Young people learn about life in West Maui program
LAHAINA — Young Life Maui is an organization with one goal in mind: to engender a pathway to happiness for our younger generation with Jesus Christ close by their side.
According to Young Life Maui Director Andy Claydon, the organization has spread worldwide — as far away as the Philippines and as close as right here in Lahaina — from its roots sown some 70 years ago in Texas by a young youth pastor by the name of Jim Rayburn.
“The idea, the mission, was simple,” said Claydon. “Adults building a relationship with kids through Jesus. Just like the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program, Young Life seeks a sharing of life through youth camps and weekly dinner meetings.
“The volunteer leaders build relationships with the kids through partnerships in the schools and communities. Hand in hand, they share hope and life experiences as partners with Jesus.“
For Claydon, the journey has been a bright and sunny one that matches the radiant personality that he brings forth as the director of Young Life Maui.
The son of a football coach, he grew up in the Santa Barbara area of California and went on to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Therapeutic Recreation from Chico State University.
Claydon was then hired on as a Young Life camp director in Ventura, where he also coached football and wrestling. He trained the young volunteers for the program, and at the same time, started his own family with wife Jes.
With two young children and a third on the way, the Claydons arrived on Maui in 2006 to begin to lay the stones for the Young Life pathway here on the Valley Isle.
“We partnered up with Kumulani Chapel, Lahaina Baptist Church and Lahaina Christian Fellowship to get things going here. We have a strong relationship with the churches, but we are a nondenominational organization and like to think of our group as a melting pot of all religions. Our goal is to share life with the kids and to share life with Jesus.“
The Lahaina chapter has 40 active participants. The Kihei group is growing steadily, and a Molokai program is just now starting up.
“We’ve gotten tremendous support in Lahaina from people like Kim Ball, Mark Tillman, Jeff Rogers, Michelle and Gary Lincoln, Sean Corpuel, Janis Pagdilao-Bala, Eric and Lisa Paulson, Chuck and Paula Loewen and Dan Williams. In Kihei, Jral Barrett, Gwen Barrett, Leslie Farthing, Taylor Clint Smith and Kalani Holokai are the leaders, and Randy Manley is spearheading the Molokai effort,” he continued.
“We structure the activities to build lifelong relationships. There are gatherings each Monday evening at the Lincoln’s home, where they cook dinner every time for about 50 people — they are just amazing, unbelievable supporters of Young Life. We make the summer camp a 12-day trip and make shorter excursions to Oahu. We’ve been going to the Woodleaf Camp in Sacramento (California) for a few years running, and this year we’re going to Arizona. We do fund-raising all year long for the summer camp and ask that the kids pay half of the cost and Young Life pays the other half.“
Upon returning from the camp that includes hiking, biking, zip-line adventures, rafting and more, the kids exhibit smiling spirits and a renewed vigor for life manifested in comments such as, “That was the best week of my life — it changed my life and gave me something I could really hold on to. I didn’t know I could have so much fun and learn about Jesus at the same time.”
For more information on Young Life Maui, call (808) 205-0594 or (808) 214-2839 or e-mail email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.