The transition from elementary to middle school is challenging for everyone. In addition to going from the top of the social structure to the bottom of the social structure, students must navigate a new schedule, changing classes, and multiple teachers. Middle school students are often separated from friends they’ve known for years and forced to assimilate into a completely new network of relationships. Now, imagine making that transition during a global pandemic.

Jasaii Blair spent his 6th grade year staring at a Chromebook in the living room of his house, isolated from friends and activities, so he was eager for 7th grade to get started. Like a lot of parents, mom worked, so he signed up to be a part of the SMART Institute at Vine Middle. This meant that he could stay late after school, get academic help, join some clubs, and enjoy a meal before mom came to pick him up. That’s how he learned about YOKE.

“I was just drawn to YOKE because it looked so fun,” explained Jasaii. “The games and songs were cool, and it was awesome that there were adults, like Nemo and Alex, who wanted to spend time with me.” Though he didn’t go to church, Jasaii was also interested in the spiritual conversations. “I believed in God, but I didn’t know anything about God,” he explained. “YOKE helped me know God and what it means to follow Jesus,” he added, “but they also helped me understand more about who I am and why I’m here.”

Jasaii never missed camp either. His big personality and ever-present smile helped him make friends across the YOKE community. His favorite memories of camp are the times of worship, where he remembers experiencing the presence of God for the first time. “I hadn’t really made a decision yet, but the whole experience made me want to follow Jesus,” he explained. “It just amazed me.” During his 8th grade year at Vine, Jasaii decided to go all in and follow Jesus.

Now, nearing the end of his freshman year at Austin East High School, Jasaii is determined to stay connected with YOKE. He’s been active in our leadership training program and has returned to camp as a volunteer. “I love the opportunity that YOKE provides to help other kids like me grow closer to God,” Jasaii explained. “I want to help the next generation of YOKE Kids make the right decisions and stay on the right path. Plus, it’s a whole lot of fun.”

Like many of our students, Jasaii would not have even been able to attend camp without the generous support of partners like you. Spring camp is just around the corner. Would you consider a gift to YOKE so that we can continue to reach middle school students like Jasaii?

It costs approximately $125 to send a kid to camp, so your gift could help in the following ways:
  • $125 Sponsor 1 YOKE Kid
  • $250 Sponsor 1 YOKE Kid and their YOKE Folk
  • $500 Sponsor a Cabin
  • $1,000 Sponsor a Club
Make checks payable to YOKE and mail to P.O. Box 3492, Knoxville, TN 37927. Or visit our giving page to make a secure gift online anytime.
Grateful for your partnership,