Youth ministry makes Vail Valley come back |

Youth ministry makes Vail Valley come back

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the DailyVail Christian Junior Devan Christie guns it in a Ridge Runner at Young Life camp.

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” Side-splitting skits, crazy games and good times with friends ” that’s what Scott Leonard and a group of youthful volunteers say they have planned for local students this school year.

Leonard is starting up a chapter of the Christian-based, student ministry called Young Life in the Vail valley. The idea is for middle school and high schools students to have a comfortable place to grow in their faith while having fun with friends, he said.

Young Life had a local chapter a few years ago, but the ministry stopped after the local coordinator moved, Leonard said.

The world-wide ministry, which is in more than 2,500 high schools in the United States, is centered around weekly “Club” ” one for high schoolers and another for middle school. Club in the Vail Valley will organized by Leonard and a group of 20-and 30-something volunteer leaders.

“Each group will meet for fun games, skits and a relevant message,” said Leonard, the ministry’s area director. “It’s the one place where students can go with their friends from the various schools and have a great time.”

The high school clubs will meet Monday nights at the Miller Ranch Community Center.

Young Life will kick-off the school year with a lock-in ” an all-night event that will include games, movies and basketball and volleyball tournaments ” at the Gypsum Rec Center on Sept. 19.

Vail Christian High School Junior Eric Gallagher said he’s excited for the club meetings to start in the valley. Gallagher was introduced to the ministry when he attended one of Young Life’s summer camps last year.

“You don’t have to worry about who you are or where you’re from,” he said. “It’s just getting a bunch of kids together, meeting people, and playing games.”

Battle Mountain High School Junior Scott McClure said he also plans to get involved. He also attended a Young Life camp, he said.

“I went because I had heard it was really fun, and it was,” he said. “There’s a gym, a pool, a pond ” it’s pretty much an all-weekend party.”

Leaders of the ministry said they hope that the groups will take off in the area like it has at other schools around the country.

Volunteer leader Jenelle Johns said she was in Young Life as a high schooler and remembers it being a fun, relaxing time and something that brought students from different schools together.

Now she said she’s excited to bring the ministry here and work with high school students.

“They’re a fun age,” Johns said. “They’re so close to going out into the world, and they need the information to get there. They really have the opportunity for growth and learning.”

Edwards resident and chairman of the local Young Life committee David White said he was also in Young Life in high school and now wants his own teenagers to have the experience.

“It had a major, positive impact on the development of my faith,” he said. “It’s a fun, non-pressured place for students to interact and be exposed to some positive role models.”

It’s also a venue for students from different high schools to connect, he said.

Leonard said that is something that has been missing among the area schools.

“I’ve been here 2 1/2 years working with students,” said Leonard, who is also a teacher at the Vail Academy. “I’ve seen that the area needs a good valley-wide group. I’ve led Young Life in the Dallas area before, and I’ve seen many students turn their lives around.”

Johns said students should come even if they aren’t involved with another ministry or church.

“Come for the fun factor,” she said. “The leaders and the things we’re going to do are awesome ” it’s not going to be something you want to miss.”

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or

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