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2009 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Young Life

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Children & Youth, Philanthropy, Voluntarism Promotion, Youth Development - Religious Leadership

Mission: The vision was born in 1938 when Jim Rayburn, a young youth leader in Texas, was challenged by his senior minister to focus on the local high school and pioneer a path to connect with non-churched kids. After exploring several possibilities, Rayburn decided that the best setting for the proclamation of the Gospel was at a Young Life club, held in the home of one of the kids. Club involved lively singing, a skit and a short talk about Jesus Christ. He believed every kid had a right to hear the message of Jesus Christ and decide how to respond to the Gospel. Young Life leaders provide kids with factual information for making good decisions. Leaders work hard to provide teenagers with the basic facts concerning Jesus Christ. The information is presented in a non-threatening manner in terms that kids can understand.Young Life leaders have the highest regards and respect for a young person's right to choose where matters of faith are concerned.

Target demographics: middle school and high school kids and college students.

Geographic areas served: all 50 states of the U.S. and in over 100 countries internationally.

Programs: Young Life's efforts to reach out to every kid, everywhere have resulted in a number of specific ministries. Each of these apply the basics of Young Life to meet kids just as they are through friendship and faith. In alphabetical order our specific ministries are: Capernaum: Young Life's ministry to kids with disabilities, named after the town where Jesus performed many miracles. College: Young Life's outreach to college students both in the U.S. and internationally. International: Young Life's outreach to high school and middle school kids in more than 100 countries around the world. Small Town/Rural: Young Life's ministry to kids in one-high-school towns of fewer than 25,000 people. Urban: Young Life's minsistry to racial and ethnic minorities, focused on kids who live in high-density communities and who are historically, socially and/or economically disadvantaged. WyldLife: Young Life's ministry to middle school kids. YoungLives: Young Life's ministry to teenage moms. Young Life provides healthy, creative fun. From weekly clubs to seasonal camping experiences to daily outings with leaders, Young Life is known around the world as an organization that knows how to have fun. Club meets once a week and has been described as "controlled chaos." Leaders combine songs, humor, and group interaction to create an hour of energetic fun where kids can express that teenage tendency to push the limits-but within the controlled context of a safe environment. Campaigners is the name for Young Life's Bible study program. Kids often meet in small groups with a Young Life leader during the week to discuss their ideas and question about faith and begin exploring the Bible. These groups were named from a term we've kept around since Young Life was called "The Young Life Campaign" in the early '40s. Camping is one of Young Life's specialties. Kids can discover adventure and prove their prowess by climbing through a ropes course in the tops of trees, barreling down a water slide from hundreds of feet up the side of a mountain, riding horseback along scenic trails, water skiing, parasailing, racing go-carts around muddy tracks and enjoying what Young Life leaders promise to be one of the best weeks of their lives.

Community Stories

160 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

12

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I DO NOT LIKE WYLDLIFE FOR MY CHILDREN. As a mother I tell you why I do not like Wyldlife or Young Life. First, the leaders are very MANIPULATIVE with teenagers. They act COOL and Young even though some of them are in their late forties. Second, parents are not encourage to attend any event or group. For example, my daughter attended some meetings about Wyldlife in my neighborhood but of course I was not invited to stay. My daughter at that time she did not say much about it, so I stay out of it since she appreciated the time she shared with her friends form her school. However, after some time my daughter mention me how cool it was to have a counselor and a mentor that she could trust and have fun with. As a mother I did not like that idea and I told my daughter that she could not have any counselor unless I give her permission to have one. Another aspect about WYLDLIFE I DO NOT LIKE is that they get them to excited about camp....once my daughter told me "that's going to be the best time of my life!"(Camp). CRAZY!!!! The leaders are not honest with parents because they do not tell about their religious influence on children. I think we need MOTHERHOOD for our children not random counselors playing to be cool with our kids to get them to like Christianity using their own theology without parents consent. THINK ABOUT IT. I DID. THANK YOU.

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Young Life is an amazing group. Many people writing negative reviews do not understand the dynamics of the organization. Young Life is an amazing place to send your teenager. It keeps yhem level-headed and builds a strong relationship with God. The friendships created in YL last a lifetime. Young Life Club allpws teens to gather and rejoice with people who share a common interest with them. Young Life leaders are kind and create a no pressure environment. YL has many trips and leadera are great about assisting people who cannot afford the trips. Young Life is the best thing ever

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Young Life has changed my life! Having a caring adult come alongside me during my adolescent years made all the difference for me. Young Life volunteers care genuinely about the lives of students and are role models of positive choices, good communication and living life for more than just the daily grind. I would highly suggest getting involved with your local Young Life club!

Review from Guidestar

8 Mary151

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Young Life is THE main reason I became a Christian in High School. Young Life is not always fully understood unless you have been personally involved or impacted by it. That is why I highly suggest na-sayers to learn more about YL or talk to those of us who have been involved with it before making up their mind. If it were not for Young Life it would have taken me many many years before I was obedient to God and his plans for my life. YL has taught me that you can be you and have flaws but still be striving to do God's will. Please give Young Life a chance and research it!

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

To potential donors, I love YL because we really make a difference in kids' lives. As leaders, we provide a substance-free party called "Club" for them every week, at the end of which we talk a little about Jesus. If kids want to know more, they can come to a Bible study called "Campaigners", in which they learn more. We also have camps in the winter and summer, which include a series of Clubs, lessons, really fun activities, and heart-to-heart talks. We also act as friends and mentors to teens. Leaders are people they can trust and rely on. All leaders have passed criminal background checks and live by a pretty strict moral code outlined by YL to ensure that we model good behavior. All that being said, I feel like I should write to dispel a lot untrue information being spread on this page. (If it is true for your local chapter, I would say that's a shame because YL does not work like that on the whole!) I became involved in Young Life as a leader last year. I am not evangelical by any stretch of imagination, but I do love working with kids. One of the best things about YL is that we don't cram Christianity down the kids' throats. Yes, coming to Club means that they hear a five-minute talk about Christ, usually a personal story about how my relationship with God has worked this specific way in my life or something similar. We don't tell kids they're horrible, going to hell, or anything else of that nature, and we certainly don't judge their lifestyles! Those are the things that usually turn us all off to Christianity, right? Kids can either listen or not listen, but they get to keep coming back to have fun and hang out even if they never buy into it. Another awesome part of being a leader is just being there for kids who are going through life struggles. Even if they're from the best homes imaginable, they still carry burdens they won't talk about with their families. We are good role models who listen and help them make good decisions. I've seen our care and kindness influence kids to stop partying, drinking, and doing drugs. YL leaders also engage with the parents of kids, keeping them in the communication loop and being very open and honest about Club, Campaigners, Camp, etc. We don't sneak attack your kids with Bibles, and the intention is never to turn a teen against his/her parents. I have yet to meet a parent who has had an issue with the organization, and most parents have gone out of their way to say what a difference we have made to their sons and daughters. We occasionally hang out with kids we know at school--meet them for lunch or attend a sporting event, and other kids will come sit down for a chat and wonder who we are. Of course we don't turn them away. And Club is clean, rowdy, substance-free fun, and those kid who regularly come to Club go tell more kids, and they start coming and tell more kids. Sometimes parents want their kids to go, and sometimes they don't, and we are respectful of the decision either way. We also get to know kids and what's important to them, often attending plays or football games just to show that we care, because we do! We want them to do well and know that we're not just out to convert, but that we actually care about them. I'm not a leader because I'm "creepy", racist, misguided, homophobic, or brainwashed. It's not some underhanded plot to indoctrinate anyone. It's just simply to be there for teens as the navigate this rocky age, and to share our own stories with them. Many of them choose to come to Christ, not because we pressured them, but because they see the way we live, care, and interact, and they see this promise of a God who is forgiving and full of love, who holds every child precious in His eyes and bears their burdens, and who gives them strength and guidance for every stage of life.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My life is better for having been a part of Young Life, and I've seen it transform the lives of dozens of teenagers. Being a part of a teenager's life is has a lasting effect on communities as well as the individual kids, and society needs it more than we recognize (http://t.co/hihwxS4). Young Life trains leaders well to enter into the lives of kids and show them what life is really about.

2 Alli L.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Young Life is personal. Everything is done with excellence. It's fun to be apart of a high school friend's life. Know what is going on in their lives and care for them no matter what they do. Earning the right to be heard.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a part of Young Life for about four years. In high school,I attended Club and Campaigners, and went on Fall Weekend Trips up to Young Life's Saranac Village. Now, in college, I am volunteering with Young Life Capernaum, which is Young Life for the mentally and physically disabled. This organization has helped me to see who I am in Christ, and helped me to be a better person! Thank you so much for giving me and all of the other students that have participated w/ YL, an amazing opportunity to be blessed and to bless others!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I recently voluntered at Timber Wolf Lake in Michigan. I was so blessed by the staff that worked there. I am looking forward to coming back and helping some more.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been involved with young lives for one year working with teen moms to see them mature and care for their babies and continue their education as well as accept Jesus Christ in their life and develop the relationship with God has been a Joy. I was not able to attend camp but the girls who have told me about it had many positive experiences.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Young Life is a nonprofit that produces the most change in teens life than any group I have ever had experience with. I have been involved with Young Life as a high school student, going to clubs & 3 camps. Then throughout college & grad school I was a leader & student staff. Being involved in young life has had a life changing effect on my life, and the lives of countless others. Camps are awesome and are 5 star resorts. Anyone involved in Young Life has an honest love for teens and for Jesus.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I started Young LIfe in the 6th grade and went to every club and every camp I could until I graduated. I was eager to become a leader once I got to college. I went through QUEST and became a middle school leader at the middle school I attended as a kid. I love YoungLife. I love meeting new kids and seeing them at our club meeting every Tuesday night! YoungLife camps are five-star! They are so strategic from their speakers and messages to the games and music played! It is truly LIFE CHANGING! Life is meant to be lived through valuable relationships; With God and with people.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Young Life is such a life changing experiance! ive seen lifes change right in front of my eyes! through YL ive been given opertunities i would NEVER have any where else. i have meet the best people, i am sure, in the world, who are certinaly life long friends. YL is a piller when you need to lean on somthing, its the asurance that your life will be okay. YL has pulled me out of dark times all through amazing experiances! i have no clue where i would be without such an organization, i do know i would not be as strong and far as i am today!

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was first introduced to Christ through Young Life nearly 20 years ago, and obviously - it ROCKED MY WORLD and CHANGED MY LIFE. Through the years I have done what I have been able to do to continue to give back and serve such a beautiful ministry that is so close to my heart for obvious reasons. Young Life reaches out to the farthest unreachable kid and let's them know they are loved by people here, and most importantly by a God who is just dying to spend time with them. Kids today -- SOOO need to hear that and feel that and KNOW that. The great thing about YL is that it speaks to kids in 'their language' so they can hear it too and if they don't get the whole 'Jesus thing' or choose not to listen, that's OK too - they are still loved and welcomed with the open arms of their leaders and Jesus who died on the cross for them. As a Young Life student - a camper at Woodleaf and Malibu - a work crew worker - a leader while in college and now a leader as I begin to watch my own family grow - I am filled with joy and I continue to grow spiritually each day by being a part of it all. God Bless the ministry and the volunteers and workers who have dedicated their hearts, homes, lives and prayers to reaching the unreachable teens out there!!!

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The first time I did anything with Young Life was when I went to Summer Camp at Rockbridge. It was the greatest week of my life. I'm really glad that I went. It helped me realize that someone out there cared about me, and I was never going to be alone in the world. I was always going to have God in my life. And he would always love me for who I was even if no one else did. Young Life is a great organization for high school. I'm really glad I became a part of it. Now, I'm a leader in training to help kids discover what I did.

6

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have grown up in Young Life an watched as it has transformed not only my family but our community with the gospel. I love that Young Life is so relational! It is one thing to have 100 kids show up every week for campaigners but it is anouther thing to know that all of those kids are meeting one on one with a leader. And that person is helping them to grown in their faith. It is crazy, Exciting, fun and chalenging all in one! I am so blessed to have Young Life as a part of my life!!!

7

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Young Life changed my life. It has been some of the most wonderfully captivating motivating inspiring and tiring times of my life. I dont know where I would be without it and some of the relationships I have built because of it...

6

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Young Life has been the second greatest thing in my life, and the greatest thing in my life happened at Young Life camp, and that's coming into a relationship with Jesus Christ. Because of Young Life I have become a better person. I am now more involved in my community and giving back to those who are a lot less fortunate than I am. Young Life's motto says it all, "you were made for this."

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Young Life helped me realized that Christianity was about a relationship with a living God, not something to do on Sunday

9

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Young Life has been changing my life since the moment I was first involved. I first went to Young Life as a broken high school student looking to have fun with friends and wound up changing my life forever! My Young Life leaders presented the gospel of Jesus Christ to me in a way I had never heard before, and I wanted to hear more. I ended up going to camp that summer and dedicated my life to better things than drinking and partying with people I thought were my friends. Young Life taught me that I can live a respectable life and have the time of my life doing it! Now, 5 years later, I am a leader showing kids just like me that there is more to life than chasing temporary highs; It's about self-respect and Jesus.