The end of an era

The 2016-2017 school year is quickly approaching its end as staff and students count down the days.  Every year, a class of seniors make their final stretch of high school together as they all know their days at OHS are numbered.  The class of 2017 will be graduating in June and begin a new chapter of their lives.  OHS will be losing another talented, bright and dedicated class.  Sadly, OHS and the Owatonna community will be losing another staff member after this school year comes to a close.  Long time Young Life Director Chuck Jamison will be retiring this June after working in the area for nearly 30 years.  He will be leaving behind a legacy to the school and community of Owatonna.

My favorite part about Young Life is the energy and involvement in the community it has. Chuck’s passion for Young Life is so inspiring.”

— Taylor Savoie

Young Life, a non-denominational Christian organization, has been in Owatonna as long as Jamison.  The organization is offered to all students in OHS with two cooperating programs ran through the ALC and OJHS.  With his hands full directing Wild Life, Young Life and Real Life, Jamison has been able to be involved in so many different areas in Owatonna.  He is very well known throughout the community and is a big supporter of many community events. “Chuck,” as he is commonly known to anyone who has ever talked to him in the halls, sports games or school events, is also one of the Owatonna Boy’s and Girl’s Tennis coaches.  He has volunteered for numerous school events such as the NHS Talent Show, Prom Grand March and Powder Puff Football.  However, there is a mission behind all of his volunteer hours around kids. Jamison said, “I hope to be able to point kids to Jesus. Every kid has a right to know who Jesus is, what he’s done, how they relate to that and to make up their own mind regarding him.  That’s the ultimate mission.” His objective is to be in contact with as many kids as possible and to reach out to the kids who would not reach out themselves.  All of his efforts in chatting with kids and adults is to get them to come to “Club” on Monday nights at 8:01 at the Learning Zone.

Young Life Club is a place for kids to come and hang out where they can sing songs, play games and be with friends.  Jamison said, “I remember my first club in 1981 at Becky Schleif’s house and how it was packed wall-to-wall with kids. I remember the night we had 200 kids at club and shaved Bob Swedberg’s head! I remember good skits gone bad – like when I cut Rod Nakagaki’s face with a razor blade that was supposed to be protected. But most of all, I remember the opportunities to stand in front of a room full of friends and try to make the gospel come alive.”  With it being such a fun and friendly place there is also a big reason he wants kids to come, that being the message or “talk” at the end of club where kids get to hear about the Bible and Jesus Christ.  Jamison is usually giving these talks and sharing stories with kids.  Young Life’s main mission is to introduce kids to Jesus Christ and help them gain and build a personal relationship with Him.  Chuck works to get kids to club and potentially summer camps to Young Life camps across the nation where kids get to spend a week in some of the coolest places in the U.S. and learn more about their faith. Jamison said, “My favorite part of working for YL Owatonna is kids.  I get to know a ton of awesome kids.  But even more than that, I have a chance to let them in on the most amazing, life transforming truth.”

I hope to be able to point kids to Jesus. Every kid has a right to know who Jesus is, what he’s done, how they relate to that and to make up their own mind regarding him. That’s the ultimate mission.”

— Chuck Jamison

Each year, Chuck gets to know a new bunch of freshmen at OHS while continuing his relationships with the rest of the students in school.  He manages to come before school and at lunches to chat with every grade of kids. You could find him hanging up Club posters or handing out flyers for a special Young Life event. Jamison said, “When I interact with kids, the first thing I want to do is to establish some sort of connection.  Hopefully, it’s a fun connection that conveys that I really care about them as a person whether they are ever involved formally with Young Life or not.”

Young Life in Owatonna does not only offer Club and summer camps.  Young Life offers a weekly study on Sunday nights called Campaigners, a one on one mentor Walk With Me program and Young Life University which is a two month long opportunity for kids to sign up for various activities with Young life such as ping pong, racquetball or skiing.  Jamison also organizes the Young Life cake auction every spring, the Young Life Golf tournament and the Young Life Car Wash Fundraiser.  All of these events are to raise money for kids to afford camp and to give back to the community. Junior Taylor Savoie said, “My favorite part about Young Life is the energy and involvement in the community it has.  Chuck’s passion for Young Life is so inspiring.”

Chuck has left an amazing impact on the lives of students in Owatonna. Through the multiple decades of work and volunteering in the community, he has left a lasting impact. Junior Grace Pick said, “Chuck is so dedicated and involved with kids and his passion for kids is amazing.” While his absence may change the way Young Life follows in Owatonna his legacy will always remain. Chuck has so many memories from serving Owatonna over the years, but he always stays to true to his message and the Young Life purpose. Jamison said, “The good news remains constant as well in light of those unchanging needs:  that God loved us so much that he gave his only son, so that whoever puts their trust in him will experience a new quality of life now and life forever with the one who created them!  Kids matter to YL leaders.  Kids matter to God.  That won’t ever change.” Chuck will be organizing his last golf tournament in Owatonna this spring and leading his last camps with kids this summer before he officially retires in July. OHS and Owatonna wishes Chuck the best of luck in his retirement!