Western Great Lakes Young Life

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Category: WyldLife

Remember at WyldLife Winter Weekend When…

This camp story was written and shared by Mady Riedlinger. Mady is a student at Hope College and a WyldLife Leader at West Ottawa in the Greater Holland Area.

Something incredibly special happens every time I go to camp with my middle school friends. And WyldLife Winter Weekend was full of very special moments.

From the first step onto the bus, the energy was up, the Holy Spirit was present, and the bonding began.

And we're off! Timber Wolf Lake, here we come!

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Camp has a way of allowing us to become more in touch with the people God created us to be by unplugging from our phones and tuning into intentional conversations and countless games of gaga ball. Camp teaches me about the power of presence and opens my eyes to the numerous ways in which God is already at work.

Winter Weekend was where middle schoolers and leaders came together and experienced the power of the Gospel through incredible speakers, programs, and daily actions of forgiveness and grace. We got the real and raw version of each kid and leader in those cabins, and that is where we saw the Lord work in the hearts of each middle schooler that had the opportunity to attend.


West Ottawa WyldLife Girls and Leaders

Our camp speaker, Cesar Castillejos, brought the Word to us in transformative ways and provided tangible examples of God’s love and forgiveness. His countless visuals relating to scripture brought new life to the stories that some of our kids have heard over and over. He challenged kids and leaders alike to identify our sin and unplug ourselves from the non-lifegiving sources of identity that we so often think give us life, but don’t.

We dug deep in cabin talks, revealing the struggles we face related to identity and sin. And of course, there were tears. The Black Bear cabin without a doubt came away with new revelations of God’s tangible love for us all, and how God continually calls us to follow and embrace Him even when we doubt.

We left camp with softened hearts, tired eyes, full stomachs, and sore muscles from a variety of winter and gym activities—all signs of a Winter Weekend experienced fully.

Although I love Timber Wolf Lake, I think my favorite part about Winter Weekend is what happens when we get home. Many of our conversations start with “Remember at camp when…” and we continue to strengthen the bonds we have formed. We don’t want that “camp high” to fade and therefore continue to remind one another of the good times and good talks we had.

Winter Weekend was incredible. God blessed every single second of our time together, and I am confident that He continues to bless our conversations reflecting on His unconditional love. Winter Weekend allowed many doors to be open to conversations about who we are and how we are loved by the King of Kings. God bless Timber Wolf Lake, and praise be to Jesus for West Ottawa WyldLife.


“Winter Weekend, oh how we miss it already!”

Never The Same After Michindoh

This June I had the incredible privilege of speaking at Young Life’s WyldLife Camp Michindoh. We got to tell close to 1600 middle school kids the amazing news about how Jesus loves them and the life He imagines for them!

My favorite moment each week was being a part of the “new Christian walk.” We would give kids a Bible, help them learn how to use it, write in in, and encourage them to live it out. The walk went throughout camp and we talked about how we can get stronger in Jesus outside the gym, left our “dirt” at the mudpit to experience forgiveness, fled from the smell of the garbage, and then headed to our new “home.”

My favorite stretch of the walk was leading kids up the hill behind the dining hall. When we opened the door the entire work crew, summer staff, and assigned team families were inside giving them a standing ovation cheering as they came in the building. It was not just a polite clap but a raucous and sustained roar as kids continued to roll into the dining hall. Watching each of their many faces melt from shock to joy as they felt welcomed and celebrated.

At the beginning of the walk I would tell kids that all of heaven rejoices when one lost person comes home and how nuts heaven must be right now as a hundred or so kids come home to their Father who loves them. In the end it was more than words…they saw it, they lived it out, they knew it was true.

It was so great for kids but I also got to see the faces of my friends who had worked so hard all week to love and serve these kids. They would watch as more and more and more kids came through the door. Kids that God had called home. Kids that said “yes.” Kids they had served, and cleaned up after, and prayed for. It was not just words, they saw it, they had lived it out, they knew it was true.

My prayer is that none of us will ever be the same.


388537_10151402785554652_1442712024_nMike Bredeweg has been on Young Life staff for 25 years and lives in Benton Harbor with his wife Lynda and their three kids. He loves to ride his bike and travel with his family and go out to eat with friends. The best part of his job is getting to do ministry with old friends and seeing how God has touched the lives of his kids through this ministry.

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Volunteer Spotlight- Eric DeVries

Eric DeVries just finished his senior year at Grand Valley State University, he’s recently married to Lindsey and is the WyldLife co-team leader at Allendale Middle School, where he has been for the past four years. Eric became involved in WyldLife after high school as a result of his involvement with Young Life and his friendship with Church Partner Ryan White.

1499605_604792316235937_408972684_nWhen asked why they were nominating Eric, Erin Iafrate, Staff Associate for Eastern Ottawa Young Life said: “Because he is a WyldLife leader, which gives you extra points off the bat. Secondly, he is so fun to watch as he leads middle schoolers, because they are actually following him. He is also very faithful and consistent, even in busy semesters (like student teaching) his commitment to WyldLife kids didn’t change.”

Eric models Jesus in every aspect of his life and because of his strong leadership, kids tune in to how he responds to different scenarios and have a desire to model theirs accordingly. When spending time hanging with middle school boys, Eric is passionate about teaching them to encourage each other instead of bringing each other down. This has taken many intentional conversations on his end, but they are willing to listen because he is their leader and has earned their trust through his time and commitment.

Each time he heads to camp with his WyldLife kids, be it fall or summer, Eric is easy to find: “100% of the time he’s playing Gaga Ball (Octoball) with 50 middle school kids and getting just as mad as the kids when he gets ‘out’,” says Iafrate.

Eric will do anything for kids, if they can’t afford camp he will go out of his way to creatively help them fundraise. If they don’t have a ride to club, he will drive twenty minutes to pick them up. If they don’t want to hang out after school, he willl visit them during their lunch period or play basketball during the after-lunch break. Simply put, nothing will stop Eric from being a positive influence in lives of these kids.

Eric: thank for your passionate commitment to showing Jesus’ love to the students of Allendale Middle School. Your dedicated, playful leadership is making waves in the lives of these students and an immeasurable impact on their lives and our community.

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