Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Young Life Helps Teens with Living Good Life

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Young Life Helps Teens with Living Good Life

Article excerpt

Byline: Mary Maraghy, County Line staff writer

Kevin and Alice Carter host balloon popping-competitions for dozens of Clay County teens, who also want to have cream pies smashed in their faces.

The Orange Park couple lead Young Life Clay County, a nationwide, non-denominational Christian ministry that reaches out to high school students who are not interested in the established church.

On Monday nights, at least 85 teens pour in to Orange Park Presbyterian Church's Youth House on Reed Street in Orange Park. They sing, dance and play games.

The Clay chapter, formed in 1985, gained strength in 2001 when Alice Carter joined the staff.

"She's a great organizer, great with kids. She has a real passion for high school kids," said Young Life volunteer Gayle Garrison, a longtime teacher at St. Johns Country Day School. "Young Life is so fun. It's the best ministry for kids out there. It's a great way to reach kids who would not normally go to church."

Young Life, active in 50 states and more than 45 countries, reaches about 1 million teenagers a year.

The Clay chapter is partners with Orange Park Presbyterian, Grace Episcopal, Orange Park United Methodist and Fleming Island Presbyterian churches.

"The goal is to be a caring adult walking alongside teens," said Kevin Carter, who left his post as youth director of Orange Park Presbyterian Church to work full time with his wife at Young Life.

He remembered the impact a Young Life leader had on his life when he was in high school in Dunedin.

"This guy was there for me and committed to me," Carter said. "He made Jesus relevant and real to me."

The Carters eat lunch with students on campus at Orange Park and Fleming Island high schools and St. Johns Country Day School. They go to football games and other sporting events and pass out fliers about their one-hour Monday night meetings.

They hope to get more volunteers.

At club meetings, teen musicians perform and the teens engage in fun ice-breaker-type activities like The Dating Game or Jeopardy!. They sing popular songs like Van Morrison's Brown-Eyed Girl or Free Falling by Tom Petty. …

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