For the past several months Hatteras Island and the rest of the nation have been gripped by great concern and confusion. But as summer rolls in there is good news to share. As we see national events unfold, we are reminded that it is young people upon whom our country’s future depends. So what is Hatteras Island doing to prepare our youth to be good leaders with the skills to take on the increasingly complex world they are entering? I learned of the Hatteras Island Young Life Summer Internship Program from friends Carla and Trafton Reynolds, principals in NC 12 Realty in Buxton. This summer they have opened their home to a young man who is a visiting Hatteras Young Life intern. He is one of seven college-age young persons who are here getting to know the Island’s middle and high school students, having fun with them and helping to strengthen their personal values.
Young Life is a worldwide organization focusing on providing what matters to kids: fun, adventure, friendship and a sense of significance. It was founded in 1941 by a pastor seeking a way to engage with kids who weren’t interested in church. Today Young Life is active in more than 100 countries, supported by 5,454 staff members, 81,000 volunteers and 220,000 donors. The goals of the organization are simple and straightforward: to encourage fellowship, to observe Christian values in daily life, and to interact with adults and community leaders who provide role models.
Under the local direction of Jerry Rosell, working closely with the local churches and the Methodist Men, Young Life offers young men and women a 10-week non-denominational opportunity to gain experience relating to teens as they develop their own leadership skills and strengthen their younger friends’ Christian values. This summer’s group of enthusiastic, energetic and dedicated interns is the largest in years. Sierra, Silas, Lily, Simone, Michelle, Cam and Cheyenne are students or recent graduates from Christopher Newport University, Old Dominion University, James Madison University, Ohio University, the University of Central Oklahoma and the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
The interns gather groups of Hatteras high school and middle school students for activities such as sunrise surfing, swimming, late night basketball, tennis, plenty of conversation time focusing on Christian values, and community dinners provided by local families. They also hold part-time jobs to support themselves away from home. This year they’re employed at NAPA, Dancing Turtle, Conner’s Supermarket and Frisco Sandwich Shop.
For Island residents, a major benefit of Young Life is cementing of life-long relationships among people of all ages in the Hatteras Island community. We should all learn more about this worthy group and lend a hang when we can. After all, it’s our future, too.