She is the kind, calm voice on the other end of the line when you phone the LLYC offices. She is the first face you see upon entering the LLYC building and the friendly, reassuring mom handing out camp folders at Singing Hills on Opening Day. She is none other than Gena Edwards, whom Senior Director Chandler Pruitt describes as “the glue” that holds the LLYC team together.
Since 1998, Gena has served a collective 10+ years on the LLYC team—during three different “tours of duty,” as she jokingly says. Between tours, she relocated to Houston and North Carolina, but she says with certainty that “divine intervention brought me back to Youth Camp three different times in the same role over the course of 20 years.”
Her job title has changed over those years of service—first it was LLYC secretary, then LLYC Administrative Assistant, and now, most fitting, LLYC Office Coordinator. Chandler emphasizes that “Gena is always the same: willing and able. She is the ultimate servant with a splash of sass that fits perfectly on our team.”
Mary Jane Scott, Gena’s friend and longtime team member of the Foundation Accounting Department, calls Gena “the balloon holder”—with the directors being the balloons. She holds them all together, helps them think through the details and execute their grand and exciting plans.
LLYC Director, Tom Bowyer, wholeheartedly agrees. Whether it’s a Central Staff Retreat, recruiting event, travel arrangements, or the new Circuitree software, “Gena takes care of so many details that we take for granted.” He elaborates, “It’s not seldom that someone on our team will mention something pressing on the LLYC to-do list and the next comment will be, ‘Gena did that already.’ That phrase actually sums up Gena’s personality quite nicely. She’s always one step ahead and pretty much the office expert in everything!”
Gena’s job from season to season is expansive. During the school year, she supports the LLYC Directors with the important summer staff hiring process—filtering potential staff email and phone inquiries, collecting and organizing applications, compiling (or more accurately, tracking down) all hired staff paperwork—which is no easy task when dealing with more than 400 high school and college students. For Gena, though, this is one of the great highlights of her job. She loves engaging with the summer staff while also helping to set the tone for a great summer.
During camp, Gena and LLYC Registrar Emily McRae “hold down the fort” in the Kerrville LLYC offices, where they are quite the dynamic duo in their care and dedication to LLYC campers and their families. Together, they field every imaginable phone call and email—ranging from inquiries over lost and found items, checking on camper well-being, confirming care package delivery, and much, much more.
Gena is a compassionate, knowledgeable, problem-solving voice of assurance to camper and staff parents throughout the summer. Should someone need to reach a director or staff immediately, Gena knows how, and she is the first person on call when the directors need someone outside the Canyon to take care of anything at any hour of the day or night.
Jacqueline Brustkern, the new Singing Hills Assistant Director, says, “She really does hold our team together and keeps us on track.”
And as much as she holds them all together, Gena definitely holds her own among the LLYC team. Spend any length of time in the LLYC offices and you will notice the fun, light-hearted pranking that takes place. You might not suspect sweet Gena to be part of the shenanigans. But don’t let her demeanor fool you. (Remember the splash of sass Chandler alluded to?)
LLYC Director, Beck Marlar, says, “We had an intern (Colton Vic) who loved to hide behind corners and scare people. Gena was literally the only one in the office that could give him a taste of his own medicine by hiding and scaring him. It was hilarious on many occasions.”
Smiling sweetly, Gena replies, “The team definitely keeps me young.”
Most importantly, Gena loves her family. She is a mom and loves spending time with her 13-year-old daughter, Emilee. Her face brightens even more—if that is possible—when she talks about Emilee, who will be a freshman at Tivy High School, Gena’s old stomping grounds, this fall.
And when she walks upstairs to the Laity Lodge Family Camp offices—directly above the LLYC offices—Gena can say hi to her sister Marie who holds the same job as Gena, just with Family Camp. They love sharing creative ideas, good practices, and helpful processes that are working to help make each other’s jobs more efficient.
When asked about the very best part of her job, Gena sits back, thinks for a moment, and then replies, “Really, I just love serving the team and supporting them to do their best—seeing the team and each individual grow. Watching them settle into their own, unique niche. I love it.”
Chandler concludes, “Thank God for Gena.” Without her, things would be a whole lot different for all of us.