Challenge Experience from Tennessee

Article  by Meghan, Challenge Teen Leader in Oak Ridge, TN

“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.” Proverbs 31:25-26. This is the type of young woman that Challenge Youth Group helps build. Through discussions, fun activities, gospel readings, and apostolic projects, our girls are sculpted by Christ into strong, dignified, intelligent, and loving young women.

What is Challenge? It’s a youth group for girls in fifth through eighth grade that meets twice monthly. The girls are split up into groups by their grade, so they are with girls their age and to aid in easier small-group discussions. Over snacks and drinks, we discuss a monthly saint, and a virtue they possess. We read the gospel, and our girls lead themselves in prayer. Their discussions about the saint and virtue, gospel, and how their own lives play into it all, are led by high school girls. Most of our leaders are Challenge veterans themselves. Once a month, we go to Vigil Mass as a group with our Conquest boys. Finally, everyone is invited for fun in the gym, including volleyball, kickball, and more. Challenge Youth Group is a place for the daughters of our church to grow in their faith with friends and fun.

MM1While each meeting begins with our monthly saint and virtue discussions, we also devote a portion of time to an apostolic project. Our girls learn that an apostolic project is one that takes after the apostles themselves in going out and spreading their faiths. We participate in two projects a year. In the first semester of 2016-2017, we asked the girls to pick a project they would be interested in doing, and vote on the best idea in their small groups. Then, we met as one group to choose one project. The girls voted to make their own baby blankets to provide to the women at the Pregnancy Help Center with Catholic Charities in LaFollette. They spent their next meetings measuring, cutting, and making unique blankets for each woman to take home with them. As a separate Christmas project, our girls baked and decorated cookies to bring to the people of our parish, along with Christmas carols. In the second semester, the girls worked together to bring their service back to their home parish. They organized and hosted the Rock ‘n’ Roll fundraiser, a roller skating fundraiser complete with bake sale and raffle prizes. All of their hard work raised enough money for a fire pit at the youth building. Now our youth group can enjoy s’mores and spend time around the fire together, all thanks to their hard work.

IMG_3177IMG_3170Overall, Challenge Youth Group is a fun way the girls of our parish can gather to strengthen their faith and themselves.Through the leadership of our teen leaders and adult mentors, they can grow as individuals while still having a helping hand when they need it. When the girls go to high school, they have the option to come back and be teen leaders for middle schoolers, or join our Communications team, which does the behind the scenes work to make it all come together (for the girls not as comfortable with leading a group.) We love these girls, and helping them in their spiritual journey is a blessing. We’re so excited to see them back this fall!