Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Walking God

Years ago, I had my first summer camp assignment as a work crew boss at Sharptop Cove. As a young staff person, I remember curiously watching our camp director. He seemed to always be walking around camp, slowly, with another person from the assigned team by his side. It was Wednesday of that first week when he invited me to set down my weed-eater and join him for a stroll. 

We walked around together for probably an hour. I remember how it made me feel so cared for that the head honcho wanted to spend time with me. And that he wasn't distracted. And that he wasn't in a hurry.

This summer I've had the privilege of taking some slow walks with a few of my high school friends. It's felt quite different from the typical contact work scenarios. No eating. No sports. No games. No entertainment. Just two guys walking together. Sometimes in a neighborhood. Sometimes in the woods.

A few months back, I met with a friend from church who is a seasoned psychologist. I wanted to ask his advice in regards to one of my high school friends who was stuck in paralyzing anxiety. The first thing out of his mouth was, "Y'all should take walks together." He began to tell me about something called "bilateral stimulation." He said that walking is actually a medically proven therapy for anxiety in how it stimulates the brain.

Scholars estimate that Jesus walked an average of 15-25 miles/day during his three years of ministry. It seems like Jesus' primary method of discipleship was walking with people. Maybe that's why the mid-week hikes at Young Life camps feels so powerful. Maybe it's not so much the view, as it is the journey.

Wonder what would happen if, instead of a milkshake run, you invited one of your high school friends to take a walk tonight? 

Make sure to leave the phones behind. To walk slowly. To listen to your heart beat. To pay attention to the birds. To gratefully enjoy one another's presence. And to remember the One who walks along with you.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

WyldLife Wednesday: Maximizing Free Time at Camp

Written by Joe Nelson, WyldLife staff in Charlottesville, VA 

There are two main types of campers at WyldLife camp. The first group includes the golden retriever (or perhaps rabid wolf) type kids who take every opportunity to run wild and free and are just dying to be let off the leash at camp. We’ll call these independent campers. The second group is made up of the timid duckling campers who have no idea what to do and usually stick very close to their leaders. We’ll call these dependent campers.

Both types of campers present their own unique opportunities and challenges during free time at WyldLife camp. Below are some practical tips for maximizing your free time with kids at camp, acknowledging the differences in both dependent and independent campers.

Know your cabin
This is perhaps the most important part. Your leadership in maximizing free time with campers begins at home. Knowing the needs and interests of your whole group in general and each individual specifically will make a huge difference in your camp trip. If you don’t know some of your campers well before the trip, get to know them on the bus as best you can.

Have a plan
Having a plan is pivotal for maximizing free time. There are two specific situations that you always want to have a plan for.
  • Arriving at camp: The is the first moment you get to camp. After the welcome and checking into your cabins, you will likely have some free time. This is where you set the tone. Kids expectations and impressions of camp are being formed, so the moment is crucial. Have a plan to carry the energy from the welcome into this very first cabin-unifying event together. (Check out the examples below). This can be as simple as saying, “Hey, let’s all go throw on our swimsuits and head down to the pool together!”
  • After lunch: Free time almost always begins directly following lunch. Come up with something fun to do together with your cabin right at the beginning of free time, and spread the word during lunch (Again, see examples below)!

Some examples
  • Head to the pool
  • Specific camp activity (i.e. swing, zipline, sailboats, canoes/kayaks, etc.)
  • Set a “camp record” together (most half-court shots made, most milkshakes drank, etc.).
  • “Take over” an area of camp (the gaga pit, volleyball courts, craft shack, etc.)
  • Participate in a week-long or day long decathlon (sometimes the program team will have one made, but you can always make your own)
  • School/Area event (kickball game, mixers in the gym, world cup, etc.)

Cabin Unity
The program and activities at camp are set up to facilitate a leader-centered cabin unifying experience. Free time can add to that! You will create more memories with kids and set the stage for better cabin times when you are able to lead your cabin to do things as a group during free time.
  • Independent camper: This is a bit harder to do with the independent campers. As much as you can, bring them into the fold of cabin unity. However, do not force the issue to the point where you become a pest. If the independent kids want to run off and be first in line at the swing, let them.
  • Dependent camper: This is easy for them, they want to be part of it. Just make sure they don’t feel like an insignificant part of the group. Set them up to be the heroes of the group when and where you can!

Monday, June 26, 2017

How To Do a Color War

Written by Lindsey Horton, Young Life leader in Rome, GA. 

Are you looking for a fun event to build momentum in your YL area this summer?

Do you want a summer-time alternative to Clubble?

Already planning for a big kick-off for August or September?

Look no further than a Color War!

You might have seen this done at a summer camp or been a part of a Color Run. A Color War is essentially a color run without the running - well, not as much running.

With tons of colored powder, you’ll play several games with a giant color fight as your closer. Kids love it. It gets them messy, but not gross, and is easy to wash off. Additionally, it makes for some great social media posts for your high/middle schoolers. So, here’s how it works:

Pick a Place

It's best to have the event in an open field. We used a field behind a local church. The powder will wash away in the rain, so it doesn't leave a huge mess. Make sure there is a water hose nearby. Also, lay down towels so folks don't track in the powder if they need to go inside to use the bathroom.

Powder Prep

If you have a large budget, you can purchase already dyed Holi powders in bulk, it’s more expensive, but way less work. It's $120 for 25 lbs on Amazon. (You probably need at least 2 lbs/kid to make it fun, so 25 kids would be a minimum of 50lbs of powder. The more powder, the more fun.)

If you’re looking for a cheaper option, you can make your own Color Powder using cornstarch and food coloring. Here’s how you do it. (Well, this is how WE did it - you can also find other ways to make it online.)

How To Make The Powder
  • Order 200lbs of cornstarch (We bought it from It's $20 for a 50 lbs bag. We ordered 4 bags, so 200lbs for about 50 kids. Shipping was an extra $50, so it was $130 for all the cornstarch. Order it in advance and you can get cheaper shipping.)
  • Order 2 boxes of 8 oz. food coloring (red, pink, yellow, orange, purple, blue, etc.). It's $15 on Amazon
  • Gather a dozen of your middle and high school friends for a Powder Coloring Party. 
  • We mixed it all in large containers, but realized later that using smaller aluminum pans would have worked better as the powder needs to dry.
  • The exact water amount you need is just estimated - you basically add water until it’s a creamy consistency. You don’t want to add too much as it will take too long to dry, but you don’t want to add too little lest the colors won’t dye the starch. But it’s not an exact science. 
  • With 200lbs, we were able to create 6 different colors which we rationed out during the event.
  • Ideally, you would make the powder a week or two before the event so it has enough time to dry. The sun will dry them up pretty well, but careful about leaving them out overnight as the dew and condensation will affect the drying process. Keeping them out on something like a driveway or parking lot where it can stay dry overnight. Keep checking up on the powder to make sure it’s drying correctly. If you’re getting up to the date of your event and the powder’s still not dry, try separating the powder into smaller flat bins so they’ll dry faster.

Day-of Prep

For our games, we used the following supplies: 
  • 10 pool noodles
  • 600 water balloons (we bought the instant balloons on Amazon. They are so worth it and fill up and tie themselves in 30 seconds!)
  • 4 buckets for the balloons
  • 180 8 oz. plastic cups for the powder. 
You don’t have to use all of these since you can do whatever games you want, but this is what we did. Make sure you and your team know all of the games you’re going to be playing and can be able to explain them - the more people helping instruct/answer questions about the games the better.

The Event
  • Borrow a sound system to use outdoors. Good music makes the event a party.
  • Make sure to get a photographer/videographer to be there! It's easy to edit the video quickly with the Magisto App. 
  • Have a welcome table where kids can fill out club cards.
  • Get a couple colorful skit characters to host the event.
  • As kids arrive, you can have yard games for them to play. 4 Square, conrhole, frisbees, footballs, etc...
  • Next, we warmed up with some mixer games like baby/bunkbed/backpack, follow-the-winner rock/paper/scissors, freeze tag, etc...
  • For the games, we started with 4-team capture the flag - but 2-team also works. Only really use 4-team if you have a larger club since it can get a bit confusing. We played three rounds of capture the flag alternating with powder (which was placed in small plastic cups), water balloons, and powder again as ammo. We allowed the kids to fill up their cups with water from their water balloon buckets to use as ammo as well. Instead of being tagged by hand, you got tagged if you got hit with powder or water.
  • Next, we played sharks and minnows using the pool noodles - getting hit by a noodle instead of getting tagged. The different teams took turns being sharks in the middle. Whoever could run across without being hit by a shark would earn points for their team. You could also mix in powder with the noodles as a tagging method.
  • Finally, we had the color war. We handed all of the students 1 cup full of powder and a couple water balloons. The leaders then stood in a big circle on the outside with the extra bins of balloons and the extra powder so the students could reload during the war. We picked a hype song, and when the bass dropped the war began. 
  • There’s no real winner, just people throwing the water balloons and color powder around until you run out.
  • For us, it took about 35 minutes to actually run through the powder and water balloons. However, we were able to stretch the whole event out with the other games and with water breaks and all, it lasted for about an hour and a half. So you don’t have to play the other games, but if you do only color war then it ends up being a pretty short event. Having the other events really help hype up the color war too. However, don’t try to do too many exhausting games before the color war. Remember that the war is your main event and really why kids are there, so you don’t want to wear them out by making them run around too much before the main event.
  • Also, try to include a fun prize for the winning team after the events. If you have extra powder, use some of the volunteer leaders and have them create a tunnel for the winning team to run through. As the kids run through, you can pour the last few buckets of powder on them to make sure they are truly covered in powder. If you don’t have any powder left, ice pops work just as well to cool down after a fun, hot day. 

All in all, the Color War is a great kick-off event for your year of Young Life clubs. While it can take a lot of prep work, it’s definitely a lot of fun and your friends will love it! Make sure to upload the pics afterwards to a sharing site for them to download and be able to post on social media.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Brand New Content Song from Nashville Young Life Leaders

A couple Nashville Young Life leaders, Chris Chaput and Becky Kinder, have written a new content song for Young Life clubs. It's called "More to Me" and has gone really well during first session at Frontier. It would fit great with a need talk. Below you can download the MP3 and chords.

Download the MP3

Download PowerPoint slides

Download Keynote slides

Chords - Key of D - No Capo

Chords - Original Key of D


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Fun Ideas To Send To Work Crew & Summer Staff

Do you have any friends doing work crew or summer staff this summer? They would love to get a letter or package in the mail!

You can find all the camp addresses right here.

Make sure to mail it in time so they get it before they leave.

Below are a few things you can write on and mail without putting them inside a package. These are legal, cheap, fun and unusual:

  • Flip Flop
  • Pool Noodle
  • Frisbee
  • Plastic pink flamingo
  • Empty 2 Liter Bottle (with note inside)
  • Plastic playground ball
  • Visor

Another great thing to mail them is one of your extra YL camp trip shirts!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Table Questions For Meals At Camp

During a week at Young Life camp we get the privilege of eating around 20 meals with our middle and high school friends. For most of those meals, we're seated at a round table for the very purpose of promoting "family style" conversation.

We live in a busy world. Most families are spending less time eating and talking together. In a culture where we're more used to facing screens then facing each other, it might seem uncomfortable for your adolescent friends to sit at a round table. Thirty minutes of food and conversation might feel like an eternity.

Below are some questions to help facilitate conversation during those meal times. Make sure not to make the meal feel like an interview, just let it be natural conversation. Pick a couple questions from below and have them in your back pocket for when you need them. I typically just do one "meal question" at every meal. Kids come to expect it and some even look forward to it. Sometimes I let individual kids suggest a "meal question" as well. Breakfast is usually a more light-hearted question as folks are still waking up. Questions can get deeper as the week goes on. 

Written by Drew Hill

Download a PDF of the questions here.

Potential Camp Meal Questions



  • Why did you come to YL for the first time?
  • Tell us a nickname you've had and how you got it.
  • What are one or two of your pet peeves?



  • What's been one of the most exciting moments in your life?
  • What's been one of the scariest moments in your life?


  • If you could dispense any condiment out of your pinky finger on demand what would it be?
  • Choose one of each to describe you:
    • Talker/Listener
    • Doer/Thinker
    • Spender/Saver
    • Optimist/Pessimist
    • Starter/Finisher
    • Extrovert/Introvert


  • If you could pick the meal for tonight, what food would it be?
  • What is your earliest memory?
  • Who was your childhood hero and why?



  • If you got a tattoo, what would it be and where?
  • Tell us the names of your family members, and describe your relationship with them.


  • What's the best or worst vacation you've ever been on?
  • What is your favorite place on the planet?


  • What is the highlight of your week so far?
  • Finish the sentence: "I wish God would...."



  • What is your favorite summer movie you've seen so far and why did you love it so much?
  • If you could be any movie character, who would you be and why?


  • Say 3 things about yourself, one being false and have the group guess which of the three statements isn't true.
  • If you could have any question answered, what would it be?


  • If you were given 2 million dollars and could buy any vehicle for everyone in our group, what type of vehicle would you buy for each person and why?
  • What is one way your parents have sacrificed for you?



  • Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
  • If you knew you wouldn't fail, what's one thing you would like to do in life?


  • Who do you wish would have come with you to camp this week?
  • With what famous person would you most like to share a meal? What would you ask them?
  • What's the hardest part of being a teenager?


  • In what area of your life do you feel most satisfied right now? Why?
  • In what area do you feel least satisfied?
  • What do you think God has been revealing to you this week?



  • We heard about the gift of God's love for us displayed on the cross last night, what is another one of the greatest gifts you've ever been given?
  • Who knows you best?
  • Who has the greatest influence on you? What person(s)?
  • What's your favorite meal we've had this week?
  • What's the funniest thing you've witnessed this week?
  • What are 3-5 words your parents would use to describe you?
  • What are 3-5 words your friends would use to describe you?
  • What are 3-5 words you would use to describe you?
  • Encourage everyone at your table to go around and give each person a compliment.



  • How would you describe your relationship with Christ right now?
  • If you had to live this past week over again, would you change anything? If so, what would that be?

If you have other ideas for creative interaction around meal-times at camp, email us here.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Camp Survival Guide for New Leaders

Written by Craig Linder.

As a new leader at camp, you may feel nervous or under-prepared for what awaits you at camp. Here are some of the most important things I’ve learned about serving campers well.

Time With The Lord

This may seem obvious, but time with the Lord is what will fuel you throughout your day. You will be tempted to get an extra 30 minutes of sleep before breakfast, or the leader meeting, but start your day with the Lord. Waking up early to be in His Word and praying throughout your dayare of upmost importance, especially when you get tired. Pray for the needs of your campers, the staff, or whatever it may be. Make your requests known! We need the cross every day. Laying down your life before Jesus will allow you to love your campers in a more Christ-centered way. He is the reason that you are there. Give your requests and then give Him the GLORY!

Establish Yourself as the Leader

Establishing yourself as the leader can be a scary thing. At first, it may mean that you aren’t as rebellious or cool as they thought you were, but when choosing between friendship and respect, err on the side of respect. Here are some examples: Don’t allow sneaking out; No practical jokes on other cabins; Don’t allow kids to talk or sleep through the message at club. Essentially, anything that seems like a bad idea, or could distract someone else from hearing the full message of the Gospel, kindly shut down. But be wary that you aren’t another one of their parents. They didn’t come to camp to be yelled at by their mom or dad.

Don’t Whine

Never complain in front of your campers. If you want your campers to have a positive attitude, they need to see how excited you are (to the point where they think you are really weird) for every little thing that happens (even if you really, really don’t want to participate). You should be twice as excited as you expect your campers to be.

Keep Surprises

Don’t let the campers know the agenda even under the most persistent of pressures. Suspense and surprise are key! Encourage your second timers to keep the week’s surprises too. And discourage them from comparing this camp to the one that they had been to previously. Encourage them to see camp through the eyes of their friends experiencing it for the first time. One of my favorite lines that my leader said to me when I was a camper is; “Don’t anticipate, PARTICIPATE!”

Know Your Campers

You have been establishing relationships with most the kids going to camp all year. But camp is a time when you are able to get to know them in a new place, a place unfamiliar to them. During “down times” like the bus ride, or waiting in line for the giant swing or a shake at the snack bar, use the time to get to know new kids or grow deeper with the kids that you already know well.

Ask Key Campaigner Kids to Help

I have always been a fan of delegating responsibilities to solid Campaigner kids. From helping in cabin times to sitting in on some of the one-on-ones, it is a really cool opportunity for them to grow. Also, having the Campaigner kid open up and be vulnerable in a cabin time, or to spur on conversation when the room gets a little quiet, encourages others to join in the conversation. But it is important to set up that opportunity and let the key Campaigner kids know how important their role is in the cabin. Have that conversation before camp!

Cabin Times
  1. Being prepared starts with prayer. Pray for God to touch the hearts of your campers. Pray for the speaker to be clear. You can never pray too much.
  2. Try your best to preserve your voice. This is often a difficult task, but I have seen leaders lose their voices on day two or three, and it makes leading the cabin times that much more difficult.
  3. Set the ground rules for cabin times. Everyone sits on the same level (easier for eye contact); no one lies down; the cabin is a safe place to be honest; be at meetings and clubs, etc. I have always written down all the cabin rules we agree to and ask all of the cabin sign the list. We post it on the door so we see it all the time. It’s never a bad thing to start off your cabin time with a fun question. It opens the floor and allows everyone to talk a little bit.

Your job for cabin times is to lead and direct discussion, not to be a preacher. The purpose of cabin time is to get a better understanding of what the kids are thinking, not to correct their theology. That said, try to keep everyone on track, and don’t let the conversation get too far off topic. Make sure that everyone in your cabin understands what the speaker has said throughout the week. You don’t have to know every answer. Assure them that being completely loved and accepted without knowing all the answers is the beauty of being in a relationship with Christ.

Remember Why You’re There

The point of camp is to offer our high school friends an unbelievable opportunity to hear the greatest love story ever written! Yes, the food is great. The rides are fun. But nothing can ever compare to what Jesus has done for us. Knowing that, have fun living life to the full with some of the kids that you are able to call friends. This is a week that these guys and girls will remember for the rest of their lives. How cool is it that we get to share in the journey with them!

Follow Up

With your team, prepare some sort of follow for up the cabin (or cabins) to help them continue their walk with Christ as they return from camp. That is one of the most beautiful parts of Young Life, we don’t say goodbye to the kids after camp—we come back to the real world to live life with them. Let them know that you will be there, with them and for them, whenever they need you.

Originally from Ohio, Craig Linder is a student at High Point University and currently wears two intramural basketball championship rings. When he's not ballin, he's volunteering as a YL leader at High Point Christian Academy in North Carolina.

Monday, June 12, 2017

How To Make The Perfect Trip Tee

Written by Jon Sittko, on staff with the YL Store.

"I need to make some trip tees and I have no idea where to start!

At the YL Store we get calls like this all the time. We actually love it, because we have a simple step-by- step process on how to make the perfect set of trip tees and how to save the leaders we work with a lot of time and headache. It's actually quite easy! 

Here are 5 simple steps:

Get your design down first.  This is the part you don’t want to put off to the last second because GREAT shirts are perfected over time. We use our in-house art team to design any tee a leader might need. You can literally design anything you want and we do it FREE as long as we are producing the shirt for you! I once had a leader call and say “Jon, I want a panda with 3D glasses smiling and watching a movie while eating popcorn, can you do that?” See what we sent back 24 hours later in the pic above. 

Or you can browse from the hundreds of designs we have on file HERE. We can adjust these designs in ANY way you want. It's always best to design your shirt about 2-3 months before you need to receive them. This gives you time to make it exactly what you want, but we can do it faster if you still need tees for camps this summer.

Not all shirts are created equal and neither are budgets.  Some people are on a budget but still want a soft style shirt and cannot afford a tri-blend tee.  That is ok…we have a lot of options to choose from and we will help you pick the perfect shirt for your budget and style.

Once you have your design and garment picked we will nail down the price of your shirts across different quantities so you can budget your trip costs accordingly. Remember we can always tweak your design or garment style to fit your budget needs.

That is your job to get as many kids on the bus for camp.  Now that you have your design done, you know what style of shirt you want and how much it all costs you can focus on the getting bodies in those shirts.

2-3 weeks before you need the shirts send us your sizes.  Since we have your design on file, your garment style and the price we can just plug in your sizes and hit “GO!”

Most of the leaders we have met over the years that are having success with events and gift are the ones that plan in advance. They always have the best ideas and the coolest designs AND they seem a lot less stressed out because they take the time to make it perfect. 

So this year with your Trip Tees try applying these 5 simple steps and let us help you make the PERFECT TRIP TEE this year! Happy camping!

Friday, June 9, 2017

The Next Frontier: A New Young Life Podcast

Written by your friends at the "On The Frontier" podcast- Justin Ryder and Ben Battaglia.

To the pioneers of Young Life,

We just wrapped Season 2 of On the Frontier (@frontierpod) — a podcast about leadership, creativity, and innovation in Young Life. Episodes discuss topics such as building missional community on the Alaskan frontiersongwriting with Ellie Holcomb, true leadership that creates changediscipleship with Fil Anderson, living a multi-cultural life and ministry with Hope Smith & Aswan Morris, and so many more.The conversations were electric, and we are thankful to our guests and listeners — the “crazy ones” — who made this season the best one yet.

What is next for 'On the Frontier'? 

Season 2 will be the final season of OTF (at least for the time being), as both Ben and Ryder take on some new and exciting projects. You can listen to the series finale, “The Final Frontier", and reminisce with us over 10 months of friendship and audio creativity. If you just discovered the podcast, feel free to subscribe and start from the beginning — the content isn't going anywhere — and there might even be an encore or two. In the meantime, we hope you'll join us in what's next.

A New Podcast Frontier

40 episodes barely scratched the surface of leadership gold that deserves to be unearthed from the Young Life world. The countless pioneers, creatives, and heroes living epic stories deserve a platform to tell their story! Because of that, we are excited to announce that Young Life is launching a worldwide podcast (click here to subscribe) in late summer/early fall to lift up these (your) voices. Our prayer is that this new podcast prompts intriguing questions, sculpts optimistic conversation, and encourages your ministry. We are after content that moves us forward as a real, vulnerable, and world-changing mission. This is only just the beginning.

Here's to the revolution,
Ryder & Ben

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

WyldLife Wednesday: Leading Cabin Time for Middle Schoolers

Club is over and you’re headed back to the cabin with a group of middle school friends. What does cabin time look like at WyldLife camp and how can you make the most effective use of that time?

After each leader meeting at camp, review the cabin time questions provided by the speaker. Make sure there is a question that “every kid can get an ‘A’ on” so that everyone has an opportunity to speak. Be prepared with extra questions and different ways to ask the speaker’s questions.

WyldLife leaders sometimes have low expec­tations for cabin time, but let's un­derstand that it will be meaningful, helpful and important to kids. Even kids who don’t speak in cabin time often say “It’s my fa­vorite part of the week!” Cabin time may be short, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t go well. Kids do process what they hear, but they may not verbalize their thoughts, especially early in the week.

Look for small victories in cabin time – stay­ing on subject for a few minutes… every kid speaking… one kid giving an honest answer. Check in with your fellow leaders frequently during the week to celebrate those victories together.

Affirmation is one of your biggest roles during cabin time. Kids need to know you care about what they say – most WyldLife kids will speak directly to their leader rather than the group so even facial expressions are import­ant. Pay attention to what kids say rather than worrying about the next question. Say “thank you” or “Wow! That’s a great story!” when a kid speaks.

Bottom line… we need to pray and then let what happens, happen. WyldLife cabin time looks different every time, but as one veteran WyldLife leader said, “It’s a good cabin time when we know that kids felt heard and that what they say matters.”

Written by Julie Clapp