A Shared Adventure, for a New Season of Life

350x350 Website Photo Wildridge Main.jpg
Sherry Binkley began her journey with Young Life as a junior high school teacher in Denver, Colorado. She attended an informational meeting, met the staff, and heard some of the kids share their stories. Not too long after that, Sherry was leading a cabin of girls at Frontier Ranch. The Young Life leaders and staff were fun, yet serious about Jesus. Sherry was impacted so much that she joined the Young Life staff and moved to Vancouver, British Columbia. After four years of serving on staff, Sherry moved to Lexington, Kentucky to take a position as a teacher at Tates Creek High School. As a teacher, Sherry recognized the needs of the kids in Lexington and resolved to bring Young Life to the school. Thus, in the summer of 1978, Sherry drove a station wagon full of teens to Windy Gap for a week of camp. The ministry flourished through the following four decades. Sherry married Terry Simmons and introduced him to Young Life. Both Sherry and Terry have served on the local committee, hosted club in their home during their daughter’s high school years and worked on the annual banquet. They’ve also offered their yard as a place for kids to earn money for camp in exchange for landscaping. Last fall, Sherry shared about the early years of Young Life in Lexington at the local area banquet. 

Wildridge Article Photo 1.jpgWhile no longer on the local committee, Sherry and Terry are still actively involved in serving the ministry of Young Life in Lexington. Sherry felt a nudge by the Lord to get involved in a Kingdom project with her husband. Terry is approaching retirement from a career as an architect, and as they enter a new phase of life together Young Life has provided a missional opportunity!

Together, the Simmons have spearheaded an effort to accelerate the Wild Ridge camp project in West Virginia so more kids can meet Christ. Through their efforts, they have shared the vision of this developing camp with friends from their hometown, as well as friends in West Virginia and Virginia. In the summer of 2017, as the advancement coordinator of Alumni and Friends, I had the privilege of taking the Simmons  on their first tour of the camp, along with the West Virginia regional director, Scott Berg. When our ATV broke down, we had time to sit on the bank of the Gauley River and dream, talk and pray about how the Simmons could make a difference in the lives of students through Wild Ridge, while Berg trekked three miles along a mountain road to get a vehicle from the base camp. The couple began to dream about acquiring an existing home next to the property that could serve as the camp manger’s house, intern lodging, camp office and storage. They thought about hosting a “vision dessert” at their home in Lexington, which led to brainstorming names of friends they could invite. Wildridge Article Photo 2.jpg

Nine months later, they hosted the gathering in their home. It was a wonderful evening as Kevin Warnick, Lexington area director, shared about new growth in Lexington Young Life and attendees learned about Wild Ridge. Friends were invited to pray about their involvement in the developing property. This story is still ongoing. Sherry and Terry consider themselves ambassadors for Wild Ridge. Last June, they attended a week of camp at Saranac Village as adult guests. They dreamt and prayed about serving as adult guest hosts at Wild Ridge one day. The Simmons are committed to continuing to pray and graciously invite others to join them in their adventure. Theirs is just one of many stories of alumni giving their time, talent and treasure to further the Kingdom.
Perhaps you would like to help Young Life build this camp or contribute to one of our many camps. If you have a dream or would like to share your passion to help meet a need of Young Life, please contact Gordon Anaple, advancement coordinator for Young Life Alumni and Friends at ganaple@sc.younglife.org​
Since last summer, a lot has happened at Wild Ridge. An anonymous gift of $2.25 million was made, along with a pledge of an additional $3 million. In November, the Stover Foundation gave a $1 million gift. Construction on the roads in the camp has begun, and as the development focus turns to buildings we anticipate construction of the Welcome Center to begin later this spring.  For more information to go the Wild Ridge website.