Emma Thompson: Counselor Extraordinaire

Nothing quite sums up Emma Thompson’s camp experience like summer of her eighth grade year.

After a full experience at LLYC—it was her third summer in the Canyon—Emma headed to College Station for an intense soccer camp in the soupy summer Texas heat.

Who else showed up just to watch her play? Her LLYC counselor, Katie Lawless (Anderson). 

As much as Emma loved camp already, she was surprised by her counselor’s dedication beyond the Canyon, and she wondered, What motivates someone to give so selflessly?

Emma continued to have amazing counselors. She was with Katie in cabin B, E, and I. She was on work crew when Katie was girl’s director at Echo Valley. She also got to know Brigette Moore (formerly McCann), who had been her Cabin I counselor.

Katie and Brigette taught Emma that life with God was a wild adventure. They lived out of freedom, gracing camp with their boundless joy and laughter. And their faith was contagious! Emma wanted what they had, though she didn’t quite know what it was. Today she realizes their freedom was grounded in their personal relationships with Christ.

They knew God loved them, quirks and all.

Emma was hooked. After work crew, she returned as an Echo Valley counselor in Cabin G, with campers like Molly Barnby, Mollie Pruitt, and Emily Moravits, counseling girls through life’s challenges and pointing them to Christ. God was igniting something in Emma’s heart.

During this time, she began learning from Hilary Monford as well, discovering the importance of  mental health. Hilary, a licensed clinical social worker, still trains LLYC staff to respond when campers need help and to de-stigmatize mental health problems for campers and counselors alike. 

Throughout college, Emma spent more time with LLYC Director Karla Heath and former LLYC Director Angela Briaud. Both of these strong women were important female role models, serving as sounding boards and providing wisdom for camping ministry and life in general. 

“They knew God loved them, quirks and all.”

Gradually, Emma herself became one of the role models. She and Jenna Shoemake were Assistant Girls Directors together in 2016 and began mentoring the next generation of counselors like Katie and Brigette had done for them.

Although she couldn’t be a LLYC counselor forever, Emma continued to develop her counseling skills at UT Austin where she was part of the Dripping Springs High School Young Life team. Finally a master’s in social work from UNC-Chapel Hill has allowed her to mentor others in a new capacity, counseling high school students as a student wellness counselor at Incarnate Word Academy in Houston, Texas.

Today, Emma is starting her first year at Sharpstown High School as a student support manager in Houston ISD. Her new school sits in the middle of a zip code where 32% of the neighbors are in poverty and 30% have never graduated from high school; 94% of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch.

Emma chose the job to serve these people. 

LLYC helped her find a heart for all students, and today she is working especially hard to help every student in Sharpstown graduate with a high school degree. Emma knows that her faith matters, and she wants to help transform her little corner of the world—just like LLYC staff and counselors she looked up to as a young woman.