show the love of Christ to every child from every economic, cultural, and ethnic background. Everyone around the world deserves to be shown love and kindness,” Paddock said. “The most rewarding thing to come of the trip were the things I learned from the kids. They showed us pure joy, even in the toughest circumstances. It was an extremely humbling experience.”
For an hour on Wednesday nights, Young Life meets at the homes of Dexter students for club and campaigners. This year, it has taken place at Noah Mitchell and Matt Keogh’s house. Any student is welcome to attend Young Life; it invites everyone to come, even if they are not religious.
“I like how big Young Life has grown in the past few years and how there are always new people at club,” Mendez said. “It’s a really fun way to make friends and have a community where you can be yourself.”
Fun games, snacks, a prize raffle, a skit, and a talk about God happens at every club. The talk is given by one of Dexter’s Young Life leaders. They relate one of their life stories to the Bible, share it with everyone attending, and then end in a prayer.
Campaigners offers a time to dive deeper into the Bible with friends and the leaders. At Campaigners, Young Life leaders focus on a bible story and read it to the group. They ask questions about the story to help students develope an understanding and relate it to their life. After they have talked about what was read, everyone concludes the night with a prayer.
Dexter Young Life attends Timber Wolf Lake, one of many Young Life camps. It’s located in Lake City, Michigan, which is about three hours North of Dexter.
Young Life attends this camp in the fall for a weekend, and in the summer for a week. It’s a great way to escape your everyday life and have tons of fun. Timber Wolf Lake is loaded with many fun activities: zip lining, go-karts, foursquare, a big swing, rock climbing, a gym, and a game room. Also, it has a snack shop, a gift store, and a coffee shop.
Club is continued at camp and takes place in a huge room. At club, many songs are sung and a few leaders perform skits in front of the entire audience. These skits are meant to be funny and interactive with the crowd. Next, a speaker gives an in-depth sermon, usually involving a common theme from a sermon given at a local meeting. The speaker usually talks about God’s love and forgiveness.
This is for one main reason: Young Life’s mission is to introduce adolescents to God.
Cabin time follows after every club. It’s similar to Campaigners, and is a time to get together with everyone in your cabin and talk about the sermon that was given at club.
Cabin time is a great way to get closer to everyone and potentially grow a relationship with God.
Young Life wants anyone who as a desire to attend camp to be able to go. To make this possible, they offer scholarships and fundraising to accommodate all different financial needs.
With Young Life involving high school students, that often comes along with many misconceptions. Many students, when taking a survey for The Squall said that it’s associated with a church, which is false. Also, some students believe that Young Life is a “Christian cult” or even that God is not discussed at all.
“It seems like a place people go to hang out and play games,” junior Jake Avery said. “Also, it seems like it’s less about God and more of an excuse for people to hang out. It’s fine, but it just seems like a bit of false advertising.”
These misconceptions, however, are proven wrong by Young Life’s welcoming spirit and their mission according to high schoolers who regularly attend Young Life.
Young Life continues to change many people’s lives for the better and create lasting memories: “Young Life is really nice as it’s a social event in the middle of the week,” junior Evan Chapell said. “It’s definitely left a positive impact on my life with making great memories.”