One thing an examination of the literature on youth work makes clear is a lack of clarity on youth work’s purpose. This study investigated the value of using the concept of telos as an analytical tool to orient youth work towards the right ends. Relevant literature was systematically reviewed. The value of telos in understanding youth work was examined. Common aims of youth work were described. The merits of different goals were assessed to figure out which, if any, is youth work’s proper purpose. A telos would provide youth work a clear and cohesive definition, act as a useful guide for good practice, and distinguish youth work from other interventions into young people’s lives. The case was made for the telos of youth work to be ‘enabling young people to live the good life’.