By Elizabeth Matthews
YoungLife Youth Ministry is a national organization that seeks to reach young people with the message of the gospel.
It’s not your standard youth group, but a youth mission reaching students that may not necessarily feel comfortable going to church.
YoungLife is powered through volunteers from young adults to retirees who build relationships with young people throughout the year with weekly meetups at the beach, skate park or other places they feel comfortable, culminating in a weeklong sleepaway camp.
The local Nassau County group is run by Area Director Dan Binnette, whose life is dedicated to kids. He’s been involved in the organization for 20 years, as a student, a volunteer and now on staff. He truly believes in the mission of introducing adolescents to Jesus and helping them grow in their faith. Dan says, “YoungLife is here to try and reach every student to let them know that God loves them.”
Mentoring relationships are also an important part of YoungLife’s work. These relationships are formed between young people and adult volunteers who serve as mentors and positive role models. Mentors provide guidance, support, and encouragement to the young people they work with, helping them to navigate the challenges of adolescence and develop a stronger sense of purpose and direction.
YoungLife is always looking for volunteers, who have a heart for kids, to connect with young people and grow the program. The demographic scope is middle and high schoolers. YoungLife meets the students where they are. YoungLife understands that every kid is unique, therefore, there are branches of Younglife groups such as Capernaum for teens with disabilities and WyldLife for middle schoolers.
Capernaum serves youth with special needs and gives them an opportunity to enjoy time and activities outside of school settings and attend camp with other YoungLife members.
There is a cost associated with the annual YoungLife camp that can be a hardship for some teens and their families. YoungLife groups hold fundraisers throughout the community.
Nassau County’s YoungLife group is having a spaghetti dinner fundraiser at The Tavern by AIBC on June 5, 2023, from 5-8 p.m. (no reservation required). You can purchase tickets at The Alley next door, on the night of the event. The Tavern by AIBC is at 318 Centre St., Fernandina Beach.
The majority of the money raised will go directly to fund the campers. You can also give or learn more about your local YoungLife chapter at nassauco.younglife.org.
When asked what sets YoungLife apart, Dan said, “We want to bridge the gap between kids who don’t have the same philosophy or who have questions about God. They can ask questions without feeling judged.”
YoungLife is a special program in which young people can explore their faith at their own pace and in their own way.