By Lily Smith | EchoEvery Wednesday night at 5:55, Taylor students file out of the Hodson Dining Commons wearing neon blue and orange shirts, each student proudly displaying the Basics logo. The students all hop into their individual cars or into vans and drive over to Upland Community Church (UCC).
These students serve the Upland community through UCC's Wednesday night youth ministry, Basics. Basics is a program for 3rd-6th graders that reaches out into the Upland and Grant County community to provide a safe, fun space for children to hang out and learn more about God. There are roughly 100 kids who attend Basics every Wednesday night.
There is also a counterpart program for younger children called Basics Jr., which provides an opportunity for younger children to begin learning about Christ and the Gospel.
"We're trying to make Basics that first place where these kids hear about God consistently and then we're encouraging them to go to church and get their parents involved," Katelyn Rodman, director of Basics at UCC, said.
Rodman grew up in the program, attending as a child and serving during her junior high, high school and college years. After moving away from Upland for a few years, she returned and reunited with the Basics program.
"Basics is a local program. It focuses on Bible memorization and Bible study. It's a unique program because it is both discipleship driven and evangelistically driven."
Basics is comparable to Awana, a national program that has many similarities to UCC's local ministry. Something that makes Basics stand out from many other programs is its involvement from college students.
"The elementary kids love the Taylor students," Rodman said. "They love dodgeball, they love the games, but they really love the relationships of the college students."
Taylor students have been involved with Basics since the program's formation nearly 25 years ago. Rodman commented on how the students are the driving force behind Basics and provide the manpower for the program to run as smoothly and as successfully as it does.
Junior Jess Edwards has been involved with the Basics program since her freshman year and has been with the same small group all three years. One of her favorite parts of Basics is being able to see how her small group has grown and changed through the years.
"As I have grown, so have they," Edwards said. "They were in 3rd grade, and now they're in 5th grade. We were freshmen, and now we're juniors. And they've grown so much, not only in getting taller, but they also know so much and have retained so much and they surprise me all the time."
Many other students at Taylor have found Basics to be a place where they can emerge from the Taylor community and engage with the Upland community in an impactful way. If students are looking to get involved with a ministry in Upland, the Red Barn Youth Center, ReaLife and U-Turn also offer great opportunities for students to make real change.