Youth attend Young Life camp

Young Life Camp participants take part in water activities. (Provided photo)

 

By Darlene Paterson
Empire Press Correspondent

Young Life campers at the go-cart track. (Provided photo)

Scott and Leslie Blair, residents of Lake Entiat Estates north of Orondo, and four other adult leaders from the area, took a group of 12 youth from Chelan High School to a week of camp at Washington Family Ranch in Oregon June 17-23.

The other local leaders were Sarah Shover, Derek Todd, Adam Poush and Cathy Strange.

The 64,000-acre camp runs year around, but during the summer months it is exclusively used for Young Life camps. Young Life is a Christian organization that reaches out to junior and senior high school students through relationship building and fun events with the purpose of helping teens come to know the God who loves them and desires to give purpose to their lives.

Scott, Leslie and all leaders spent the week participating in activities with their teens. Leslie had the six Chelan girls in her cabin and Scott the six boys.

Young Life summer camps expand on the program kids have participated in throughout the school year. The Washington Family Ranch, so named because the facility was purchased and donated by David Washington, is located 18 miles from Antelope, Ore.

A large gymnasium containing five basketball courts, a skateboard park, climbing wall, bike shop, and pool hall is a main attraction. Also featured at the camp are a high-end go-cart track, zip lines, a 60-foot ropes course, a larger than Olympic-size swimming pool and a free falling swing.

“No electronic devices are allowed,” Leslie said. “We want the kids to have genuine fun without alcohol, drugs or smartphones.”

“The whole concept,” Scott adds, “is to make the kids feel special and have the best week of their lives. Young Life wants teens to be amazed that people would give their time to create an experience that far exceeds their expectations.”

Participation and teamwork are strong components of camp. Kids learn to work, play and participate together along with their leaders.

The programming operates on the element of surprise. Even leaders only learn a few hours ahead of time what will come next. “The next big thing” was a favorite saying of the activity directors.

“Activities are aimed at demonstrating the joy that comes from knowing Jesus,” Leslie said. “True Christianity is not boring. The camp staff demonstrates servanthood, love and caring. It is so different than what many kids see on a normal basis.”

Though in their 60s, Scott and Leslie have a love for youth, abundant energy and a background in youth ministry. “I am older than some of the kids’ grandparents,” Scott said. “But they seem to love and respect us for giving of ourselves for them. I think they are sometimes shocked when they see us join with them in the activities. We aren’t chaperones or counselors, we are teammates and friends.”

Jeffrey Chambers, youth pastor at Living Stone Church, is the area director for Young Life in Chelan. He is serving at the Oregon camp for a month this summer.

In addition to the teens from Chelan, campers from Waterville, East Wenatchee and all over Washington, Oregon and Idaho came to the June 17 week of camp. About 500 youth attend the camp each week during the summer months.

The Blairs have been helping with Young Life in Chelan for the past three years. During the year, Young Life meets once a week. Scott says their main purpose for being there is to build relationships by spending time with the kids. Club meetings consist of fun and games with a short message at the end.

Chelan Valley Young Life leaders are currently doing follow-up gatherings with the 12 kids who went to camp. They had a barbecue 24 hours after camp and again three days later. They will continue holding weekly events throughout the summer.

For further information, check the Chelan Valley Young Life Facebook page.