By Rikki King Herald Writer
EVERETT — The Young Life chapter at Everett High School is turning 50 this year.
The faith group counts about 50 active members at the high school. Activities are centered around games, music and talking about life and Christianity.
Young Life aims to be a safe place for young people, with mentors, leadership opportunities and summer camps, said Justin Schaeffer, a local volunteer leader.
The chapter celebrated its 50th anniversary with a party a few weeks ago at the Everett Yacht Club. About 80 people attended, from all the generations involved, Schaeffer said.
They played music, sang songs and performed traditional Young Life skits, he said.
“Then we shared memories from people who had led in the past or just had really fond memories of their leaders,” he said.
One attendee was Peter Jensen, 79, a local Young Life founder and retired teacher.
Jensen was a Young Life leader for nearly 20 years.
His work with Young Life was one of the most important times in his life, he said.
“We just felt like kids really ought to have a chance to take a look at the Christian faith,” he said.
The group had a rocky start and took a while to grow, he said. Programs blossomed. Everyone had fun.
“We really formed a friendship, and once we got together as a group, there was a real love for each other, and that sort of thing you don’t get rid of,” he said. “You don’t just graduate from that.”
The summer camps made memories, too.
“We had a lot of conversations about what life was all about,” Jensen said. “You get a chance to get a week away from your normal life and just think about what life is all about out, from a Christian perspective.”
The same is true now, said Schaeffer, 26.
“My Christian faith started with Young Life in high school, and I just kind of fell in love with the way Young Life interacts with people and presents the gospel and has a good time and really focuses on, I think, the important things in life,” he said.
Young Life is a good resource for kids who don’t come from religious families or who are struggling in life, Schaeffer said.
High school isn’t always a kind place, he said. Young Life lets kids explore faith without it being forced on them.
Jeff Huber, of Everett, is the area director of Young Life for west Snohomish County, including Everett, Mill Creek and Mukilteo.
The 50th anniversary marked 50 years of Young Life adults investing into teenagers’ futures, he said.
Kids need hope, he said. They find it in Young Life.
“The influences in high school are just don’t think about stuff, just have fun, just drink, just smoke, just live for yourself, live while you’re young, and that’s not what a mature adult mentor says,” he said. “They say there’s a greater purpose to life, there’s a God who loves you and a purpose you have and don’t waste it.”
The Everett High School club meets weekly at Trinity Lutheran College along Wetmore Avenue downtown.
Each meeting starts with about 45 minutes of games and activities. The last 15 minutes are for talking about the Bible, who Jesus was and the Christian faith.
For more information about the west Snohomish County chapter of Young Life, call 425-407-8218 or go to westsnoco.younglife.org. Volunteering opportunities are available. Donation needs vary by season.
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; firstname.lastname@example.org.