Bear River Young Life: A rush of fun and devotion |

Bear River Young Life: A rush of fun and devotion

Andy Bockelman
Members of Bear River Young Life enjoy the summer sunshine at Crooked Creek Ranch in summer 2014. Bear River Young Life is a youth ministry organization that provides activities and guidance for high school and middle school students in Craig and Hayden, including regular seasonal trips to camps, for which members raise money through community service projects.
Courtesy Photo

Adolescence can be a loud, trying, scary time for many kids as they start to find their way in the world, but those who get involved with Bear River Young Life may find it gets a little bit easier with some guidance and some peers outside of school.

The loudness will still be there, but that’s because of all the fun.

The youth ministry program for Northwest Colorado provides plentiful activities for teens and tweens in Craig and Hayden, teaching them leadership, helping them get closer to God and just generally being there for them.

Young Life has been in the area for nearly 20 years, but it was in 2001 that it began to take off in its current form. Director David Pressgrove started as a volunteer under Scott Smith in 2002, taking over in a larger but still part-time capacity in 2004 before eventually running the whole shebang.

“It’s a faith-based organization, but I think people regardless of their faith see the value of it, because we’ve been involved in enough kids’ lives that we’ve stuck, and we’ve brought consistency,” Pressgrove said.

Young Life provides an outlet during the school year with regular meetings full of irregular happenings, whether it’s a messy paint party, a scavenger hunt or hangouts known as Fifth Quarter following Moffat County High School’s football and basketball games.

Group members also raise money to attend summer camps through community service throughout town, recent projects including community gardening and clean-up efforts.

One rewarding thing is seeing a diverse cross-section of kids each week, Pressgrove said, as cliques become less important and kids choose to spend time with someone outside their usual circle, which has also been a goal of the program “If You Really Knew Me.”

“We try so hard to make it so that anyone who walks in can feel accepted,” he said.

Young Life includes the high school level, as well as WyldLife for middle-schoolers. Naomi Rowley is one of the leaders who oversees the younger group, which can often be a bit rowdy.

“It’s crazy but fun,” she said amid the din.

On the one hand, Brenden Hopkins loves the parties the organization has, but the 12-year-old also enjoys learning during the quieter moments.

“God is always around you,” he said, when asked about what he’s learned during meetings.

He added that he also likes being part of a group where he’s surrounded by people who care.

Tahoe Chenoweth, 12, was among those who met in early February, though for her it was the first time. Chenoweth said it probably won’t be her last time there, agreeing to go to WyldLife after plenty of prodding by friend Tabitha Davis, also 12.

“It’s not as fun without friends,” Davis said.

Though it wasn’t exactly what she expected when she got involved about a year ago, Rowley said she hopes to have made a difference in kids’ lives.

“The most rewarding part of it for me is when the chaos dies down and I can have some connections, talking with them,” she said.

In his time working with Young Life over the years, Pressgrove has seen dozens, even hundreds of kids in the region who have taken part in activities, and sometimes the level of involvement is immediately apparent in how they grow up, while for others the impact shows up later.

“It’s hard to measure, but I think about 10 years down the road, we’ll be able to say, ‘Oh, yeah, that worked,’” Pressgrove said.

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or

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