Young Life

Hwy 507 Young Life meets every other Wednesday. This picture was taken at the end of the club meeting after members had to find clues to find where the pizza was hidden.

Young Life is a Christian Ministry that began in 1941. Its purpose is to reach out to middle school, high school, and college-age kids on their level in a neutral location. 

Young Life is nondenominational, and to this day it’s a vital part of the Yelm, Rainier, and Tenino communities. It’s all about building bridges of authentic friendship.

Sarah Cooper was the former Area Director of Hwy 507 Young Life and received a job opportunity with Young Life in Portland. Justine Jones loved Sarah’s heart for the kids in our community, and held a great deal of admiration and respect for the role Sarah played. In Sarah’s departure, Justine felt led to apply for the position and was hired on in November as Acting Area Director. 

Justine shares that there has been a lot of learning and growth for her in this new position. She’s had the opportunity to participate in several Young Life trainings learning about the logistics of the position, and she’s grown spiritually and personally having made this decision. Having grown up in Yelm and Rainier, Justine appreciates being able to work with local businesses, and get to know families in the community on a deeper level. 

“I love my job,” Justine shares. “I’m learning more every day.” 

She is incredibly appreciative of the support the community gives to Young Life through monthly donations, volunteer hours with the kids, and prayer.

As a Young Life Acting Area Director, Justine spends many hours a week with kids in our communities. A key component of Young Life is weekly club. 

“Club is a party with a purpose.” Justine says with a smile. “We hang out and eat snacks, and play games like Hungry, Hungry Hippos.” 

What’s Hungry, Hungry Hippos? Picture controlled chaos with a bunch of kids being pulled in and out of a central area on skateboards with a string, where they try to gather as many balls as possible. It’s a game that kids don’t forget. It’s all about building camaraderie and having fun.

In the midst of all of the laughter, Justine describes that kids are able to relax and let their guards down, and close relationships are formed. She notices that as they become involved in Young Life, they feel more comfortable talking about the deep and challenging issues they’re facing.

Another integral part of Young Life is Camp. There are three camps located in Oregon that our local sixth graders, middle school, and high school kids attend. Justine lights up as she describes camp. 

“It’s just so peaceful,” she said.  

Camp provides an opportunity to unwind and spend time being with each other in beautiful settings, filled with delicious food, laughter, games, and worship. 

“The enthusiasm, joy, and excitement in each of the environments are contagious, and an opportunity of a lifetime,” she said.

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