We met and became fast friends in the summer of 1987. Karen was on Work Crew and I was a Runner, making daily trips to Kerrville by automobile. After camp, we kept in-touch periodically by employing an ancient form of communication where we would physically write on paper and seal it in an envelope and then somebody we didn’t even know would, at a reasonable rate, deliver it wherever we asked. Although we did have phones in our homes, I wasn’t sure I was ready for that kind of commitment.

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We both went back the next summer, but I was dating somebody else, who was also at camp, and we didn’t cross paths too often since I was on the “Darkside” and she was of “The Force”. Later that year at staff reunion in Austin, we reconnected and I realized I was rather fond of that sweet girl I had [almost] passed over. Funny that.

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By the next summer we even admitted publicly that we “were.” Thinking back, I think I knew then what I know now. I also knew it would be several years before we were ready to do anything about it. That time came in 1992, after graduating from UT Austin, and before returning to camp for the last time, I asked Karen to marry me—she agreed to do so. The next Fall, I left the promised land to serve my time in Houston. Not long after we were married in 1993, we were invited, along with Bess & Clay Carsner, to enjoy a week at Laity Lodge—an effort to introduce it’s riches to the unwashed youth camp folks. Little did we know, the Lodge would become just as big a part of our lives as the youth camps had been.

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Five years later we found out we were expecting our first child. Anne Elise was born in October 1997. She was followed in 2000 by Corbin and then Mary Claire in early 2002. Shortly thereafter, we caught the first train back to Austin where we have lived since. All three of our kids have grown up in the camps. Anne Elise served on Work Crew last summer. We have been blessed throughout our lives to be involved with something with as much impact as the HE Butt Family Foundation and its programs. The youth camps, the Lodge and Family Camp, in all its previous forms have literally shaped who we are and we wouldn’t trade it for anything. The relationships we have from camp are the most valuable thing we own.

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