Campus Life catching on with kids

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By Alex Heard

Campus Life is a relatively new organization in the Glenwood community, but the program it’s derived from is far from new.


Youth For Christ (YFC), founded during World War II by ministers and evangelists as an international ministry, has branched off into several different programs over the past 70-plus years, with the Campus Life program serving as YFC’s bread and butter.

“Glenwood is part of a much bigger program,” says Alexander Newby, director of Glenwood’s Campus Life. “We go into schools and connect with students, parents and other community members who want to connect with today’s youth and mentor them. We help set that up to make it happen.”

Primarily working with children ages 11-19, Campus Life meets on Wednesday nights at Glenwood schools. Newby and his intern, Matt Jordan, work with local youth pastors and to help organize activities and programs. Youth pastors Adam Tibbs and Dan Ginn have been vital to helping us with the program,” said Newby. “We have different churches working together like I’ve never seen before and I think that’s a great thing.”

Campus Life has an application process for its mentors to find individuals who fit their vision for positively impacting youth. Mentors are also encouraged to not only meet with the children on Wednesdays, but to get more involved with their lives.

Using the school district facilities helps hold down costs for Campus Life and also sets an environment that the students are already familiar with, Newby said. Donations help offset the organization’s expenses, which are minimal.

Newby said dozens of Glenwood children and teens have taken part in a variety of Campus Life events over the past several months, including team-building activities, a block party and bowling night.

“We have pizza the last Wednesday of the month, so we may have a few extra kids that night,” Newby said. “Our goal is to impact as many students in the community as possible. Our program is free and all of our activities are free or under $10.

“We really kicked off Campus Life in Glenwood at the end of August with out back to school block party. It was our way of showing the community we were here. We also participated in the Homecoming parade, which was way bigger than I had anticipated.”

Newby is originally from Indianapolis, Ind., but later moved to a small farming town in Nebraska. As a freshman in college in 2011, Newby came to Glenwood working with local youth pastors. He was later asked to start the community’s Campus Life program.

“I applied what I was learning in my classes at the time and used that for our structure for our weekly lessons,” said Newby. “Three weeks into the program, we had over 70 students in the building, so we thought we were doing something right. It has become a very cool opportunity.”

When originally picking the night of the week to meet, Newby thought they would be competing with other events in town. However, local youth pastors were on board with the program and Wednesdays became their night of the week. Typically, the school district avoids scheduling activities on Wednesdays, which are viewed as “church nights.”

“We have a little bit of everybody showing up, even confirmation kids,” said Newby. “The important part was to work with everyone in town as we were never trying to replace the church or youth groups. We have a little bit of a different approach to today’s youth, especially with students who may not have grown up churched. We generally have a quick lesson and then some sort of team building game or activity. I think we’re building memories and relationships that can last and make a positive impact for everyone involved.”

Jeni Kirsch said her son became involved in Campus Life about a year ago through one of his friends and he has been going back ever since.

“It’s a little bit of Bible, with a lot of fun,” said Kirsch. “My son, Carter, is spending time with kids he maybe didn’t know as well before. Alex (Newby) and the program have given grounding and positive connections with people in the community. I think the students can really connect with Alex.”

Youngsters or parents interested in learning more about Glenwood’s Campus Life program can contact Newby at alex@goyfc.org.