GOTHA On Friday mornings, a number of Orange County students jump out of bed a little earlier, motivated by a special breakfast treat. They can almost smell the crunchy cinnamon topping on the famous Kanakuk Kamps coffee cake as they make their way to a house in Gotha for a quick stop before heading to school.
But they aren’t just excited about the food. When they walk through the doors of that house, they will be surrounded by some of their closest friends and valuable mentors who have all become a second family to them. It’s just the boost they need to push through the last day of the week.
K-Life Orlando resides in that house. The Christian student ministry started at Kanakuk Kamps, a summer sports camp in Missouri, and chapters have branched out throughout the country. K-Life Orlando staff aim to recreate the fun, positive culture of Kanakuk Kamps here in Florida, and Friday coffee cake is one of the ways they do that.
Students in fourth through 12th grades get involved with K-Life for its worship nights, small group Bible studies and fun events. But they stay for the mentoring and discipleship that are at the heart of every gathering.
“We’re here to pour into someone on an individual, small-group basis and really bolster them,” staff member Kate Devine said. “We say kids spell ‘love’ T-I-M-E.”
Compared with other chapters, K-Life Orlando is unique because it has the opportunity to reach so many different schools — many with large student populations — within one community.
K-Life Orlando board member Renee Taubensee’s three sons have all grown up with K-Life. Her oldest son started when he was in sixth grade and continued through high school.
“Every boy in his small group — and there were about a dozen — went to a different school, went to a different church if they went to church at all,” Taubensee said. “They were sitting down every week saying, ‘Wait — you go through that? I go through that, too.’”
K-Life Orlando has a staff of three Kanakuk alumni who live at the house or on the same property, so students always have a safe place to go. But volunteers are necessary to keep the ministry running. Many are college students and young adults.
K-Life leaders visit students at their schools for tutoring and social visits. It’s a great way for them to check in with the students during the week and become familiar with the school environment the students face every day, Taubensee said. But it also allows the leaders to reach out to their students’ friends.
“Those kids may never come to a small group, but (the leaders) get to impact them because they get to meet the kids where they’re at,” Taubensee said.
Events are open to the community. As details are confirmed, registration and more information will be available at orlando.klife.com.
Great Pumpkin Chase
WHEN: Saturday, Oct. 31
DETAILS: Students will search for their leaders dressed in certain costumes, including the Great Pumpkin, in a competitive scavenger hunt across West Orange County.
WHEN: Saturday, Nov. 7
DETAILS: A monthly opportunity for K-Life students and their families to serve their community. Past sites have included Matthew’s Hope, Second Harvest Food Bank, Orlando Union Rescue Mission and other organizations.
WHEN: Saturday, Nov. 14
DETAILS: K-Life’s annual fundraising event will include auctions, dinner and a message from Brady White, a pastor at Mosaic Church, about the long-term effects of mentorship in a child’s life.
Contact Catherine Sinclair Kerr at [email protected].