Students find community in Forsyth County Young Life

The organization works with students from middle school to university


Courtesy of Elise English

Members of YoungLife pose at their “Club” meeting.

Sydney Pascieri, Contributing Writer

High school is certainly not easy. Making new friends, keeping up with the latest TikTok trends, studying for driving tests, enduring SATs and ACTs and completing extensive college applications are just a few of the anxieties and responsibilities teenagers face. But when sophomore Kaleigh Galinis turned to Young Life during her high school years, the experience changed for the better. 

Young Life is a national Christian organization that invites middle schoolers into their WyldLife program, high schoolers into Young Life and college students into Young Life College to either deepen their faith or start developing one alongside other students and volunteer leaders. The organization encourages young people to understand that they are valued because God values them and that they are worthy because God believes they are worthy. In other words, Young Life motivates their members to look for affirmation within their faith rather than listening to external validation. 

“The mission of Young Life is to step into [students’] lives right where they are in order to instill their identity in Christ and not in the world,” Kaleigh Galinis said. 

Young Life Forsyth County serves many different groups from middle schoolers to college students to children with “intellectual and developmental disabilities” in their Capernaum program to teen mothers in YoungLives. Located at the center of Forsyth County, Wake Forest has its own Young Life ministry on campus, in which students can explore Christianity or deepen their faith.

Galinis discovered the organization at her home in Florida, when Young Life leaders attended her dance concerts, caught up with her at lunch and spent time with her at local football games. Encouraged by their support, Galinis began to get involved in Young Life gatherings at her high school. 

In the fall of her first year at Wake Forest, Galinis joined Young Life on campus and learned about the process of becoming a leader in Forsyth County. That spring, she completed leadership training for high school and middle school students. Galinis now serves as a Young Life leader at Ronald Wilson Reagan High School in Pfafftown, N.C. Like leaders at her high school, Galinis shows up to football games and dance concerts. She mentors high school students and guides them through their lives of faith. 

“As a leader, I’m able to walk into the lives of students at Reagan High School,” Galinis said. “I can be there for them as a friend or a role model and help them find their identity in Christ.”

At Reagan High School, Galinis and a team of Wake Forest students host “Club,” a large group session, on Monday nights. The leaders open the session by singing Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber songs, then play interactive games and close the session with a message of faith. Students are encouraged to stay after and hang out with their friends and leaders. Galinis compared Club to a youth group meeting, yet more welcoming — the games played are inclusive, with no student picked out of the crowd. 

Throughout the week, the team of leaders hold “Campaigners.” Comparable to a Bible study, “Campaigners” brings students together to study and ask questions about Scripture. Instead of relying strictly on the text for a whole session, Young Life tries to relate Scripture to real life. The sessions stir conversation about each students’ trials surrounding friendships, relationships and high school. 

“High school can have a lot of social pressures and anxieties and [force students] to live a certain way and follow a certain path,” Galinis said. “Young Life walks beside [the students] and emphasizes their identity in Christ, not in [those] anxieties.”

Sophomore Elise English was exposed to Young Life through her family — her parents served on the parents’ committee of her local Young Life chapter in Dayton, Ohio. In high school, English remembers attending Young Life meetings in her basement with fellow students. After becoming a Young Life leader in her first year at Wake Forest, English was assigned to lead high schoolers at West Forsyth High School in Clemmons, N.C, which reminds her of her high school back home. 

“I remember how hard it was to be a high school girl sometimes,” English said. “The insecurities that you face, the challenges and the academic competition. I remember the impact Young Life leaders had on me [during that time].”

Like Galinis, English strives to show up for students as a mentor but even more as a friend. English says her high schoolers become excited when she attends their dance and cheerleading competitions. She engages in deep conversations with her students about their faith and their lives, empowering the high schoolers to continue searching for their identity in Christ. English also leads weekend and summer trips for her students where they can deepen their faith and spend time with other members of Young Life. 

Students involved with Young Life Forsyth County get the opportunity to attend Young Life Camp. Leaders accompany students on a weekend trip in the winter and a weeklong trip in the summer where students put their phones down, eat three meals a day together and discuss their faith with each other. There are games, water sports, go-karts, ropes courses, Club and down time in their cabins with leaders for Campaigners. At this summer camp, Forsyth County students meet middle school and high school students from all over the country. 

This past summer, Galinis had the chance to volunteer, then intern, at Georgia SharpTop Cove in Jasper, Ga. — a Young Life camp. She made lifelong friends among the 30 other college student leaders and walked beside young students on their journey toward Christ. 

“Camp is a dream,” Galinis said. “It’s [a chance to] experience life as it should be.”

For students interested in learning more about the organization, they can drop into the Young Life meetings at Wake Forest. The group has Bible studies weekly and typically hosts one Club a month. To become a leader in Young Life Forsyth County, students can contact Young Life Forsyth County directly.