Wednesday, July 27, 2016

WyldLife Wednesday: Maximizing Free Time at Camp

Written by Joe Nelson, WyldLife staff in Charlottesville, VA

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 25, 2016

Quick and Easy Scattergories Game for Campaigners or Club

If you need a quick and easy game for Campaigners or club, download this Scattergories PDF I created and print off enough copies for each team. 


  1. Divide your group into smaller groups (around 4 people/team works best.) 
  2. Pass out 1 pen and 1 game sheet (2 pages) per team.
  3. Set a timer for 5 minutes and let them see how many they can fill out working as a team
  4. Have them go to different parts of a room or house so they don't overhear the other team's answers.
  5. Pick a random letter of the alphabet that all teams use, use the same letter for each team. 
  6. After the 5 minute round, gather the teams together to review answers.

  1. Each unique word gets one point. If another team has the same answer, they cancel one another out and no team is awarded points. 
  2. The first word must begin with the key letter that has been assigned. The determiners "a," "an" and "the" are disallowed in the game even though they might be part of an official title.
  3. Names or terms that begin with the same key letter, including "Ronald Reagan," "candy cane," or "Brady Bunch" count as 2 points, but only when it is part of the normal use of the word. You can not use "bad boys" as an answer to "something can you find in a zoo?" You can get 1 point for "boys" but not for an unnecessary adjective. You could get 2 points for "Bad Boys" when answering "movie title."
  4. You can only get points for each word once on your answer sheet. If you answer "cars" for "Movie title" and "vehicle," you can only count a point for one of them. If another team cancels out one of your answers by having the same answer, you can get credit for the additional use of the word. 
  5. Disputes are decided by the judge or by a vote of all teams, decide ahead of time which method you will use. 
  6. In case of a tie, the team with the most 2 point answers wins. 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

How to Recruit, Train, Equip & Sustain New Leaders

If you're looking for helpful resources on recruiting, training, equipping, and sustaining leaders, check out The Western Great Lakes Young Life Region website.

Sample leader development plans from:

Birmingham, Michgan

St. Louis

Kane County, Illinois

Southwest Twin Cities

Cheyenne, Wyoming

Visit the Great Lakes Region staff resources page for other leader development plans and additional Campaigners help.

Thanks to Regional Director, Chris Theule-VanDam, for sharing the wealth! If you have resources you'd be willing to share, please pass them along here.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Happy Birthday Jim Rayburn!

Today is the birthday of the founder of Young Life, Jim Rayburn Jr. If he was still living today he'd be 107.

Jim was born in Iowa on July 21, 1909 and lived a short 61 years. The lives he touched and still continues to impact are countless.

One of the most life changing books I've ever read is Jim Rayburn's biography, "Dance, Children, Dance." It was written by Jim's son, Jim Rayburn III, and you can purchase it here.

Another must read for all Young Life leaders is "The Diaries of Jim Rayburn," compiled by Kit Sublett. You can buy it from the site above or from Kit here.

Jim Rayburn III has also provided a great gift to us leaders by offering free downloads of eight of Jim's Young Life talks given at Frontier Ranch between 1959-1962. You can download them here by right clicking on each link and selecting "Save As."

Happy Birthday Jim Rayburn!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Young Life's Discipleship Focus in Branson, MO

Written by Paul Ragon, staff member at Young Life's Discipleship Focus in Branson, MO. 

Graduating college left me in a whirlwind of confusion and uncertainty of the path God had for me. Little did I know of God’s grace for me in attending Discipleship Focus the summer following graduation.

My time at Discipleship Focus equipped me in learning how to walk intimately with Jesus on a daily basis and how to discern His leading in my life. That summer provided me the tools and space that I needed to discover what His will for my life was during that time of uncertainty. What I learned that summer has continued to be my foundation for doing life with God.

Now being a Discipleship Focus staff member, I have seen a growing number of college students in our summer program in that same place of asking "what's next?" Many have just graduated college or are taking a year off of school and are at a loss of what the Lord wants for their lives. While our summer program is a great opportunity, we recognize that summer is not an option for everyone. Due to this, we have decided to provide a fall Discipleship Focus Experience as well.

The Fall Experience (Sept. 12- Dec. 9) is a semester that provides an opportunity for intentional discipleship, Biblical community, and work experience. Our curriculum focuses on how to walk intimately with Christ and do life with Him on a day to day basis. This is done in the context of community, allowing time to process and discuss what the Lord is teaching you with our Leadership Team and other participants. Since every participant has a job there is no requirement to raise money and lessens the strain of financial issues.

At the heart of the experience is an opportunity to sit at the feet of Jesus and learn from Him. Too often our focus is outward and we are missing the "best part" (Luke 10:38-42). You are invited to take a look and see if this may be a stone on your path of drawing near to God.

If you would like more information, visit

*If you are already committed this fall to school or leading in your Young Life Area, our desire is that you would fulfill those commitments and consider attending our summer program.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

A Glorious Picture of Diversity

Written by Suzanne Williams.

A few years ago, one of our friends in Capernaum was sharing with us about how much she loved babies and she desired, in her simple yet profound way, for people to know God’s love for them. Our wheels began churning and not much later, Caitlin began serving at the local YoungLives club. YoungLives is Young Life’s ministry with teen moms and the room is filled with diversity both economically and ethnically.

We wondered how the girls would respond to Caitlin taking care of their babies. After all, she was a girl with a disability and we live in a world that is quick to judge based on outer appearances. But we sold these girls short and instead every time they gather, we see people that the world deems as scary and unlovable, come together to serve one another.

I’ve watched a few horrific videos this week and my heart is broken with all that is taking place. We started filming this video in the spring and when the finished product came to my inbox today, I couldn’t have been more grateful for the timing of it. The next three minutes are a glorious picture of how incredibly diverse people are working together to be different, different than this scary world.

Young Life- Serving One Another from YL Capernaum Ministries on Vimeo.

Martin Luther King said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that”. All of these girls are bringing light and love, while powerfully driving out darkness and hate. May we all be so courageous.

This post first appeared on the YL Capernaum Everywhere blog.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

WyldLife Wednesday: The "Problem" with Middle School Ministry

Written by Crystal Kirgiss.

You might have seen this recent Real Simple article: "Sorry, Parents - Middle School is Scientifically the Worst" (and you thought the Terrible Twos were bad)” which (in case you can’t tell) isn’t very hip on early adolescence. The article gets some things right, but also says “middle school is no fun for anyone” and that every middle schooler becomes a “surly, exasperated pre-teen.”

Science Daily published a similar article last week: “Moms, you think babies are tough? Wait until middle school” which might be less alarmist but is equally down on middle schoolers.

Not a very sunny outlook, to be sure.

Both articles are lay-summaries of a study out of Arizona State University titled: “What It Feels Like to Be A Mother: Variations by Children’s Developmental Stages”*

You may notice that this title doesn’t diss middle schoolers at all – doesn’t even mention them by name. That’s not to say the article is all warm and fuzzy on middle schoolers. In fact, before the study was even conducted, the authors “anticipated, first, that the middle school years would be the most challenging” for mothers. (Fathers weren’t part of this study, so there’s that to consider.)

The study – conducted between 2005 and 2010 – of 2,247 well-educated American women showed that many mothers (many of those specific mothers, anyway) do/did in fact experience some more negative things and some fewer positive things when their children were in middle school than when their children were other ages.

So, therefore, hence, ergo middle school is scientifically proven to be The Worst.

The End.

Except for, well, these (and other things) that the authors concede:
  • mothers might have experienced higher stress levels because they themselves often become busier when their children reach middle school (extra-curricular activities, more friend events, extended soccer-mom chauffeuring – that kind of thing)
  • mothers might have sensed more child negative to me attitudes – which were measured by distancing behaviors because middle school is when children start naturally displaying more independence
  • mothers might have experienced less fulfillment and lower levels of life satisfaction because of their own transition to mid-life (a time of “heightened introspection and increased awareness of mortality” due to “declines in their physical and cognitive functioning” (150) or: My Life Rots)
  • mothers might have experienced more depression and parenting overload due to “contagion of stress” in which mothers internalize and worry about their children’s ability to cope with middle school challenges (perhaps because she is reliving her own middle school experience, something mothers are notoriously good at doing)
All of that to say – “Middle School is Scientifically The Worst” is horribly misleading and ridiculously unhelpful and eminently unfair – to middle schoolers primarily, but also to those who care about them.

But it sure makes for a dramatically catchy headline, which the world loves. And it confirms what those of us in middle school ministry know the world thinks of us: “you are big losers” (or maybe “you are demented saints” depending on the day).

But we know better. We know that we are the big winners – not because of anything we’ve done or said (don’t stumble by patting yourself on the back) but because Jesus has graciously given us an enthusiastically authentic love for the kids too many people think are unlovable and unmanageable.

Guess what: we don’t care one teeny tiny bit about dramatically catchy headlines. We care about middle schoolerseach of them and all of them.

Here might be the most important statement in the study:

“This developmental transition [early adolescence] is especially difficult because junior high schools bring decreased personal, positive relationships with teachers at a time when youth particularly need connections with supportive adults.” (150)

Spoiler alert: enter – you.
The WyldLife leader. The involved parent. The caring aunt and uncle. The interested neighbor. The loving grandparent. The faithful small group leader.

So go ahead – go change a middle schooler’s world today by showing up, being present, celebrating them, sharing real life, and breathing Jesus all over the place.

Really. Just go do it. Now. Because the only problem with middle school ministry is that there’s not enough room in our hearts for all the love for all the kids.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

You Recently Graduated College ... Now What?

If you've recently graduated college, odds are you're continuing to answer the million-dollar question, "What are you doing now that you've graduated?"

Some of the best advice I ever received was "take your 20's and be a sponge. You have the rest of your life to make money. After college, find wise people and learn from them." 

I can't think of a better opportunity to do just that than the The Greensboro Fellows program.

Are you looking for a place 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?
  • Stay involved with Young Life?
  • 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. It 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. The curriculum, planned excursions, paid 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. 

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
  • paid internships 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
  • 2 week trip to Rwanda

Some of this year's paid internships include:
  • Business & Administration
  • Non-Profit Management
  • Ministry
  • Elementary Education
  • Marketing
  • Higher Education
  • Nursing
  • Personal Finance
If you are interested in learning more about this program, or applying to be a part of the 2016-2017 program year, you can visit, watch this video, or email us here

The Greensboro Fellows program currently has one female and two male openings starting September 2016.

"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 former GSO Fellow and administrator for

Art House Fellowship

The Greensboro Fellows network will also be launching the Art House Fellowship this year. The Art House Fellowship seeks to help young artists and scholars deepen their faith in Christ and thereby deepen their capacity to communicate truth through creative expression. Located in a renovated hotel in downtown Greensboro, the fellows will work at the coffee Shop, share meals around the table, live on the second floor of the Jones' home (which is the hotel), produce works of art specific to their interests, and discuss the intersection of faith and the arts each day. Prayer will be offered every morning, guest lecturers will speak every week, we will visit the center for creative leadership each month, and will provide intentional time to discuss questions of importance to specific members of the community multiple times each week. Join us for a year of deep growth in faith and expression. Visit the website at

Monday, July 11, 2016

Free Chick-fil-A: Cow Appreciation Day is Tomorrow!

Grab your middle and high school friends and head to Chick-fil-A tomorrow (Tuesday, July 12) for Cow Appreciation Day. Wear anything cow like and receive a free entree until 7pm.

Some ideas for dressing up from

Start With What You Already Have
Cow-printed accessories stashed in your closet will work perfectly. Hats, vests, scarves, neckties, pants, shoes, pajamas - just about any cow-spotted item will work. Just make sure you're covered head to toe.

Wear White & Just Add Spots
Throw on a white T-shirt with white pants (even sweatpants) and stick on your spots using black contact paper. If contact paper is not easily accessible, you can cut spots out of construction paper and tape them to your shirt and pants. If nothing else, you can grab an old white T-shirt and color black spots all over it with a sharpie - and you'll still get a free entrée.

Paint Store
Go to local paint or hardware store & get a white painter's hat and overalls. Then decorate yourself with spots made out of contact or construction paper.

Friday, July 8, 2016

7 Fresh & Fun Summer Contact Work Ideas

Do you need some creative contact work ideas for the summer time? Below are a few new ones to try.

Leisure Dive

All you need is a camera and a pool/lake. Create some great memories and photos. Here are some great examples.

Driving Range/Golf

Even if you're terrible at golf, the driving range is a fun place to showcase your lack of skill. Also, playing an actual round of golf with just your middle or high school friends allows for a few good hours of conversation. Pick a terrible golf course with mud-pits for greens. They're cheaper and provide a good excuse when you play poorly.

You can also try the "P3 Challenge (Putt-Pitch-Punish)"
Head to a local golf course that has a driving range, putting green, and chipping hole. Pay $5 to rent a bucket of balls. Hold three separate contests. Start with putting. Practice, warm up and design a 6 hole putt-putt course. Lowest score on the 6 holes wins a milkshake afterwards. After the putting Contest, move to pitching. Each participant gets 5 shots. Closest to the pin wins a shake. Finish with the punish contest. Whoever can simply drive a golf ball the farthest wins. Everyone gets 10 balls. After all 3 contests are over head to a local restaurant to celebrate the 3 winners and buy them milkshakes. You can also spice up the outing by encouraging your friends to dress "golfy."  Call the golf course ahead of time and ask permission. If you go during a low traffic time, like 5pm, most courses will give you the green light.

Another fun twist on golf is the new and fast growing sport of soccer-golf or FOOT GOLFHere's an article explaining the game, but it's basically playing golf with a soccer ball and your foot on a real course. I've yet to play, but it sounds amazing. 


Simply a twist on baseball, playing on a tennis court with a broom handle and tennis balls. Buy a wooden broom and unscrew the handle from the bottom bristles. Use it for a bat and grab 6 tennis balls. It's much harder than it looks to hit a tennis ball with a skinny broom handle. Watching people strike out is funny. Hit it over the tennis court fence for an automatic home-run. 3 strikes and you're out, pretty much the same rules as baseball except only 2 bases, the net and home plate. Trust me, its a winner. We played over 20 times last spring/summer. It became a YL tradition. 

Cards On A Roof

Find a mostly flat roof on a not so windy night. Grab a few high school friends, a blanket (or lawn chairs and a folding table) and some playing cards. Add a set of iPod speakers and 6 pack of Stewart's Orange n Cream Soda. Bam. A night to remember.

KanJam is a fun yet simple frisbee game. Think 2 on 2 Ultimate Frisbee in the back alley with trash cans as your end zone. Set it up in the parking lot of the local late night hang out spot beside a set of corn hole boards and you and your high school friends can be entertained for hours. Also a great pre-club hangout idea.

Build Your Own Frisbee Golf Course

Some friends and I recently mapped out a course around our local university. "Throw off the parking deck and hit the middle column on that building, par 4." It's free fun...unless you accidentally dent other people's cars with your frisbee.

Dizzy Shoe Game

Thanks to Mackenzie Olson for submitting this idea. Mackenzie writes, "Anytime we're at camp or when there is nothing around to do, I like to con kids into playing the Dizzy Shoe Game. But I don’t call it that… I only ask if they want to play a game. I make everyone put one of their shoes, or a stick, over their head and make them look at it (this is key to the game- the looking up part) and I make them spin around as fast as they can 15 times. Always screaming for them to spin faster. Once they get to 15 they are to throw the shoe and attempt to jump over it. If they truly looked up, and truly spun 15 times quickly, there is zero chance of succeeding and 100 percent chance of laughing very hard. A word of Caution: this is ALWAYS to be done on grass." Thanks Mackenzie for this fun idea. I've already used it multiple times when hanging out with my high school friends and it's been hilarious.