A long-time camper at LLYC, Jen Korbell had no idea she would be back in the Canyon twenty years later with her family of five for her husband (a pastor) to be the speaker at LLFC. It was full-circle when she saw Cary and Jenny Hendricks, who were staffers when she was a camper. We loved catching up with Jen!
How many summers did you spend in the Canyon?
My first experience in the Canyon was as a camper at Echo Valley in 1993! I attended session 2, and was there all the way through to Cabin I. Yes, I still remember the cabin numbers. Cabin I was a big deal. The oldest girls were in Cabin I and they had a special, cool chant they got to cheer, and their cabin was kind of set apart from the others. Though it was years ago, it still feels like seeing family when I run into old camp friends and counselors.
What are you up to these days?
My husband, Mark, and I live in Austin, TX with our 3 kids, Dylan (7), Jack (3) and Alli (1). Mark is a pastor at a church in SW Austin, called The Vine. Currently, I stay home with our kids. My more recent years have been both wonderful and challenging, with back to back pregnancies, two newborn stages, and now moving my baby towards toddler-hood! Marching through all those big milestones like sleeping training, potty training, solids, paci-weaning, etc. Someone once told me, “The days are long and the years are short.” That could not be truer. Next year, the bottom two will BOTH be in preschool. It’s going to be beautiful, and probably full of all those first-time bugs. Yet again, another milestone to conquer.
Do you have a favorite camp memory?
One memory?! I think I’m going to have to list a few. Painting the old truck, being thrown in the river for getting the Banana Plate or being late to meals. PRANKS!!!
Sneaking out. Bush Patrol. Worrying about my counselors while they were “talked” to after being caught by bush patrol. I actually believed they might be sent home. Redneck Sports. “Apple Core”-“Baltimore!” Round Up. The Spit Pit. The walk to Blue Hole. Driving through the river. Fun fact: driving through the river is still a favorite.
What do you miss most about your summers at camp?
At this point in my life, I’m tempted to say it’s having my meals prepared for me for 2 weeks! Aside from that luxury, when I reflect on camp and the things that I loved about camp, it comes down to the people and the culture. There was such a laid back nature to everything. There was playfulness in everything we did. I remember signing up for activities, but I really didn’t care what the activity was. We just wanted to hang out together and often times we created our own off-script adventures. No one took themselves seriously (except for ropes course and rappelling of course). For example, I took redneck sports as an activity once. We got together, we watched a garden grow, and we loved it!
I definitely attribute my dressing up and pranking days in high school and college to my time at Laity. I remember Goodwill shopping every year before camp and finding amazing treasures, many of which I still have. Some of my favorite memories from LLYC were pulling pranks on people.
I remember sneaking out one night and collecting all the tennis shoes from another cabin. Stringing the laces together and hanging them across the metal fence on the baseball field. The next day when everyone would wake up and walk to breakfast, they got to see your handy work. There was always this sense of adventure, never knowing what night your counselors would tell you that we were going to do something like that. And you also never knew if you’d wake up and something had been done to you. The counselors were amazing and genuinely seemed to like being with us. God bless them.
How does LLYC still impact your life today?
It is amazing how 8 weeks of camp can have such an impact in one’s life. Many of the relationships formed I still have today. My first time back to Laity Lodge since 1996 was a few years ago. My husband and I attended an adult retreat at Laity Lodge. It was so fun to go back as an adult. The Lodge is a gorgeous space. I love how they seek to preserve the beauty of the nature surrounding the camp. It truly was a place to retreat. There are amazing speakers, wonderful food, amazing beauty and activities, but they really create a space for you to do what uniquely restores you. Their hospitality is something to be admired. We’ve tried to commit to going to the Lodge once a year. In today’s world, it’s a beautiful thing to go into the Canyon and have no cell phone service. I LOVE it. Last year my husband was asked to speak out at the LLFC, and that has been such a blessing to our family. There is nothing sweeter than to get to enjoy Laity as a family and see my husband and kids enjoy the place that has been so influential in my life.