WyldLife Alumni Comes Home to West Point

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​When Danielle Cross stepped into her first WyldLife club at West Point, she had no idea that she would be back seven years later as a WyldLife leader. Dani was introduced to Club Beyond when her father was stationed at Fort Riley in Kansas. So when her family made the move to West Point, she was excited to find out she could stay involved. Her first impression of WyldLife at West Point? Dani couldn’t believe that leaders were giving up their time to hang out with middle schoolers. One leader invited her to coffee just to get to know her, and to Dani’s surprise, the leader even paid for her drink. “Why would these cadets and other college kids who aren’t even related to any of us give up so much of their time?” she wondered. 

Dani loved spending time with her leaders, and she also loved club. “Every club experience was 400x500 2 westpoint_danielle2.jpg
unique and different,” she says. “I remember thinking that this is so cool that we can do all these wild things. Definitely not the traditional way to learn about God.” She says WyldLife also opened her eyes to new ways to experience joy.

Dani’s family stayed at West Point for four years, and as a high school sophomore, she became a WyldLife leader. Bekah Siau, former West Point area director, says, “When it came to being a WyldLife leader as a high school student, Dani owned it. She was always thinking above and beyond how to love middle school girls.”

After four years at West Point, Dani’s family moved to a town in Illinois with no Young Life. She got involved in a church and continued to grow in her faith. When it was time to start thinking about colleges, she remembered the cadets who had shared their lives with her. As a middle schooler, Dani had no intention of attending West Point, but now she wondered if it might be the place for her. She thought about the cadets who lived alongside each other while serving and showing others how much they loved them. “Maybe I can give back to the same community that gave so much to me,” she thought.

So last year, Dani entered West Point as a cadet where she takes classes, competes on the rowing team, and keeps up with the other demands of a service academy. Her days begin with formation at 6:30 a.m., and when classes end at 4 p.m., she has crew practice, homework and team leader duties. She dreams of going to medical school and becoming an Army doctor someday.

Despite the demanding schedule, Dani knew she wanted to reconnect with Young Life as soon as she stepped foot on campus. “Dani is the same person today as she was back then — sincere heart, high capacity, energetic and enthusiastic, just fun to be around,” says Bekah. Dani completed leader training and was placed as a WyldLife leader last spring. “I was super awkward in middle school, so I have a soft spot for middle schoolers,” says Dani. “It’s a blessing to be back and leading kids, getting to live life with them.”

Bekah moved to Pennsylvania this fall to start Young Life in a new area, but she recently got to watch Dani in action as a leader at a WyldLife weekend at Lake Champion. “I loved watching girls follow her around, always at her heels, doing whatever Dani was doing,” says Bekah. “If she was getting hot chocolate, they were getting hot chocolate. Dani was built for middle school ministry. She’s just so good at it,” she adds.

Dani admits that WyldLife isn’t just about what she teaches kids, but also about what God teaches her. “God’s faithfulness has been magnified to me through this ministry over the last eight years,” she says. “He has shown me how He puts people where He wants them for a specific purpose.”

She never thought she’d be a cadet at West Point, but Danielle is thankful for how God used WyldLife leaders to plant those seeds. She encourages other WyldLife alumni to get back involved. “It’s a unique opportunity to love middle schoolers,” she says. “Getting the opportunity to live out Jesus’ love for kids — nothing beats that.”

To learn more about WyldLife, visit the website or connect with your local area​.

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