My Experience With Leading Younglife + Malibu Camp
what is young life?
I just got back from Malibu, a Young Life camp on the Princess Louisa Inlet in Canada, late last night! This is my 5th time going to this camp, and I thought since some of you have followed along with me for some time now, I would go into more details on my journey with Young Life and what camp looks like too!
So first off Young Life is an organization that is made of up volunteers and leaders all over the US and the whole world actually, who love Jesus and are creating communities of friendship & building relationships with students. A lot of people who are involved in Young Life actually start in middle and high school, which is so amazing! There are Young Life “clubs” at a ton of high schools all over the country, and just even in the greater area of Seattle there are over 25 different schools with these clubs. “Club” is a loose term haha since that comes across as exclusive and something that you might have to ask to be a part of, but Young Life is designed to be that club that any kid can join! If you are in 9th-12th grade you can go to Young Life at your school or a surrounding school, and you too have the opportunity to go to different camps all across the country!
For the two high schools that I lead at, Young Life Club is held on Monday nights at 7:27pm. It’s sort of a funny Young Life thing to have club start at a silly time, so for us it has always been 7:27pm. We meet at the same house each week and play mixers with all the kids, have games planned, sing songs, and have a “club talk” where one of the leaders gives a 5-10 minute talk about Jesus! We really like to keep it simple and fun, because the main point of YL is really just to reach every student who wants a place to feel loved & belong! We want any student to be able to come to club and feel like they can have fun, make friends, and just let all of their worries about school, life, family, or homework, be pushed away for a few hours.
My first time at Malibu was as a student staff during Spring Break of my Junior year of College. I wasn’t involved in YL in high school because I was involved in my church, but in college I did end up getting involved and was able to go to Malibu Club for a week! I had always heard such amazing things about this camp, as it was one of the first properties that YoungLife bought back in the 50’s and has continued to be one of the most adored camps for students, staff, and adults to attend. About 25 of us made the (very long haha) journey to Malibu for the week, to help serve the people that were there building the dirk bike trails at the time. Since I wasn’t really a “camper” my experience was very different from my first week taking my kids to camp, years later. I worked in the kitchen for that week, making lunches and cooking and setting up the dining hall for the workers there.
My second opportunity with Young Life actually came several years after my college work week experience; the summer after I graduated high school. Matt actually started leading the year before I did! My senior year of high school Matt was working at KeyBank at the time, and one day he was having a conversation with a man that came into the bank just about life and Young Life came up! Matt was looking for housing to live in with some guys his age and it turned out that the man he ran into in KeyBank owned the house that Young Life was held at. The guys who lived at the house were all volunteer leaders too! He ended up moving into that house, becoming good friends with the guy (John) who he met at the bank, and started to be a YL leader.
When I graduated college I ended up moving back home with my parents and when camp came around that Summer, they needed a leader to fill in so I went to Malibu Club for the 2nd time! It was my first time leading at any camp, and especially since I was new to Young Life and had really only started leading because they needed help. To be honest I was really nervous to lead my first time because I think we always feel unqualified for jobs like that, especially when we make up excuses for why someone might be a better fit. It ended up being amazing because my best friend Amy happened to be at camp the same week as a leader with her school, and Matt was also there leading his guys! We got to explore the Malibu property, kayak with seals, swim with friends in the pool, go on an incredible zipline through trees & over the water, ride dirt bikes, hike, eat ice cream, drink coffee on the deck, sing songs, have a giant dance party on the deck under the stars.. it's a weekend kids do not forget and as a leader I get to be a huge part of it! After camp I decided to keep leading with Matt, and was able to back the last two summers again with new campers. It has been super amazing to lead with Matt over the last few years!
This last trip up to Malibu Club was extremely special to me because I was able to take one of the girls in my cabin who came with my last summer to camp, back again for discipleship weekend! This weekend is really amazing because it is a slightly slower pace than camp is in the summer. Being on Memorial Day weekend it is also a much shorter trip than the usual week long summer camp is. The travel to get to Malibu is pretty hilarious actually, the day of travel is about 13 hours on a good day haha! It takes a lot of driving, a ferry, a boat ride to the actual camp. The first day we woke up & got coffee at the coffee shop right on the deck, and then got to go to several sessions where we heard from different speakers. All of the meals are done in a huge mess hall and the food is delicious haha! Since it was just me & Rylee it felt especially peaceful and relaxing! Since we were so tired from travel, and it was kinda cold and cloudy, on the first day we really just hung out on the dock and played LOTS of card gams LOL! The second full day was 85 and sunny, and so we got to explore more on kayaks & be in the sunshine. Through all of the playing in the sun and stepping away from there phones, our hope is that these kids will see Jesus through the beauty around them, in the leaders loving them, and in what they hear from the speakers. We are given a bunch of time throughout each day to reflect on what we have learned, talk together about our questions and life, and to journal and write our thoughts. I love that it allows us to sit down and step away from life, reconnect with people, and just be refreshed and renewed!
It is seriously the most stunning property, and it is amazing to see the students laughing & making memories and really just being without their phones. It is crazy how much we rely on social media, texting, and just feeling like we don’t fit in, unless we are connected with everyone around us. I think giving up their phones for a few days shows them that they don’t need to turn to their phones to have fun, they can disconnect and still have even more fun than they could imagine. I feel like Young Life fills a gap that is really needed today in society, especially for young people, because it tells them that they belong and are loved and have a place where they can come be themselves!
If you are out of high school and feel called to learn more about Young Life or want to be a part of it, there are many ways you too can get involved! Like I said before, I experienced YoungLife Malibu Club my first time in college. You can actually find the same “clubs” in a lot of different colleges across the country too! I would suggest to look online at younglife.com or even on Instagram, and try to find a community in the school you go to. You can also sign up for different Women’s & Men’s weekends throughout the year, if you get a group of ladies together and sign up on the Young Life site. I just wanted to share a little more about my journey and how I got plugged in, as well as help you if you were ever interested in doing the same! I hope that you got to learn a little bit more about me through this + answer your questions that I had from you guys in my DM’s!