From August 25th-28th high school teens from all over Ontario came together in their local Young Life areas for our camp alternative called YL’d Nights. In North Durham we had 28 teens and leaders join us for the week and we had an amazing time together! Activities included: Lawn Games, Skate Park, Real Life Fruit Ninja, Lake Nights, Photo Scavenger Hunts, Water Fights, Frisbee Golf, Bonfires, Games, Mini-Golf, lots of snacks, and even late-night snacks catered by Roosters Fries! From August 31st-September 3rd, grades 6-8 kids in Ontario came together in their local WyldLife areas for our camp alternative called WyldNights. In North Durham we had 16 kids and leaders join us for the week and it was so much fun! Activities included: Crafts, Lawn Games, Real Life Fruit Ninja, Hiking, Geocaching (and even planting our OWN caches!), Water Fights, Bonfires, lots of snacks, Lake Nights, Mini-Putt, and an Amazing Race all around Uxbridge! Camp is something that everyone in Young Life looks forward to in the summer. On the surface, our camps like Saranac and Timber Wolf just look like really fun places. The Parasail, the Zip Lines, the Water Sports, the beaches, the fancy boats, and so many more exciting events that teens & leaders don’t experience at home. But every year we learn over and over that it’s deeper than that. On the bus ride home, we always ask teens what their favourite part of the week was. A couple of them will mention the Parasail, tubing with their friends, etc, but the majority of them jump to something much deeper. No matter what their beliefs are, they’ll mention the loving and accepting environment at camp. They’ll mention the time they got to spend getting to make new friends, the time they had away from their cellphones (shocking, I know!). They’ll say that they have never felt accepted and loved like that no matter how they act or who they know. They’ll say that they loved learning about God and processing His love with their leaders. These are the experiences that cannot be contained to a camp property, and these are the things that made these last couple “camp” weeks amazing, even from our own backyards. Every day during YL’d Nights & WyldNights we got to have a fun group activity, but we also got to listen to a club talk and process God’s amazing love together during Cabin Time. We still got to point our teenage friends to Jesus, have great conversations about life and faith, and see our unshakeable God work in the lives and hearts of people we care so much about. So yes, camp may have looked different this year… but at the core of it, it was the same!
What does YL look like now?
In March when the pandemic hit, we immediately switched to hosting YL on Zoom and finished off the school year like that. Each week we still got to share how our weeks went, we still got to play some fun games, and we still got to share the gospel with teens. Then we would go into breakout rooms and talk about how we’re doing mentally with the pandemic and what we learned from the Bible story that day. This was our favourite part, as many of our teens have not met Jesus and it’s such a privilege to process that with them. Since August, we’ve been following that same format, but in person! It has been such a blessing to be back together, obviously outdoors and following all the government guidelines. COVID-19 stopped a lot of things, but it didn’t stop the need for community, relationship, and a safe place. It also didn’t stop our leaders from being determined to find new, creative, and safe ways to reach teens at a time in life where they need it the most.
Back in May when we had to cancel our annual fundraising Gala due to COVID-19, meeting our year-end financial goals seemed impossible. We crunched the numbers and realized we would need $20,000 to complete our budget by September 30th, our fiscal year-end. So as a committee, we agreed to redirect all our Gala time & energy into our Ontario Fondo, a bike/walk-a-thon that took place in September. Our team of 18 bikers/walkers in North Durham has worked really hard and by the end of it raised over $17,000! Between the Fondo and a couple of other generous donations, we were able to make it to year-end with a tiny bit of a surplus! Only God could have done that!
What can you be praying for?
- Safety (both physically and mentally) for all our teens and leaders as we navigate ministry during this time
- For God to make Himself known to all the teens that walk through our doors (or into our backyards, rather!)
- For more connections, supporters, and leaders to come alongside
- For good weather, as all our programs are now outdoors, even during the winter!
Thank you so much to our friends at St. Paul’s Leaskdale for your continued support both financially and in prayer! We really appreciate what you do!