Monday, May 22, 2017

The Complete Guide to a YL'd Bus Ride: 21 Ideas for a Road Trip to Remember

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. Start planning now!

1. Bus Program 
Have you ever done program...ON A BUS?! Here is 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

2. 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!

3. 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

4. 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.

5. Mixers/Games
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.

6. Bus Trivia
Here are 50 questions for you to use to get those brains cranking.

7. Prizes
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!

8. 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.

9. PowerPoint Games
If you bring an adapter, it's 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.

10. Mafia
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.

11. 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.

12. 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.

13. 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 actually 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.

14. 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?

15. Bus Idol
Make your own version of American Idol or The Voice! Search YouTube for Karaoke tracks of fun songs.

16. 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.

17. 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.

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

19. 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!

20. Drinks/Snacks
If you have awhile 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."

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

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!

Also, if you have a new leader you're wanting to place- the bus ride to camp is a fun place to introduce them for the first time. Here's how we did it: Random Bus Passenger. -Drew

If you have other ideas to add, email us here

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Incredible Opportunity for Male Summer Staff at The Dale House Project in Colorado Springs

If you're still trying to figure out what to do this summer, great news- a male staff position has opened at The Dale House Project in Colorado Springs.

I can't think of an experience I'd more highly recommend! The Dale House Project is hiring 1 male position starting in just a couple weeks to work June-August. 

When I look back over my life, I'm convinced that some of the most difficult days of my life were spent working at the DHP. But those months were also some of the most significant and formative. (I worked there in 2003.)

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

What Is The Dale House Project?

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

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

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

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

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

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

You may have seen this article about The Dale House in an issue of Relationships magazine from a few years ago.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Ancient Words: A Prayer For Our Middle & High School Friends

Earlier this week our team gathered to read the Holy Scriptures and pray. This summer we're studying the book of Colossians together. As we were reading the first chapter, we suddenly found ourselves praying the words Paul wrote in verses 9-13. We took turns reading all five verses aloud, inserting the names of some of our middle and high school friends. 

It sounded something like this.

"Father God, since the day we heard about Alex, we have not stopped praying for him. We continually ask you to fill Alex with the knowledge of your will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that Alex may live a life worthy of the Lord and please You in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, and being strengthened with all power according to Your glorious might so that Alex may have great endurance and patience, and give joyful thanks to You, the Father. You Father are the One who has qualified Alex to share in the inheritance of Your holy people in the kingdom of light. You have rescued Alex from the dominion of darkness and brought Alex into the kingdom of your Son, whom You love, the One in whom Alex has found redemption and the forgiveness of his sins. Thank you, Father God! Amen."

As I listened to the different people on our team pray these ancient words for specific kids, the Lord stirred my heart. The prayers felt powerful, fresh and alive. I found myself crying tears of hope that these words would become true for our friends who didn't believe. And then there were tears of joy over the kids who we've seen the Lord already transforming.  

We then wrote notes to the kids we prayed for. We told them that these were the exact words we used and hand wrote the verses on cards. We prayed over them, addressed them, and mailed them out with faith that the Lord might use these ancient words to speak life and truth over our teenage friends.

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 
Colossians 1:9-14

Monday, May 15, 2017

The 4 Defining Factors of a Life-Changing Campaigners Group

As part of the FORWARD movement, Young Life is committed to taking kids deeper in their relationship with the Lord. Below are four components of life-changing Campaigner/discipleship groups.

T-E-A-M is about a group of people who love and respect each other and are working for the common goal of following Christ. Like any sports team, it takes leadership and an investment of time, energy, and trust, along with prayer for the group to bond and grow. The leader must prioritize building the bond of friendship and fellowship. Make adventure a part of your group experience.


"We...are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." -2 Corinthians 3:18 

Our goal is maturity in Christ. Set the expectation that as we meet together our aim is to help each other become more like Jesus! He is in our midst and therefore we are changed! God is the one who changes us; it is not by our efforts. 

"'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the Lord Almighty." -Zechariah 4:6 


"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." -2 Timothy 3.16-17 

"For the word of God is alive and active... " -Hebrews 4:12 

Our small groups are centered around Jesus Christ and His Word which has the power to change us. 


"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." -James 1.22 

When you meet a person you respond to them in some way to develop the friendship. The same is true of meeting Jesus by studying His Word. The leader needs to help the group learn how to integrate the Scripture they are studying into their everyday life. 


"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations..."-Matthew 28.19-20 

Knowing and loving Jesus compels us to share this love and truth with others. Our friends, family and school need to hear about God's love for them and see us living out our faith in Christ. Help the group form a plan to go and make disciples.

Download a PDF.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Last Chance To Buy A Young Life Bow Tie

(Wooden engraved box not included).
Shared by Jackson Strawn, YL Area Director in Stafford, Virginia. 

A few weeks ago, my old Young Life Leader called me with a proposition I could not resist! He used to run the company that sold Young Life Ties and Bow Ties in our camp stores. He'd recently closed his business, had some leftover inventory, and was calling to ask if he could hand over his remaining inventory for me to sell.

I decided I would sell the Young Life Ties and Bow Ties and donate 100% of the money to Young Life. I reached out to the Young Life Leader Blog because I felt like this was great opportunity for everyone to get a chance to purchase one of a kind Young Life merchandise! To my knowledge this is the only place that you can still find Young Life Ties and Bow Ties!

This is a great opportunity to purchase a gift for leaders, donors, Committee Members, seniors graduating, Golf Tournament Prize, or for yourself!

Just fill out the order form here.
*Pictures and an updated inventory list can be found on the order form.

I will do my best to update the inventory as orders come in. As soon as I run out, they're gone! Don't miss out on being able to own this unique piece of Young Life merchandise! 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

YL Expeditions: Bringing a Community Day of Service to Your Local Area

Did you know that YLX is here to help you plan and execute a day of service in your local community. YL Expeditions would love to help you make a plan. Email them here if you're interested.

DC Day of Service - Love God, Love Others, For Real

In January, YL Expeditions partnered with the Young Life Capital Region in Washington D.C. for a day of community service. Our hope was to provide an accessible and tangible discipleship opportunity for kids and their leaders who might not be able to serve on work crew, summer staff or go on an International Expedition trip.

We wanted to deepen the understanding of the Scripture's teaching on the generosity of heart, mind, body and spirit. We also wanted to give kids a way to practically love God and others while giving them an opportunity to engage with others of varying backgrounds offering them a new shared experience and relationship.

We held the event on Martin Luther King Day as a way to model Dr. King’s life and teachings that community service helps empower and strengthen local communities. Dr. King said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?” We wanted to spur students on to view service as a way of life in response to the Gospel and not just a way to earn community service hours for college resumes.

The location was a key factor and was chosen by Chris Chiles, the Young Life Area Director in Southeast DC. Chris is working to start a WyldLife club at Charles Hart Middle School and contacted school administration about holding a Day of Service. They welcomed us and shared a number of possible projects we could work on - ultimately the school asked us to paint lockers.

We had 152 students and leaders participate and by the end of the day, we painted an entire floor of lockers. Ashley, a teacher at the school, sent us this email the following day.

Good Morning Chris,

On behalf of Charles Hart Middle School, THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH FOR YOUR SERVICE! We are so grateful for the wonderful job you and your students did on the lockers yesterday! The students were respectful, detail oriented and professional. I was beyond impressed with the team’s organization and commitment to doing a great job. You all far exceeded my expectations and the impact of your work will be felt for years to come. Please feel free to share our gratitude with the rest of your team!Also, please let me know if you are still interested in bringing Young Life to Hart! If you're still interested, we would love to begin moving forward!

Thank you,


Monday, May 8, 2017

Young Life Camp Unity Game Outfits

Below are some thoughts on cabin unity game outfits from a few different Young Life staff folks from around the country.

"Young Life camping is leader centered camping and a great showcase for that is the Volleyball tournament. Some folks much smarter than me and far more creative, years ago, put the volleyball tournament into the schedule, and it's a staple to the weeks I have spent at a high school outreach camp. I think the greatest value of the tournament is to bring everyone in the cabin in on the fun. You may have kids who go to different schools, or are in different grades, or even just different friend groups. A tournament where we all dress alike, all play a game together and then all work to get "slappy" chips can go a long way to bonding the cabin together. If we can bond the cabin together with something silly like an all camp tournament, then as the week goes on, kids may be more willing to say what they really think in cabin time. They may feel like their cabin is a place to really process what they hear at Club and Real Life.

-AJ Chambers, Area Director, Grapevine - Colleyville, TX

"I think the cabin uniforms at the volleyball tournament are important because it’s the first time at camp when cabins get the chance to see themselves as a unified group. That’s particularly valuable when we take kids who might not have a lot in common back home, or who might not even know each other. It also adds a goofiness to the competition that allows teams to have a good time just being childlike even if they are terrible at volleyball.

- Chris Storms, Area Director, Seminole County, FL

When it comes to Unity Game outfits, don't get too crazy and go overboard. It makes other cabins look bad and other kids feel disappointed. Keep it simple. But don't go too under-board, it's fun to get creative. Work hard to make your high school friends feel special. Find that balance.

- Drew Hill, Young Life Leader Blog, Greensboro, NC 

Do you have a fun idea for this summer that you'd like to share? Email us here and we'll share it on the blog and social media. 

For ideas check out this Pinterest board and this blog post and this one from 

Thursday, May 4, 2017

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

We're leaving for summer camp soon 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 trophies.
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!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Helping Your High School Friends Stay Connected

Dear leaders,

Thank you for all the hard work and effort you have put in this year to love your young friends! Staying connected to high school seniors is a priority for Young Life. The move into college, the workforce or the military is a huge transition and it is critical that we serve these students well. 

Our request of you is to please collect your seniors’ information (name, contact information and next destination) and send it to your staff member so we can connect these students to staff and leaders in their communities or colleges

 We are so grateful for your help!

Before starting school at the University of Michigan, I got plugged in with the Ann Arbor area director. We got coffee before classes started and he told me all about Young Life College and Young Life Leadership in the area. That year, I became a Young Life leader at Skyline High School and went on a Young Life College spring break trip to Pico Escondido. Three years later and entering my senior year, I couldn’t imagine a college experience without Young Life!” — Kylie

There are many stories of leaders blessing their high school friends after graduation by connecting them to the Young Life Alumni and Friends Network. We could not do this without you! If you would like to know more about the High School Graduate Campaign, this video is helpful.

Thank you,

The Office of Young Life Alumni and Friends

Monday, May 1, 2017

At The End Of The School Year, Don't Forget To Do This

As the school year comes to an end, let's be Young Life leaders who thank people well. My Area Director in college repeatedly drilled three things into our skulls:
  1. Pray First.
  2. Thank People Well.
  3. Have good breath when doing contact work.
Who Do You Need To Thank?
  • Administration
    • The principal at your school didn't have to let you come to lunch. Send them a note with a $10 Subway gift card saying "Thanks for letting us eat lunch with your kids this year. Enjoy a lunch on us this summer. Sincerely, the Smith Middle Young Life Team."
  • Athletic Director
    • Remember those athletic passes your YL team got at the beginning of the year. Think how much $ they saved you. What about a picture of your YL team holding a sign saying "We heart Coach Mac" for the AD's office?
  • Club/Campaigners Host Homes
    • That family let you have fifty middle schoolers invade their basement.
    • The mom who cooked dinner for your Campaigners group more times than you can count.
    • That dad is still repairing the damage from when your sumo-suit put a crater in his garage wall.
  • Area Director
    • Being a YL AD is no easy task. Area Directors spend tons of time making it possible for us to be YL leaders. Send them a note of encouragement thanking them for leading well and be specific about how they've encouraged you.
  • Spouse
    • If you're married, make the effort to thank your spouse for allowing you to pursue this calling. What if you gathered some of your high school friends to put on a mini 'YL club' for the purpose of celebrating your spouse? Or how about a needed Date Night now that club is taking a summer break?
  • Middle/High School Friend
    • Do you have some kids in your YL club that went the extra mile to help out at YL this year? Model gratitude for them by sending an unexpected note. Print a pic of you with your middle/high school friend and turn it into a postcard.
  • Jesus
    • Celebrate this year by thanking the One who made it all possible. Build an ebenezer. Remember God's faithfulness!

Psalm 100:4- Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise, give thanks to Him and praise His name.