Our 12 wonderful teams had their January retreats this past month. At these meetings, all teams discuss committee responsibilities and do a team-wide service project. Their Assistant Team Leaders and Alum Leaders gave us updates on what each team accomplished! Take a look and experience it from their point of view:

Thailand 1

“The Thailand 1 retreat was such a party.  Friday evening, after eating a big meal of Pad Thai, Massaman curry, and fried rice, we broke into committees for the first time.  It was so exciting to see who we were going to be making many of our plans with for the next few months.  Taylor had a bunch of get to know you games ready for us after we met as committees.  We all laughed and smiled the whole time through.  The rest of the night was filled to the brim with snacks, games, and screaming laughter.  By the time we had all crashed in various locations around the house, it was already quite early Saturday morning.  Luckily, most of us would agree that the loss in sleep was made up for by the newfound friendships.  The next morning we all got to exercise our creativity by making educational file folder games for the refugee students of the Horizonte School in Salt Lake City.  We all had a blast!” – Vanessa Shipley, Alum Leader
“The team did a group wide service project where they created around 40 file folder games for the Horizonte School in Salt Lake City. The Horizonte School is a school that aids to the refugee population of Salt Lake. They specialize in teaching English to kids, teens, and adults. These file folder games will go to help the elementary aged kids learn basics such as colors, shapes, simple math, and phonics. The School is extremely grateful to receive these resources and help their students learn.” – Taylor Ostmark, ATL

Thailand 2

“This is a quick update on the Thailand 2 team! A couple weeks ago they had their retreat, where they met as a team to discuss some of the projects they are going to do in Trat, Thailand this upcoming summer. The students were placed into committees, played games, got to know each other, and learned some THAI! Most importantly, they were able to give some service. Friday night they made recyclable bags for the women and children to use in Thailand. This was a fun activity because the students were able to  use their own materials and donate something that was theirs to the wonderful people they are going to serve in June. Saturday morning they spent their time volunteering at the Neighborhood House, which is a child and adult care center for families in need. They put together literacy packets for the kids so they could practice their reading at home they also spent a lot of time doing important paperwork and organizing student files.It was such an amazing opportunity and a great time!” – Megan Coles, Thailand 2 ATL

Thailand 3

“Jada Johnson here to tell you all about the Thailand 3 January retreat! We started the night off by having homemade Thai food made by mentors which was delicious! After dinner we got together as a group and talked about local service and how it benefits the community and why it is important. We got in a big circle and got to know everyone’s names!
Afterwards, the Alumn Leaders planned a few random games, which consisted of balancing Oreos on a spoon and racing each other in teams! We also played a few other random get to know you games. Finally, we played hide-n-seek in the school which was fun since we had the whole school to ourselves! 🙂 Eventually we all went to bed!
First thing when we woke up we had some bagels for breakfast and then started right into our service project which was to make tie knot blankets! I thought it was great retreat because I felt like I was able to mingle with everyone and get to know everyone a little bit better.
My favorite part about our January retreat was being able to get to know everyone a little better and having a sleepover with new friends.” – Jada Johnson, Alum Leader
“Thailand 3 had an unbelievable time at their January retreat! Getting to know each other was a blast, especially when we had delicious Thai food to eat thanks to our amazing mentors and team leader! After dinner, we played games that helped us learn names, as well as some relay games.. turns out we are all petty competitive! We also played some games around the school we were staying at, which was very big and were very lucky to use! After late night talking and a lot of snacking, we finally made it to bed. We had some breakfast (we ate a lot), and then began cutting and tying fabric for blankets for Shriners Hospital. Once we figured out how to do it we got in a groove. It was amazing to see how much we were able to get done when we all worked together! It made me very excited to see what we will do in Thailand. We have and awesome group and had a fantastic time together!” Nicole Jessen, Thailand 3 ATL

Cambodia June

“Throughout the night we participated in numerous games and discussed the benefits and hinderances in relation to local service. The team talked about the different barriers that come into play while serving -depending on the individual organization- and how to overcome those barriers. As time went on, the team got to know one-another better and learned to appreciate the different view-points each member has to offer. Saturday morning the team took part in a service project in which they put together 145 sack lunches for the homeless. These lunches incorporated items such as: fruit, chips, sandwiches, water bottles, and inspirational notes (each of which was donated by the members of the team). After the lunches were made, the teams split into groups and handed out the lunches (in person) to those in need. Through this experience, each team member was able to reach outside their comfort zone and discover the immense humility and gratitude each person had for a simple meal. What an awesome night!” – Aubrey Bengtzen, Cambodia June ATL
“The Cambodia June retreat was quite the success! Despite it being a little bit chilly in the new office space where the retreat was held, it was all smiles and fun all night long. Our ATL, Aubrey led a group activity where we talked about some challenges the students may have been facing with their local service, which got people talking and outside of their comfort zones a bit. We also broke out into our individual committees for the first time, prepared sack lunches for the homeless which we delivered on Saturday, and played lots of fun games throughout the night. The local service project we did was really fun, it gave the students the opportunity to truly see the need in our community. Student Lily Smid said, ‘My favorite part of the local service project was seeing the homeless people light up when we gave them the lunch and how grateful they were to us for making them.’ We had an awesome time!” – Alice Barnett, Alum Leader

Cambodia July

“We held our retreat at a house in Mapleton. We had a blast bonding through games and activities such as swimming, volleyball, billiards, and various card games.
For our service project, we went to Tabitha’s Way, which is a local food pantry in the area. Tabitha’s Way is a small pantry that was started by two women who saw a need and decided to fill it. The two of them are able to provide food and supplies to the needy population in the area in a much more convenient way.
Through the holiday season they receive the bulk of their donations so Team Cambodia came to the rescue and helped sort through all the food that had been donated over the holidays, but they didn’t stop there. The team also helped transfer food from the warehouse to the pantry, stock the shelves for the coming week, sort through old donations to see what was still good, and help organize farmer produce. We were able to help a two person crew get ahead of their schedule and get ready for the coming weeks!” – Brayden Davies, Cambodia July ATL
“Our retreat went very well! We all seem to get along and have grown closer! There was much laughter and little to no sleep. The service project was awesome. We went to Tabitha’s Way (a local food pantry in Springville) and we sorted food and stocked shelves. We had gone above and beyond what the lady in charge thought we would accomplish!  She had some really nice things to say about our group and Youthlinc!  I asked Sam Brown, a first-time Service Year participant, what he thought about the service project: ‘I loved the local service project! Tabatha’s way allowed us to bond over helping others. It created an opportunity to get to get to know each other better and do good at the same time.’ All in all it was a great experience for everyone!” – Kumen Stevens, Alum Leader

Nepal June

“The Nepal June team had their retreat at the Selman home. They catered Nepalese food and got a taste of what they will be enjoying in-country! Committees had their first meeting and began to discuss what they would like to do for their projects. Aaron and Hadlee had the chance to meet with each student and talk about the amazing things they are doing for their local service. They also got to reflect and discuss with the whole team about the challenges and benefits of service.
Everyone had so much fun getting to know each other! It was a night full of laughs, games and yummy food! There was one group of people (led by Kelly Mattingly), that decided to stay up ALL NIGHT! Needless to say, this team is in for a fun time in Nepal!
For their service project they painted toy cars to give to the kids in their village. I talked to the team about the Tiny Tim’s Foundation who make and donate all of the toy cars for people to take to other countries. Everyone had so much fun painting together and getting to see everyone’s creativity!” – Hadlee Selman, Nepal June ATL

Nepal July

“Hey there – Korynn Gustafson here to share with you a recap of the Nepal July team retreat!
Service is a great way to spread joy and the Nepal July team did a great job demonstrating that. For their service project, they went to the Jamestown assisted living center, where they were eager to serve. They split into two different groups so they would be able to serve on a one on one level.
Half of the Nepal July group got the opportunity to participate in a snowflake making activity. They were able to take their time to get to know the guest there and helped them to smile a little brighter.
The other half moved to the mental care unit and pushed their smiles there. They participated in their daily exercises and were also able to get to know the wonderful people there.
Overall the Nepal July team had an amazing time and it seems like the guests had a lot of fun too! Great job Nepal Team!” – Korynn Gustafson, Nepal July ATL
“Our January retreat was a success! We discussed how we can most effectively go through this whole experience and get the most out of it. We also got our committee assignments and everyone is very eager to work and plan. For our service activity we were able to visit Jamestown Retirement Community and spend time with the people there. Everyone had a great time!
A student on the business committee shared what he is most looking forward to , “I am very excited to work with different animals and placing them in our village, not only to help with the needs of the village but to create a sustainable lifestyle for their people.” – Braydon Carter.
Another student shared their favorite thing about the service activity, “My favorite thing was getting to interact with the elderly people in memory care. They were so sweet and fun to play games with. They were so grateful to have us there and were great to talk with.” – McKenzie Anderson
All in all it was an amazing experience for everyone involved! We are so excited for the rest of the year!” – Whitney Cloward, Nepal July Alum Leader


Hello fellow Youthlincers! It’s Elizabeth Barajas from the Guatemala team with a quick update about our team retreat! The amount of dedication and excitement at our team retreat was shown in a variety of ways.
Many of our team members who live far from the Salt Lake Valley traveled from far areas to be present at the retreat. Students also showed up with all required papers and food assignments! Finally, students all mingled with their new committee members and set some goals for our next meeting!
Besides getting to know what my teammates have been up to serving locally, my favorite part was in the morning when we had the opportunity to talk to some of the residents at an assisted living home. As our team starts working on its committee projects, I would like us all to take this word of advice from Virginia Solomon (Resident at assisted living home), ” Don’t ever be afraid of hard work”.
I asked one of the students what they were most excited about as far as working inside their committee:
“To give the kids a chance to communicate with people because English is a language spoken all over the world” – Lindsay Hafer, Education committee
Tanner Nelson – ATL on the Guatemala team – here to give you my update! Our team held our retreat in Draper. We had a lot of fun getting to know each other with games, activities, and telling stories.  We are so excited to serve in Guatemala this summer and share about our local service activities!
On Saturday morning we went to the Cedarwood at Sandy Assisted Living and got to meet and interview the residents to learn more about their life.  They will be making a book of residents to be placed in the common area of the assisted living.  The residents were so happy to share about their lives with the team!

Peru July

“The Peru July team had an awesome retreat! We had lots of fun playing games and got to know each other! We were also able to welcome in our surprise guest and new team leader, Scott Bawden. We are sad to see Britnie go (but super excited for her and her family… Twins!) and excited for all the things we will learn from Scott. For our service project, we put together cards and treat bags for a local assisted living center for Valentine’s Day. We worked together in an assembly line to put together close to 100 bags! These will be greatly appreciated by the residents.” – Megan Moffat, Peru July ATL
“Monica Moynihan here to give you an update on the Peru SLC January retreat! It was filled with lots of fun games, getting to know you activities, committee meetings, and a service project. We had so much fun getting to know our team members a little better, and enjoyed the interactive (and highly competitive) games.
Our service project consisted of making valentine cards and candy bags for the Legacy Retirement home, filling each bag with candy and each note with love. Many hands make for light work, so it did not take long when we all worked together.
The committee meetings went well, and although there is still a lot to do within those committees, there are many great ideas and excitement within each one. We can’t wait to continue our meetings and eventually travel to Peru together!”
I asked a few people what they were most excited about as far as working within their committees:
“I’m looking forward to teaching skills to locals that not only improve their lives but also the community they live in.” -Kiera Barnes
“I’m excited to be teaching the kids English as well as painting a mural!” -Sophie Campbell
“I’m looking forward to giving impactful information to the locals so that they can apply new skills they have learned right away to help their businesses.” -John Su


“The Bywater family hosted the Kenya team in their home on January 21st, 2017. The team spent time getting to know each other, admiring each others pajamas, and learning about their responsibilities as team and committee members. Katie Kirk, our January service champion (already completing 30.5 service hours), shared a personal experience of serving cancer patients in a nearby hospital. Her heartwarming stories inspired students to continue or start serving as much as possible. Throughout the weekend friendships started to form and will continue to grow while in Kenya.
Understanding the need for donations at San Juan Hospital in the small town of Monticello Utah, the team dedicated their Saturday to making over 50 adult-sized fleece blankets. Serving the elderly community, these blankets will be used to comfort those recovering from surgery and overcoming sicknesses. Topped with a handwritten Youthlinc letter, these blankets will bring smiles to multiple people.
Walking away from an outstanding weekend, the team has a desire to serve others because some day the small things will make a big difference.” – Easton Bowring, Kenya ATL
“Lindsey Van Buren, Alum Leader on the Kenya team, here to tell you a little about our January retreat!
The retreat was a lot of fun, we played games, ate food, and really got to know one another. We shared what we thought was the most important part of service and how we can improve ourselves with getting out into the community more to volunteer.
For our local service project we tied fleece blankets, it was really impactful doing service together as a team for the first time!”
“I’m really excited to teach the kids how to brush their teeth and those type of things because we do it everyday but to them it’s so special” – Mia Thomas, Community Health Committee


It’s Maggie Gardiner here to tell you all about our awesome Madagascar team retreat!
We held our retreat at the Salt Lake Center for Science Education. With such a big space, everyone had tons of fun playing games like cat and mouse and sardines late into the night, and getting to know each other.
For our team’s service project we knitted hats for the people of Madagascar. When we arrive in Madagascar, it will be summer here in Utah, but Madagascar will be in its winter season. The people of #Madagascar will be in need for hats to stay warm as they work and go to school.
Our team is excited to continue to prepare to meet the #Malagasy people, make hats for them, and learn more about their culture!