Though I couldn’t quite label what this ragtag group of teenagers and adults had going for them, I sensed something unique. And I wanted to be a part of it. So, what was it that made this group so inviting? Yes, they were Christians, and that resonated with me. I had given my life to Christ in junior high. And this group gave me the opportunity to live out my faith. But there was more. They were fun. Campus Life in my college days was some of the most fun I have ever experienced. Trips to Gatlinburg, Scream in The Dark, Burger Bashes, the electric chair and more are the most vivid memories I have of my college days. But that wasn’t really it either. So what is it that made Campus Life, Campus Life?
There is one word that keeps coming to mind when I think of the people and relationships I made in those days, and it is “authentic.” These people were real. So much of my teenage and college years before Campus Life seemed to lack any of the honest relationships that I so eagerly desired. Many friends seemed focused on impressing me with the drinking escapades. My committed Christian friends wanted me to believe they were perfect and somehow had “arrived.” But here, I found others like me who were still trying to figure life out and were honest enough to say so. This place created a safe environment for teenagers and young adults to actually have honest conversations about life, God, church, and whatever the controversial issues were of the day.
I wish every person could experience what I found in Campus Life. I can’t imagine my life without these very special years of college. They have laid a foundation for my life and, of course, have a whole lot to do with why I still am a part of Campus Life 32 years later.
So here is my point: Help your teen find this authentic, safe, honest, challenging, and fun place to lay a foundation for life. Create this place at home. Find a youth group or youth ministry that will do the same. In doing so you will change the course of your child’s life.
Mike Green is Executive Director of Tuscaloosa Youth For Christ/ Campus Life. He and his wife, Laura, have two grown children.