Photo By Mike Terry, Deseret Morning News
LAYTON Jesus Field the very name grabs your attention.
And if you're trying to appeal to teens, an attention-grabbing name is a good place to start.
Located at 955 W. 1000 North (Gordon Avenue) in Layton, Jesus Field is a nondenominational, nonprofit Christian youth center that focuses on teenagers from any religious or economic background.
It seeks to provide direct functions, positive influences, community involvement and safe activities for teens.
From the road, Jesus Field appears to be nothing out of the ordinary, just a house with a deep back yard and some storage buildings. However, in late afternoon on Wednesdays and Thursdays, the facility attracts many skateboarding or sports-loving teens.
Marc Trujillo and his wife, Julie, started the youth center in December 2000 behind their home.
"We felt we were living all about ourselves," he said, a typical "who has the most toys wins" kind of family.
Then, they started going to church and felt they needed to help others.
"We took our piece of land (about an acre) and dedicated it to Christ," Trujillo, 39, said. "It really became Jesus' Field."
As word of their prospective youth center spread, donations started coming in. They got some asphalt, cement, sand and other building materials donated. Layton city helped with restrooms.
"It's amazing," Trujillo said of the feeling he gets helping youths. "I love these kids. ... It's a pretty cool place."
Jesus Field currently has between 75 and 100 kids, mostly between the ages of 12 and 18, involved. The majority are from Layton, but some come from as far away as Farmington and Roy.
During a visit this week, there were more than two dozen teens there, including eight girls, shortly after 5 p.m.
"It's a nice skate park," said Tristen Cooper, a teen from Layton. "Unlike a lot of others, it's not crowded."
He also said his parents think it is a suitable place for him to be, especially with the Christian accent.
"It's a great place," said Chris Cash, another Layton teen. "It keeps us out of trouble."
He's not bothered by the religious accent at the center, either.
"We have the choice to stay or leave before the prayer," he said.
Fun is the most obvious thing at Jesus Field each Wednesday and Thursday. However, at 7 p.m. there is a nondenominational message given.
"The kids don't have to stay," Trujillo said. "When I talk, it's Christ-centered."
All religious talk and discussion is Bible-based, and Trujillo said he stays away from tenets particular to any one church. "We try to stay solid on basic Bible stuff. ... We always end in prayer."
There's a wooden cross on the wall inside the indoor skating building, a reference to Jesus Field on a rear gate and another embedded in the cement.
Jesus Field is located almost directly behind the Deseret Industries building in Layton. An adjacent horse pasture to the east adds a rural flavor to the back-yard skating and basketball area.
Trujillo believes the religious backgrounds of the kids who come there is diverse. "They all get along so well."
The pitfalls of drugs and sex also are discussed at Jesus Field. Occasionally, kids under 12 or as young as 6 are dropped off with older siblings. Trujillo strives to take care of them, too, though they are too young for many of the teenage discussions.
A self-employed handyman, Trujillo said Jesus Field is all-volunteer. It's a nonprofit center that also does background checks on all of its adult volunteers. He likes to keep the adult-to-kid supervision ratio at about one-to-six.
In addition to offering many facilities in its back yard, Jesus Field also sponsors low-cost teen activities throughout the year. Some of these are overnight and out-of-state outings, but the organization tries to keep the costs as low as possible. Snowboarding or skiing, concerts, youth conferences, camping, canoeing, zip-line, rock climbing, hiking, movie nights and skateboarding competitions are among its sponsored activities.
"If a kid really wants to go on a trip and can't afford it, we will try to find them a sponsor, or we will help cover the cost." Trujillo said.
Jesus Field will put together almost any kind of activity the kids ask for, as long as the organization has the resources and access to do so.
There are few other organizations within the area with the exception of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that offer similar programs or services.
Some of the kids who use Jesus Field come from single-parent homes or from homes that are not financially secure.
"We really focus on catching the at-risk youth who slip through the cracks in other systems," Trujillo said.
Jesus Field also offers tutoring and moral and life-building talks."We just try to give kids a safe environment," Trujillo said.