Every Monday night at 7:37, teenagers around the county gather to have some fun and explore their relationships with each other and God at Young Life centers in their communities.
“I want to use the word ‘shenanigans’,” senior Bailey Hilton said. “You’re doing something fun and crazy, but learning about God at the same time.”
Young Life is a nationwide youth group that focuses on building relationships with strong foundations based on Christian ideals. Hilton began attending Young Life her freshman year after receiving encouragement from her field hockey teammates.
“I finally went one day, and I never left,” Hilton said. “I think when you go [to Young Life] you’re able to build better relationships. It’s not all gossip and drama; everything means a lot more.”
The group is known for some crazy and wild-themed meetings, such as the Donut Olympics, slip-n-slide kickball, and the annual scavenger hunt. The meetings consist of short, entertaining skits to get students from all three high schools involved.
Junior Kevin Aud attended the middle school Young Life program, Wyld Life, and carried it over into his teen years. Aud’s older sister, alumnus Shannon Aud (2008), was a Wyld Life leader, so it was natural for him to follow in her footsteps.
“It’s a lot of people getting together and having fun,” Aud said. “Hot girls and Jesus, too!’ is what one of our leaders, Bob, says. You’ve got nothing better to do on a Monday night.”
As the leader of the Fauquier Young Life chapter, alumnus Matt Walker (2004) has worked his way up through Young Life, starting as a Wyld Life camper. Walker made strong connections with his leaders that held throughout his high school years and helped get him through hard times in his life.
“The most rewarding part of leading these kids is seeing each student find God,” Walker said. “They’re making relationships with each other and Him that are really deep and mean a lot. I like to help them figure out what really matters.”
Walker hopes to expand the crowd at Young Life meetings. Accepting everyone, Young Life is a good way to get involved with friends and still have fun.
“Young Life is for everyone,” Walker said. “Try it once and I promise you will have a good time.”
The meetings take place in The Loft in the office center next to Vocelli’s. Music contributes to the atmosphere of the meetings, which are mainly student run. Senior Collin Steves plays the guitar and sings at the meetings. The goal is to get everyone involved and singing along.
“I got to play electric guitar at [Lake Champion] my sophomore year,” Steves said. “Camp was something awesome. We were on the top of this mountain in the middle of nowhere. You turn all your cell phones off, and you’re in a cabin with mostly strangers. It’s all about relationships; you wake up early and do all this crazy stuff.”
Young Life organizes summer camp programs across the country. The Fauquier chapter travels to Rockbridge every summer, and campers come home with lifelong memories.
“You got to go somewhere that wasn’t just Warrenton,” Hilton said. “And you got to be with these people you were about to get really close with. I would call it an adventure. We had over 10 girls in our cabin and even now we’re all close.”