Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Story of Chris McDaniel- by Cliff Wright

Riverbend Campaigner Diane Funes
with Chris McDaniel at his first YL Club
Written by Cliff Wright, Area Director, University City/Cabarrus County (Charlotte, NC) 

Football at Riverbend High School was always a big deal — until the first game of the season when the Bears would lose, and the student section would disappear. But man, before that first game, the football team were the kings of campus. 

It was in the pre-first game loss hype of that school year that I heard about Chris McDaniel, a hard-hitting, confident senior transfer from Louisa High School. The girls already knew about him because of his hair. The guys knew about him because of his hits. I got to know him over wings and soft drinks at Quaker Steak and Lube in early August.

He liked that I had already heard of him- what high school guy doesn’t? He lit up when we talked about his dreams for this new year at his new school. I liked him. I would see him in the halls at school and would wait around after the games to tell him how great he did.

A few weeks into school, after the football team had lost a couple, the buzz was about Young Life starting up. That first club is a blur in my memory — I know we had some students leading games, run-on’s, and announcements. I know that there were hundreds of sweaty Riverbend kids, and I know that as I gave the talk that night about Jesus and his love of kids — that Chris McDaniel was in the front row (in the middle of a ton of girls) soaking it up, jaw wide open.

At the end of Club, our Campaigners kids were dapping him up, telling him they were glad he was there. Girls were taking pictures with him. He was loving it!

Afterwards, Chris was the first to come up to me saying “this is the best thing that I’ve ever seen. I can’t believe the whole world doesn’t come to this!” He was hooked.

Chris turned in his money for fall weekend at Rockbridge at his third club and he rode up on the late bus with 15 other football players, arriving at one of the most beautiful places on earth at 2am in the morning. Chris loved the weekend. We knew he would. 

Early Sunday morning around three in the morning Chris and I sat in the lobby of our dorm and he surrendered his life to Jesus. Seven hours later Chris stood up, grabbed a mic as it passed by him, and said through tears “My name is Christopher Patrick McDaniel and this weekend I gave my life to Christ.”

Less than 365 days later I was once again talking about Jesus, and Chris was in the front row —but this time it was his funeral. 

Chris died in a single car accident. He was 18. He never went to summer camp. He didn’t become a model Campaigner. Actually, there is an infinite list of things he never got to do. But he did smell the sweet aroma of Jesus at a Young Life club. He did have a Young Life leader walk into his life. He did get hugged by Campaigners at his first club. And he did believe in his heart and confess with his mouth that Jesus is Lord. And now he sees in person the one he first heard about on that sweaty night at a Young Life club.

Dearest Friends and Companions in the Race,

Planning club can be stressful. Caring for kids is heavy. Hoping that that one kid, the far out one, the one who doesn’t have a shot at Jesus, the one who can’t be reached — will show up at Club is heavy. Pouring yourself into prayers and details is overwhelming and tiring.
But it's worth it.

This week kids will rush into a club that you have put together, with Campaigners you have poured your heart and vision into. And you will tell them about Jesus. The only One. The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. You will tell them the truth, that He loves them with a crazy love. That He likes them. And you will do it humbly like you are sharing your lunch with a friend, but with wonder like you’re holding a fist full of diamonds.

And it is worth it.

Thank you for loving with a broken heart — just like Jesus did. I am bracing for the miracles! 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

WyldLife Wednesday: Wyld Moms

Written by Mary Beth Witler, WyldLife staff, Argyle, TX.

While having lunch with another Young Life staff person, we talked about how to get parents more involved in WyldLife. Parents are almost always willing to help, but identifying how they can help is the kicker. So we thought, “Let’s make a group and call them Wyld Moms. They will love it!” After all, who doesn’t want a shirt that says “Wyld Mom”? We kicked the group off last year and have seen it provide all kinds of new ideas and resources for our WyldLife ministry.

Here’s how you can have Wyld Moms in your area:

Find a mom who is involved in the school/community. A key parent is important as the host because she will be part of the reason parents come. Ask the host if she is willing to provide a few snacks so you don’t have to worry about providing food. When someone asks me, “What can I bring”, I take them up on the offer!

I have found that parents can be involved in too many areas, and they don’t need another weekly or monthly obligation. We decided to meet once at the beginning of each semester so I could let them in on our upcoming plans. The first time, we gathered for an hour - I didn’t want to overwhelm them, but also wanted to make it worthwhile. The chitchat made the meeting a little long so the next time, we planned a slightly longer meeting. I want to respect their time, so my goal is to finish when we say we will.

I have found that there are fewer conflicts later in the evening, so we met from 7:00 - 8:30 pm. Talk with parents to see what nights and times work for them. There’s no point in picking a time that works for you if it isn’t good for parents. Don’t be afraid to ask.

What should the meeting look like - casual or formal? Look at your area and see what’s the best fit for you. In my area we are somewhere in the middle. Structured, but fun with everyone involved. Here’s an example of the night’s agenda with explanations.

The night starts with mingling and snacks - this is your opportunity to talk with moms and get to know them. When they arrive, each person fills out a nametag and a Wyld Moms Interest Form. After everyone has arrived and mingling is dying down, we gather in the living room. I then go through the agenda above. We finish the night with prayer. Often a few moms stick around to talk more. Be bold and start conversations with moms. It can be intimidating at the beginning, but eventually you will be a natural.

Wyld Moms is a great way to connect with moms in your area! So many great ideas have come from my moms, and I am glad I gave them the opportunity to step in and help.

Follow this link for more helpful Wyld Moms material.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Questions To Ask In Your Post-Club Team Meeting

After club each week it's helpful to gather as a team and review the night. We call it our "post-club team time."

Our club ends at 9 pm and our team usually meets from 9:15-10:15 pm after everyone has left. Other clubs in our area gather another night of the week because a post-club meeting makes for a long Monday.

We always start the post-club meeting with an extended time of prayer, each leader thanking the Lord for what He did that night. After prayer, we review each part of club and ask two general questions along with a few others, depending on the week.

1. What went well?
2. What can we tweak for next time?

Parts of Club To Evaluate

  • Where did you see God show up tonight?
  • Did club feel fun?
  • Was it well organized?
  • Did club flow well or was there too much down time in between club elements?
  • Did we give kids ownership of club or did we do everything?
  • How were our senior leaders and other students made to be producers instead of consumers tonight?
  • Did we leave the club location better than we found it? Did we clean up well?
  • Who is writing a thank you note to the host family?

Pre- club
  • Were we prepared for club ahead of time so we could hang out with kids when they arrived?
  • Did you arrive to club spiritually prepared?
  • What new kids did you meet?
  • Did every new person feel welcomed?
  • Did we get all the new folks to fill out club cards?
  • What parents did you meet?
  • Did we communicate clearly with parents about pickup time and upcoming events?
  • Was parking an issue? Do we need to get folks to help direct traffic?
  • Did the seniors form the tunnel on time, was there clear communication?
  • Did we start on time?

  • What songs worked and which should we cut?
  • Were leaders and senior leaders spread throughout the crowd?
  • Were the lyrics on the screen correct and easy to read? What do we need to tweak?

Game, Mixer, Skit, Run-on
  • What was funny? What worked and what didn't?
  • Were kids made to feel like heroes or goats? Did we pick the right kids for the games?
  • Did the mixer get everyone involved?
  • Were the games/jokes in good taste and above reproach?

  • Be careful with this. It's important to limit negative feedback right after the talk. It's great to evaluate, but keep this time positive. Make a note of ways the speaker could improve next time and offer those critiques later in the week, not when they're vulnerable after just pouring out their heart.
  • It's helpful if the speaker can lead this time and ask the 5 questions below of the team.
  1. Did I seem prepared?
  2. Was Jesus lifted up? Did the Scripture come to life?
  3. What did you hear me say? What was my main point
  4. What's one thing I did really well?
  5. What's one thing I can work on for next time?

Friday, September 16, 2016

Free Krispy Kreme This Coming Monday: Talk Like A Pirate Day

This coming Monday, September 19, why not grab your whole YL team and hit up Krispy Kreme before school dressed as pirates? You would each get a free dozen! Then you could take the doughnuts out to your school to give away, still dressed as pirates. Probably want to check with your school administration first!

If you don't want to dress up, you can still get a free dozen by using the custom Krispy Kreme Snapchat pirate filter to digitally ‘dress’ like a pirate and show it to one of the employees. 

You can also get a single doughnut for free just by talking like a pirate. 

Would be fun to pick your friends up after school with a trunk full of pirate gear! 

More details here.

Find a location near you.

Costume Requirements
Qualifying pirate costumes must include at least three pirate items
  • Eye Patch
  • Pirate Hat
  • Pirate Flag
  • Bandana
  • Peg Leg
  • Parrot on Shoulder
  • Pirate Shirt / Loose white shirt
  • Knickers
  • Leather belt
  • Silver and gold necklaces and earrings
  • Pirate Hook
  • Pointy black boots or ragged brown sandals

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Taking Campaigners to the Deep End

I recently ran across an article about the "I Wish My Teacher Knew" index cards. A teacher in Denver, CO provided blank cards for her students to share anything they wanted her to know and it's heartbreaking to read the things her students wrote.

It reminded me of my favorite Campaigners question:

Finish the sentence "If you REALLY knew me..."

Before you ask the question at Campaigners this week, I'd encourage you to pull aside a couple kids who are leaders in the group. Maybe even talk to them about it a couple days in advance to give them time to think. Give them a heads up that you're going to ask that question during your next Campaigners time and encourage them to set the tone for the group early in the semester by being as vulnerable as possible. As the leader, you can set the tone too, but it's different when a young person watches another one of their peers remove the mask.

If you're a WyldLife leader, the index card idea might work even better than sharing out loud. 

Journal Trading

Another one of my favorite Campaigner traditions that helps kids be real is journal trading. It probably will work best with female groups, but I've actually done it with guys groups and some guys have loved it. You just buy one notebook/journal for each kid in your group and put their name on the front. Each week at Campaigners they bring it to you with real stuff written down in a letter format. As the leader, you respond in the same journal and write a letter back. You take the journal to club and hand it back to them to read what you wrote and give them another chance to write down more questions or share other issues before Campaigners the following week. Not everyone will do it, but it could open some beautiful doors to conversations with your middle, high school, or college friends. 

If you need other ideas for Campaigners questions, check here:

100 Great Campaigner Questions 

50 Questions to Take You Deeper

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Happy Birthday Jackson Davies

You may have already seen this video about Jackson Davies' birthday. It recently went viral on social media and was shared with us by Patrick Lundberg. Patrick is the Area Director for Young Life in Otter Tail County, MN and a close friend with Jackson's family. 

Tony Tripolli, a popular TV host, invited folks to wish Jackson a happy birthday via social media and it exploded with thousands of contributions, including one from Young Life! Near the end of the video you'll get to hear all the campers at Crooked Creek singing to Jackson. 

Thanks for sharing, Patrick!  

Watch the video here

WyldLife Wednesday: In Your Face: Tic-Tac-Toe

I had the opportunity to take a group of eighth grade girls to Camp Buckner this summer, and my friends had an incredible week. Grant Zeller, Kurt Cotter and Jessica Sims did a great job creating a program that was just right for middle school kids – from large all-camp activities to club games, they thought about their audience and planned accordingly.

One of our kids’ favorite club games is one we can’t wait to try back at home – an updated version of Tic Tac Toe.

They brought three girls and three guys to the stage for a classic battle of the sexes. At the back of the room, summer staff brought out a giant, plywood Tic Tac Toe board. (And I mean giant! I’m guessing it was at least 6 feet tall by 5 feet wide.) Each square had a piece of Velcro in the center.

Instead of Xs and Os, the kids were given giant photos of the two program characters’ faces – again, giant! Probably almost two feet tall! Each set of photos included the character making different goofy faces and had Velcro on the back.

When the game started, the first girl and guy took their faces and raced through the crowd to the back of the room to stick the giant faces on the Tic Tac Toe board. Then they raced back to tag the next person in their lines. The next contestants took their faces to the back of the room and the relay continued until one team got three in a row. If they ran out of “faces” without getting a Tic Tac Toe, the next person in line could move one of their faces on the board.

The crowd cheered for their teams as they competed in several different rounds of the game.

Even if you don’t have familiar program characters at club, you could do the same thing with photos of two of your leaders. Definitely a fun way to update a classic game and make it a crowd favorite.

Written by Julie Clapp.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Campaigners Songbook

Lou Chiccehitto, Young Life Staff in Fauquier County, sent us a songbook that he uses for leading worship at Campaigners. It has the lyrics to 40 worship songs and can save you from having to deal with PowerPoint slides each week. Just print out copies of the book and either staple them together or punch holes and put them in binders to reuse each week. Thanks Lou! 

Download an editable Word doc of the song book here.

If you have any helpful resources to share, email us at Thanks- Drew

Monday, September 12, 2016

How To Make Your "Run-On" The Talk Of The School

A favorite Young Life tradition is the "run-on skit." A "run-on" (or "walk-on") is simply a skit where the same characters appear every week. Find ideas for run-on skit characters here.

There are two main options for how to run your run-on:

No Storyline

The skit characters appear weekly at Club with no storyline, simply to run-games, sell camp, give announcements, etc... Think of "Deep Thoughts with Jack Handey" from Saturday Night Live or "Mr. Good Times" (a game show host that repeatedly says "Because it's always a good time with...MR. GOOD TIMES) or "The Good Morning Young Life Guys" (that wake kids up with video cameras).

Redemptive Storyline

Skit characters appear weekly in Club, each week revealing a little more of their story. Typically this method is used to sell camp.

Example: Twin brothers from different mothers, "Montgomery" and "John Michael" are competing in a local arm-wrastlin' contest with hopes of getting to the World-Wide Arm Wrastlin' Championships in Jasper, Georgia at a lil place called Tarp Cop Shove. (Which happens to be "Sharptop Cove" where you're going for fall camp.) Each week they either train or have a competition. Since every good story involves overcoming conflict, villains are introduced (can be played by kids or leaders) and attempt to thwart their dreams.

Club games can be used as "training opportunities" for Montgomery and John Michael. It's great when you can pair up the sin talk week with the run-on week where all hope seems lost (because Montgomery broke his arm). Then the cross week is where he comes back out of nowhere and wins the semi-finals with his left arm to advance to Tarp Cop Shove. Maybe even make a video to show on the bus to camp?

Many of you already know these basic ideas above, but here are three bonus ideas. They can help your run-on skit create momentum in the school and even help motivate kids to invite their friends to Club.


Snapchat/Instagram Fan Page

Create a Snapchat or Instagram account for your run-on characters. A few summers ago at Sharptop, "The Desire" was one of the program characters. The day after we came home from camp, I kept seeing online that my high school friends had become facebook friends with "TheDesire Jones." It was a fun way to keep that camp momentum going.

Give-Away T-Shirts

Connect with a local screen-printing business and ask them if they can cut you a deal on printing some t-shirts with your run-on characters' faces on the front. If you can't get a good deal, try to find a sponsor. Often an area business will pay for your shirts if you put their logo on the sleeve. They don't have to be super high quality, but just something to use as a prize all semester for the winners of the games you play during club.

Cardboard Cutouts

Honestly, who doesn't like to get their picture taken with a life-size cardboard cut-out? Contact a local printer/sign company and see if they'll give you a deal, maybe even ask a parent to help pay for them. Likely will be around $100.

Around the 3rd or 4th week of your run-on, after kids have become familiar with the characters, set the cardboard cutouts up at Club and use them in a photo booth. Have a hashtag with the cardboard cutouts and encourage kids to post pics on social media. 

The rest of the semester put the cardboard characters in funny places around town (like kids' bathrooms/the principal's office/local hangout spot) and taking pictures of them to show at Club. 

If you have any other ideas that have made your run-on a success, email us here! -Drew

Also check out: "How to Make Hilarious 'Good Morning Young Life' Videos"

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Making Disciples Through Serving: YL Expeditions

Written by Mike Miller, YL Expeditions Regional Coordinator.

“What you do has far greater impact than what you say.” ~ Stephen Covey

As you plan for the upcoming year of Campaigners and look to make disciples, is service a part of your plan? There are many verses in the Bible about service: “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve” (Matthew 20:28); “do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh, rather, serve one another humbly in love” (Galatians 5:13); “He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them” (Hebrews 6:10).

Living a life of service is the way God created us. It’s in our DNA. When our focus is on loving Him and loving other people, we experience the full and abundant life Jesus spoke of in John 10:10. As we strive to help kids grow in their faith, we have the privilege of challenging them to serve, to give their lives away, to live for something bigger than themselves. As we welcome them into a community of faith, they will need more than fellowship; they will need mission too.

Most good things have been said far too many times and just need to be lived.

How do we move from talking and teaching about serving to actually serving? How do we incorporate service into our yearly Campaigner plan in the midst of everything else we manage as Young Life leaders?

Start simple. Start local. Start this year. Encourage your small group or Campaigners to partner with a local organization, care for the poor in your community, volunteer as buddies at a Capernaum Camp, go as childcare workers on a YoungLives week, help as work crew at a Young Life fall weekend, or…

Serve as a team with Young Life Expeditions!

Expeditions has opportunities around the world including at home in the US. We realize YL leaders juggle many things, which is why we work to serve you and handle the logistics of your trip. As you humbly serve and make disciples of your kids, you will be part of growing Young Life around the globe in an international movement to love kids into His Kingdom.

Scott Berg, YL Regional Director, said “Expeditions was a beautiful experience that boosted the encouragement of a small band of people who care about their Appalachian community in rural West Virginia. The presence of 21 energetic Jesus-loving workers was a blessing that the community literally could not believe until they saw what the team accomplished. It was awesome!”

Sign up for our newsletter for regular updates and ways to serve. Visit the YL Expeditions website

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” ~ 1 Peter 4:10