Ever since her freshman year, senior Emily Johnson has been partaking in a youth group called Young Life.
Whether it be sitting around a campfire, playing games, or reading books, Emily has begun to form a community and relationships with people she never would have expected. Along with growing relationships, she also gets to grow in her faith—a very important part of her life.
“[Young Life] is so much fun,” Emily said. “It is something that isn’t forceful. We will play games, and then the [leaders] have a speaker or a preacher come for maybe ten to fifteen minutes out of the hour we are there. It’s like a bonding thing, but also [it has the faith aspect].”
For these memories, she has to thank previous youth groups. Along with some friends, Emily used to attend Lifeline, another small group. Transferring from one group to another allowed Emily to grow deeper connections and make more beloved memories.
“I grew up with some of my friends,” Emily said. “We did Lifeline, and eventually we just kind of stopped. After a while, people started telling us to go to Young Life. We went, and then we eventually started bringing some other friends in; now my whole friend group goes.”
Something that differentiated the two—and may have made Emily more partial to Young Life—was the outdoor experience.
Ever since freshman year, Emily has gone on group trips around and out of Michigan with some of her best friends. Whether it be traveling to Minnesota or Georgia, or even somewhere closer to home, Emily can always reminisce on the amazing times spent at these camps.
Her first trip actually happened to be her most memorable.
“My most memorable trip is my freshman year one,” Emily said. “It was Castaway in Minnesota. It was on a lake, so we went sailing, and there were ziplines into the water, and it was on the beach so you could do so many fun things like rock climbing. They would also bring in preachers for three hours of the day. We would listen to them one hour at a time, so it was set up into different increments. It really taught me a lot; it was amazing. You get to go with your friends, and the leaders are amazing.”
While Emily enjoys the numerous fun activities the camps provide, she also adores the aspect of a growing community and longs to make lifelong friends.
Through these trips—and also just the regular Sunday night gatherings—she has deepened many friendships and even managed to make new ones. One aspect the Young Life club greatly values is the aspect of relationships with others; Emily has no problem getting on board with this regard.
“It is so much fun to meet new people,” Emily said. “I think anyone should go just because I know they will make friends. I am still friends with my leaders and stay in touch with them; they really changed my life.”
Emily describes the weeks spent away and the people she meets as “the best ever.” Although, not every night is as extravagant as the time spent at camps.
Sometimes, all it takes to have fun with her group is simply sitting around a fire and conversing with everyone attending.
“Last week, we went to my leader’s house,” Emily said, “and we sat outside and had a bonfire. We are also all reading this book right now, and we just kind of check-in with each other and talk. It is just a lot of fun to be able to see them and sit around the campfire. It’s just such a great bonding and learning experience, and I really enjoy it.”
Experiences like these are a necessary part of growing up in Emily’s opinion. Getting out of her comfort zone and taking hold of new opportunities is what grows her character; with these experiences, Emily has changed in numerous ways, and she doesn’t regret a thing.
“I would honestly recommend this to everyone,” Emily said. “It could change their life.”