California Youth Group Reunites after 35 Years

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The youth group of Palo Alto (Calif.) Christian Reformed Church created friendships 35 years ago that have withstood the tests of time and distance. Earlier this summer 16 people from the youth group of the 1970s and their spouses gathered for a camping weekend at New Brighton Beach in Santa Cruz, Calif.

After reconnecting three years ago at the funeral of Hugh VanderPlas, their former youth leader, David Rooks and Ron Eskes realized it was time to get their former youth group together for a reunion. “The majority of the kids in our youth group came to the [church] because their parents’ employers transferred them to the Bay area,” said Rooks. “They did the necessary work of building relationships, turning strangers into friends. This was one of the characteristics of the world in which our high school youth group was nurtured.”

The “grown up” youth members enjoyed grilling hamburgers, sitting around a campfire, and reliving high school memories. Michelle Bosch, current member of Oak Hills CRC and former youth group member, remembers ice cream socials, retreats in the Bay area, and riding to youth group in her friend’s VW Bug. “We all went to different high schools, some even rivals. But we didn’t care. We were like a big family,” said Bosch.

The friends of Palo Alto agreed they should have another reunion and not wait for a funeral to bring them together. “I look back at my high school years with fond memories, and a large part of those memories are from the times I shared with the kids in our youth group,” Rooks said. “Maybe we can be an encouragement to others to share time with friends while there is still time to share with friends.”

About the Author

Amy Toornstra is a freelance news correspondent for The Banner. She lives in Salem, Oregon.

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