For many of us, summer break brings back memories of family vacations at the beach, summer camp, or afternoons at the neighborhood pool. Unfortunately, for many of the kids that YOKE serves, summer means being home alone, fending for yourself, or looking for trouble with other kids in similar situations. For those kids at risk of falling through the cracks, YOKE’s Summer Adventures offer a chance to get out of their normal environment, make new friends, engage with caring mentors, and try new things.

“YOKE’s Summer Adventures are some of my favorite memories growing up in the Halls community,” says Eli Cockrum, who now serves as YOKE’s Program Director. “It was the first time I ever went backpacking and camping, and it’s a big reason why I love those things so much even now.”

This summer, over the course of the four Tuesdays in June, we took kids rafting on the Pigeon River, hiking at Big South Fork, exploring Navitat’s challenging outdoor adventure course, and swimming and bowling at the Pigeon Forge Community Center. Through it all the kids got to learn about a God who is wonderfully artistic and has a sense of adventure, and also loves them dearly. Nearly 100 students and leaders participated in the program each week.

Skylar, a student at Karns, was new to YOKE. In fact, he’d never even been to club before, but a friend told him about Summer Adventures. His mom, though slightly apprehensive about entrusting her young man to people she’d never met, thought it might be a good fit. At the end of the program she wrote, “Skylar’s tearful farewell to YOKE’s Summer Adventures had this mama in tears. I’m so touched he had such a moving experience and I’m thankful he made some great friends. I’m most thankful that he was taken under the wings of some phenomenal people who just want to see him laugh and live and grow. YOKE helped change this possibly difficult summer for him into a delight and a gift.”

Summer Adventures is just one of the reasons that your support of YOKE during the summer months is so vital. If you’d like to invest in YOKE so that kids like Skylar can continue to build life-changing relationships, simply visit our donation page