Making way for Young Lives

I became involved with YoungLife, an organization whose mission is to introduce teenagers to Christ and encourage them to grow in their faith during my freshman year. This was my first time going to camp. Before going to Frontier Ranch, a Young Life camp in Colorado, I did not believe everyone who had told me that a week at Young Life camp would be the “best week of my life.” It wasn't until I experienced camp myself that I realized they were telling the truth. A week of no electronics or connection to the outside world turned out to truly be the best week I’d ever experienced and I simply could not get enough of Young Life.

Since camp only came around in the summer, I did my best to look for ways I could get involved year round. I attended Monday night “club” and Thursday morning “campaigners,” which were opportunities to worship and dive into the Lord’s word on a weekly basis.

As I began to learn more about this organization, I saw how much it was impacting my life, I started to wonder what my life and my faith would look like if I had never gotten involved. It saddened me to know that others would not be able to experience the same things I was enjoying because of the financial burden.

I continued attending summer camp and fall weekend retreats, but I experienced something even greater the summer before the start of my senior year. Along with four leaders and about twenty kids from my area, I traveled to the Dominican Republic for a mission trip. Once again, Young Life provided me with an experience that was nothing like I had ever been able to do before. I saw how differently children lived in other countries and began to realize all of the things I took for granted back home. There was no heat, and filtered water did not come out of the sink. I washed my clothes with water and hand soap after a long hot day of manual labor and had to re-wear them even though they still smelled like sweat. Although I was one of the lucky ones to have a bathroom in our “stay-at-home” house, my peers had to use the “bucket shower” method and use the restroom outside. I was instantly humbled by the whole experience. Early mornings and late nights were spent working solely for others, never for myself. The goal was to prepare the campsite to receive Dominican teenagers in the coming weeks. As a camper, I had taken for granted how perfectly camp had been coordinated and set up. It was a lot of work, but I was never upset by the workload as I wanted to help those campers experience something as great as my personal experience had been. It was not about what we did, but what they experienced. If I have to walk up and down a mountain carrying pounds of rocks for a week just to make it easier on the campers to see the view at the top, it was something I was willing to do.

This coming summer, I have the opportunity to lead younger campers from my high school at another Young Life camp in Saranac, New York. I am blessed to be able to mentor and encourage kids who remind me of my experience in Young Life for the first time.

Throughout my involvement in the YoungLife community, I was exposed to a really cool program called YoungLives. YoungLives stems from YoungLife, therefore the mission statement and goals are the same, although it targets a different group. YoungLives is focused on helping and connecting with teen moms around the city. When I heard about it, I immediately knew I wanted to get involved in this organization. Not only do I enjoy being around girls my age, but I especially love babies and toddlers.

Every teenager struggles when experiencing high school, but I cannot begin to imagine having a child while still learning how to grow out of being one. YoungLives club is every other Thursday night in Charlotte. I help set up and then spend time with the moms as well as the children every time they have club nights. I cannot express how much my time with those people has inspired me to do something more to help.

This upcoming summer, teen moms get to experience camp just like I did. They go to similar places where the activities and lessons are tweaked to accommodate their situation. It’s a perfect opportunity to have a break from all the noise, as they are able to receive God’s word and better themselves either with their babies or while the YoungLife staff takes good care of them. This program changes lives for everyone involved and I can not think of any other organization I want to help.

Now I am asking you to help to raise money for a cause I passionately believe in: sending a teen mom and her child to Young Life camp. Most teen moms do not have the financial means to send themselves to camp, and my fundraiser will cover all expenses for the mom that I get to send. The experience they will obtain at the camp is very important and life-changing. Not only will these girls get to experience camp, their children will get to experience camp and come face to face with life to the full in Jesus. My goal in fundraising is that the money would not prevent these girls from experiencing a week of YoungLives camp. Would you consider helping provide this oppurtunity?

Thank you so much for your consideration and taking the time read this. Let me know if you have any further questions or want to talk more about what this would look like.

YoungLives video:

Camps attended/Future

Saranac (summer 2018)-

Dominican Mission Trip (summer 2017)-

Frontier (summer 2015 & 2016)-


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Carlee Caldwell 
Denver, NC
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