Nevada County Christian Youth Organization travels to Peru for two weeks |

Nevada County Christian Youth Organization travels to Peru for two weeks

Kate Arenchild blows up balloons with the children.
Submitted photo |

Approximately 60 Nevada County members of Campus Life just returned from a two-week-long journey in Peru.

The group spent most of its time working and ministering with an orphanage, as well as participating in a trek to Machu Picchu.

While in Peru, many of the Campus Life kids taught English and did arts and crafts with the children from the orphanage. The group also ran a church service for the community, a small town two hours outside of Cusco.

“When you’d walk into the room, they’d run to you,” said Campus Life member Gracie Christal. “Being able to teach and help kids was amazing. It was very eye-opening to realize how much we have compared to other places.”

Campus Life is a Christian leadership organization that has been serving and supporting the youth of Nevada County for more than 30 years. The Christian outreach program serves all high schools in the county, mainly working with Nevada Union and Bear River.

Campus Life started the Peru planning process over a year and a half ago, hosting fundraisers as well as receiving private donations in order to fund the trip.

“We wanted the trip to be part mission and part adventure,” said co-director Scott Mills.

“When you do mission work, it’s different than just being a tourist, you get really immersed in the culture, and immersion into culture is something that affects a person the most,” Mills said.

The group definitely hit the adventure portion of the trip with the trek to Machu Picchu. They hiked 43 miles up to a 15,250-foot pass, an elevation higher than any pass in the United States.

Almost half of the group got sick over the course of the two weeks as well. Many people were sick during the days of hiking, which was quite challenging, according to Mills.

“They really had to push through,” he said. “They learned they were capable of doing a lot more than they thought they could.”

“I think I learned most on this trip that even when you’re at the end of your rope, mentally, emotionally, physically … you can still always do more,” said Campus Life member Jeff Cook.

The group arrived back home Monday night, after over 30 hours of traveling.

“It was so fun,” said Kate Arenchild. “It was challenging at times, but we learned a lot of life lessons. This trip definitely strengthened our character.”

“Getting the group home safe was a highlight,” Mills laughed, before adding, “I think everybody came back with huge appreciation for how blessed we are in so many ways.”

Campus Life frequently puts on groups trips such as hiking or backpacking excursions, but this is the first time they have ever done anything on this scale, Mills said. No trips have ever taken place out of the country or even out of the state.

Among the group was Connor Sanders, who was in The Union a year ago after severely injuring himself from falling off a cliff.

“It was challenging, but in the best way,” Sanders said. “A year ago, doctors told me I wouldn’t be hiking or running anything or anywhere. I was very stubborn, but also very blessed with my healing. I worked really hard physically to get to where I needed to be when the trek finally happened.

“I still had little pains and aches, but those just pushed me to work harder … When we got up to the pass, there was something inside me that just wanted to scream or yell out of wonderment and excitement. It was truly liberating.”

“I’m really proud of the group,” said Mills. “There was no complaining and everyone got along great. It was really neat to see the bond that was created with everyone. Lifelong relationships were developed on this trip.”

Maya Anderman is an intern with The Union. Contact her via email at

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