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Young Life?
Posted by: phoenixgirl ()
Date: July 13, 2007 11:02PM

I just wrote a post which I think I lost. If not, sorry for the double post!


I doubt that YL has begun parental notification, but I could be wrong. YL has this article on keeping kids safe linked to wikipedia (where there was once a link to articles about the leader convicted of molestation): []
It mentions making leaders and work crew kids sign something, but not parents.


I appreciate that you took the time to read my post and consider whether or not it fits with what you know of YL. What I took away from my experience is that I want people, especially those who aren’t yet adults and are still formulating their opinions on things, to be free to question and pick apart and accept or reject whatever they want. I’m sorry that I spent so much of my life trying to keep myself and others from asking questions that would lead us away from the faith YL taught us. If a question can destroy your faith, maybe it wasn’t worth hanging on to, right?

My experience with YL spanned almost a decade, from WyldLife in middle school to Young Life in high school to leading YL in college. I was intimately familiar with YL in two different states. I attended four YL camps (some of them numerous times) as a camper, leader, work crew staff member, and summer staff member. I attended weekly leaders meetings and weekend leader training sessions. Over the years I met dozens if not hundreds of YL leaders and staff members. There are many things that I am not an expert on, but I feel sufficiently familiar with YL to speak authoritatively on it. What makes me different from your leaders is that I have stepped outside of my experience to look at it as an outsider would look at it.

You pretty much admit that you are supposed to bring people to Club but then say that it’s just because you want to be closer friends with them. But I doubt that your leaders go to all the trouble to lead Campaigners, plan fun things to do at Club, and prepare a talk (spending 10 to 20 hours a week of their free time with teenagers) just so that you can hang and have a good time with your friends. That might be your agenda, but it’s not theirs. And that’s what’s important. They are the adults here. This is YL’s mission according to its website:

Our Mission
Introducing adolescents to Jesus Christ and helping them grow in their faith. We accomplish our mission by ...
Praying for young people.
Going where kids are.
Building personal relationships with them.
Winning the right to be heard.
Providing experiences that are fun, adventurous and life-changing.
Sharing our lives and the Good News of Jesus Christ with adolescents.
Inviting them to personally respond to this Good News.
Loving them regardless of their response.
Nurturing kids so they might grow in their love for Christ and the knowledge of God's Word and become people who can share their faith with others.
Helping young people develop the skills, assets and attitudes to reach their full God-given potential.
Encouraging kids to live connected to the Body of Christ by being an active member of a local congregation.
Working with a team of like-minded individuals -- volunteer leaders, committee members, donors and staff.

This is pretty much what I explained in my post. Note how leaders “win the right to be heard.” Just because an adult spends time with you doesn’t mean that you have to listen to their beliefs. That’s like saying that just because you went on x number of dates you must now sleep with this guy! Note how kids are supposed to “become people who can share their faith with others.” So if you are just bringing other kids to Club because you want to hang with them, your leaders have not yet reached this part of their mission with you. And it’s a process . . . obviously you need to accept their message and make some serious life changes before you can become instrumental in spreading the message to others. That’s how cults work. Nobody ever thinks, “Hurray! I’ve joined a cult! Now I must suck others in!” You just think that you are doing what God wants you to do and that you’ve finally figured out the meaning to life.

As a teacher, I’ve had students try to figure out my religious beliefs. Sometimes it’s because they’re atheists and they think I’m sympathetic or they want to debate. Sometimes it’s because they’re Christians and they think I’m sympathetic or they want to debate. Other times it’s just curiosity because they’ve gotten to know me. But I never answer their questions. I spent enough years of my life trying to make teenagers believe what I believe. Now I just want my students to be able to think for themselves. My hope for you is that you'll never be afraid to do that.

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Young Life?
Posted by: save_tonight ()
Date: August 18, 2007 05:00AM

i was involved with younglife/wyldlife for 5 years, starting my sophomore year. when i met my male leader, he was also my coach. but he kept asking me and my friends/teammates to attend so finally we did. i liked it some, but felt excluded at the first club i went to since there was at least 50 other people there. it was our "terror tunnel" club for halloween. but anyway, i started to regularly attend clubs and gradually started campaigners. so yeah, by my junior year, i was a full-blown younglife kid!

during my senior, i started getting caught up in partying and all that. none of my leaders ever called to see if i was doing ok, they just called me to go to clubs. i went to an occasional one here and there but, they did, however, after a ton of convincing, manage to get me to go to camp (lost canyon) that summer after i graduated. it was a blast, i must admit. i had so many emotional ups and downs and i think they played off that. i opened up a lot to my female leader, whom i had barely ever spoken to or hung out with before then. she wanted me to be a leader though, she said she saw many leadership qualities in me, plus i had a religious background (catholic, which they were very actively trying to get me to quit going to my traditional church.) anyway, i accepted to be a wyldlife leader and started training the very next week. i met with my team leader who set a plan straight away and he too, had been born and raised catholic, though he said it upset his family, but he believed being involved with younglife was much better for him. (actually, i believe him on that one lol) anyway, i began and wasnt too into it. i thought the other leaders in my area were all very superficial so i stuck with my old younglife leaders. might i mention, that the one who brought me to younglife is now currently almost 28 and is going onto his 6th year a senior in college and has his rich uncle paying for it all? to shorten the story, i didnt have hardly any success my first year. i didnt make any relationships with my group of girls so when i disappeared for 3 months due to very bad depression, no one, once again, seemed to take any notice. i had also just totalled my car and no one wanted to drive me to and from leadership and clubs so i took a long break. at the end of that year, i met my now boyfriend who was very into hanging out with his younglife kids and having fun. he had managed to make friends with many of the leaders but was also growing tired of their superficiality exclusiveness. but i did 6 wks volunteering as summer staff and, coupled with my boyfriends enthusiasm for what he did, that awakened a fire in me to be a great leader. so i did much better the next year and had my own group of 6th grader girls. i cant say i really sat them down and talked a ton about Jesus and the Bible and whatnot, but i did listen to them, about their lives and tried to identify a little with them all.

while i had been summer staffing, for the last 3 wks my area director was there. all in all, he's not a hands-on director. he stays back and has everyone else do all the work, but as phoenixgirl mentioned, i believe, he also took a lot of credit for what was done. cause duh, he prayed for us! some things made me skeptical. he tried apologizing to me numerous times about having never tried to establish meaningful relationships with me or any of the other leaders. he cried and asked me to forgive him numerous times, i was very uncomfortable with this to be honest! here, a man who had hardly spoken to me, was now acting like this? i didnt really say anything and after we all came back home, he barely spoke to me after still. so that stumped me, cause apparently that happened with a few others as well.

ANYWAY (sorry for the long story, i thought some background history might be a bit necessary though...) i now currently live with two other women who were both my leaders in high school. my lease is up soon, thank god. my older leader is a control freak bitch who seems like the perfect christian on the outside. no one would hardly believe me if i told them. she has accused me of many things, has threatened to call police when she saw me take a sip out of my boyfriends alcohol drink (hes 21, im almost) but i can promise you, it seriously was just a sip! i had witnesses. she accused me of stealing things, but as we found out a few months ago, there was actually a burglar in the neighborhood who would steal from houses that were only women. he was, fortunately, arrested and the stolen items were returned. she has thrown dirty dishes and newspapers all over my bed. she makes us all keep a chore chart and gives us stickers if we did a good job and charges us $10 if we didnt. the other, fortunately, i do get along with, but she is the psycho's right hand man when she needs to be. anyway, its not just about my roommates however.

younglife makes you believe that the only way you can be in with christ is to do quiet times everyday, to do prayer requests, to go to a specific church, to be very involved with the program. i know that i was at the point where if i did something wrong, i would feel absolutely guilt ridden about it and would break down and plead for forgiveness. i wasnt happy unless i was doing everything perfectly. i kept my quiet time journal close at hand, along with my christian bible. i hung out with other leaders, though i never did feel accepted by them. now, i have been "let go" from younglife with the choice of returning. my boyfriend straight up quit in an email, theres no way he could return. but as for me, i feel very alienated from the group. most will not give me the time of day when they come over to hang out with my roommates. even some of my old friends from high school will hardly speak to me. all i did was discontinue my involvement and go back to my catholic church. but, ive seen it happen with other leaders as well.

maybe in some areas, its a better organization, but out here, i cant say i can speak very highly of it. it is cultlike, and you need to be like everyone else to be accepted and "loved" otherwise, they will alienate you.

but thats just my experience, sorry its so long! its kinda vague sin some areas so if you have any questions, feel free to ask.

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Young Life?
Posted by: gregb561 ()
Date: September 03, 2007 01:55AM

I have really enjoyed reading everyone's posts on Young Life. I too was highly involved in Young Life in high school, began training to become a leader and have friends who have made a career out of being Young Life leaders. My skepticism has grown as I have gotten older, but still respect the nobility of many of the Young Life leaders as, I believe, their devotion and commitment to Young Life is altruistic, albeit misguided.

I am curious to know if anyone has any information about Young Life as a business. After all the most popular areas of these camps are not the pools, the lakes, cafeterias or Frisbee Golf Courses, but rather the Young Life stores. Young Life keeps its fingers on the pulse of the most popular items in youth fashion, if not sets them, and grossly overcharges for items ranging from t-shirts to water bottles to fake caribbeaners (sp?).

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Young Life?
Posted by: Jamiers ()
Date: September 21, 2007 04:21AM

I just wanted to update everyone on YL's parental involvement. I guess it all depends on the area you've had experience in, but mission wide YL is required to have a health form signed by parents for all camps, or major activity. I'm not saying that even in our area I can honestly say that we've gotten each and every form - things get misplaced or what not. Also, when you get to camp, if a form for a kid isn't signed by a student, that student is not allowed to do anything until two adults get a hold of the parents to get over the phone confirmation that they know what's going on. Also the adult on the phone has to read all the fine print to the parent over the phone - at least what I've seen, YL has gotten much better about this over the years.

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Re: Young Life?
Posted by: all4givn6 ()
Date: November 02, 2007 12:31AM

I Also, when you get to camp, if a form for a kid isn't signed by a student, that student is not allowed to do anything until two adults get a hold of the parents to get over the phone confirmation that they know what's going on. Also the adult on the phone has to read all the fine print to the parent over the phone - at least what I've seen, YL has gotten much better about this over the years.

Question about this statement. Isn't it too late at that point for a parent. That parent is stuck with their only option to drive x number of miles to go and pick their children up or let them stay for the week. There should definately be more control.

I have read all these posts and maybe someone can give me some help here. I am trying to figure out how the people in charge of club are picked. How do the teachers or whatever get chosen or sign up. I have emailed young life themselves but they won't answer that question. I do have some concerns about some of the youth in our youth group who have done a complete turn around since being in young life. Kids who were leaders in our group and now don't want anything to do with us. Kids who are lieing about us as their leaders and then telling the others about young life instead. There are things going on that as I read the earlier posts realized this is something I need to keep looking into. I have read the good the bad and the ugly about young life. I have been in contact with one of the people in their 'corporate' office and I have been asking a lot of questions. But they stopped answering them. Tried to send me to the local chapter, which means to me that there are no answers. Each chapter gets to do things their own way. Something just isn't sittinug right with this 'club'. If there is anyone out there that can give me answers, or show me where to find them that would be great. Thank you.

Also about the finances, if you look at the young life website, they do break down some of their income & a small amount of their outgoings. It is in such a way that it all seems on the up and up though. It didn't share the fact that denny rydberg (google his name & you will see this information) makes $272,000 yearly. A friend of mine at our church decided that we should be ceo's of a christian organization because that is where the money's at. LOL. Thank you for your help.

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Re: Young Life?
Posted by: phoenixgirl ()
Date: November 21, 2007 11:57AM

Jamiers, I believe we were discussing whether or not parents are aware that they are sending their children to a camp that is trying to indocrinate them, not whether or not the parents have signed a health form. At this forum, we are more concerned with proselytization and less with whether or not teenagers are bouncing off "The Blob" without a health form signed by their parents. ;) (If you've been to YL camp you know what I'm talking about!)

All4givn6, I'm not sure what you mean by your question about how the leaders (who are usually not teachers) are chosen, but as you can see from some of the leaders who have responded here, it's not always with much training or aforethought. I was a college freshman with one semester of training when I became a leader. And these are the people trying to "win the right to be heard" with our teens and preteens!

I second Greg's comments on the intentions of most of the leaders I met. They were trying to make a difference and to do the right thing. Of course, there were those few glaring failures, but mostly, I can't fault them for their enthusiasm or hope for a world where things just made sense. It's the organization's fault that they send well-meaning volunteers on an absurd quest to indoctrinate teenagers before they know enough to say, "No thank you" and close the door on traveling salesmen and missionaries, all the while telling said volunteers that, despite what "the world" says, they are doing "the Lord's work." Yeah, I've heard that one before, andit's been used to justify some pretty heinous things.

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Re: Young Life?
Posted by: Truthtesty ()
Date: January 23, 2008 08:59AM

To Phoenixgirl:

Would you send me an e-mail me at, so I can e-mail you back? I have some questions for you, but I cannot PM you.


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Re: Young Life?
Posted by: matdelo ()
Date: December 17, 2009 10:29PM

Just out of curiosity, how many of you are christian?

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Re: Young Life?
Posted by: rrmoderator ()
Date: December 17, 2009 10:35PM


This thread is specifically about the organization called "Young Life."

We don't argue religion here.

Read the rules you agreed to again.

Religious preaching is prohibited.

And personal attacks are also against the rules.

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Re: Young Life?
Posted by: sleepyma ()
Date: January 31, 2010 02:55AM

I realize it has been a while since this thread was begun, but I just found it the other day.

Last week my 13 year old son asked if he could go with a group of boys to a "nature thing" where there would be food and games. At first I said no because I knew nothing about it. I told him I would check with the mother of one of the boys who had gone to several other meetings before I would allow him to go. She said she thought it was the Youth Group of the church where the event was taking place and that yet another of the boys belonged to that church and had been inviting his friends to go with him. She was certain it would be fine and the boys had fun and it was a safe, warm place to be on a Friday night - but it had nothing to do with nature. She said it was called Wyldlife and that there was just a short period of discussion at the end, but the discussion was more along the lines of being a good friend and person in general. I was leery about allowing him to go because when I was active in my Youth Group, a large (7 or 8) number of 13 year old boys just showing up would have been disruptive. Yes, we all brought a friend now and then, but this seemed like a lot. My radar went up immediately, but he was very persistent and it seemed like I was overreacting so off he went.

When a friend dropped him home and I asked what the evening consisted of, he said, "We played a bunch of games and there was pizza. That was fun. But the talking about Jesus part was boring." I inquired more and we talked a while. I tried not to become uneasy, but there was no way to hide it. I was raised Lutheran and had a wonderful life in the church but have since become disillusioned with organized religion in general. I consider myself very spiritual and have a deep connection to God, but I no longer consider myself Christian, so having others introduce my children to a belief system I don't share is frightening. But I don't want to cut them off from what may feel right to them so when he asked to go to Wyldlife Wednesday 3 days ago I allowed it. My 11 year old daughter had also been invited by her friend to attend and I reluctantly let her go too. Not until I picked them up and was given a small flyer with the Wyldlife schedule and website address on it did I even realize this group had no real affiliation to the Presbyterian church where they were meeting. I went to the Young Life website and have been researching since.

I believe that the information provided at their own website is enough to frighten any parent. Particularly parents who are not Christian. My biggest concern is that my children would be indoctrinated into a religion I do not believe in. But I am simply appalled by the fact that this is not kids bringing in kids, but adults seeking out my underage children in order to press their beliefs upon them. What I discovered was that the leader of this group is a substitute teacher at my children's Middle School and had used her position of authority in a public school to encourage participation in a religious activity. While I believe she is probably a good person doing what she believes is a good thing for children, it smacks of predator behavior to me. We teach our children not to open emails or answer the phone if they don't know who it is. We teach them not to talk to strangers and not to go to chat rooms. Why, in God's name, would it be OK for an adult I don't know to hang out where children are and recruit them into a religious organization?! I just can't wrap my head around it.

I have contacted the parents of the kids I know who have attended in order to fill them in on the fact that this is not the local youth group and to express my own concerns. I included a link to the Young Life website, which I believe has all the information needed to cause a parent to put their guard up. My Google searches provided very little beyond pages and pages and pages of sites created by Young Life groups, so I was very relieved to find this forum. I want to thank Phoenixgirl particularly for your straightforward, intelligent and reasoned comments. They have been a validation for me, knowing that I am not overreacting but rather protecting my children. The responses from the 5 parents I contacted have been appreciative. One is livid as he is Jewish and had no idea his son was even attending. Another was frightened as she had watched a family friend give all of her life and possessions to Opus Dei (?), the others felt the warning was justified and while they will continue to allow their children to participate, they will be doing more research of their own, will be contacting the Wyldlife leader and most importantly, they will be having more in depth discussion with their children.

I am sending the leader an email letting her know that we do not want her or anyone representing her group to contact my children. The kids were all asked for their email addresses and phone numbers so it is important to me that I make it clear that she not use them. I will be letting the principal of the school know that the substitue is abusing her position. What is most important is that my kids and I had a lengthy and very interesting conversation about it all today. I wanted them to know that their dad and I would no longer be allowing them to attend Wyldlife and we talked about exactly why. I told them that most of what we found objectionable was provided by the group itself and that they were welcome to navigate the site to see for themselves. We talked about religion and spirituality and about searching and the need for questions to be asked and their right to seek out the answers. It was a wonderful talk and I feel that they fully understand and are OK with our decision. (Important, as we didn't want them to rebel and attend without our knowledge)

I apologize for this lengthy post, but I think as many different circumstances as can be represented can only be helpful to those looking for others with experience. Thanks again for this forum and for sharing your experiences.

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