Molding youth: a look at Young LifePublished 8:36pm Friday, January 24, 2014
By TYLER STOCKS
WASHINGTON DAILY NEWS
A teenage brain resembles Play Doh, and according to many psychologists and medical researchers, while the brain is still developing, teenagers are unpredictable, impressionable and as a result, tend to emulate others.
One faith-based organization, known as Young Life makes it its mission to reach out to teenagers and to provide mentorship and recreation. Pamlico Young life (PYL) Director Tom Johnson emphasized how building relationships with teenagers is vital.
“Our volunteers do their best to build relationships with adolescents on their turf, at the high school, attending games, practices and other school functions. Our goal is to earn a right to be heard with these students and share our lives and faith with them,” Johnson said.
Building relationships is one of many components, according to Johnson.
Caring for teenage mothers and their children is also a focus, given the rise in the number of teen pregnancies.
“This is a love with no strings attached. When teenagers are loved well by adults who really care, who have listened to them, who have walked through such an arduous season as adolescence with them, and have earned the right to be heard, teenagers can’t help but respond,” Johnson said.
PYL meetings take place at area high schools including Beaufort County Early College, Northside, Southside and Washington.
The group meets at a warehouse off of Carolina Avenue, Mondays at 7:30 p.m. Johnson describes the experience as a way for students to cut loose and socialize with the more than 200 teens from across Beaufort County.
“Club is a mixture of crazy, cut-loose chaos, gut-busting laughter, games, singing songs and skits,” Johnson added.
When not at club meetings, teens attend camps, banquets and retreats all across the country. Volunteers often sponsor the teens that work to raise money needed to attend the camps. The first fundraising event of the year will be Feb. 28 at the First United Methodist Church in Washington. Other events this year include family and summer camps. Volunteers help make this possible according to Johnson, who pointed out that volunteerism is what drives the group and allows them to carry out their mission.
“Young Life leaders are critical to our mission and to the Christian community in Beaufort County. Teenagers are said not to care how much someone knows, until they know how much someone cares.”
“Our hope for all kids we meet is that we would share life with them, including our faith. That they would fall in love with the same gospel that has changed our leader’s lives’, and they would grow into their faith,” Johnson said.
To find out more about Young life or to volunteer, call 252-402-5088