I love Henry County Young Life.

Top of my list of reasons would be the enthusiasm and commitment that Katie Kinnaird brings to her role as area director. Katie loves her job and it’s very clear the students and leaders in her care are among the very top of her multiple priorities.

Young Life, for high school students, and it’s middle school counterpart, WyldLife, are invaluable community assets.

While youth-oriented ministries are understandably geared to attract people by building in a lot of fun activities, Henry County Young Life, unabashedly addresses matters of faith, spirituality and relationships in relevant, fun, and meaningful ways. I think it’s impossible to escape an evening with Katie and her leaders without encountering Hope and vivid experience of the unconditional Love of God.

The adult enthusiasm for high school and middle school students is admirable, at a time when life is tough anyway, without the added confusions, added stresses of a global pandemic. Via my high school senior son I’ve had a front row seat on the adult leaders and their faithful commitment to our students when it may have been easier to throw in the towel or at least leave it in the laundry basket until things improved.

Not this group of leaders!

They’ve been committed and active, and committed to safety and health, all pandemic-year long.

I admire adults who are invested, not only for today, but also for years ahead, plotting out schemes that reach far into the future for the young people in our county. The leaders are planning for young people yet to be born!

That you, dear reader, may not know anyone in Young Life or have a high school or middle school son or granddaughter in WyldLife, does not for a minute stop you from supporting this vital ministry. Like I am, you may be long past your Young Life camping days but many of us can write checks and we can send someone to camp. Young Life and WyldLife sends a strong message to our young people and their families that there are caring, trained, invested adults in your child or grandchild’s life. Our county needs this ministry as much as it needs any and all entrepreneurial adventures.

We can support their ambitious budget and what a thrill it is to do so.

I love it when my son returns from athletic training or basketball practice and tells me he doesn’t have time to eat because he’s off to Young Life. Believe me, that in itself is a miracle.

“Our” Henry County Young Life and WyldLife thrives in the context of a nation-wide movement. The local expression connects high school young people with something wider that’s happening all across the USA.

If you want to see Young Life in action and peek at its real value and treasure, watch the next time you enter Cafe Royal some afternoon, you may see, as I have done on more than a few occasions, Young Life leaders sitting around tables with small groups of high school students engaged in quiet chatter.

They are listening, sharing with earnestness and intent, loving each other and laughing and perhaps unknowingly, offering some young person a life-line of hope.

See this and you have seen Young Life doing what Young Life does best.

For more information Henry County Young Life may be reached at Katie.hcyl@gmail.com

Rev. Rod Smith is pastor at First Presbyterian Church in New Castle.