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Re: Young Life?
Posted by: uvillekid ()
Date: February 04, 2010 04:35AM


I understand where you are coming from, honestly. I am a younglife leader and I have been involved in younglife for about 4 years now. My parents were concerned on the rumors it is shady and is a cult.

I am letting you know that WyldLife is not what you have preceeded it to be, in all honesty, Phoenixgirl had a seemingly bad experience, and i think that is due to the fact that younglife wasnt very well built in the area she was from.
I do not know what Opus Dei is, but that seriously sounds like a cult haha. But I am truly sorry for your friend.

In order for a WyldLife group to be started, normally it is in a very good area where there is an established YoungLife. Wyldlife is just sometimes awkward, I know that, I have seen it. Because there is no real way for kids who are 12 years old to try and reach out to their friends to come to Wyldlife, so the leaders, who have been thoroughly trained and chosen, do try to make an effort to meet these kids. Normally, WyldLife is started by 2 leaders and parents from the area who want WyldLife in the area. This is not some random group of people trying to make your child join a cult.

No, WyldLife is not affiliated with your local presbyterian church, but YoungLife is supported by im sure many churches in your area. It is not hidden, you just have to look to find out. Every WyldLife has involvement from parents, leaders, and the area director of YoungLife.

Every county has a YoungLife area director, that director chooses leaders to start WyldLife, and certain churches try to support WyldLife, and parents who attend those churches who think WyldLife can be great for kids, try to help out those leaders. Now, whether this WyldLife leader is abusing her powers, I am not sure of, but it does not seem true from what you say.

I encrouage you to go and meet with your childs WyldLife leader and get a good impression of her. You talked about going to your principal of your childs school and telling her everything that is happening, chances are very likely that the principal has already spoken with the WyldLife leader, this is not a undercover meeting WyldLife is having. WyldLife and YoungLife leaders will meet with the principal, some teachers, and parents of kids at local churches before even getting WyldLife started.

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Re: Young Life?
Posted by: constance ()
Date: October 02, 2010 09:59PM

To Phoenixgirl,

Like the other readers who have thanked you, I just wanted to add my own thanks for your thoughtful and informational post. I consider myself to be a Progressive Christian, a proponent of inclusion and ecumenicalism, and I believe there are infinite paths to God, not just one. I have a dear friend from my church who was involved as a member of Young Life in her teen years, and her son recently starting attending the YL meetings in our area.. I was considering encouraging my own son (almost 16, pretty active in our church) to check it out. While my friend has admitted that sometimes it gets a bit more "happy clappy" than a mainstream Episcopalian like me might be comfortable with, I think she has no idea of how insidious an organization it might be as her experience was somewhat positive. After being motivated by your post to take a SERIOUS look into what i might be doing if I encouraged my son to go, I took another poster's advice and went to the Young Life website.

There I found a statement of their beliefs that is totally in keeping with Christian fundamentalism....The Bible is the inspired word of God and sole source of all truth or something to that effect...Jesus is the only path to salvation...God created "Man and Woman" (a veiled reference to rejection of gays)...yada yada yada. Reads just like the statement of faith of the "Confessing Church Movement" in the Presbyterian Church that rejects the perceived liberalism of the PCUSA, etc. and other similar fundamentalist/intolerant organizations.

I am so glad that when I was about to search for "is young life part of the Christian Right" on google, when my google search box gave me the option to search for "is young life a cult" and I found your post.

I am so horrified that even one of my best friends doesn't realize what this group is really all about. The fact that their true (fundamentalist) beliefs and attitudes are clothed in a "happy clappy" veneer makes it all the more dangerous and frightening in my view. Like other posters, I do not understand why any family would delegate the shaping and molding of their child's spiritual growth to total strangers who were chosen for reasons not known to us.

Your post is the post that keeps on giving and I hope that other families considering Young Life for the kids also find it.


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Re: Young Life?
Posted by: murrayjo ()
Date: November 22, 2010 11:32AM

My Experiences with young life is that a lot of the people are very two faced.

I started going a year ago because my dad heard about it and though it might be a good thing to do since he works full time and my mom works almost full time. At first everyone was all friendly and nice. But this spring a new leader came back from a trip from Australia and want to start a club at my school which i don't think will work out. Every since he came into the picture it seems like everyone from the other young life has not been really talking to me since i am not really in their club anymore since they are trying to start one at my school which is in a different town. All he doe's is ask my about my parents and sister and if i went to church that Sunday it make me upset because he kind of act like i am from a missed up family(and if i was he is the only on that could help out) even though i am not. He always ask me personal questions about my life (that i do not answer) I mean i have only known this person for less than a year.

Once at Campaigners one of the leaders was throwing around their young life bible which i think is not right. At the summer camp(Sarnac village) every night before we went to bed during their weird cabin they keep on asking and asking about my life story that i don't want to tell them. At the last day at the camp and all the kids say that they have been saved by god or born again it was so weird because a lot of people were crying and some of people from my group who said they were saved started making racist jokes and using Profanity right after they said that they were saved that kind of hard to believe.

Every since i have acted like i am never going to to their being saved thing a lot of the people have kind of rejected me at their club things. I am orthodox(which is kind of like catholic) one time a told one of they leaders about and they just kind of gave me a weird look. Any was a feel like this people were my friends and know that they are kind of rejected me because i don't agree with everything they think or believe in.

I have stoped going to the club because i can't stand to watch their stupid games and all the money they wast on them and how immature they grown act

I like some of the people their though

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Re: Young Life?
Posted by: Chris Morris ()
Date: December 15, 2010 02:38PM

Phoenixgirl and others....
I grew up with Young life in the background (notice I said background). I've been to the camps, seen the brainwashing and mind games occur first hand. I've seen the people of Young Life (many of whom are pretty creepy) in action, and I would place some of them in the category of the most manipulative people I have ever met.

I grew up being made to go to church (by my dad and his new wife, my parents were divorced when I was very young). My mother gave me the choice about going to church. My dad and step mom changed churches (from a traditional, hymn-singing church to a rock and roll band type, with the projectors on the wall). Shortly after I began hearing more and more about this Young life. I wasn't thrilled at all. I hated being made to go to church for one and I knew this would be another thing I would be made to do. And like any other kid would do, I dragged my feet.

My dad and step mom began getting involved with this thing called Young Life. I didn't want any part of it, the people there were weird and the leader guy (a 50ish grown man) sort of freaked me out. I couldn't understand why a 50ish grown man would want to hang out with teenagers.

Anyway, the next thing I knew I was going to "camp" with others from the area. My dad and step mom went also. They sold it as a fun filled weekend that I'll never with a lake, a cabin for us to sleep in, great food, boats, a "blob", a rope course, zip line and other cool stuff a 14 year old would like.

I have to admit I was actually excited to go to Lake Champion.

That excitement quickly died when I got there and realized what was going on. Between these 'fun' times of ropes courses, swimming etc etc, were these meetings where adults would lead the kids in weird skits and lectures, and of course there was plenty of singing of songs that had nothing to do with God per se, but they put that spin on all of them. Editors note.....I specifically remember singing 'Brown Eyed Girl' no less than 25 times that week.

So this went on and on, I couldn't wait for the weekend to be over.

So finally, Sunday night came.....the last night. I'm thinking, thank god, tomorrow we're leaving. But that wasnt until we had our last get together with lots of singing (Again) and creepy lectures by old creepy men. Afterthe songs, it got real serious and they told us about god and about how people that don't accept god into their hearts are bad people.

That was when they made us leave the auditorium and walk outside to find a quiet spot where we could accept god onto our hearts. I walked out thinking..."wow, if I don't do this, does that mean that I'm a bad a person?" I didn't know, I was 14 years old and didn't know much of anything about life and was extremely impressionable. I found my quiet spot, despite my reservations, so I wouldn't be a bad person.

I went back, the leaders asked who accepted god...of course everyone cheered and it was all over (only after a few more songs were sung). Then we left the next day (thank god).

The next year, I got roped into it again, but was allowed to bring a friend per my step mom who was higher up in the organization now. After reading phoenixgirls post, I now look back and see my step mom as being a leader of sorts...brainwashing, etc etc. My best friend Drew and I went, but this time we were both old enough to see thru the whole thing for what it really is....a way for adults to shove their beliefs down throats of impressionable, young kids who aren't old enough to make their own independent decisions.

That was the last time I went and have never been to another Young Life event since.

For my wedding present, my dad and step mom gave my new wife (now my ex wife) and I a free trip to lake champion. I declined.

They have two kids of their own now, one 17 and another 14. They go to camp each year, volunteer there for a month in the summer. All I can think is that it's too bad that these kids are so brainwashed and weak minded to appreciate that the options they have a full right to explore are being shoved down their throat. I can't blame them though, who would want to be labeled the bad person Young Life described?

I'll be sad to see them grow up and literally get hit with the real world. These kids and these people from this organization think he world is sugar plums and candy farries, and it's not. This organization is scary and is dangerous to our kids self esteem. It was to mine--until my mom explained that going to church or being a member of YL doesn't make you a good person. Living how God would want you to live makes you a good person.

My dad and step mom are still very heavily involved in YL. My sister some sort of leader at her high school. My dad gives tons of money to this organization. It's scary.

It is because of my actual, first hand experiences that I believe Young Life is certainly a cult-like organization whose leaders prey on kids (see phoenixgirls post) who are too young to know any better and tell them they'll be bad people if they don't go with the program. What kind of "godly" organization would say that to a kid?

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Re: Young Life?
Posted by: Alex718 ()
Date: March 04, 2011 01:22AM

I have a son who just turned 18, and has been involved in YL for about three years. He started going to Campaigner meetings and "weekend camp" when the youth director at the local Pres. Church was also the YL leader. He is a charismatic, funny person and the kids loved him. He led the group to one of the YL camps for a week; I allowed my son to attend, but with reservations. We talked about this, and because of my son's mature nature and intellect, I trusted that he was aware of any agenda that might be going on. He also assured me that the experience was just a fun one. When the group returned, I found out from another mother that her son was "born again".

Nothing drastically changed with my son; he continued to attend campaigners and went to one more week-long camp.

Neither our family nor theirs are church-going; I am of the "spiritual but not religous" camp, and have always approached the subject of God with my son in that tone. I felt he could make choices about what religion he wanted to pursue, if any, when he got older.

I'm rambling, but to make a long story short, he now says he wants to be a "leader". He is a very gifted student, and has college plans, 5 AP tests and a part time job; I want to use these as excuses to not allow him to participate, but the truth is, I want to say no because it terrifies me. I feel sick after reading these letters to think that I did so little to prevent him from being sucked in. He is also scheduled to attend the summer camp again in June.

I would very much appreciate any advice, direction or moral support anyone can give me at this point. My son, his dad and I have a very good relationship, but because he is so conscientous, we haven't been as attentive to his activities as we probably should have been. Now is it too late to stop this? Thank you for any help.

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Re: Young Life?
Posted by: jims ()
Date: April 09, 2011 07:03PM

Alex 718,
Everything written here of Younglife paints a horrible picture of what the organization is all about. All the stories shared here are very disheartening. I, obviously, should not attempt to defend the organization as a whole, seeing as there are some disturbing things going on elsewhere. I can, however, confidently tell you how good a thing YoungLife is in my area. I am a volunteer leader. The leaders in my area come from all different walks of life. We all attend different churches. We all have different backgrounds and all of us had entirely different high school experiences.. What we share is an understanding of how tough high school can be and a desire to help kids that are in need. I could go through addressing each one of these posts individually, but I honestly do not have time to do so. In my area, we have no system of which "group" of kids to focus on. We simply befriend high schoolers in an effort to earn their trust/respect and hopefully be in a position to offer sound advice later on whenever they might need it. We encourage our kids to join a church. We encourage our kids to talk with their families. There is no hidden agenda. The message is really just to tell them that Jesus loves them and that we love them regardless of what they have done, are doing, or will do. If they dont want to hear it, that's fine. We still continue to support them and make ourselves available to them. The mission of younglife is a good thing. It really is such a shame to read these posts of such horrible things that go on, even in such a positive organization. I'd encourage you to talk with any of the young life leaders in your area. I've never heard of any leader that wouldn't welcome the questions of a concerned parent. Ask your son for their number, or ask him to have the leader give you a call. It is important to know who your son is spending his time with. But if YoungLife in your area is anything like YoungLife in my area, you have absolutely nothing to be worried about! Hope this helped!

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Re: Young Life?
Posted by: rrmoderator ()
Date: April 09, 2011 09:43PM


Since Young Life largely works with minor children what is its policy regarding parental consent?

Does Young Life require that each child it works with must take home a written parental notification and consent form from Young Life?

Must a written consent form be completed and then be returned to Young Life before the organization works with a minor child?

Are such consent forms then kept on file for every minor child Young Life has involved in its programs and activities?

I am referring to an official written notice that advises the parents of a minor child that Young Life is a Protestant evangelical religious organization, which promotes predominately evangelical Christian beliefs and church involvement. And attached would be a consent form, which requires that the parent(s) and/or legal guardian acknowledge this and give written permission for Young Life to work with the minor child through its programs, activities, staff and/or volunteers.

As you are a volunteer you must know the answers to these questions and the policies of Young Life.

If you don't answer these questions directly readers of this thread can conclude that Young Life has no such notice and consent form policy and therefore may work with minor children without meaningful parental notification and consent.

This would include working with the children of Jewish, Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu and non-religious secular families without notification and the written consent of parents or legal guardians.

Parents have the right to determine the religious involvement of their own minor children. And unless parents/legal guardians are officially informed through written notice and agree to their child's involvement through a signed a consent form, Young Life can be seen as proselytizing without parental knowledge and/or consent.

It seems doubtful that the evangelical Protestant families (Baptist, Assemblies of God, Nazarene, Evangelical Free Church, etc.), which most often support Young Life, would appreciate it if an outside religious organization (Mormon, Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, Hindu, etc.) targeted their minor children in an effort to share beliefs without notification and consent.

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 04/10/2011 10:47PM by rrmoderator.

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Re: Young Life?
Posted by: rrmoderator ()
Date: April 10, 2011 10:32PM

To whom it may concern:

If there is no response from "jims" it should be understood that Young Life has no official policy that specifically requires parental notification and written consent before including a minor child in its programs and activities.

This means that the organization often works with minor children without parental notification and/or consent.

If you are a Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu or a secular non-religious parent this may pose a serious problem to you regarding Young Life's ongoing admitted proselytizing.

As jims tacitly acknowledged, "We all attend different churches...The message is really just to tell them that Jesus loves them..."

According to jims Young Life staffers, "simply befriend high schoolers in an effort to earn their trust/respect and hopefully be in a position to offer sound advice...We encourage our kids to join a church."

Roman Catholic and mainline Protestant parents should also understand that Young Life is essentially promoting a very specific fundamentalist Christian theology, which means that its teachings may contradict and/or even impugn the integrity of your family's traditional faith. Young Life staffers and its supporters are most frequently drawn from an assortment of evangelical churches such as Southern Baptists, American Baptists, Conservative Baptists, Assemblies of God, Nazarene, Evangelical Free Church, etc.

This means if you are not an evangelical Christian the very conservative teachings of the organization may contradict what you prefer to have taught to your children.

If you discover that your child is attending Young Life programs or activities and you don't appreciate and/or agree with its predominantly fundamentalist Christian theology and corresponding conservative views you may want to intercede.

This might include sending the Young Life branch operating in your area a written notice expressing that you do not want your minor child involved in any of Young Life programs, activities and/or to have contact with any of its volunteers and staffers.

If you wish to strongly impress this upon Young Life you might seriously consider sending the organization such notification through certified mail with a return receipt requested. Another possible option might be to have your attorney prepare and send a letter. In this way Young Life cannot claim they didn't know about your concerns. It is likely that they will then desist from working with your child directly, though it is possible that they may continue to work indirectly through other children involved in Young Life, using them like surrogates in proselytizing efforts.

I have received many complaints from families, which said they were in fact never notified or asked for written permission by Young Life regarding the participation of their minor children in Young Life programs.

Again, parents have the legal right/prerogative to determine the religious involvement of their own minor children.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/10/2011 10:56PM by rrmoderator.

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Re: Young Life?
Posted by: Alex718 ()
Date: April 11, 2011 06:33AM

Thank you for the clarifying message and suggestions on how to voice disapproval, moderator. Since my son is now 18 I cannot tell them they must contact me, but I may write anyway, just to vent. (Perhaps with a copy to our local school board, which allows them to recruit in school.) I have to say, the original YL leader in our case was fairly communicative, but I think that was mostly because he was employed by the Presby. Church. That same person now is in employed by the area YL office-- the only communication we now receive is mail requests for financial support. The group is now run by local college students with no communication to parents.

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Re: Young Life?
Posted by: biggun223 ()
Date: April 26, 2011 01:41AM

I am also a Young Life leader and have been for 5 years now and I find some of these comments misinformed. Just like any other organization, there are people in positions that should not be there. However, my area puts leaders through an extensive year long leadership program in order to place them at a high school. This includes a semester long Bible study and background checkpoint before being assigned to a high school. The idea behind Young Life is the idea that kids won't do something that is "uncool". So we take the Gospel and present it in a way that not threatening and kids can learn about God if they want to. There is no "program" that we put kids through to try to "brainwash" them. Kids can come and go to Young Life and I will treat them the same either way. I have had kids disagree with me about my beliefs and that's fine. I believe discussion is healthy. As to respond to "rrmoderator" post about "jims" post

Since Young Life largely works with minor children what is its policy regarding parental consent?

Young Life requires parental consent to all activities where they will stay overnight or where it would be otherwise required such as trips out of town. These are kept on file at both the area Young Life offices and at the camps the kids go to. Not all Young Life camps are held at Young Life property, any further paperwork needed by those camps is also given to the parent.

Does Young Life require that each child it works with must take home a written parental notification and consent form from Young Life?

If you mean going to Club (our weekly meeting) or Campaigners (our weekly bible study), then no. It is illogical to believe that Young Life would have to require parental consent in order for a child to show up a one of these. It would be like a church being required to require every kid who comes to a youth meeting to have parental consent. It simply does not happen. We will not turn away a kid from club, because he showed up without a signed form that's not required.

Must a written consent form be completed and then be returned to Young Life before the organization works with a minor child?

Your language is very vague. If you mean Camp, then yes. If you mean Club or Campaigners, then no. I don't know what you mean by works with. We are not working with some sort of 12 step program to get kids to meet Jesus. We present the Gospel and if kids want to know more, we give them the opportunity to learn more through coming back to Club, going to Campaigners, going to Camp, or by having personal conversations with them. There is no requirements involved, so there is no contract or program that is required.

Are such consent forms then kept on file for every minor child Young Life has involved in its programs and activities?

See above questions.

I realize that you have had a terrible time with the Young Life that you were affiliated with, but realize that not all areas are this way. That is one bad inference made about an organization that stretches to every state in the US and is in 27 different countries. You can't say that the entire organization is bad , because you had a bad experience. If that were the case, you would have to scrap every organization ever.

As far as stating Young Life as a separate denomination or even a cult is simply wrong. Young Life does not state this, but rather requires that all of its leaders belong to a church. Young Life is not a church. It's an organization that introduces kids to the Gospel and allows them to continue to follow Christ if they choose to do so. Anyone who states differently is misinformed.

Winning the Right to be Heard

This is a concept that states that all people will be more willing to listen to what you have to say if they know more about you. It doesn't mean that we are pressing our ideas or thought down their throats. It simply means that we have discussions with kids to help them find out what a relationship with Christ looks like for them if they choose to follow that path.

Lastly, Young Life is Biblically based as all our talks and lessons at Campaigners come from the Bible. I believe that a person should have the opportunity to weigh all options and choose for themselves and to rob someone of an option is to do the exact thing we are being accused of doing in Young Life, "shoving beliefs down kids throats".

If you have any questions, or concerns, I am more than willing the present all of the information I have.

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