Young Life full of options for local teens

First RockRidge camp trip among successes in group's first year

Last week, they were hiking high above it all on a glacier expedition. A few weeks ago, they were soaring on the longest zipline in Canada and skimming over a lake on a giant inflatable banana-shaped ride. In October, they'll head to Tofino for a surfing trip. During the school year, they'll spend Friday nights playing games and engaging in goofy fun.

Local teenagers getting involved with the blossoming Pemberton Young Life group have no shortage of ways to fill their waking hours, ranging from low-key sessions of hanging out to exciting excursions such as the ones listed above. And that's just what the doctor ordered.

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When Dave and Tessa Treadway, the leaders of the year-old Pemberton chapter of the Young Life Canada group, first started asking local kids what there was to do in the Spud Valley, they heard about a void. And when parents talked about some young people getting into trouble, Dave Treadway said, "we just thought, 'What could we do to help change that?'"

The answer turned out to be starting up the Pemberton branch of Young Life of Canada, a non-profit Christian organization whose chapters welcome all teenagers - regardless of religious affiliation - to forge obligation-free friendships and bonds with leaders, while participating in a wide range of adventures.

Leaders meet up with young people wherever the teenagers want to be, spontaneously spending time with them in settings ranging from skateboard parks to swimming holes. They also offer outdoors and sports expeditions, the weekly Friday Club nights full of fun and the weekly Campaigners Bible-study and leadership sessions that help young people to talk freely about the challenges, joys and questions in their lives.

Dave and Tessa Treadway are pretty much the height of cool. In addition to being 25- and 24-year-old professional freeskiers, and they are also viewed as strong role models in their commitment to their faith and fostering real connections with the teenagers. Alongside the fun and laid-back activities, Dave Treadway said he and his wife try to make Christianity open and real for the teenagers who are interested.

But many of the kids who participate in the Pemberton Young Life activities aren't connected with a religion, and the events are totally open to all teenagers in the area.

In July, the Treadways took two groups totaling 24 local teenagers to Young Life's RockRidge Canyon camp near Princeton, a facility fully equipped for all kinds of fun.

The camp was also about "sharing Christ in a cool way," Treadway said. Each week had a different theme - for one of the Pemberton groups, it was perception versus reality - and speakers and the local group leaders helped to illuminate the questions with discussions and an open environment to talk about deeper issues.

"All the kids go there for all the fun stuff and then when they come back, so much of their best parts were the times they got to talk about life stuff with someone who cared, and the relationships they built," Treadway said.

Part of the RockRidge philosophy, which he appreciates, is that it's structured so that the leaders from local chapters take the teenagers to the camp, foster relationships for open conversations there and then make sure to continue the environment when they head home.

"It was unreal. I've never been to a camp like that before We were having fun the whole time," said Rachel Leverton, a member of the Pemberton Young Life group from its first days who has enjoyed watching it grow during the past year, with new faces and personalities getting involved.

She added that she thinks she definitely is bringing home "a different perspective" after the camp's concentration on questions of reality and perception.

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