Agitated and restricted. This was the feeling coming from a group of teenage boys after a year under lock down or the threat of lock-down.
“I could see they needed to let loose a bit,” says Charles, one of the volunteers at Young Life’s summer camp in South Australia.
“I could so clearly see the need in these guys for good male mentorship to give them the space to let loose and for it to be safe. Camp gave them that space.”
Tracking the effect of the past year and the pressures felt by young people, has many experts concerned. Maggie Dent is a well-known author and educator on parenting teens. She surveyed boys age 12-18 years observing significant concern about the future. “Many boys expressed serious worries about climate change, political unrest, increasing violence, an inability to buy their own home and increased mental health challenges – and that was pre-COVID-19,” she writes in The Guardian*.
Add to this, the pandemic’s impact which “removed many of the protective factors in their lives last year – extracurricular activities, sport, the arts, rituals like school camps and formals, and being locked away from friends and peers – many are struggling overtly or silently.”
It was this sense, of youth needing something to look forward to, that motivated Young Life Australia to move quickly when it appeared restrictions were easing.
“After missing out in January 2020 due to bushfires we had to show the young people we work with that they are worth planning a camp for, even if we had some uncertainty due to the rapidly changing COVID situation,” says Ben Hura, co-Director of the NSW-ACT Camp.
“Trying was more important than not trying at all.”
Sophie Wilksch, Young Life’s SA Camp Director adds, “we wanted to give our teens something to smile and laugh about; but the real effect I saw was these teens showing confidence, getting out on the skis and kneeboard, willing to give it go after year of low-confidence and genuine struggle”.
“I’m so glad we gave them that opportunity.”
Read Layla’s SA Summer Camp report in Connections.
Learn more about Young Life programs at younglife.org.au/events
*The post-high school hole: how to help school lavers in a time of transition, by Maggie Dent appeared in The Guardian, Jan 24, 2021
“2021 is off to cracking start for Young Life Australia, although a little different from previous years,” says Young Life Australia CEO, Glyn Henman.
“There was no national Summer Camp due to Covid-19, but we did not sit by and wait for the year to start. Instead, we ran a range of fantastic state-based camp and holiday activities in South Australia, Queensland and NSW/ACT. We have seen 90 young people and 58 volunteers from around the country have a great Young Life experience over the summer break. I am grateful to all the staff and volunteers who dared to dream for their young friends and found ways to not only have a great time, but share the hope we have in Jesus in these strangest of days.”
“After a year of shutdowns, social distancing and loss of direction, our young people are longing to re-form significant relationships and share life together again. As we move well into the first half of the year, we are seeing all things Young Life started again. We’ve met for staff training, gathered the volunteer teams and have relaunched our work with young people in the community,” says Glyn.
Read more about Young Life Australia in Connections newsletter. February edition out now.
Nathan Wilson (pictured below left) from Young Life in Redlands, QLD has been running the Friends Resilience Program for high school students in grades eight and nine at Alexandra Hills State High School during the past two years.
“I’ve seen the way these life skills learned over the course of two school terms are proving highly beneficial to the students,” says Nathan.
The course covers topics such as how to set achievable goals; how to regulate emotions; and how to manage conflict by neither being aggressive or passive but by being assertive and communicating well.
“We discuss the value of having true friends in our lives and strong mentors who can guide us in helpful directions,” says Nathan. “The program is very conversational allowing the students to reflect on their own experiences in a positive and beneficial way; and to consider choices matter.”
“Learning these life skills really helps teenagers consider ahead of time how they might respond when they find themselves in challenging situations in life,” said Nathan who thanked Alexandra Hills State High School for their input to the program.
Queensland University of Technology has recognised the contribution Young Life has been making through this resilience program and has awarded Young Life a grant from their Staff Community Welfare Fund. This has enabled Nathan to continue the program in 2020.
Support Young Life’s work making a difference in the lives of young people and by visiting our Donate page today.
Dear parents, carers and to everyone who attends Young Life Club,
Out of care and concern for the Australian community, we’d like you to know, Young Life Australia is aware of the latest advice about COVID-19 and is committed to acting responsibly. We are asking you to help us in line with the advice given by the respective Federal and State Health and Education Departments.
From Monday, June 29th, 2020 Young Life Australia will resume person-to-person activities and gatherings in a staged return in line with government health regulations. Please keep in contact by following us on Facebook and Instagram. Young Life Australia will continue to closely monitor the COVID-19 situation and act in step with developments according to Department of Education decisions and official advice from the relevant Health Departments.
We continue to advise that any person with COVID 19 symptoms not attend activities until they have quarantined for two weeks or have tested negative to COVID-19.
Thank you for being involved in Young Life and for helping us as we take the necessary steps to protect the wider community this season and as we begin to re-launch activities where appropriate.
We are committed to supporting young people and finding creative ways to keep in contact during the coming months. Please contact your Young Life leader and or Area Manager or myself if you have any questions.
Mark Stretton, Field Operations and Training Manager – Young Life Australia
P: 1300 557 647 E email@example.com
By Glyn Henman
The last 12 months have sure thrown up some challenges for all Australians. With soul wrenching drought, the devastation of a record-breaking bush fire season, flooding rains and now COVID-19 and a nation wide lockdown. What are we to make of this time in history? What impact is it having upon our young people? Research will bring some answers to these questions in time, and time itself will show the depth of impact.
But what can we do right now? Let me first reflect on what I am seeing and hearing about what is happening with our teens.
Born in the age of 9-11
This current senior high school cohort were born in the wake of the attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York, they entered their schooling during the GFC and now they are facing their final years of education studying from their bedrooms for months.
With this comes the disappointment of not been able to finish well and do all of the ‘last things’ you get to do with your classmates. The last sports carnival, the last school production, the last presentation, not to mention the loss of those key relationships with friends and teachers which so often bring inspiration for who we want to be and what we want to do with our lives. The sense of loss and disruption will linger, even if Australia manages to re-open and keep the Covid-19 cases in check. For teens in middle high school there is confusion and boredom and a sense of ‘why bother’.
Is there any hope? I believe there is. As I reflect on my grandmother’s life, born in the late 19th century, her stories gather new meaning. My grandmother lived her life through two world wars, the Spanish Flu and a technological revolution (think: horse and cart to man walking on the moon). What a resilient and innovative generation! This current generation of young people will also rise. Adversity brings opportunity. Opportunities are taken by those who are open to new things and young people are the most open group among us. It will look different, but there is hope.
Gratitude and seeds of hope
As I listen to my daughters reflect upon this time and how their friends are feeling, the sadness, fear and sense of loss is clear. But they are grateful to have the security of family nearby. They are thankful they can still get an education and they see opportunities in their future. They are hopeful for their friends too because Covid-19 has provided both time and a reason to explore old answers to the big issues of meaning and hope.
Will this generation be as resilient and innovative as my grandparent’s generation? I believe so and time will tell.
So, what can we do right now? We can pray.
Pray that God will be our security, that people will turn to him, seek His face and be protected in troubled times. Psalm 91.
Pray for Jesus to be lifted up so He will draw all of mankind to himself and for us to walk in the light. John 12:30-36.
Pray for the hope and true rest that comes from God. Psalm 62:5-8.
Pray for young people (and their families) in our community as they battle the highs and lows of living during a pandemic; and for clarity and a new vision as opportunities come their way. Isaiah 40:28-31.
The coronovirus pandemic has turned the world upside down. But what does it mean for youth?
Author and social researcher Claire Madden is asking youth (Gen Z) and young adults (Millennials) for their opinion in her 2020 survey.
Claire is a friend of Young Life Australia and so, we’re teaming up to gather the views of our young adult (Millennial) volunteers and those of young people – who are part of Generation Z.
You can have your say here at clairemadden.com.
Your views will help when Australia emerges from this time. Governments, schools, communities will better know how to support you!
Here’s a message from Claire:
This document is a guide for Young Life Australia staff and volunteers. We’d like to share it as a source of information for parents, carers and other organisations we work with in partnership.
Young Life Australia is committed to the safety and wellbeing of all staff, volunteers, young people and their families. With the outbreak of the COVID-19 (Novel Coronovirus) and its transmission in the wider community, our commitment is to act responsibly and in line with Health Department guidelines, to look after ourselves and everyone involved in the Young Life network.
- Check your State Health Department website for the latest and reliable updates.
- Protect yourself and others: wash your hands regularly with soap (sing happy birthday to yourself and then rinse), cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue. Importantly – stay at home if you’re feeling unwell.
- If you develop a fever, cough, sore throat or shortness of breath within 14 days of overseas travel or are in contact with someone else who has COVID-19, seek medical attention: call your GP, Healthdirect on 1800 022 222, or in an emergency, your local hospital emergency department.
- In the event that you believe you have been in close contact with someone who may have been exposed to COVID-19, please ensure that you report to a doctor for testing. Please inform Young Life Australia as well.
- Close contacts of a confirmed case of COVID-19 will be excluded for 14 days since last contact with the confirmed case.
- Any confirmed case of COVID-19 will be excluded until they are medically cleared to return to work.
Young Life Club Precautions – Instructions for Staff
- Inform parents and young people Young Life Clubs and gatherings have been suspended until further notice from Monday, March 23, 2020.
- Request parents inform Young Life Australia if in the next two weeks they or their child:
- develop a fever, cough, sore throat or shortness of breath or,
- learn they have had close contact with someone who may have been exposed to COVID-19.
- Please retain records of who attended activities just in case we need to inform health authorities in the future.
Young Life Australia will continue to closely monitor the COVID-19 situation and work through the implications of managing the COVID-19 challenge, responding to the relevant Health Department updates as they are announced.
Thank you for your ongoing support with this matter. We will continue to keep you updated.
CEO, Young Life Australia
P: 1300 557 647 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: younglife.org.au