2015 best of photos

Our best photos and stories of 2015

​When I first moved to Craig it was to be the sports editor at the Craig Daily Press. At the end of each year we ran several articles highlighting the best stories or photos of the year. That inspired me to do a "best of" from Bear River Young Life's photos from 2015. We have had an amazing year and we are grateful to God for how BRYL's 2015 turned out. Here are the stories to go with the photos: 

1. Our banquet is our annual way to educate and celebrate with our communities. Of course it takes a lot of work to set up and one of the highlights for me is always having the youth involved with us spend time together setting up for the event. In this photo, Kenzie and Emma work on putting labels on jars for table decorations. 

2. The Instagram App must have been developed for Young Life. We use it all the time for scavenger hunts, club promotion and capturing special moments. This photo is from our Winter Weekend at Frontier Ranch during an "Instagram Scavenger Hunt." We were required to pretend we were on a roller coaster for the classic scared face photo they try to sell at amusements parks. Apparently Isaac Chacon does not get scared on roller coasters. 

3. I could write an entire article about this picture, and I'm sure you will read more about this in the future, but here's the very short version: In this photo are twins Aliceson and Kamryn Jones. They are two of four sisters who moved to Craig from Georgia with their mom a year ago. The twins went to summer camp with us and have been consistently involved with BRYL. The week before Winter Weekend their mom, Sarah, was flown to St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Junction with serious health concerns. She ended up in the ICU and remained there for five weeks while doctors put her on life support to try to revive her. After Winter Weekend our leaders realized the four girls (also Lauren a sixth grader and Madison, a sophomore) were trying to make due by themselves. We devised a plan where the leaders would take turns staying at their house with the goal to provide some normalcy. It has been an extraordinary community effort to help the Jones'. We were able to raise $ to bring out their aunt from Georgia to help during the Holidays. Social Services went to court to get Ryan and Noami Rowley, our committee chair and YL leader respectively, temporary custody of the girls so we could give permission for medical care and other guardian requirements. The high school counselors kept meeting with the girls to check in on their welfare. The Community Budget Center helped us to get their heating and electric bills paid. The Boys and Girls Club, Christmas for Kids, Love INC. and several businesses helped make Christmas a memorable one. Advocates Crisis Support Services helped us with some other legal issues. Local churches provided meals. The list goes on and on. My favorite part of the story is that our leaders, particularly the Rowleys, Justin and Ashley Kawcak, and Nick and Clarissa Cocozzella, have given of their time and resources and hearts to come around the girls. The girls are grateful and they wanted to give back and so they thought one way was to ring the bell for the Salvation Army. Finally, please pray for Sarah, our last update was that she has been moved out of ICU and has started to breathe on her own! 

4. This summer we returned to Castaway Club in Northwest Minnesota. It is a kid favorite because we spend the entire week on the lake. This is my best action photo from tubing. Lane White is hanging on for dear life while Christian Carson catches some air. 

5. We hosted our 9th car show in June. I'm excited to continue the show with a partnership with Yampa Valley Bank and I think it will just keep gettting bigger. This photo is of Jim Green, a former Yampa Valley resident, who has traveled from Whitesboro, Texas the last two years for the show! He is a great supporter of the show and his '67 Mustang draws a lot of attention. 

6. The Engle's backyard in Hayden is a blessed spot! This picture is from this fall with 20 to 30 kids hanging out around a fire on a cool evening. I'm so grateful for the Engles and Girtons and how well they have loved kids in Hayden. 

7. Yoli Molina, far right, officially became a part of BRYL staff in August when she was accepted into the Latino Student Staff initiative. LSS is a two-year internship for students of Latino or Hispanic background. They are trained to be Young Life leaders and encouraged to reach the youth in their cultural communities. Yoli has done a great job not only reaching students of similar backgrounds, she is our team leader for WyldLife and has done superbly in her first year on LSS.  

8. Our biggest summer camp ever! This summer we took 39 youth and 6 leaders to Castaway. We were the only group from Colorado that week so we designed shirts with a Colorado flag theme. It was a great week that no doubt changed lives forever. 

9. I've had a blast with our Young Life team in Craig this year! New additions Nick, Naomi and Ashley have helped Brett and I walk with our young friends. In this photo we are all dressed up for our Halloween Club. 

10. At Castaway one of our campers, Thomas, was initially hestiant to come to camp because of what he thought would be limitations. Thomas doesn't have full use of his legs from a birth defect. Yet with help from camp crew and leaders and campers he was able to participate in everything he wanted. In this photo, Sean, the ropes course intern, helps Thomas to climb up the climbing wall, one opportunity he was sure he couldn't have before he got on the bus. 

11. This winter I was the speaker at a Young Life camp for the first time. I have given 100s of messages at club in Craig and Hayden, but never before in front of 100s of youth at camp. It was a new and challenging experience and I'm grateful for the 30 or 40 folks who were praying everytime I went on stage at Frontier Ranch. In my last talk I talked to kids about how Jesus' mission was to rescue us from an identity of separation and sin and give us a new identity - who God created us to be. I gave the youth an opportunity to nail their sin to the cross and pin their name (written on a white card) to represent their new identity. God used me to reach mroe than 300 kids that weekend. It took more than 20 minutes for kids to cover the cross in their names. 

12. A new tradition for us has been to kick off the school year with a "Paint Party." Basically we get as much liquid and powder paint as our budget allows and teens paint and powder each other until we run out. It's a fun, colorful experience. This photo is from the aftermath of our WyldLife paint party this fall, in which we had more than 70 middle schoolers attend, a BRWL record!

13. Stephanie Duarte, a MCHS senior, attened Young Life's Student Leadership Project this last summer in Philadelphia. SLP is designed to deepen faith and strengthen leadership in high school juniors who have shown tremendous potential. Stephanie had a life-changing week in Philly (it was her first time on a plane) and we have been grateful for her leadership this year. 

14. Winter Weekend is a great way to build friendships and etablish a core crew for the rest of the school year. Pictured here is our girls cabin from YL Winter Weekend at Frontier Ranch. Craig and Hayden ladies shared the cabin and out of the weekend we have a new Bible Study with the girls and several new WyldLife leaders, and maybe most importantly, our leaders were able to build stronger relationships and support with "their girls."

15. Nick Cocozzella became a new leader for us this fall, but he was leading well before that. Nick, who is a successful musician, helped Grant Gatlin and Stephanie record a song they wrote for our banquet in his home studio. The song was great and Nick's musical talents have been a huge addition to our team this year! 

16. We had our 7th annual golf tournament this August and a YL tourney is no good without some fun. It has become a tradition to have golfers dress up with some props for a team photo. The special story behind this photo is that the team is made up of BRYL alumni or husbands of alumni and former leaders. As BRYL grows, we are hoping to reach out more and more to alumni and former volunteers for support like this team. 

17. Our WL team left Craig for Winter Weekend with clear skies, but that changed as soon as they got to Rabbit Ears Pass. They can tell the story much better than me, but basically four hours and one return trip to Steamboat Springs to drop off a vehicle that could not make it up the pass in the icy conditions later the team made it to Crooked Creek Ranch for a great weekend. 

18. Our winter weekend dates were earlier than normal this year so I had to figure out some different ways to help teens fundraise for the camps this year. One new fundraiser was a yard aerating and leaf raking effort. And in my opinion it was a great success for two reasons: leaders hung out with teens on three different weekends raking leaves and sharing experiences, and we raised almost $2,000 in scholarships. Seven youth paid for their entire camp by helping with the leaves. 

19. Last but not least, I was honored to officiate three weddings of former YLers this summer. And of course, no life event is complete these days without a selfie! I took selfies with the bride and groom at each ceremony and it might become my calling card, haha. More importantly, it was a great experience to walk alongside each couple with pre-marital counseling and planning of a special day in their lives. 

Young Life Bear River | PO Box 1345 Craig, CO 81626-1345

Phone: (970) 629-9600

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