Bear River Young Life serves up food, fun, entertainment |

Bear River Young Life serves up food, fun, entertainment

Noelle Leavitt Riley
Bear River Young Life celebrated 20 years of existence at Moffat County Fairgrounds Pavilion Sunday night. Misty Churgovich, left, Courtney Jenison, Sam Wood and Neisha Balleck haven't seen each other in years and enjoyed reconnecting at the event.
Noelle Leavitt Riley

Bear River Young Life celebrated a major milestone at its yearly banquet Sunday. The organization has been helping Northwest Colorado youth in Craig for two decades.

That means for 20 years, the organization has worked to mold middle and high school students into upstanding members of society. Sunday night’s celebration brought former Young Life members back to Craig to honor one of its beloved founders, Sam Wood.

“It feels fantastic to see all the faces that I know and haven’t seen in awhile,” Wood said.

When former Craig resident Neisha Balleck saw Wood, she ran up to him, hugging him and reminiscing about old times.

“It’s a huge blessing (to be here). I’m super excited,” Balleck said, who was active in Young Life during the “Sam Wood” years.

She described how Young Life helped form her beliefs and kept her active in Craig’s youth movement to be “good people” years ago.

“For me, it was a lot about connection and having fun together and being with leaders who really cared about us,” Balleck said.

Wood, Balleck and a handful of others drove to Craig from the Front Range despite snowy conditions. The weather didn’t seem to have any effect on their decision to visit Northwest Colorado in celebration of an organization that helped shape their lives.

More than 100 people filled Moffat County Fairgrounds for the occasion to honor the group’s dedication to Craig’s youth. Yet Young Life in Craig is reaching beyond Moffat County by hosting weekly meetings for middle and high school-age kids in both Hayden and Baggs, Wyoming.

Young Life Area Director David Pressgrove smiled as he spoke about the organization’s past, current and future accomplishments.

Recently, Pressgrove helped launch a Young Life group in Baggs called Wyld Life. Craig and Hayden’s group is called Bear River Young Life.

Pressgrove was especially pleased that Wood was present for the celebration.

“Sam has been a great friend,” he said. “I’m just grateful for his vision, and I just want to say thanks, and we’re glad to have him back in town.”

Scott Smith was another founding member of Bear River Young Life, but he was unable to attend Sunday’s event, at which youth served a hot dog bar, offering a plethora of fixings for attendees’ hot dogs.

Young Life is a national organization that “introduces adolescents to Jesus Christ and helps them grow in their faith,” states Young Life’s website.

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