WILLIAMS, Ariz. — For nearly two decades, the Williams Young Life has been part of the Williams community.
This year, they are working on building stronger relationships with residents, business owners, churches, charitable organizations and others in Williams.
Young Life’s mission is to introduce adolescents to Jesus Christ and help them grow in their faith. They do this through building relationships and walking through the school year with them.
Currently, Williams Young Life has around 30 high school students and 10 middle school students who meet on a weekly basis. During Young Life meetings, youth play games and leaders share the gospel.
“It’s just a safe space for kids to come and be seen and heard and loved. We don’t force anything upon them whatsoever, we simply want to share with them what has changed our lives,” said Christina Thibault, area director for Williams Young Life.
In addition to sharing the gospel and providing a safe environment for youth, Williams Young Life offers the opportunity for kids to go to camp. In December, 18 kids and six leaders attended Winter Camp at Lost Canyon Young Life Camp in Williams.
Thibault said Young Life is a very relational outreach, which includes fostering relationships with local communities they serve. To better understand the needs of the community and to help introduce what their outreach is about and who it serves, Williams Young Life held a Taste of Williams event Oct. 1. Local business owners, church leaders, coordinators for local organizations and curious adults wanting to know more attended the event. This was not the first Taste of Williams event held, but Thibault said she thought it was successful in that community members brought up the needs they saw and wanted to know how to better partner with Williams Young Life.
“The Taste of Williams event was really great because it was a really good connecting point for all of us to come together and talk about how we can collaborate together, how we can support each other in the midst of helping out teenagers here in town — whether that means through a church or through an organization,” Thibault said.
Thibault said Williams Young Life wants to focus more on strengthening their partnership with local churches and business owners.
“I think this year we’re learning more what’s better to follow up on,” she said.
“We wanted to find those missing pieces of how we can better serve the community and the teenagers here,” she added.
Since the meeting, Williams Young Life leaders have met with Family Harvest Church, Canyon Chapel and others about how to better partner. Thibault also started a Facebook group — Williams Youth Community Board, to keep partners and youth informed on youth activities in Williams or of any needs they can help meet.
“We don’t want to be set apart from the churches because basically our goal is outreach to the kids. We have a ton of college age young adults who see them (and) know their name, we go to the high school and middle school sporting events and drama plays… these high schoolers are just yearning to be heard and to be seen by somebody. Just even knowing their names and showing them they are loved and cared for in the first place,” Thibault said.
One common misconception is that Williams Young Life and Lost Canyon Young Life Camp are one and the same.
While they are based on the same philosophy and outreach ministry, Lost Canyon Camp is a facility for campers to use from around the state and country. Williams Young Life is the local ministry with an outreach specifically for Williams youth.
About Lost Canyon Young Life Camp
Lost Canyon Young Life Camp is located on Perkinsville Road just a few minutes drive south of Williams.
According to younglife.org, the property was originally homesteaded in the early 1900s by the Rekos family, who built and lived in The Stone House, which now serves as the Stone House Coffee Shop for campers and leaders.
Various Arizona churches operated a youth camp on the site for more than 30 years and, ultimately, Young Life acquired the property in 1997.
The Williams City Council gave unanimous approval with one unique stipulation: the council wanted Young Life to start a club at Williams High School.
“When Lost Canyon was built, the town of Williams basically said, ‘Hey, if you’re going to have a Young Life camp here in Williams we would love to have Young Life in general here … it’s kind of a requirement,’” Thibault said.
Young Life agreed and since the camp’s conception, Williams Young Life has reached out to Williams’ youth. The first Young Life summer camp was held in 2001.
While Lost Canyon is separate from the local outreach of Williams Young Life, many events are held at the camp, including the annual Steak Dinner and Auction held every March.
“The local ministry is what Young Life is all about, the outreach to the kids and discipleship,” Thibault said.
Williams’ Young Life meets on Monday nights at 7:27 p.m. More information is available from Thibault at (720) 938-3689. Williams middle school program — WyldLife meets on Fridays at 6:06 p.m. More information is available about WyldLife in Williams at (310) 480-2570.