r By Sarah Clem
My daughter and her friends were driving around town in a panic. “Where would you go if you were her?” one of them asked. “I feel like we should check behind those buildings,” replied one of the girls, pointing out the window.
Kelly (not her real name) hadn’t been seen or heard from in hours and the last texts she’d sent were foreboding — “Don’t worry, it’s not anyone’s fault. I love you all, but I just can’t take it anymore.” Once the police got involved in the search, progress was still slow until Kelly’s phone was pinged to a precise location in an open field close by. One of the policemen escorted Kelly’s distraught mom and sister to the scene while my daughter and the rest of the group stayed behind, sick to their stomachs, not knowing what would happen next.
Thankfully, Kelly was okay. Her story is still unfolding, but she pulled through that dark day and is moving on, learning to thrive again with the help of those who care about her most.
Earlier that year, my daughter attended the funeral of a girl from her school who didn’t live to see the sun rise the day after her incident. And since then, I’ve looked on with increasing concern, wondering what can be done to strengthen and fortify the youth in this area. Not just the troubled ones, but all of them.
As a mother/step-mom of eight (six of whom will be teenagers next year), I’ve decided I can’t sit idly by, so as a Youth Advocate, I’ve created a group called Renegade Youth Club as a place where 12- to 18-year-olds can learn ways to establish a healthy sense of identity and to trust their own intuition, knowing they have specific, incredible missions to fill in their lifetimes.
Over the summer, Renegade will host several three-day camps at the Peteetneet Amphitheater in Payson where participants will be initiated into tribes, enjoy guest speakers and multi-media presentations, and be challenged to think and react in more positive ways. The connectivity they feel at Renegade will continue throughout the year with five more group activities included in their membership. To learn more, visit renegadeyouth.org or email “Chief Sarah” at firstname.lastname@example.org.