Bright yellow and orange flowers lined Highway 83 as former LLYC-ers entered The Canyon for Alumni Work Weekend. We all gathered for dinner at the Echo Valley Ranch House, exchanging stories of which years and positions we’d all spent in this special place. A light rain later lulled us to sleep, before we rose to face a full day of gritty service prepping a dusty camp for the staffers and campers who will soon be flooding into our beloved H.E. Butt Foundation Camp.
Nothing will bring you back to your Work Crew days quite like bouncing around in a camp vehicle, finagling mops and mop buckets, and that first deep inhale of Pine Sol. And you are officially in the groove once you’ve logged an hour working Hobart. Music blared in the SH and EV kitchens as gals who’d once served countless hours in those very kitchens back in their teens and early 20’s scrubbed and alongside bright-eyed newbies. Men who’d once logged endless hours day and night on Program Crew worked alongside other men who’d married into the LLYC family fold. Together they prepped the waterfronts, which are now packed with entertainment we never had in the old days. The docks are still there of course, but LLYC’s forms of fun have evolved.
At the end of the day, we all cooled off in the river after putting in a hard day’s work, then gathered once again for dinner. The ropes course cool kids studied up on mountaineering protocol over piping hot plates of food while the new Central Staffers took a break, catching a few breaths before the rest of the staff arrives next week. Babies bounced on laps, toddlers made messes as harried parents grabbed refills, while other alum’s teenage children stepping in as surrogate big siblings. A bridge was built over this special weekend, connecting 80’s staffers, their now adult children (who have also joined the LLYC Alumni ranks), 90’s and 2000’s folks, current campers and alum’s kids who have yet to age into youth camp.
Saturday night’s Round Up felt like home. Games were played and classic songs sung. Russell Tabor’s voice graced all of Echo Valley as he led us in worship to songs we know and love. Exhausted after a long day, a huge thunderstorm isolated families to their cabins. From their back porches, they witnessed one of the greatest lightening show some had ever seen. There really is nothing quite like a huge storm at camp and what a reminder of the majesty of this place we all love!
“It was a source of real encouragement to have so many willing hands offered in service to camp as the summer began! Our staff was invigorated by the presence of other folks who “get” why camp matters and who still think of it as their second home. Personally, I was humbled by the realization that we are all inheritors of a tradition of love for The Canyon and for the mission of LLYC. What a gift at the beginning of a long, wild, exhausting, exhilarating, and wonderful summer!”
-Wylie Shellhouse, H. E. Butt Foundation Food Services
“One of the best things about the weekend was LLYC Alums and current LLYC staffers getting to work alongside each other on projects. It is great for our staff to hear the funny stories of the past and the rich history of LLYC from our Alumni. Likewise, it is good for the Alumni to connect with present day LLYC. It was a GREAT weekend!”
-Beck Marlar, Singing Hills Director
“I love the idea of us preparing the canyon for the hundreds of campers who will stay here this summer. So much goes into the finished product of LLYC – hundreds of hours of work to set up camp for these kids to come have an experience with God.”
-Danielle Lochte, LLYC Alum
We rounded out the weekend at Echo Sunday morning helping Sugar Shack get organized. Rain drops fell as we were sent home back down the same road lined with bright yellow flowers that had welcomed us only two days prior. But we left different. Because you are changed when you sweat and work alongside another, then break bread and later worship together at the end of the day. Sure, it’s different now because we don’t have all the time in the world to chat with our pals; we are nursing babies, chasing toddlers, correcting teenagers or fretting about how we will pay for college. But we are all here. Something draws us back again and again. Because at the end of the day, its good to be in the LLYC family.