Mondays Are For YoungLife

Local Club Aims to Bring Students Together


Photo courtesy of @cedarparkyounglife on Instagram

Beaming with delight, members of YoungLife flaunt their color-stained faces after participating in the Color War, held on Aug. 30. This color war is one of the many events that YoungLife holds in order to encourage everyone to come to their gatherings. “They want to gather high schoolers from Vista Ridge and Cedar Park, no matter what they believe in, to come together as a community,” freshman Emery Taylor said. “[They want us to] have just like an hour or two to hang out and just talk about what matters to them.”

Isa Morgan, Reporter

Originally created as a way to get teenagers engaged in traditional church programs in the late 1930s, according to the website, YoungLife has evolved over the years to a club to help teenagers feel like they are not alone as they make their way through their high school experience.

The Cedar Park chapter of YoungLife was created by Kenny and Nikki Klinglesmith, a couple who wanted to provide a place for those who don’t feel like they belong, according to freshman Emery Taylor. The majority of members are from Cedar Park, but for some of the events, Vista Ridge students also join the festivities. The group meets every Monday at 7:30 p.m. at either Milburn Park or Mission of Hope, a local church. Taylor said the CP chapter of YoungLife encourages everyone to come to their gatherings no matter what they believe in or who they are.

“It wants to gather high schoolers from Vista Ridge and Cedar Park, no matter what they believe in, to come together as a community,” Taylor said.”[They want us to] have just like an hour or two to like hang out and talk about what matters to them.”

Many of the teens who attend YoungLife said they found it through Instagram and overhearing people talk about it in the halls. Junior Sarah Vorndran found the organization through older siblings and flyers posted around the school.

“How I found it was because my sister was in it, but also I hear about it from a lot of different people and it’s kind of just gotten really big,” Vorndran said. “I saw a post about it and we have our leaders come here and they post signs around and I [noticed them].”

Aside from meeting every Monday at Milburn for YoungLife Club, the leaders of the specific grades get in contact with their group to set up campaigners. Every group has a specific day to get together to have extra time to connect with people closer to their age.

“Monday’s at 7:30 p.m. is YoungLife club, which is everyone, and then once you have gone to that, there’s a leader for each age group, and ours is Kenzie Bretz, and the leaders will start texting you about more specific things,” Vorndran said. “We do campaigners and they text you about more specific things. We do ours [junior girls] on Sunday and boys do theirs on Fridays.”

These leaders also connect with the teens in their groups, according to Taylor. All of the leaders are college students who participated in YoungLife when they were in high school and now they’re back to help bring that experience to new generations.

“There are [the] leaders who are college students that used to be in YoungLife and they would come down and [help out],” Taylor said. “And for me, since I don’t have an older sibling, [these leaders made] it feel like I had an older sibling.”

Some students join YoungLife to use it as a safe space where they won’t feel judged, some join it because their friends are involved with it and some have been in WildLife, the middle school version of YoungLife, since sixth grade, like Vorndran.

“I’m in it because I think it’s really fun and I’ve learned a lot in it,” Vordran said. “It’s just a place that’s really cool to be in and I have a lot of friends that I’ve met through it, in it.”

Along with creating new friends, YoungLife creates the opportunity for students to practice Christianity in a safe environment, but participating in worship is not required, according to junior Lilah Wood.

“It’s a nonprofit organization that’s all around the world and college students come together as kind of a ministry,” Wood said. “They host church-related things and then just hangouts that are just fun non-church-related events and then you can go to camps and stuff.”

The camps, or retreats, are hosted in the fall and spring to offer new opportunities to connect with the other students in YoungLife. According to Taylor, the fall retreat, held the weekend starting Thanksgiving break, is something these teens have been looking forward to for a while.

“We all just hang out [at the camp], they have activities, food and it’s an overnight thing, so we all get to stay in like cabins, so it’s really cool,” Taylor said.

At these camps, YoungLife members have “cabin time.” This time is reserved for talking about their faith and their specific beliefs. Along with these times reserved for religious-oriented activities, there are also times reserved for talking about topics unrelated to religion, according to Wood.

“Cabin time is very religion-oriented and it’s mainly about struggles and things within finding your faith or within like just things in everyday life that’s a struggle and how you can live through Jesus through that way. There’s [also] an individual talk that you can have with your leader and you just talk about normal things,” Wood said. “The camp is not completely centered around church and all that stuff, but it’s definitely a major component of it.”

These lessons taught in YoungLife are some that these high schoolers use in their daily lives, according to Taylor. Students learn lessons about forgiving and trusting, but also learn important values while being involved with their peers.

“I learned that everyone has a place to fit in,” Taylor said. “I learned that you can make friends there no matter what and I learned that it’s just nice to have a community that cares.”

During the weekly meetings, everyone is brought together at the beginning for a talk about their focus for that day and at the end, all groups come together for a big group activity. In the middle, the members are split up into boys and girls for certain activities.

“We do an activity, like last time the girls would paint and the boys would do softball,” Taylor said. “Then we would come together for a big hotdog cookout, that was fun and they would usually serve us pizza, and then we would have a talk.”

YoungLife’s main purpose is to help bring these high schoolers together in any way they can, according to Taylor. This includes inviting friends to meetings and encouraging them to find out what this organization is all about. This is also a strategy lots of students use in order to feel more comfortable when they are new to the YoungLife scene, according to Vorndran.

“I go with a bunch of my friends, [and] we have new people pretty much every time, but when I went for the first time I went alone, but now I just go with people that I’ve met there, ” Vorndran said. “We have a lot of cheerleaders that are in it, so I hang out with a bunch of cheerleaders and a bunch of my close friends are in it. I’ve met a bunch of people through YoungLife that go here that I didn’t know went [to the school].”

For more info, visit the YoungLife Cedar Park Instagram @cedarparkyounglife or find them on Facebook.