By Abby Sunu
Feeling nothing but tired and groggy after getting no sleep from a 12 hour bus ride all the way to Jasper, Georgia. As I stepped off the coach bus, however, all feelings of exhaustion left as about fifty high school students were jumping up and down, high-fiving, and cheering for everyone getting off the bus. I could have sworn I was a celebrity by the way the people were so hyped with excitement as they welcomed us to Sharptop Cove, a Young Life summer camp.
Young Life is a faith-based organization that brings high schoolers together through a safe and fun setting, so kids can come to know more about God. Young Life has camps all over the country that bring students to a week of high adventure and Christianity while they have “the best week of their life”.
Prospect High School has a Young Life club, known as North West Cook Young Life that is combined with Hersey High School students and a few students from Palatine High School. Every summer, NW Cook Young Life takes high school students to a different camp for a week, along with other Young Life areas around the country.
Sharptop Cove is a Young Life summer camp in the Georgia mountains, although I would not call this a camp, but more like a resort.
Considering the work crew (high school volunteers) keep the cabins clean, prepare and serve meals everyday, I never had to worry about anything. The meals weren’t typical gross “camp food”, it was actually better than restaurant food. Lunch and dinner was more than satisfying and always ended with mouth-watering desserts.
Not only was the food top-notch but the excellent facilities included a high ropes course, hot tub, pool, game room, water slides, zip line into the lake, the blob (a giant catapult-like balloon that would launch people into the lake), frisbee golf, mountain biking, craft shop, a giant swing, volleyball, basketball, wiffle ball, climbing walls, and a snack shop.
And there’s even more because nothing beats the crazy events. Such as the first night we got to camp. It was practically midnight when we ran through a muddy obstacle course through the woods and by the end everyone was covered head to toe in mud. Every day we had a surprise event that would get crazier and more fun each time.
All these activities never left me bored, yet I always looked forward to club. Club is when everyone gets together once a day and sings popular songs, which may sound cheesy but everyone really gets into it, plays fun games and watches hilarious skits. At the end a speaker talks about life and faith, which is very interesting and relatable and very different from church.
Even the first time campers like Hersey High School Senior Matt Seafield agreed club was his favorite part. “Club was really high energy and the skits were funny, but then the talks were serious which was good,” Seafield said.
Prospect Junior Kaitlyn Gries went to camp for the second time and still finds this to be her favorite part. “I like club the most because I think it’s just an awesome time to have fun with your friends and relax, but at the same time it really helps you grow as a person,” Gries said.
Gries not only loved club, but her favorite camp experience is how close everyone becomes throughout the week. The way people are treated at camp, is very different from what everyone is used to. When you get on the bus to go to camp, you may not know a single person, but coming home you’re practically family.
“[Young Life is] A place where you can come and just be yourself. You won’t be judged, you just get accepted by everyone,” Said Palatine High School senior Michelle Mitchell.
Mitchell has been to Young Life camps before, but she had never gone with NW Cook Young Life’s group. Being her first time with a new group, Mitchell felt welcomed right away.
“The other people I wasn’t as close with, but when I came to this group it was more of a family and I got better relationships with everyone,” Mitchell said.
The bonding from all the activities, participating in club and spending every meal together causes the students and leaders to grow closer to each other. The effort everyone puts in to get to know you is very genuine and shown all the time at camp.
“The staff was so concerned that we were having a good time and our Young Life leaders really wanted to get to know us,” Seafield said.
The leaders are volunteers that are there to help support the students involved in Young Life. Whether a student is struggling with school, going through a tough family situation, or just needs someone to talk to, the Young Life leaders always have their back. The leaders set examples for the students through ministry and organize everything to make Young Life possible.
NW Cook Young Life’s area director Nate Rusticus is the primary leader of Young Life and encourages others to check out Young Life.
“Others should join Young Life because it’s a super fun time, more fun than you will have anywhere else and you get to learn about who God is,” Rusticus said.
Young Life is much more than just fun, it’s life changing. Hersey High School Senior Sam Mulroe has been involved with Young Life for over two years and has gotten a lot out of his experience.
“More people should come to Young Life because it really is life saving” said Mulroe, “It led me from a destructive path to life full of clarity.”
Whether someone is struggling in life or wants to be a part of a fun group of kids, Young Life is the answer. The first Young Life club is August 28th at 7:29 p.m. at Prospect High School.
“Young Life is a safe place, a fun place, a crazy place, and an all around great experience,” Mulroe said.