Young Life Park City director eyes growth
Wes Stout knows as well as anyone the impact Young Life can have on teenagers.
The organization, a non-denominational ministry that aims to provide leadership and guidance to adolescents, played a large role in Stout’s teenage years. He participated in Young Life as a high school and college student in Ohio, and he recalls how it helped him through a transformative time in his life.
And now, as he steps into his first school year as the full-time area director for Young Life Park City — he was with the organization part time during the last two years — he is eager to share what the organization has to offer.
“It’s always been on my heart to have other high school and middle school students have that privilege that I did,” he said. “Because of the impact it had on me, I want to be able to share it.”
Stout’s primary goal is to increase participation in Young Life. Students from sixth to 12th grades can participate, and there’s also a program for special needs youth called Capernaum. Stout said the group puts on weekly or bi-weekly activities for students and takes them on several camping trips throughout the year.
But in addition to wanting more students to participate — around 100 students were in Young Life last year — Stout is hopeful more adults will volunteer, too. Attracting more adults would give Young Life the resources to recruit more students.
“We want to see more kids get involved, we want to see more parents get involved,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of opportunity to be walking alongside more kids at the junior high and senior high levels and kids with special needs.”
Stout said students who join Young Life receive plenty for their participation. He described it as a place for them to have fun, adventure and friendship — and to find a sense of significance that can be hard to come by in today’s transactional world.
“They can come and deal with the things they’re thinking about at this time of their lives and not feel any pressure any way,” he said. “They won’t be in a church, where they might feel uncomfortable. They’ll be in a friend’s house, or going out for coffee, or going camping. That’s really where the value is for them. We’re going to meet them where they are and help them along the way.”
For more information about Young Life, visit parkcity.younglife.org. The organization is having a fundraiser golf tournament Sept. 20 at Tuhaye Golf Club, and Stout said it will be a good way for adults to learn more about the organization.
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