Opportunities to Serve

Investing your time and talents in the lives of disadvantaged children will impact the world around you!

Employment Opportunity: Children’s Team Leader

Additional staff (typically college-aged) are needed for our children’s programming teams in Michigan and Arizona with two position types available: weekend only and full time. In both positions, you will have the opportunity to lead a team of children during their experiences at Youth Haven and share your time and heart with them throughout their stay. Our team leaders see themselves as missionaries, serving God in home missions. As such, they are passionate about the opportunities they have to share their faith and be the hands and feet of Jesus to the children Youth Haven serves. Please visit www.youthhaven.org/employment for more information or to apply.

Volunteer Opportunities

An important part of our children’s programs is making sure our campus facilities are in good condition for the children. You can partner with us to provide safe and fun experiences for them by helping us maintain our buildings, grounds, and activity stations. Examples include landscaping, cleaning, raking leaves, sorting/organizing donated clothing and toys, painting, and more. Serve for a morning, afternoon, or all day! Your church, organization, youth group, or small group can also “adopt” a building or activity station and commit to maintaining that area of our campus. To learn more, please visit www.youthhaven.org/volunteer, or contact Bethany, our Volunteer Coordinator, at 517-569-3328.


Summer 2016 Volunteer Corner

summer16volunteerVolunteers Make This Ministry Possible!

Volunteer Work Day
We would like to thank the many wonderful volunteers who were part of our Volunteer Work Day on Saturday, May 14! We are so grateful for their help with cleaning, landscaping, and a variety of other projects to make sure our grounds and facilities were ready for summer camp! At the Michigan campus, cold, dreary weather didn’t stop our terrific team of volunteers, who cheerfully worked throughout the day. At the Arizona campus, we enjoyed working with an incredible team of Family Life Radio volunteers. Our long-standing relationship with FLR as sister ministries is a tremendous blessing to us and the children we serve.

Servant Event
Servant Event volunteers spent a week with us at our Michigan campus, where they helped with brush clean-up, painting, mowing, and other important maintenance projects. They also began the construction process for a walk-through maze that will be an exciting new children’s activity in our adventure trail.

Thank You!
We are incredibly grateful for so many volunteers who partner with us through serving. To our Adopt-a-Facility volunteers, our Lansing Christian volunteers, those who helped with our Pancake Breakfast, and the many other groups and individuals who serve so faithfully, thank you! We couldn’t do what we do without you!


Your Gifts Change Lives!

God is using you to change lives! Your financial contributions, volunteer hours, and time spent in prayer are all gifts that help meet the needs of disadvantaged children – children like Conner and David*, whose grandmother recently sent us this letter:

“Conner’s father left his mother when Conner was only three. Since then, Conner has had very little contact with his father – no cards, calls, or gifts, and only three visitations. This has left Conner feeling abandoned and unwanted. His step-father is good to him but is very authoritarian and the children are given little slack to be kids. Conner finds himself frequently confined to his room. Conner seems to believe that everyone (family, neighbors, classmates, teammates, etc.) dislikes him.

“David feels like he is expected to always play second fiddle to Conner. Whenever the boys are together, he always yields his desires and wants whatever his brother wishes. He compensates for this by slouching in his seat, putting a sour, unhappy look on his face, and refusing to respond, interact, or participate. When Conner is not present, David shines. The happy, helpful, loving boy bursts through.

“The boys’ mother and step-father both work in a small local restaurant. They make barely enough money to cover necessary expenses. The parents simply do not have the time, money, or energy to provide much beyond food, shelter, and clothing.”

Because of your generosity, we were able to offer scholarships for both of these boys to come to summer camp free of charge. Because you gave, they were warmly welcomed into an environment where they felt wanted. They had a chance to have fun and simply be kids, playing games like gaga ball and having squirt gun fights while running through our life-size maze. They ate their fill of delicious food, and our caring staff paid attention to them and showed them they were each uniquely gifted and valued.

Most importantly, they were affirmed with the life-changing truth that God loves them, will never abandon them, and has a very special plan for their lives. And they’ll be reminded of that truth every time they come to Youth Haven, whether for summer camp or on a weekend during the school year.

Every child has a story. So many families are struggling to make ends meet. So many kids live from day to day with feelings of abandonment and loneliness. They feel unwanted and worthless. They need a chance to get away from their daily struggles and simply have fun. They need someone to show them they have immeasurable value and God can use them to do great things!

Thank you for making that possible for these two boys, and so many more. Your gifts
truly do change lives!

*Names changed for confidentiality.


Summer Highlights


The 2016 Youth Haven Summer Games

This summer, we’ve been celebrating the Olympics at Youth Haven! The kids are having a great time with all kinds of fun games and activities… swimming, gaga ball, archery, biking, “Capture the Flag,” and more!

At our Michigan campus, the children also love flying across the field on our zipline or speeding down the hill on our giant slip ‘n’ slide.

At the Arizona campus, wildlife expert and educator Wildman Phil has been entertaining the children each week, along with his animal friends, including Stumpy, a tortoise who was severely injured and has learned to walk using a wheel that is attached to one side of his body.

But there’s so much more to our programs than fun and games! The children have been learning that it’s not about winning medals or showing others how good they are. God has chosen them for His team, not because of their own talents or abilities, but because He loves them, and that’s what makes them special!

Every child receives a Youth Haven “Trailbook,” a personalized New Testament Bible, to take home. And several of the children have already accepted Christ as Savior this summer! God is using your prayers and financial support to change lives. Thank you!


Thor KolemainenThor Kolemainen, Director of Advancement

We are pleased to introduce to you Thor Kolemainen, who recently joined our staff as Director of Advancement. Thor will be working closely with Youth Haven’s President, Lars Carlson, in an effort to develop stronger relationships with you, our faithful friends and supporters. We want to create a culture where Youth Haven is an extended family of staff, volunteers, prayer partners, and financial partners, all mutually supportive of each other and with a common purpose of sharing Christ with disadvantaged children. Please feel free to reach out to Thor with any questions you might have about our ministry, or with your prayer requests. He can be reached via e-mail at thor@youthhaven.org, or by phone at 517-569-3328.

Thank You for Making a Difference!

Devonte with team leader

Devonte with his team leader in 2009

An Adoptive Mother’s Heartfelt Words of Thanks

I want to write this letter to say thank you for the opportunities you have given my son Devonte. He has been an LIT (Leader in Training) for the summer and continues. This has changed his attitude toward others. He has learned compassion for the children and adults. He has grown in his faith. He loves to give to others. What a pleasure it is to see him growing into a fine young man.

Before he started this journey he was very self absorbed and really cared very little or had no concern for others. He came to us at age 8 years and had already endured more than an adult should have, let alone a child. He was angry and just terrible to others. The one thing he looked forward to as a child was the weekends he got to spend at Youth Haven. Over the years of camp he grew to love the camp and at 15 years he asked if he could try to be in the LIT program. How grateful I was to have him be given this chance!

Both Devonte and I want to express our thanks for him to have this wonderful opportunity.


Elizabeth Williams, Devonte Williams

Names and photos used with permission.

Devonte as LIT

Devonte as an LIT in 2015

Spring 2016 Progress Update

Progress Update

Your gifts provide safe, high quality facilities for children in need!

At the Michigan Campus:
In our “Chicken Coop” gymnasium, the boys’ and girls’ restrooms have been gutted, and remodeling is nearing completion. Cleaning, painting, and repairs are taking place throughout the entire building.

In the “Deerlodge” dining facility, the walls and ceiling have been patched and painted, old kitchen equipment removed, and new stainless steel counters, sinks and a dishwasher installed. Feeding the children is a key component of our ministry, and these upgrades will enable our chef to more efficiently prepare meals in the large quantities that are needed for the kids. Thank you to the Home Depot volunteers (pictured above) who painted our children’s dining room!

At the Arizona Campus:
Volunteers have thoroughly cleaned and painted the dorms, repaired and painted picnic tables for activities and meal times, and painted one of our activity pavilions.

We have stepped out in faith to accomplish these needed projects and are trusting God to provide approximately $25,000 to cover the cost. You could be part of that provision by giving a special gift toward the renovations. In addition to strict state regulations and camp inspections, we believe providing high quality facilities for the children helps show them they are important to us. Thank you for making that possible!

Summer 2016 Preview

Summer Preview

Summer Camp begins June 6 in Arizona, June 13 in Michigan!

Your generosity will enable us to offer close to 1,100 scholarships for disadvantaged children this summer! Because you care, these kids will get to experience the fun of summer camp and discover the hope of Christ at Youth Haven, free of charge!

Here are a few of the exciting summer activities they’ll enjoy during their week with us:

  • Adventure Trail
  • Archery
  • Bikes
  • Chapel
  • Covered Wagons
  • Crafts
  • Gaga Ball
  • Game Room
  • Gym
  • Petting Farm
  • Playground
  • Sports
  • Story Time
  • Swimming
  • Waterslide
  • Zipline (Michigan)

We’re still looking for committed individuals who are passionate about children’s ministry to fill a few key roles on our summer staff team. To learn more, please visit www.youthhaven.org/employment.

Please continue to pray for Youth Haven as we prepare for this busy season. Thank you for your financial love gifts that make this ministry possible!

Lars Carlson Appointed President & CEO

Board of Directors

Board of Directors Appoints Lars Carlson President and CEO

The Board of Directors is excited to announce that Lars Carlson stepped into the role of President and CEO of Youth Haven on January 1, 2016.

“I’m so excited about the new transition we’re having at Youth Haven, with Larry and Lars Carlson,” says Board member Ron Soule. “Larry’s been in a leadership role since the beginning of Youth Haven in 1968, so for the last 47 years he’s been a great servant leader of this organization. We’re excited that Larry is going to be passing the baton of leadership, that Lars is going to become the new President & CEO, and we’re looking forward to all that the Lord can do in this ministry.”

In Larry’s own words: “I feel blessed that the Board of Directors voted unanimously to elect Lars, my son, as President. My wife Cheri and I are proud of Lars and his spiritual heart and his vision for the future of Youth Haven. Lars will be the third generation to be President of Youth Haven.” Larry will continue to be involved at Youth Haven and remains Chairman of the Board.

As the son of Co-Founders Larry and Cheri Carlson and grandson of Founders Morry and Dorothy Carlson, Lars grew up on the Michigan campus and has been involved in the Youth Haven programs his entire life. Feeling God’s calling on their lives, and with a renewed passion for sharing the love of Christ with disadvantaged children, he and his wife Amy joined the staff full-time in 1997. He has served as Executive Director for the past several years.

Lars holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from Liberty University and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Michigan State University. He is well prepared to lead the ministry and committed to seeking and following God’s guidance.

“I’m very excited to see where God is leading Youth Haven and how He will use me to build on the strong foundation laid before me to ultimately reach more children for Christ,” Lars says. “Youth Haven is needed more today than ever, and I’m humbled and excited to be able to lead this great work – to take as many children to Heaven with us as we can!”

As articulated by Board member Lane Anderson, “What a privilege to find myself at a time and place where now we’re seeing the third generation, Lars Carlson, coming into leadership… I couldn’t be more thrilled as a Board member and as one of the people who get to help guide this ministry towards the future to recommend before you Lars Carlson as our next President. We ask you to pray with us for all the decisions and all of the directions that we wish to go in the future. We want God’s permission, and His direction, and His wisdom.”


We would like to extend our congratulations to two long-time staff members who have recently retired.

Louise TrippLouise Tripp joined the Youth Haven team in 1996 and was an integral part of our office staff for nearly 20 years, helping to coordinate special events and serving as Assistant to the President, Larry Carlson. She also enjoyed doing special things for the children through the years – preparing snacks, helping to coordinate Christmas dinners, even hosting a princess tea party for the girls. Many of you came to know and love Louise as she greeted you and spent time with you at our events. After many years of faithful service, Louise has decided to retire so she can spend more time with her family, especially her grandchildren.

Nancy TrammellNancy Trammell is also retiring after 25 years of serving the Lord faithfully at Youth Haven. In fact, Nancy’s first experience as part of the Youth Haven staff was more than 30 years ago, when she served as a team leader in the children’s program. For the past 25 years, she has been our Children’s Scheduling Coordinator and has built relationships with parents, agency representatives, and the children themselves during the scheduling and registration process. She has also poured her heart into packing the bags of toys for the children each Christmas. And if you’ve ever called our office, chances are you’ve heard Nancy’s gentle voice on our end of the line.

We will miss Louise and Nancy a great deal, but we wish them both the very best as they retire to spend more time with family. We pray God’s blessings for them in the days ahead!