At age 21, Skye knew her long-term life goal was to open a youth drop-in centre in her Alberta home town, but she had no idea where to start. At age 20, Megan was unsure if she wanted to work with youth, let alone leave her home province of Quebec, but she knew her experience in ministry was drawing her toward something.
        Yet once both women learned about Youth Unlimited’s Lifeteams School of Youth Outreach, they knew they’d found the next step on their journey. They moved provinces and jumped into the learning, challenge and growth that Lifeteams offers. Their life trajectories have forever been changed.

Lifeteams is an eight-month YU program where young adults come from across Canada to receive exemplary training in youth outreach within an intentional community context in Abbotsford. Students complete 30 college-level credits in youth work and biblical studies and receive youth work placements alongside veteran youth workers where they learn to step into the world of vulnerable teens with compassionate courage.



        Skye and Megan were paired in East Vancouver for their work placement with Lifeteams alumna, Amanda Ratzlaff. This is a challenging environment, even for seasoned youth workers. “Many of the youth we support are growing up in the Downtown East” Amanda says. “They often live with adults who aren’t their biological parents. There are few healthy connections with each other and outside supports, and it almost feels like everyone has trauma. Navigating your own trauma, and attempting to help your friends facing the same difficulties, is really hard.”

Lifeteams is intentionally set up to provide the right

A proud graduation day for Lifeteams Class of ‘22


Through Lifeteams, Skye and Megan built a life-long friendship

amount of support and challenge to optimize learning and growth. “Amanda cares for us really well,” says Skye, “helping us develop skills to plan meetings with youth, set boundaries, and take care of ourselves.” For Amanda, entrusting the youth in her program to Skye and Megan was natural. “They both have a deep relationship with Jesus, and trust Him to care for the youth more than they ever could,” she says.

        Megan and Skye worked closely with a group of eight youth every Friday. The group engaged in various activities — from skating to escape rooms, and excursions to a pottery café — providing many contexts for conversation. In learning about each of the youth’s difficult and often overwhelming situations, Megan and Skye became their allies. “One of the first things I learned was the need to build positive relationships, where you can love them and make them feel like they’re seen and known,” says Megan. Skye echoes this sentiment, noting that “the best thing I can do is to listen and really hear their stories.”



For Amanda, Skye and Megan’s experiences remind her of her own. A 2014 Lifeteams graduate, Amanda received support both inside and outside of the classroom, that enabled her to find her calling as a youth worker. “Lifeteams holistically cares and equips their students to not just be good youth workers, but good human beings,” she says. “I had small dreams of working with youth, but didn’t know what that would look like. Lifeteams was my test, and I came out knowing that it was for me.”

        As Amanda became increasingly emboldened in youth outreach, moving beyond the walls of the Lifeteams house, the mentorship continued. “You never stop being invested in — I’m still being invested in by teachers and mentors. It’s a way of life,” she says. Even today, Amanda meets with an older Lifeteams grad regularly for mentorship and support.

        For both Megan and Skye, who just graduated this May, one thing is certain: they know they want to work with youth. Megan begins at the University of Victoria this fall, with plans to major in Child and Youth Care. “This is what I want to do,” she says, “and seeing people do it well makes it even more inspiring.” Skye is returning to her hometown of Three Hills, Alberta, where she plans to apply all she’s learned. “I want to be the Amanda of Three Hills,” she says. To Amanda, these decisions could not be more natural. “Megan and Skye get it. They get what youth work is about. They just do,” she says. “They’re amazing people, who are going to do amazing things. That’s what Lifeteams is all about.”




Mark your calendars — On November 18, YUnite Outside will be back! Last year, 183 people spent a night outside, braving the cold with nothing but sleeping bags and cardboard, to raise funds for vulnerable youth across Greater Vancouver; and to show them we see them, and we believe in them. Keep an eye on for updates.




Youth Unlimited celebrated youth week with the post-COVID return to Cityfest: BC’s biggest youth event. Run in partnership by Youth Unlimited, the City of North Vancouver and North Shore Alliance; the event is primarily run by youth, for youth. Thousands came to experience the incredible skateboarding competitions, live music, art vendors, food trucks and so much more.


Registration for Jesters Theatre summer camps is on! These camps are inclusive, creative, and run for youth grades three to twelve. Whether it’s honing in on acting chops, studying breathing techniques for musical theatre, or learning how to be a good role model on the stage, there’s something for every youth. To learn more/register:



Thank you for your kindness and generosity in raising $38,478 to help our friends and neighbours in Ukraine. Every dollar donated has been rushed directly to YFC Ukraine as they continue to keep their doors open to not just youth, but for all those suffering and fleeing in this dangerous time. To donate, please visit:











After many years of working in the corporate world, my wife Sherri came home one day and asked “What do you think of me quitting my job to pursue a career in photography?”. As a little girl, Sherri dreamed of capturing the beauty around her through the lens of a camera. She was finally ready to leave the comfort of a steady paycheque to pursue her dream. She quickly enrolled in photography courses and began researching who the top photographers were in Vancouver. One day Sherri cold called this amazing wedding photographer with hopes of carrying her bags to learn through observation and inquiry about her craft. She would work for free for an opportunity to learn from the best. Through this (and other) mentorship relationships, Sherri was able to carve out her own successful photography business and even created a book on film photography to share her passion with people around the world.

The passing on of wisdom, knowledge and insight gained from life experiences is invaluable. Mentorship changes lives.

If you were to ask me to boil down all that we do at Youth Unlimited into a single word that anyone could easily understand, the word would be MENTORSHIP. We have heaps of programs designed to reach a wide variety of youth in a way that cares for the whole person (social, emotional, mental, physical and spiritual needs), but the mentorship relationship is the key to our success.

We fall short if we simply give young people some tools and teaching on how to live well; we must show them with the way we live our lives. I like how the apostle Paul puts it in his letter to Timothy where he says: “Teach believers with your life: by word, by demeanor, by love, by faith, by integrity.” This is mentorship!

In this edition of Connections you will get a good look at the power of God working through the mentorship relationship. It’s a two-way street where both the mentor and mentee learn and grow and become more fully human.

Thank you for enabling these mentorship relationships to happen for our staff and volunteers. Every donation is for this purpose, to walk alongside young people, helping to guide them towards abundant life.

Forever grateful,

Mark Koop




Executive Director