HRC Column: Young Life hopes to walk alongside local youth |

HRC Column: Young Life hopes to walk alongside local youth

David Pressgrove
Human Resource Coalition

“I don’t know about you, but if I see another snowstorm in the forecast, I’m going to (fill in the blank with something angsty and frustration-laced).” Those were my thoughts as I was looking at some of the upcoming weather. 

After the moment of weakness I’m guessing most of us have had this winter, I took a deep breath and reflected on how intense my anticipation for the sight of green grass is this year. Then I moved the reflection onto other life situations and I realized “anticipation” is currently a common thread: In my faith walk I’m in a season of Lent and looking forward to the celebration of Resurrection Sunday, as a high school track coach I’m anxiously awaiting a day we can get the snow off our track so our athletes can have a full practice, and finally, as the director of Bear River Young Life (BRYL), our major fundraiser was Saturday, and we spend multiple months planning, preparing and organizing for that one big night every spring.

Since this space is reserved for Human Resource Council matters, I’ll focus the rest of my words on the latter of the three. 

In the yearly flow of Young Life, the spring is certainly full of looking forward. All winter we have been encouraging the middle schoolers and high schoolers we’re walking alongside to join us in our summer camp adventures. The next step toward action happens in April when we sign off on our summer camp contracts and we move forward knowing exactly how many spots we have.

March is a time when new volunteer leaders finish their training and their roles increase, which gives them more connection with teens. Also, we start to feel the bittersweet emotions of graduation for the seniors we’ve been connected with for up to seven years. 

In the current bigger picture, we are all still hoping for the COVID pandemic to keep moving farther in the rearview mirror. Unfortunately, post-pandemic data suggests that our adolescent friends are not necessarily coming out of COVID in a better place. 

According to a 2021 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study of 17,000 teens, females have especially taken on a challenging emotional burden, with 67 percent (three in five) saying they feel persistently sad or hopeless. This is an increase of 21% since 2011. The study cites many factors, but one of the most significant is isolation.

“High school should be a time for trailblazing, not trauma. These data show our kids need far more support to cope, hope, and thrive,” said Debra Houry, M.D., M.P.H., CDC’s Chief Medical Officer and Deputy Director for Program and Science.

The article goes on to say: “For example, safe and trusted adults — like mentors, trained teachers, and staff — can help foster school connectedness so that teens know the people around them care about them, their well-being, and their success.”

Our mission in Young Life is “to introduce adolescents to Jesus and help them grow in their faith.” Our leaders are trained to become a safe and trusted adult in teens’ lives by listening, supporting and providing hope through our own Christ-centered faith experiences. 

One aspect of our work is to present a message at our weekly gatherings, four in Craig, two in Little Snake River Valley and one in Hayden. This school year the messages have been from the Gospel of John. A unique thread throughout John’s gospel is seven self-descriptions Jesus made starting with “I am.” Youth have heard how Jesus provides light, protection, love, direction, sustenance and understanding, to name a few. With those lessons comes the message that while the adult leaders involved with YL are not perfect, we hope to do just as described in the aforementioned article — “care about them, their well-being and their success.” 

At our free community banquet this year at the Quality Inn we presented a couple of stories from youth and leaders on how our mission has played out this last year. It was an opportunity to learn about and support our efforts. For more about Bear River Young Life, email or you can reach out with questions directly to me at

David Pressgrove is the area director at Bear River Young Life.

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