Saturday, February 22, 2020

Need A Low Prep Mixer For Club? Play Blanket Drop!

This is a great one to help people learn names! 

Bring one blanket, sleeping bag or sheet for every 16 people you have at club. 

How to Play
To play Blanket Drop, split into teams of around 8-people, each team sitting on a different side of the blanket. If you have 64 kids at club, you'll need 4 blankets (4 different games) and 8 teams of 8. 

Start out by getting both teams (16 total people) to circle up and everyone go around and say their first name. Go around the circle 3 times and then give folks a last chance to ask anyone they can't remember what their name is. 

To start the game, have two leaders hold up the blanket so the teams cannot see the other team. Next, have each team decide on one person to walk up to the blanket from each team. When the blanket is dropped there will be a person from each team facing one another. Of the two people standing, the first to say the other's name wins that round.

From here, you can continue playing multiple rounds. A variation on this game is that the loser of the round gets "stolen" by the winner to come to their team. 

This game could also be played on the bus on the way to camp to help campers get to know each other's names. 

Here's a video demonstration.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Preparing Potential Leaders to be Successful

Young Life teams are always looking for potential new leaders. In this search, it can be tempting to say “yes” to everyone who expresses interest in leading—especially when the demand for leaders is high. 

Being a Young Life leader is a deeply rewarding experience, but it’s often very different than expected. 

Young Life leadership can be fun and open doors for friendships and challenge people to walk closer with their savior. 

But leadership also means spending lots of time pursuing students and putting on events. It means rejection by students who don’t know how to be loved. It means being part of a team with other people who are also tired and need Jesus. Leadership is not as glamorous as a camp promo video—and clarifying these realities with future leaders before they commit is essential to the sustainability and health of our teams. 

So, how can we set potential leaders up to be successful before they commit?

Below are some suggestions for preparing future leaders before they ever join the team. Seeing leaders align themselves with these aspects of leadership is a strong indication that they’re healthy and able to commit. 

As you begin looking to grow your team, here are some conversations to have with potential leaders: 

  1. Ask leaders about their rhythms of rest. Do they regularly make time to be still and know that He is God?
    If leaders regularly schedule in time for rest, stillness, and silence in God’s presence, it allows them regular opportunities to be filled up after pouring out into students. These rhythms of rest set them up for leading from a place of being full, rather than one of depletion or exhaustion.
  2. Clarify the time commitment. It’s easy to be excited about what God’s doing in Young Life. It’s another thing to have consistent time to invest. Before asking leaders to commit, outline each weekly and monthly commitment that will be required of them. How much time do these items take? Then, ask them to prayerfully consider whether they can sustainably and healthily say “yes” to the time commitment. 
  3. Ask potential leaders to plug into community.
    Leaders may look to a Young Life team for friendship or community. While there is nothing wrong with finding friends in a leadership context, it’s also critical to be connected with a local church (and, ideally, a small group or Bible study). Help potential leaders feed their desire for community in a way that allows them to be poured into (and doesn’t place unrealistic expectations on the team).
  4. Set the expectation—in love—that leadership is about what the Lord asks us to give, not what we wish to gain.
    Leadership can be deeply rewarding. What better reward for our labor than to see young people encounter their Savior and His love? Helping young people meet Jesus must be the goal, though, rather than what we seek to personally gain by leading. 
  5. Challenge future leaders to let their “yes” be “yes”.As believers, we have the opportunity to reflect our Father who always keeps His promises. When we encourage future leaders in this commitment—not from a place of guilt or shame, but from the chance to look more like Jesus—we prepare them to see God show up, even in places they feel ill-equipped. Encourage leaders that their “yes” is a chance to show a world of broken promises what our God is like.

Using these conversations to identify future leaders may refine the number of people ready to commit, but our teams will be stronger for it. 

And, thank goodness our teams are not defined by numbers! We serve a God of multiplication who delights in showing up for his people. 

By clarifying commitments and expectations with leaders before they say “yes”, we prioritize having a healthy, sustainable team committed to pursuing Jesus first and foremost.  

Written by Micah Renck.

Micah leads at Young Life College in Colorado Springs, and she works as a Global Editor at David C. Cook. When not working or leading, she enjoys hiking, blogging, and spending intentional time with others. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

The 25 Best Fundraisers for Camp

In less than 4 months, we'll be taking our friends to summer camp for the BEST WEEK OF THEIR LIVES! In order to help you prepare, each Wednesday this semester we're sharing a post focused on camp! 

We're starting the BWOYL (Best Week of Your Life) series by looking at the top five excuses kids make for not going to camp. If you missed the first one, read it here. Today we're looking at how to respond to the $$$ problem.

  1. My friends aren't going.
  2. I don't have the money.
  3. My parents won't let me.
  4. I have schedule conflicts.
  5. I'm afraid of the unknown.

Money is a huge stressor in most teenagers' lives. When they see camp flyers they tend to skip everything and focus right on the $$$ amount.

"There's NO WAY my parents can afford that!"

"I'm already saving for a car."

"I still owe $300 for my drinking ticket and lawyer."

We can go blue in the face telling kids "Don't let money keep you from going!" BUT... until we show them (and their parents) a plan for how we're going to raise the cash, our words are empty promises.

How To OVER Communicate The Plan

  • Create information in an online format that is easily accessible for parents. Here's an example blogpost we shared with parents a few years ago. 
  • Make a simple video of yourself explaining how the fundraisers work. Link to the video on your area's website and social media accounts.
  • Make hard copies of the plan. Keep them in your car so you can be prepared to give them to a parent or potential camper along with the camp registration form.
  • Include the fundraising plan on the back of your camp flyers.
  • Make individual phone calls to parents. Give them the website to visit so you can both view the plan as you walk them through it.

The Fundraising Plan
  • Lay out the total cost.
  • Ask them to pay the deposit.
  • Ask them what additional amount they can pay.
Break down the fundraisers with practical examples of how they could raise the remainder along with how much time it would take.


$799 (Total Cost)
- $150 (deposit)
- $100 (could pay additional)
$550 (left to raise)

- $50 (from carwash donations: 3 hrs)
- $175 (Trash-A-Thon sponsors, 7 people giving $25 each: 3 hrs)
- $150 (Selling greeting cards, coupon books or Yankee Candles: 5 hrs)
- $100 (YL Yard Sale: 4 hrs)
- $75 (Yard work for a friend of YL: 4 hrs)
$0 remaining camp balance after 19 hours of work


The truth is that most fundraisers don't raise as much money as you hope... and they take a lot of effort, so doing fundraisers can be discouraging... UNLESS you realize that fundraising together is part of the journey, it's contact work, it's making memories, it's relationship-building, it's showing kids that you so badly want to spend a week with them that you're willing to work your tail off WITH THEM to make that happen. 

Design a Shirt

The Young Life store would love to help you create your own shirt design and run your own online store. See more here.

Design A Sticker 

  • Create a 2x4 Sticker design or have a student create one. It could be anything- your school logo, a fun saying that people at your school like, or even a customized Young Life sticker. 
  • Order some from the Young Life store or use a sticker website to create custom ones (Sticker Genius, Sticker Mule, Standout Stickers)
  • Sell them for $5 a sticker or 2 for $8.
  • Advertise these on your social media accounts and have your kids post them on theirs as well.

Pressure Washing 

Last spring we had great success pressure washing sidewalks, homes and driveways. Make a flyer and have kids pass them out in their neighborhoods. Get a group of kids together on a Saturday morning and borrow a pressure washer or two. After you get done, ask the folks you worked for to make a tax-deductible donation to YL and split in among the campership for all the workers!  This can be combined with picking weeds, and selling and spreading mulch.

Sell Mulch

Find a local business to sell the mulch at bulk prices. Homeowners pay extra to have students spread the mulch for them. Marcus Eiland said his group made $100 per house on mulch and an additional $200 for spreading the mulch. This is also a great opportunity for contact time with students. 


Location is key. Find a busy road and ask to use a parking lot in view of the road. We've had success with Chick-fil-a, Walmart, and grocery stores in the past.

You will probably make a total of $200-$400 in donations if you have 20 kids wash cars for 3 hrs. That's not even minimum wage per kid. In order to boost the kitty, you can find donors to match donations or have kids get sponsors.

The Best Carwash Secret: About 2 hrs in, when kids are getting tired and discouraged by the $2-$5 donations, have a pre-arranged friend show up to get their car washed. They were going to donate $100 to campership anyway, why not throw a $100 bill in the pot and encourage the kids to keep going strong for the last hour.

Another way to increase earnings is to have kids get sponsors. Ask Aunt Ruthie to make a tax-deductible donation of $1 for every car lil Johnny washes. Wash 50 cars= $50. Get 5 folks to do that and you've raised $250 in 3 hours! 

Yard Sale

Support Letters

Last week we got a letter in the mail from a friend who is a Young Life leader in another area asking for $ to help take his high school friends to camp. We sent him some. Why? Because I can't think of a much better investment to make in someone's life. If you ask your friends and cast vision for them as to how incredible an investment this will be in a high school student's life, they will support you. Ask your high school friends to send out letters too.

Odd Jobs For "Friends Of YL"

Jim Rayburn started a movement 75+ years ago that has impacted millions of lives. There are 60-year-olds in your community who still remember their first YL camp experience. Now they have good jobs and love to give away tax-deductible money. They would love for you to move that pile of wood from under their deck or pick weeds out of their garden. Just ask. They'll pay your high school friends way more than they deserve because they learned 30 years ago at YL camp about this thing called grace that changed their life forever.


Find sponsors per bag of trash you pick up to clean up the highway. You can get sponsors per bag of trash or just flat sponsorships of $25. One of our gals made $350 in an hour doing this last weekend.


This is fun outing to do after club has winded down for the year! Kids and leaders both can get pledges per pin they would bowl over three games. Most kids get pledges of 5-10 cents per pin. If a student gets around $2 per pin in total sponsorships and knock down 300 pins in 3 games, that's $600! You can also get businesses to be lane sponsors (much like hole sponsors at a golf tournament) to cover the overhead cost for the lanes and the food.


This is a fun and popular fundraiser, and an opportunity for kids to bring their friends. You can ask a local restaurant like Buffalo Wild Wings or Zaxby's to donate a portion or all of the wings. You can charge $20 for each participant, which will include wings, water, and a t-shirt which you can have sponsored by a local business. Students who are going to camp can get sponsors, they could be sponsored per wing or a flat amount. T-shirts can also be sold to spectators for $10 each, because who doesn't want another Young Life shirt? You can read more about Wing-A-Thons here and here

Carpet Cleaning

You can purchase a professional carpet cleaner, and together leaders and small groups of students can clean rugs and carpets. 

Missions Trip Products

If you're going on a YL Expeditions Spring Break missions trip bring back something unique from that place and sell it as a camp fundraiser. Example: coffee from Latin America (buy for $4/lb) and sell it for $15/lb.

41 & Change Coffee
The average family drinks 68 lbs of coffee a year. If that coffee was purchased from 41 & Change, that family would be making a donation of $547 to send kids to camp! Click this link to learn how. 

Sell Breakfast Burritos 

Sell burritos for $12 for a half-dozen and $20 for a dozen. Designate one or two leaders to be in charge of logistics, collecting donations, and purchasing ingredients. Find a weekend that works for most kids and use a church kitchen if available. You can make the burritos all together and have leaders go with kids to deliver them. Lizzie Penton, who shared this idea with us said her group made 65% profit on their burrito sale.

Other Fundraising Ideas That Have Worked
  • "Adopt-a-box" on social media, where you put 1,2,3,4,5,etc... all the way to 100 and ask your followers to pick a number of dollars to donate.
  • Run a YL5K Race and have runners create a Fundeasy giving page. 
  • Host a Trivia Night.
  • Host a breakfast at a local church on a Sunday morning. Advertise a few weeks in advance so people can bring cash donations for the breakfast. 
  • Host a dessert sale, similar to the Breakfast Burrito sale, where you sell cookies by the dozen or half dozen, or pies before a holiday like Easter or Thanksgiving. 
  • Set up a dodgeball tournament, with teams of 8 - 10 people at $10 per person which includes entry to play, t-shirt, water, and pizza. You can have the shirts paid for with sponsored ads on the back of the shirts. 
  • Cornhole Tournament. I had 2 kids pay their way to camp by putting on a similar event. 
  • Sell Krispy Kreme donuts. You can sell the 1 dozen donuts for $10 and kids make $5 per box towards camp
  • Christmas Wreath fundraiser with Westend Wreaths
  • Sell Local Coupon Books.
  • Sell Little Ceasar's Pizza Kits.
  • Sell Yankee Candles.
  • Host a Young Life Daddy-Daughter dance and have students help with set-up, refreshments, and tear-down. 
  • Work Concession Stands at local events.
  • Offer babysitting services for churches or corporate events.

Thanks to everyone in The Young Life Leader Facebook Group who contributed ideas! If you have other great fundraisers that have worked, email us ideas here and we'll add them to the post.

Sign up here to get more helpful tips for Young Life leaders.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Dos and Don'ts for Connecting With A Chronically Ill Teenager

As Young Life leaders, we hear from many kids about a lot of hard things in their lives. I don’t know about you, but I never know how to respond to them. How do you show them compassion? How can you be there for them? When should you stay silent? What do you say? It’s difficult to navigate.

One group of kids that can be especially hard to know how to relate to are chronically ill teenagers. We leaders don’t even know how to pronounce most of the diagnoses that rule their lives, let alone connect with them when illness forces their lives to be so different from the typical teen.

But as someone who was chronically ill throughout high school, I want to offer you some advice. Each student is going to have different preferences, but after talking with hundreds of chronically ill teenagers, I’ve noticed some common themes.

Don’t be afraid to ask about their illness.

There are some caveats to this. First of all, you need to sincerely care. Chronically ill people spend much of their time determining just how much someone wants to hear, so they don’t come across as dramatic or waste time explaining complex medical terms. You also need to be able to stomach some potentially disturbing details about health problems. 

Chronic illness isn’t pretty. But health is forced to be such a big part of a chronically ill teen’s life, so it’s important to acknowledge that part of their life and seek to support them in it. Asking one-on-one is usually best. Asking chronically ill people about their illness in a crowd can feel — to them — like they’re being cornered and interrogated. Which isn’t the best way to lower defenses or get honest answers.

Do ask about things besides their illness.

While sickness is a large part of a chronically ill teen’s life, it’s important to remember it’s not who they are. There is way more to them than their disability or diagnosis. Ask about their family, hobbies, or favorite movies as well as their health.

Obviously, be sensitive. There are many things chronically ill teens can’t do or that they used to do but can’t anymore. Make sure you see them as a person and not an illness. It can be so easy for them — and us! — to see illness as their identity. But labeling chronically ill people by their illness defines them apart from Christ, stealing their true identity as someone loved by God. We need to be aware and purposeful to treat them otherwise.

Don’t suggest magical cures.

I get it. You see someone hurting and want to help. So you share something you heard on the off chance it will give the chronically ill person you know relief or health. But chances are coconut oil isn’t going to magically fix all their health problems. For chronically ill teens, it can be exhausting to constantly field magical cures. Magical cures can give the impression that you think their illness is so minor one simple thing will fix it, therefore unintentionally belittling their pain.

The best thing you can do for someone who is chronically ill is to acknowledge the pain they’re facing and how hard it is. After you’ve known them for a long time and you’ve faithfully done your research, then it’s okay to share your medical advice with caution and sensitivity. Otherwise, it’s generally best to steer clear.

Do think of creative ways to involve them.

With this one, you want to be careful to avoid being patronizing or embarrassing them in front of everyone. Doing things to creatively involve them in club, Campaigners, and outings can be a huge blessing, powerfully showing them that you truly care. However, you want to be careful to accommodate in a way that doesn’t make them feel guilty or called out, especially in front of their peers.

Chronically ill people hate being a burden and sometimes it really is best to let them do their own thing. For example, don’t making a big deal of it if they bring their own food or if they need to leave early because of low energy.

And of course, we need to always be understanding if they need to cancel a coffee date or stay home from Club. Illness is extremely unpredictable, so never make them feel guilty for being unable to participate. Intentionally offer compassion and grace, and know that there are many aspects of their illness that they tend to hide from most people.

It can be difficult to build a relationship with someone who is chronically ill. But it’s worth it. Every teenager — including chronically ill kids — are loved by God and need to hear the gospel. So keep being faithful in the fight. Your efforts are not in vain, and with chronically ill teens little things often make the biggest impact.


S. G. Willoughby is a volunteer Young Life leader in Cottonwood, Arizona. She is the author of He's Making Diamonds: A Teen's Thoughts on Faith ThroughChronic Illness, and you can find her on her website -- or off having an adventure.