CAA Says 'YES'

November 21, 2016 | Stacy Knight

Thirty girls sat in small groups around tables, laughing, talking and doodling. Cheerful sunflowers adorned each table, along with the colorful and inspirational artwork spreading out across each paper-covered table. Phrases such as “Your heart can be made new” and “He created us with a purpose” wound through the artwork and helped to highlight the ideas that stood out to each girl as they participated in the YES Project at Columbia Adventist Academy (CAA) in Battle Ground, Wash.

The YES Project, funded by a North Pacific Union Conference Don Keele Award, aimed at helping students see God’s role in their relationships. Wanting to offer something different from the usual “don’t” messages teenagers hear regarding relationships, staff worked to plan out a weekend devoted to saying “yes” — yes to God’s plan, yes to forgiveness, yes to their own self-worth.

“At the YES project, we wanted to talk about relationships and making good choices, despite the cultural pressures that surround us, realizing that saying no to these pressures is really saying 'yes' to God's plan for our lives,” says Aimee Johnson, one of the lead staff involved in the planning.

The program started on a Friday morning, in place of regular classes, and concluded Sabbath afternoon. The girls met off campus, splitting their time between a nearby conference room and the home of former CAA registrar Debbie Hendrickson.

In between small-group sessions, whole-group sessions and video presentations, the girls took some time for pampering and playing — and plenty of good food.  Many of the girls expressed appreciation for time spent with just girls. “It was nice to come together as one with all the girls,” shares CAA junior Rachael Reed. 

Meanwhile, the boys remained on campus and heard inspirational talks from Chuck Hagele, the executive director of Project Patch, a program for at-risk youth. His experiences with the program gave him a vast supply of stories to share as he spoke of the importance of sexual purity and respect for women. He illustrated his talks with games and object lessons, and the boys enjoyed team-building activities. “Having to work together helped me realize I don’t have to face problems alone,” says Quinlan Boney, a CAA junior.

Students and staff alike enjoyed the chance for an open dialogue on relationships and the importance of following God’s plan. Sophomore Macey Pearson described the YES Project as “an amazing experience,” saying, “I learned more about God and myself. I’m glad I have amazing staff who care enough to put on this project for us students.”