Thursday, May 28, 2015

As You Head To Camp... A Guest Post By Jim Branch

This guest post was written by Jim Branch as an encouragement to Young Life leaders taking kids to camp this summer. Jim was on staff with YL staff for almost twenty years and now directs a ministry of spiritual nurture in Knoxville, TN. Many of you have been blessed by his devotional, simply known in YL circles as 'The Blue Book." You can read more encouragement from Jim at his blog, Blue Book Blog.

Well, camp time is upon us. As we speak, buses are speeding their way—if not broken down on the side of the road—to Young Life camps all over the country. There is nothing like a week of Young Life camp. And there is nothing more heroic than you, Young Life leader, relentlessly pursuing your high school friends, helping them raise money every weekend, praying they don’t back out at the last minute, and finally getting them on that bus. There are few feelings I love more than finally pulling into that Young Life camp, running through that tunnel of work crew cheers, and knowing that my teenage friends are about to hear—and see firsthand—a Love Story that is wilder that their wildest dreams and deeper than they could’ve ever asked or imagined.

And let me remind you of one simple, yet extraordinarily important truth as you go.


Sometimes in the craziness of pouring ourselves out for a week we can forget that. We can somehow miss the fact that God’s deep love and affection is not just for our friends, but for us. As a matter of fact, until we are totally convinced that we are unconditionally and passionately loved by Him, we will never be able to love our friends truly and freely the way God longs to love them through us. We will be far too wrapped up in our own issues—our fears, anxieties, and insecurities.

Take it from me, I’ve been there…over and over again. Even after over twenty years of Young Life ministry. So pay no attention to those voices inside your head that tell you: you stink, you are no good, you are a terrible Young Life leader. They are lies from the pit of hell.

Keep your ears attentive to the Voice of Truth that says: I love you. I am delighted in you. You are the apple of my eye and the joy of my heart. When I think about you my heart skips a beat and a huge smile breaks out on my face. You are my Beloved. As you give yourself to these dear friends for the week always know that you are fully and deeply loved. Have a great week! -Jim

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

What Should YL Leaders Pack For Summer Camp?

Psalm 119:105- "The Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path."

Mini Notepad/Pen

Take notes in the leader mtgs, write down the schedule, cabin time questions, etc... it's nice to have a lil notepad that fits in your pocket. It's also handy during club if you want to write down ideas from the talk/songs/etc...


I use it to label clothes, ziplock bags, and draw beards for western night.

Water Bottle

The Dos Equis guy got it wrong. 'Stay hydrated my friends.' Two keys to surviving a grueling week of lil sleep are eating right and drinking lots of H2O.


You know you look cool wearing it around, and on top of the cool points, its quite useful.

Crazy Creek

Comfy to have for leader meetings and cabin time. Probably not the best for the club room, unless you have 400 camping chairs to share.

Shoes (I bring 6 pairs, don't mock me)

  • Casual (for kickin' it)
  • Throw aways (for the obstacle course)
  • Extra pair (for the kid who only brought one pair of shoes and now they're wet. It's impossible to have the best week of your life if your shoes are always wet.)
  • Chacos (great for the shower and the lake)
  • Hiking boots/Running shoes/Closed-toed shoes (for the hike day, horse back riding, ropes course)
  • Bedroom slippers (Might sound funny, but sure feels homey. Plus, it gives your campers another way to make fun of you.)

White Noise
It's tough to sleep surrounded by the sound of 15 kids' random heavy breathing. The free White Noise app on the iPhone does the trick. Plus, it provides a great joke for all the kids to pick on you about for the next year. "Remember when you made us listen to that terrible noise all night long at camp." They'll mock you... but secretly be thankful.


Don't carry your phone all around camp when campers aren't allowed to have theirs. Borrow a camera or invest in one. But don't miss all the fun because you're on the sideline taking pics either.

Watch/Alarm Clock

Bring a watch so you can know the time and not have to pull out your phone. An alarm clock is essential as well as your body clock is going to press the all-natural snooze button.


Nuff said.


You do a lot of walking around camp. It's nice to not have to go back to the cabin to get things. I like to keep my Bible, notebook, crazy creek, sunscreen, shades, cards, camera, wallet, etc.. in a backpack. When I'm not wearing it I usually keep it in the Leader Lounge. I initially pack my backpack for the bus-ride. If you're wearing Chacos on the bus, make sure to put socks in your bag because buses can get chilly.


It's nice to have some candy to pass out on the bus, at cabin time, etc... You can also ask friends to mail your cabin a package at camp.

Cabin Unity Game Outfits

Don't go too overboard, it makes other cabins look bad. But don't go too underboard, it's fun to get creative and make your cabin feel special. Here are some ideas from


During my early years of leading, I used to play "Silent Football" with guys in the cabin at night. After realizing that game has potential to really "damage" some kids, I've switched to a nightly routine of playing "Push the Deck." We circle up laying on the floor, taking turns to do pushups through an entire stack of playing cards. Face cards=10. Aces=15. Number cards=# on the card. It tires guys out pretty good. Last man standing wins.

Ziplocks/Plastic Bags

Statistics show that 8 out of 10 YL campers/leaders leave camp with a wet item. Wouldn't it be nice to have a plastic bag to pack that baby in?


If you were a middle school girl in the 90's you might still have a Caboodle in your attic. It would be pretty hilarious if you packed it full of materials to do an "post cabin time- spa night."

Extra Clothes To Share

Gals love to trade clothes, and guys love to get dirty, so both male and female leaders should bring extra clothes. There's something bonding about sharing your gear.

Extra Pillow/Blanket

Everyone sleeps better with their own pillow. Pack your own comfy sheet or blanket (stuffed down in the pillow case.) A good night's sleep is essential to being an 'oh boy' leader. It's nice to have a warm blanket on a cold bus.

Extra Towels

Because it's gross to share a towel and your high school friend is going to forget to bring one.


A bad sunburn and chapped lips make it harder to have the best week ever. Make sure you and your campers use sunscreen and chap-stick, especially in Colorado!

Duct Tape

I always pack a roll and I always need it for something.

Theme Nights

Talk to your trip leader and find out what your theme nights are at camp. If you're doing 'Tacky Christmas,' then bring red/green gear. For Western night, bring eyeliner to make freckles, buck teeth, and extra bandanas.

Spending $

Be aware of what kids don't have extra $ and be willing to splurge and buy them a milkshake at the Sippie-Parlor.


Soap, shampoo, deo, toothbrush, toothpaste, contact solution, floss, razor, shaving cream, nose-hair trimmer, bug spray, labeled medications.


T-shirts, shorts, hoodies, jeans, swimsuit, rain jacket, underwear, socks, belt.


Hats, sunglasses, headphones, phone charger, etc...

What would you add? Comment below or email me here.

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Complete Guide To A YL'd Bus Ride

Many of us have LONG bus rides to camp this summer. Instead of just enduring the ride, let's make it a highlight of the trip. Below are a ton of ideas stolen from many different YL leaders over the years.

Bus Program
Have you ever done program...ON A BUS?! This link has a full script, music suggestions, and all you need to know to pull off Bus-Program. It's worth doing! How To Do Bus Program: A Run-on Skit For Your Ride To Camp

Bus Club
Why not? You probably already have a guitar on the bus. You can put song lyrics on PowerPoint and link your laptop to the screens. You've already got your Bus Program planned for you here, and you've got tons of games below. Just add a short talk if desired and you've got Club-On-A-Bus!

Great Pit Stops
Thanks to YL Area Director Zach Kreeger for writing down some fun ideas of places for the bus to stop all across the country: Where To Stop On The Way To Camp

On The Road Again
The bus will stop fairly often. After those food/potty breaks, it's an old YL tradition to play Willie Nelson's "On The Road Again" as soon as the bus starts driving. The first two times you play it, kids might not even notice. By the third time, they'll start to sing along. At the 13 hour driving mark, on your 5th stop, the kids will start booing, demanding you turn the song off. By the 12th stop, on your way home from camp, you'll intentionally not play it...and kids will boo again, this time demanding it. It will become like Pavlov's dog. How can the bus possibly move without Willie singing us along? Years from now, when these campers are parents themselves, they'll hear ol' Willie on the radio and remember the Best Week of Their Lives.

It's easy to get stuck in your seat on the back of the bus and miss out on opportunities to meet new folks sitting up front. Odds are you have kids from multiple schools on one bus. Help them get to know one another before they get to camp. It will make their camp experience even better. Also, those relationships will motivate kids to be at All Area events like Summer Campaigners when you get back home.

Everyone is more motivated to play when prizes are involved. You could offer some sweet incentives like $ to the camp store or a free milkshake at the snack shop. One way to keep them involved is to make a poster board with each camper's name. After each game, award each winner a sticky star. By the trip's end, whoever has the most sticky stars wins the prize!

Blanket Drop
My favorite opening mixer to do on a bus is Blanket Drop. It's a great way to make sure everyone knows everyone's name. Divide into two teams, front of the bus & back of the bus. Two leaders hold a blanket up from ceiling to floor. Each team puts one person in front of the blanket on each side. On the count of three, the leaders drop the blanket. Each person tries to say the other person's name standing on the other side of the blanket first. The faster person steals the other and brings that person on their side. The team with the most people wins. You can also play without stealing people and just play to 10 points. Before the game begins, make sure you give a good 5 minutes for people to walk around and learn first names.

PowerPoint Games
If you bring an adapter, it's fairly easy to connect your laptop to most Bus DVD player setups. If so, you can play some PowerPoint games and make them into contests for prizes. Chad Swanzy has some good free downloadable PowerPoint games at You can also download some free ones here.

If you're a Young Life leader, you've probably played Mafia. If not, here are the rules. All you need is a deck of cards.

Bus Bingo
This is a great mixer to help folks get to know one another. If you can swing it, I'd create your own version based on the kids going on your trip. In the past we took one specific fact about each person on the bus and had folks try to figure out who it was.

Two Truths & A Lie
This is another great way to help everyone on the bus get to know one another. Just as we spotlight kids by pulling them on stage at camp, why not do it on the bus? Give each of your friends a chance to hold the mic. They'll share 2 truths about themselves and 1 lie, in random order. Everyone on the bus will get to guess which is the lie.

Most Embarrassing Moment
Another similar activity is to have everyone write down their most embarrassing memory. Collect them, then select the best ones. Pull up 3 people to whom the embarrassing moment could have potentially happened. Read the story out loud. Then give each a chance to explain more about what really happened. 2 of them will be lying, trying to pawn the story as their own. After all 3 have shared, offer a time for questions from the crowd. Then reveal the actual victim.

Would You Rather
Give a scenario like "Would you rather have 10 inch fingernails or 10 inch toenails. If you’d rather have 10 inch toenails go on this side of the bus, if you’d rather have 10 inch fingernails go on this side of the bus”. Divide it up long ways so people don’t have to walk down the aisle to the front or back of the bus. There are quite a few websites and apps that can help you create questions, but better yet, why not gather a few kids at the front of the bus and let them own this game, coming up with their own questions for everyone?

Bus Idol
Make your own version of American Idol or The Voice! Bring an iPhone pre-loaded with Karaoke tracks of fun songs.

Rap Battle/Poetry Jam/Song Contest
Have kids write raps/poems about the trip and read them on the mic in front of everyone. A few years back we had 2 guys who rewrote the lyrics to "Hey There Delilah" and changed it to "Hey There Bus Driver." They played guitar and sang it in the mic. Our driver loved it! The possibilities are endless. 

Who Am I?
Similar to 20 Questions: Someone is "it" and thinks of a person, real or fictional, and others try to guess who they are with questions that can only be answered yes or no. A yes answer entitles you to another question, a no means the next person tries until someone guesses the correct character.

Mustache Contest
Whoever captures the best random mustache on camera, while at a travel stop, wins a fake mustache to proudly wear at camp.

Happy Driver
Make sure to get on the good side of your Bus Driver so he/she will give you freedom to make the bus ride fun. A good way to make them happy is to keep that bus clean. Bring extra trash bags and collect it often!

If you have awhile in between stops, it's helpful to have a cooler with cold drinks/snacks. Tell kids ahead of time if you're planning on selling them. You don't want to hear "I paid $800 for this trip, I deserve a free coke."

You can also play these songs you'll be singing at club on the speakers of the bus so kids begin to learn them!

Endless Ideas
The possibilities never end. Just take club games and change them to make them work on a bus. Don't settle for a movie marathon, make that ride one they won't soon forget!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

So You Just Graduated College, Now What?

The Greensboro Fellows program currently has two male openings starting September 2015. 

If you've just graduated college and are heading home for the summer, odds are you'll be answering the million-dollar question, "What are you doing now that you've graduated?"

Would you like the opportunity to:
  • Experience deep community and friendship after college?
  • Gain experience working in the marketplace?
  • Experience working in a church?
  • Take seminary classes?
  • Get world renowned Leadership training?
  • Be a Young Life leader?
  • Experience a Mission Trip to Africa?
For many college students, it's a big jump from earning a degree to actually applying it to a career. Dream jobs don't happen overnight - and that's if you even know what your dream job is. That's where the Greensboro Fellows Program comes in. The Greensboro Fellows Program is a 10-month (September – June) program for those who desire and are committed to the pursuit of spiritual, personal, and professional growth. It is intended and geared towards young adults who have recently finished college or grad school. The curriculum, planned excursions, internships, volunteer work, and community all work together to inspire and empower a Christ-centered life.

This program is based out of Greensboro, North Carolina, and serves as the ideal springboard for entering into professional careers and adult life. Here are just a few of the many things the Fellows Program offers:
  • spiritual growth through mentorship and discipleship
  • world-renowned leadership training through the Center for Creative Leadership
  • weekly networking with local business owners & ministry leaders
  • internship and volunteer opportunities
  • partnership with local Young Life
  • close-knit Christian and church community
  • free housing with a host family
  • opportunity to take accredited seminary classes
  • special trips and excursions
  • 2 week trip to Rwanda, Africa
If you are interested in learning more about this program, or applying to be a part of the 2015-2016 program year, you can visit the Greensboro Fellows website, watch this video, or email

"The Greensboro Fellows Program is far more than a transition out of college and into the adult world. The Fellows Program is a safe place to call home and a warm invitation to walk alongside family. You will be encouraged to grow more deeply than you thought possible, while simultaneously developing your professional skill set and your personal and spiritual gifts. You will be taught, nurtured, equipped and then sent out to build His kingdom." -Stacey Greene, a current GSO Fellow and an intern with

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Best Camp Fundraiser Ever: How We Made $1850 In 20 Minutes

Originally posted summer 2014.
We're leaving for summer camp in 24 days and still have lots of money to raise.

Our YL team told kids and parents "Do not let money keep you from going to camp. Pay what you can and we'll commit to helping you raise the rest."

We've spread mulch.

Cleaned a fence.
Held an Ultimate Frisbee tourney.
Sold doughnuts.
Built trophys.
Organized files.
Washed cars.
Cleared brush.
Pressure-washed driveways.
Flocked houses.
Pulled Weeds.
Mowed lawns.
Painted walls.

It's been exhausting, but incredible. I'm not sure there's a better type of contact work than camp fundraisers. Raising money alongside of your middle and high school friends to help them get to camp is uniquely bonding. It communicates love through action. "I want to spend a week of my life with you so badly that I'm willing to sit beside you and pull weeds to help get you there."

We've typically been making $10/hr, but in the past week we made $1,850 in just twenty minutes!

How? By telling the story.

Yesterday after church I was talking to a couple I don't know super well. They asked what I'd been up to lately. I told them our YL team had been working with kids all weekend to raise money to help get them to Young Life camp. To my surprise, the husband replied, "You know, I actually met Christ at Young Life camp 25 years ago. Thanks for what you're doing for those kids."

We talked a while longer and I left super encouraged. It makes pulling weeds feel worth it when I imagine my high school friends getting to share the same story with someone in the year 2039.

I honestly wasn't even thinking about that couple donating any money towards camp, but last night at 11pm I found an email in my inbox that made me cry like a baby.

"I didn’t want to say this out loud at church, but we would be happy to cover the cost ($925) of one of your kids going to camp. I know what it can mean in the life of a high schooler, so we would be honored to contribute."

Totally unexpected. Blown away. God provides.

Earlier this week something similar happened.

I sent a Facebook message out to guys I've taken to YL camp in the past. It essentially said, "Fellas, remember the best week of your life? In a month I get to take another group of high schoolers to Colorado for them to experience it as well. We still need to raise a lot of $ to help us get there. If you want to donate anything, that would be sweet."

I only heard back from one guy, but he called on Monday and said he wanted to cover the entire cost of a camper.

That night I was able to call a high school guy who needed money to help him get to camp and tell him the good news.

Thanks be to God!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


Thanks to everyone who has been helping out at Young Life camps around the country! Here are a few pics from #YLWorkWeek! 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Questions To Help Your YL Team Evaluate & Celebrate The Year

One of the most valuable, but often neglected, activities we can do as a Young Life team is to regularly evaluate and celebrate.

It's tempting to measure success with numbers. It's tempting to feel good about the year if you’ve had had big clubs and an epic camp sign-up. It's tempting to feel bad about the semester if Campaigners never picked up momentum. It's tempting to think wider is better than deeper.

Tempting and misleading. In the Psalms, we see the psalmists consistently reminding their souls of God's truth. We must do the same.

Before we evaluate and celebrate, let's remember the One who gives and takes away. If we trust God to be in control... when things go well, He gets the glory. And when our ministry seems to languish, we can say with open hands, "Sovereign God, in your timing, your will be done."

Below are some questions to help your team evaluate and celebrate the past year. 

  • What motivated you to keep going this year when things got hard?
  • What was something you experienced that was frustrating or disappointing?
  • What God-given gifts were you excited to use this year as you served in YL?
  • What gifts do you wish you would've developed?
  • What did the Lord teach you this year? How did you grow in your relationship with Him?
  • Where did Jesus surprise, interrupt, shake you up or delight you this year?
  • In addition to your role as a leader, what helped you grow in your faith?
Contact Work
  • Tell us a story that happened this year with one of your middle or high school friends.
  • Share contact work highlights. What worked well? What would you like to improve?
  • What new kids did you meet this semester?
  • What kids did you see grasp the Gospel for the first time?
  • What kids are heavy on your heart right now?
  • Share the highlights you remember from club this year.
  • What worked well at club this year? What should we keep doing next year? 
  • What should we do differently? What is one way to improve club in the fall?
  • Were kids given ownership of Club?
  • How could we 'spread the word' about club better starting in August?
  • What went well with your club talks? 
  • What is one way you can grow in becoming a better communicator of the Gospel?
  • As far as you were able, did you welcome new kids at club?
  • Did we remember names well?
  • Did we meet parents before and after club?
  • Did we leave the club room cleaned up, better than we found it?
  • Share a highlight or two from Campaigners this year.
  • How could Campaigners improve for next fall?
  • Who are 3 of your closest high school friends and how have you seen them grow? 
  • What kids are you most excited about going deeper with next year?
  • Were kids given ownership of Campaigners this year? Did you position kids to lead?
  • How have you felt about summer “camp sell“?
  • What have we done well as a team to get kids signed up?
  • What could we do differently next year to help get kids to camp?
  • What is your contact work plan for the summer?
  • If you will be out of town, how will you stay in touch with kids?
  • What are you looking forward to this summer?
  • What are you dreading?
  • Where do you sense God leading you this summer? Where are you excited to see God at work in your life this summer?
  • Share a time when you watched a teammate demonstrate Jesus' love. 
  • If our team could improve on one aspect of ministry next year, what would it be?
  • What one thing would you like to improve on in your personal ministry next year?
  • What is one thing we can be accountable for…to help you grow personally and in your ministry? How can we as a team support you?
  • What sacrifices did you make this year to do YL?  Were those wise sacrifices to make?
  • (If the team leader is leading this time...) What is something I as team leader did well?
  • What is something I as team leader can improve on in the fall?
  • How do you feel about our team dynamics? Did we love each other well? Pray for one another consistently? Serve and help one another? How can we grow in that next year?
  • Make a list of potential leaders to be praying for to join our team. 
You may also want to refer to the Young Life 'Back to the Basics' Inventory.

Now, go out and celebrate! Remember that He who began a good work in you and your ministry, promises to continue and complete it.

Monday, May 18, 2015

40 Reasons To Pursue Sexual Purity

Originally posted in May 2012.
Last night at Campaigners we looked at 1 Corinthians 6:16-20.  The senior guys were surprisingly mature, but reluctant to go deep. I asked them why they thought we should pursue sexual purity. Grasshoppers chirped outside. 

During our family's recent spring cleaning I discovered an old journal. Inside I found a list I'd written years ago entitled "40 Reasons to Pursue Sexual Purity." I shared it with the guys during Campaigners.

I debated posting the list on the blog because it's so personal, but I felt the Lord's prompting to share it. Hopefully it will help some of you out there in Young Life Leader Land, either personally or as you lead your Campaigner groups. 

The list isn't organized neatly. It's just as a stream of thought that came out of some time with the Lord as I wrestled with my own sin. 

40 Reasons To Pursue Sexual Purity 

1. Out of obedience to God, because He commanded it.

2. Because I know God has my best interest in mind.
3. So I can be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit instead of filled with lustful thoughts.
4. Because I am no longer a slave to sin, but now a slave to righteousness.
5. So I can be a man of integrity.
6. So I can be honest with my wife/future wife.
7. Because I'm cheating on my wife/future wife when I have lustful thoughts.
8. Because lust always leaves me feeling empty.
9. So I don't have to live in fear of being "found out."
10. So I can be a Godly father to my future kids.
11. Because an impure thought life leads to impure actions.
12. Because impure actions lead to regret.
13. Other men that have cheated on their wives didn't just fall into temptation, the cheating began with their thought life. I don't want to end up like that.
14. God calls us to take every thought captive. (2 Corinthians 10:5) 
15. What goes in must come out. I want to overflow God, not lust.
16. So I can honestly speak truth to all those I lead.
17. A pure thought life makes married sex life even better.
18. When I lust after another woman, that's someone else's daughter, sister, future wife or wife. (1 Timothy 5:2)
19. I don't want guys lusting after my wife, my sister or my daughter.
20. Obedience to God brings blessings, disobedience brings conflict.
21. Purity leads to intimacy with God and others. I desire intimacy.
22. I have no right to lust after another woman.
23. Being two-faced sucks...and is exhausting.
24. I want my life to be an open book.
25. I can't live however I please, squandering what God paid such a high price for.
26. Women are God's daughters.
27. Sexual impurity will eventually catch up to me.
28. I am more fulfilled when my mind is on Christ.
29. Lusting is a waste of valuable time that God has entrusted me to steward wisely.
30. Images are not quick to leave and will haunt me for a long time.
31. Porn is disgusting.
32. I desire a life of peace, not of fear and guilt.
33. God's boundaries are there to protect me and provide for me.
34. The Devil is a liar.
35. I want to be a man who honors women.
36. Choosing purity exalts the truth of God and silences the lies of the world.
37. It gives God more reign in my life. I can hear his voice more clearly.
38. My body is His temple.
39. Lust never satisfies. It is dead water. He is the Living Water.
40. Pursuing sexual purity forces me to be dependent upon God and not myself. I can't do it on my own strength. 

1 Corinthians 6:16-20 (MSG)
There's more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, "The two become one." Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever—the kind of sex that can never "become one." There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for "becoming one" with another. Or didn't you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don't you see that you can't live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body.

1 Thess 4: 3-8 (Phillips Translation)

God’s plan is to make you holy, and that entails first of all a clean cut with sexual immorality. Every one of you should learn to control his body, keeping it pure and treating it with respect, and never regarding it as an instrument for self-gratification, as do pagans with no knowledge of God. You cannot break this rule without in some way cheating your fellow-men. And you must remember that God will punish all who do offend in this matter, and we have warned you how we have seen this work out in our experience of life. The calling of God is not to impurity but to the most thorough purity, and anyone who makes light of the matter is not making light of man’s ruling but of God’s command. It is not for nothing that the Spirit God gives us is called the Holy Spirit. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Being Able to Chase Kids: A Pre-Camp Fitness Plan

A guest post by Andrew Cooper, Area Director in Fairbanks, AK.

It's that time year again when we all get ready for camp. Leaders everywhere are collecting deposits, designing T-shirts, and getting ready for the camp experience.

This fitness guide will help you prepare your body for the ultimate survival contest: Young Life camp.

The Bus Ride

Listen, I get it. Your area is trying to make the camp trip cheaper so more kids can go, but did they HAVE to rent the old school bus for the 30-hour ride to camp? Well, yes. Yes, they did.

How To Prepare:

Planks: Replace all your couch and chair cushions with planks of wood. Do thirty minute reps, four times a day. Sit on planks. Eat on planks. Try sleeping on planks. (Keep abdominals tight.) Repeat daily until departure.

Dance Parties

Just when you think it's bedtime at camp, another set of lights and music comes on at the pool or field. You must be ready to “shake it” at any moment.

How To Prepare:

Burpies: Ask a fellow leader to set random alarms any time, day or night. When an alarm goes off, do burpies! Reps of 20 at a time, preferably to the newest dance song sweeping the nation.

Dunk Tank

No one is fully prepared for the emotional scarring that takes place when your kids dunk you in freezing cold water, but you can prepare your body for the 'ice water challenge.'

How To Prepare:

Jumping Jacks: For every shower you take from now until camp, just as you are about to finish, turn it to super cold, wait 5 seconds, then jump out. 

Day Hike

It's important to prepare your body for the upcoming elevation increase it will soon experience. 

How To Prepare:

Stairmaster: Grab your Mountain smith bag, fill it with water bottles and a few extra hoodies and carry that around whenever you go out. Make sure when using any stairs from now until camp, you skip every other step and make those thighs burn! Make sure to wear Toms or Chacos to experience the full effect.

Snack Shack

Carbing up at camp is not difficult but some of the portion sizes can be, especially at the snack shack. Prepare your forearms to lift those massive ice cream scoops to your face, Don't lose that eating competition to a high school kid. They will NEVER let you forget.

How To Prepare:

Free Form Curling: Take a 5lb weight and strap it to your phone. Every time you go to answer a call or text, curl that puppy all the way to your face. Make sure you really hold those last few inches for maximum pumping.


You do not want to be that leader that gets horse after the first club. Trust me, leading cabin time gets tricky when you have no voice.

How To Prepare:

The Celine Dion: Sing. Sing loud. Every day. Especially in the shower. Repeat daily until camp. Drink lots of tea and honey.


For the love of Rayburn, start stretching! You don’t want to be that leader who pulls a “hammy” day two. Make sure you stretch before doing any camp prep reps or any camp activities. I would suggest a few positions but let’s be honest, anything that feels like stretching is more than we’re used to.

Remember, the best training regime for camp is something you've done all year--running after kids. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

WyldLife Wednesday: The Dangers of Instagram

Written by Julie Clapp.

If you’re a WyldLife leader, you’re probably on Instagram. It’s the social media platform of choice for our middle school friends, so if you want to communicate with them, Instagram is the place to be. (We use Instagram to tell kids about WyldLife club, but we use Facebook to tell their parents.)

A recent Time magazine article talks about how girls (and especially middle school girls) are using Instagram. Rachel Simmons writes “Girls have quietly repurposed the photo-sharing app into a barometer for popularity, friendship status and self-worth.”

I recognized most of the behavior she describes – a week doesn’t go by without a steady stream of birthday collages, often from 20 middle school girls all calling the same girl their BFF. And I’ve heard girls in the lunchroom talk about how many likes their posts have received.

And it made me wonder about my own interactions with girls on Instagram. Do feelings get hurt when girls aren’t followed by our WyldLife Instagram account (or my personal account)? Can I contribute to the competition if I like a post by one girl but ignore others – simply because I didn’t have time to look at them? Perhaps an “all or nothing” philosophy is required. As a leader, I want to be for all kids, and I don’t want social media to even unintentionally communicate anything less.

I’d encourage you to read the article and join me in thinking about the impact we can have on our middle school friends – even on Instagram. 

More Reading About Instagram

  • Here's another recent article/video by ESPN called Split Image. It's about a college freshman who seemed to be living the dream on Instagram, but struggling on the inside. It's a hard reminder of why kids need the hope of Jesus. 
  • And another article from Christianity Today: Why xxxChurch No Longer Supports Instagram