Short Week, Big Adventure | Day 6

This week has flown by.  We can hardly believe that we are spending our last hours at Castaway.  The adventures we’ve had, the friendships we’ve built, and the beauty we’ve seen is unmatched by anything before!

In a final post coming later this weekend  you will read more reflection on our week, because right now we’re going to go play on the beach in the sun one last time before we pack up and head home!  See you later!


Just a bunch of goons on the dock


Getting some air during sunset tubing


All smiles on the water



Sunset tubing… Does it get any better?!


Watching the sunset from the lake



Early morning wake boarding



One of our leaders showing us how it’s done!



Fun in the Sun | Day 4 & 5

The weather has been ideal this week!  Even though a few of us have gotten sunburn, we’re  loving the time outside soaking up the rays.  The giant hot tubs and tubing have been some of our favorites.  But watching the sunset was probably the most beautiful thing we’ve seen all week!  So many colors dancing across the sky and reflecting on the lake.  God definitely delivered last night!
20160628-EMH-1409Getting ready to Parasail

20160628-EMH-1415Up, up and away!

20160628-EMH-1436“I feel like I’m flying!”


20160629-EMH-1729Theme Night: Welcome to Crunch Berry Bay


20160629-EMH-1795Carnival with another one of Castaway’s breathtaking sunsets

20160629-EMH-1764Post pie in the face





This is our last full day at Castaway.  We hope that it goes slow so we can really soak it all in!

Have we been here a week already?! | Day 2 & 3

Our days have been so jam packed since arriving.  I’ve heard kids genuinely say, “Was that really only this morning?! We’ve done so much it feels like we’ve been here a week already!”  I could tell you all what we’ve been doing… but I think I’ll just show you.


TMNT’s are ready for the Volleyball tournament


Tribal warriors after dominating their volleyball game



“Banana Boating is easy!”


“Whoa… ok it’s a little rougher.”


“…and we’re off.”


Enjoying some time out on the water






Hanging out on the beach


Messy War!


Our leaders know how to have a good time!



Cross Country Travelers | Day 1

Our small yet mighty group has made it to Minnesota!  We’re currently on the last leg of our journey to Castaway: traveling by coach bus to Detroit Lakes.  Our group can’t stop smiling and laughing… and screaming!  We played an anxiety causing game of Mafia last night in a church.  Nothing brings a group closer together than timidly wandering through a pitch black church and jumping out of your skin at every noise.  We had a good time and giggled a lot!

As we near our destination there is a noticeable feeling of excitement and anticipation.  Stay tuned for the adventures of Vail Valley Young Life as we concur Castaway!


It’s Not Over Yet…

Although the week is coming to an end, it’s not over yet.  We still have two full days ahead of us at Young Life’s Castaway Club.  This week has been full of joy, laughter, challenges, risks, new experiences, “first time ever’s,” and deep friendships.  As the YL program (the funny guys up on stage), slowly comes to an end the relationships between Young Life Leaders and their high school friends are more ripe than ever.  These next couple of days leaders will have an opportunity spend some one on one with each camper.  What a privilege for leaders as many campers will share their lives openly with their trusted friend (YL Leader).  It is really quite powerful if you think about….the fact that our leaders are much older, some of us have grey hair, others have nose hair and some have no hair and yet, our high school friends understand that there is a deep friendship with their leader.  Amazing!

We are looking forward to returning home.  Have the daily challenges gone away as we return home…no.  But, our friends have will have the choice to approach life differently.  To look at who they are and who they have become through a new lens.  To see themselves in their new identity.  Camp is a powerful, a life changing opportunity and what a joy it has been to love on your son and daughter this week.

Enjoy the pics below…

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A Night To Remember….

A quick reminder to make sure that you have RSVP’d for the Young Life Post Camp Banquet at 4 Eagle Ranch on July 1st.  To Register:

If you need more info, shoot me an email to Ben Dodds,

Yesterday was a full day at the beach as many of our campers from Vail took long naps in the hammocks down by the water.  I’m certainly glad they rested up because last night was possibly the most fun any of us have ever had!  The night started with an early Young Life Club, followed by a Tableau (our Mississippi Riverfront still scene), Dinner as we were all dressed in our best Tom Sawyer digs and that was all in just the first 3 hours of the night.  Then the craziness really unfolded…

A Carnival came to camp.  YES!!  A full blown carnival (minus the rides) landed smack in the middle of camp.  Campers played carnival games to earn fake money ($5) in hopes of putting their leader in the dunk tank, or smashing a whipped cream pie in their face.  Pure fun!  After the carnival, we laughed until our stomaches hurt at our program team as they put on a mini opera full of all the YL Camp humor.  And if that wasn’t enough (I know, you are exhausted just from reading the night events), we headed straight into a square dance over in the gym. Square Dance you say?  Yes, a square dance broke out at YL Camp and I’ve never scene smiles on high school kids faces like I saw last night.  It was an unbelievable evening!

What a way to start the morning…ParasailingDSC_0602


Sibling love at camp…Max & Molly having a great week together!

DSC_0700 Just 2 of our 12 amazing leaders on this trip to Castaway.  You know what is special about our YL Leaders?  They give up one week of work to head to camp with their high school friends.  Talk about sacrifice.  These folks are the backbone of this mission.  Thank a YL Leader today!


The smiles are contagious….


We ended the day with gutter sundaes.  Yes, 350 campers ate ice cream sundaes out of gutters on the basketball court….an ice cream fight might have happened towards the end.


Have We Been Gone for Two Weeks?

We are halfway through Day 4 at Castaway Club and it feels like we’ve been gone from the valley for a REAL longtime.  I kid you not when we ask campers if they liked the activity we did in the morning and their reply is, “wait, what? That was today?”
We have been so busy yet our days are balanced with the perfect amount of free time so leaders get the opportunity to hang with their high school friends.  Relationships are starting to form and cabins are growing closer to each other.  Yesterday started with breakfast, followed by our first segment of “Real Life.”  In true Young Life fashion, we ended the morning with an all camp competition.  As I watched our friends running from game to game yesterday, I was reminded that they are only 15, 16, 17 & 18.  They are still so young and yet society challenges them to grow up and shape up so fast.  You could see the joy on each of their faces as they got to be kids again.  There is freedom in being a kid.  Oh…to be a kid, again!  THANK YOU for allowing your camper to join us on this amazing trip.  What a great week it has been.  I hope you are enjoying the photos that we are able to share with you.  Feel free to friend myself or any of our YL Leaders on Facebook to see real time photos from each days events.  It’s a privilege to love your camper alongside you, the parents/guardians.  You have wonderful kids!