Friday, April 24, 2015

Tom & Recie Raley: Leaving A Legacy

Written by Alan Smyth, Regional Director for Greater Los Angeles. 

Tom & Recie Raley are true icons of the faith and treasured gems of our mission. They were among the first staff people in our mission and helped shape it into what we know it to be today. The Raley’s had several stops around the country following God’s lead and pioneering work along the way. They left a rich legacy and long history of changed lives everywhere they went.

One of their stops was San Jose, California in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Tom served as the Divisional VP of the west and they led club at Leland High School. Young Life Club was big and fun and weekly Campaigners at their house was deeply meaningful. There are a bunch “50 something’s” running around today carrying a huge debt of gratitude for the Raley’s and the impact they made on our lives.

Tom passed away several years ago and Recie just last month. This group of old “Leland buddies” remains close today, but Recie’s passing gave them new cause to reminisce and be grateful for Young Life and specifically the Raley’s.

To that end, the Leland class of ’81-’82 has created a way to honor Tom & Recie by creating a legacy in their name. Greater Los Angeles YL, led by one of these Raley disciples from 1981, is launching an effort to plant Young Life in Compton. Compton is a part of South Central LA that happens to be one of the toughest spots in our country. All the urban issues exist in Compton and in great volume. Tom & Recie pioneered Young Life everywhere they went and it makes perfect sense that we attach their name and legacy to this pioneering effort in Compton.

The Class of ’81 & 82 is asking anyone who was impacted by the Raley’s, or perhaps just loves the idea of Young Life in Compton, to help us in creating this living legacy. We are asking four things:

  1. Pray for Compton.
  2. Become a monthly donor to the newly formed Compton area.
  3. Give a onetime gift to this area.
  4. Share, pass along, retweet and e-mail this to everyone you know!

You can go to and search for area CA571 “Compton” to make your gift.

Thank you for helping us honor Tom & Recie by participating in this pioneering effort and joining Team Raley!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

When Club Isn't Working

Last week I received an email from a YL staff person looking for activities to do 'when club isn't working' or if you have to 'punt' when there aren't very many kids at club. Below are a few options.
  • Poor Man's Paintball
  • Bigger, Better, Best
  • T-Shirt Rally 
    • Similar to Bigger, Better, Best, but with t-shirts instead. Just go knock on doors and try to get the most t-shirts given to you.
      • 1 point = T-shirt 
      • 2 points = Long sleeve t-shirt
      • 10 points = A t-shirt from your high school
      • 20 points = Bring back a high school friend who has never been to Young Life
      • 30 points = Bring back a summer camp deposit
  • Instagram Scavenger Hunt 
  • Matball
    • Similar to kickball except you have extra large bases for 1st and 3rd and both are switched in opposite places
    • After batting, you will run left to get to first base and proceed clockwise around the bases
    • The large mats can have as many people as you like on them
    • If you leave 1st or 3rd base you can go back with no penalty as long as you don't touch or pass 2nd or home plate. If you do go past those, you must continue to the next mat.
    • After passing home you continue back to first base. However, your run does not count unless you safely make it to first base.
  • Angleball
  • Manhunt
  • Find Your Leader
  • Couch Olympics
  • Cookout/Bonfire
  • Trampoline park
  • Dodgeball
  • Stickball
  • Field Trip To The Pet Store or Animal Shelter
  • Ultimate Frisbee
  • Go visit folks at a hospital or nursing home

If you have other ideas, please email us here and we'll add them to the post. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

What To Do After College Graduation: The Dale House Project

If you're about to graduate from college and are still trying to figure out what to do this coming year, I can't think of an experience I'd more highly recommend! The Dale House Project is hiring 1 male position starting in June and another male position starting in September. 

When I look back over my life, I'm convinced the most difficult year I've ever had was the one I spent working at the DHP. It was also some of the most significant twelve months of my life. (I worked there in 2003.)

  • Imagine a view of Pike's Peak from your bedroom every morning (14,000 ft elevation).
  • Imagine getting to be a Young Life leader that lives in the same house as your high school friends AND your YL team.
  • Imagine learning from wise and experienced staff who've worked with at-risk adolescents for dozens of years.

What Is The Dale House Project?

The Dale House is a residential care facility in Colorado Springs for at-risk teenagers. Many of these teenage residents are juvenile offenders transitioning out of lock-up facilities back into society. Some have been neglected, some abused, and most are not able to return home, if home even exists.

The Dale House opened in 1972 as a special project with Young Life. It was started in response to the alarming nation-wide proliferation of broken homes, child abuse, teenage pregnancy, incest, and drug and alcohol abuse. The DHP is located just a half mile walk to the Young Life Service Center. The Dale House is a led by a Christian community of staff that models community living for the residents. The staff relationships are a priority along with sharing Christ through this community with the residents.

The DHP has a goal to not just share Jesus verbally, but to holistically care for these teenagers by teaching them the skills necessary to live independently.

Each year the Dale House takes in hundreds of troubled young people. Most are referred by the Department of Human Services or the Division of Youth Corrections. Though licensed to house children ages 16-21, most residents are around 17 years old and average a length of stay of six to nine months.

Funding for the Project comes from a combination of government agencies who place children at Dale House along with contributions from churches, civic organizations, and individuals.

If you're interested in finding out more about the possibility of working at the DHP (starting this June or September) you can call the DHP at 719-471-0642. They'd love to chat with you. You can also visit find out more here.

You may have read this article about The Dale House in an issue of Relationships magazine from last spring.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Summer Movies: Opening Dates and Trailers

The summer movie season begins in just 10 days. Our job as YL leaders is to lead our middle and high school friends into the adventure of following Christ. Part of that means helping them discover better ways to use their time than just settling for the big screen. But another part of our role is to meet them right where they are, and this summer they're likely to be at the movie theaters.

We can take advantage of this by planning well. Last summer I wrote in my calendar the opening nights of the blockbuster movies. A couple weeks before one I wanted to see came out, I started talking it up with kids. We went to see a couple midnight showings and they thought it was cool that their YL leader was willing to drive them around in the wee hours of the morning.

One night we met at a field around 10pm to play "Glow in the Dark Ultimate Frisbee" before the movie. Another night we hit up Waffle House after the film. Great bonding and memories.


I haven't seen any of these movies below and would highly recommend you checking out reviews on before taking kids to see a movie you might regret. When in doubt, talk to your Area Director. Also, be sure to communicate well with parents, especially if you're keeping their kids out late at night. Don't just settle for 'my mom said it was cool.' Go ahead and make that phone call to a parent.

Below are the opening dates for some summer movies you might want to see with your middle/high school friends. You can view the trailer for each movie by clicking the movie title below.

May 1 - Avengers: Age of Ultron

May 15 - Pitch Perfect 2
May 22 - Tomorrowland
June 12th - Jurassic World
June 19th - Inside Out
July 10th - Minions
July 17th - Ant-Man
July 24th - Pixels and Pan
July 31st - Mission Impossible V
August 7th - The Fantastic Four
August 14th - The Man from UNCLE

What movies are missing from this list? Any 'movie contact work ideas' you can share? Shoot us an email.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Club Game Of The Week: Real or Fake Song Titles

Game idea submitted by Marty Fleszar, volunteer leader in Gross Pointe, MI.

How To Play
  • Label 1 wall of the room as "FAKE" and another wall as "REAL."
  • Show the first PowerPoint song title and give the students 15 seconds to get up and move to the wall indicating if they believe the song title is real or fake.
  • Advance the slide to reveal if the song is indeed real or fake.
  • Advance through the 7 song titles and have the kids keep track of how many they get right.
Another Variation: Real or Fake Movie Titles

Saturday, April 18, 2015

More MashUp Songs With Chords And Slides

Forever/Hold On We're Going Home
  1. Chords
  2. PowerPoint
  1. Chords
  1. Chords
  2. PowerPoint
Thank You Phillip Hardin, Jonathan Vanderbeck and Kyle Miller for sharing!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Young Life Coffee House

A guest post by Charlie Heritage, YL leader in Greensboro, NC

On Monday night, we held our 1st annual Young Life Coffee House.  We invited a few kids from each school in the area to share their talents. 

In 15 years of being a YL leader, this is one of the most memorable nights I have ever been a part of.  Why? Because it was simple, kids were the stars of the night, and the Good News was delivered. 

We were fortunate to be able to use a local warehouse (turned into church) space which created the perfect intimate setting for this event.  We provided a few light snacks and drinks at the beginning, turned the lights down low, and the show began.  

There were no judges. No prizes to be won. No need to be perfect in order to claim victory. One by one, kids stepped up to the mic and became heroes. From guitar players to a high school acapella group, the night was all about giving these high schoolers an opportunity to stand in front of their peers and do what they love.  

After half of the kids had performed, two seniors shared their testimonies and at the end of the night a leader gave a short talk. I know that there were kids in the audience who had never been to YL club before, but they were there to listen to their friends perform. Everyone in attendance got a chance to hear the Gospel and to hear from a couple of their high school friends what it means to have Christ in their lives.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

WyldLife Wednesday: 5 Ways To Get Parents Involved

5 Ways to Get Parents Involved

Gather an official team for the school with one parent for each grade. Ask these parents to be your advocates. They can find locations for club, ask for supplies, and look at school calendars to set schedules. They are the “face of WyldLife’ – always informed and ready to talk to other parents.

You can also work with parents more informally. Identify key parents for each grade whom you can call to check dates for club and camp. You can also ask them to help find people to drive, bring snacks and provide crowd control at club.

While kids may not use email, their parents do. And parents may be more likely to read an email from another parent than from a little known WyldLife leader. Find parents who can help you get the word out about club, Campaigners and camp. You can write the email, and they can forward it to their parent lists or club card lists.

Match parents up with college-aged or high school WyldLife leaders. Give parents an opportunity to care for the leaders who are serving their middle school kids. They can invite them to dinner with their families and look for other ways to encourage them.

Not every parent will make a good WyldLife leader, but some will be great in that role. Look for parents who love Jesus and who kids enjoy. Parents sometimes think they can’t be as cool as younger leaders, but adults can bring much needed stability to the ministry.

Parents are a wonderful and necessary resource for WyldLife, but can bring challenges, as well. The parents most willing to help may be the ones whose kids are not your target. If you have Christian parents who want to help, give them a vision for reaching other kids. You need parents who are about the whole school and not just their kids.

Written by Julie Clapp.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

How Young Life Leaders Say Goodbye

Some of your Young Life teammates are probably about to enter a season of transition.  Maybe they're graduating and moving this summer. Maybe they're burned out. Maybe they're called to another ministry. 

Their absence will be noticed. Not just by you or your team, but by the kids. Change is hard. Trust is expensive. Abandonment issues are real.

Would you consider sharing this post with any of your teammates who are transitioning out of being a YL leader at your school?  Hopefully it will help them and the middle and high school friends they leave behind.

How Do We Say Goodbye To Our High School Friends? 

Years ago I worked at The Dale House Project in Colorado Springs. It's a residential care facility started by Young Life for at-risk teenagers who cannot return home. During my one year internship, the counselor on staff spent time training us in how to say goodbye. He was firm in urging us to not make promises we couldn't keep. The specific population of kids we were working with had been repeatedly abandoned and rejected by their families and friends. Now we had come into their lives for a short time, loved them in a way they had never experienced, and soon we also would be leaving them. It wasn't easy. It didn't seem right. It hurt deeply, both us and the kids.

Jim encouraged us to speak to the kids in a language that was honest, loving, and leaving. He prompted us to say things like:

  • I'm so thankful for the time we've shared together and so sad to have it end.
  • Sadly, our relationship is probably never going to be the same that its been this year.
  • I want to keep in touch with you, but I also know that life and distance will not make that as easy as it has been.
  • I will pray for you when I think of you. 
  • I will miss you when I'm gone.
In this digital age we have the tendency to make false promises. We think because we're Facebook friends we can be real friends, when in reality its much more difficult when your paths aren't crossing regularly. In our busy lives, it's typically true: "Out of sight, Out of mind."

Dunbar's number asserts that we all have a relational capacity of around 150 people. Yet when I became a Young Life leader I was told to "make friends like you are going to know them for the rest of your life." That year alone I became friends with over 150 high schoolers, and now, many years later, those numbers have continued to grow.

I think I missed one key word during that YL Leader training. "Make friends LIKE you are going to know them for the rest of your life." As leaders, we are to befriend kids with the mentality that we would love to be a groomsmen or bridesmaid in their wedding one day, to be roasting them at their 40th birthday party, to be old friends on that "YL 100th Birthday Alumni Caribbean Cruise 2045." 

But we must also not be so arrogant to think that without us in their lives, they will never know Christ or have others love them and influence them in the way of Jesus. God calls people in and out of our lives for specific seasons.

The reality is that we're not going to know all of our high school friends for the rest of our lives. So...we must learn how to say goodbye.

If you are leaving...

You'll Be Missed More Than You Realize
Do not assume kids won't notice that you are gone. Whether you realize it our not, you are one of the only "adult friends" these teenagers have. They most likely feel closer to you than you feel to them. Even though they sometimes act like they don't even know you when you show up in the cafeteria or to a game, they will notice when you are gone. And it will be a loss for them.

Give An Explanation
When leaving, we must be intentional to actually say goodbye. It is easier to just leave without the hoopla, but kids need to know the truth. They need to hear it from you, not someone else. If you asked them to trust you and to be your friend, you at least owe them the time to tell them goodbye. In some cases, it may be complicated as to why you are leaving, but it is important for you to give the kids an honest, clear, and well thought through explanation.  You don't owe them all the details, but you at least owe them a reason for why you are leaving them.

Leave With Grace
Maybe you are leaving under not so great circumstances. Maybe you had a fall out with a teammate or a staff person. Maybe you're not a fan of the way things are being run. Even if you are leaving with tension, don't tear down others or verbally attack the ministry. Revenge doesn't mean that you win, it means that everyone loses. Choose your words carefully. Be truthful, but speak with grace. 

Be A Cheerleader
When a kid calls and tells you that "Young Life sucks since you left," encourage them to step up and be a leader instead of a critic. Be positive and support the leadership that is in place. Your voice still carries weight and influences the direction of the ministry. 

Don't Make Promises You Can't Keep

  • It hurts less initially if you say "I'm not going to be a leader, but we can still hang out all the time." But it hurts way more down the road when you aren't at all their games like you were last season.
  • It hurts less initially when you say "I'm moving, but we'll still talk all the time, that's what Twitter and cell phones are for." But it hurts way more down the road when you don't make those phone calls they were expecting.
  • It hurts less initially when you say "I'll come back and visit all the time." But it hurts way more down the road when they see pics on Facebook revealing that you were back in town and didn't call.

Tell them that you are sad that your relationship will never again be the same. Acknowledge the loss and hurt that comes with goodbyes.

Expect Anger
Not from many kids, but probably from the ones you are closest too. They have a right to be angry. You have chosen something else instead of them. But choices are part of life. Jesus chose only twelve disciples. He chose to spend more time with only three of them. Our choices affect others. Many kids have been wounded by one day coming home to find out their mom or dad have moved out. Many of them have experienced real abandonment and they will be angry at you, or even God. As I have moved I have had kids say to me, "You're leaving me just like everyone else in my life leaves me." We have got to trust that God is in control and if we are being obedient to Him, then His plan is for ultimate good, even when it results in anger and hurt.

Make The Hand-off
It is your responsibility to do whatever you can to set up the high school friends you are leaving with another YL leader or someone else who can invest in their life. While it's easier to just roll out, it's worth the extra effort to introduce the new leaders to kids and even create hang out events where the new leader can be set up well to begin to earn the right to be heard. Also, be strategic in introducing new leaders to school faculty and parents of kids that you know. A true sign of good leadership is the success of an organization after a leader leaves. Leave well.

Do you know a YL leader who is moving on? Feel free to share this with them.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Ben & Jerry's Free Cone Day

Tomorrow, Tuesday April 14th, is Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry's nation-wide. Noon-8pm. Grab your middle and high school friends and enjoy a cone.

Find your nearest Ben & Jerry's here.