Summer of 96
Having just completed my sophomore year at Baylor at the beginning of the summer of 1996, I walked into the canyon of Laity Lodge Youth Camp for the very first time, not knowing a single soul—only remembering the name of my friend’s co-counselor from the summer before that was supposed to be back this summer:
“Tye Hunter Justice.”
I walked across the field up to the steps outside of the lunch hall where other counselors were congregating, trying to not appear as out of place as I felt inside, and said “Is Tye Justice here yet?” He overhears from where he’s playing on the volleyball courts, and over walks this tall, really cute guy with a great East Texas accent to introduce himself “Yep, I’m Tye Justice.” …19 years later, he still puts a huge smile on my face.
We instantaneously became best friends during that first week of counselor training, staying up late talking on the bench that overlooks the volleyball courts and baseball fields, where the Texas flag whips in the wind atop the pole nearby. He had the awesome and exhausting job that summer as the work crew boss, driving his favorite truck to this day: a white ‘96 ford f-250 extended cab—loaded full of eager 16 year old young men, filthy from dangerous trash runs up the steep hill and unloading HEB grocery trucks to the kitchen storage, and assembling whatever daily events Chandler Pruitt and Doug Burns had planned for all of our precious campers.
In between facilitating the repelling course, I would beg Mellissa McBride, my co-counselor in Cabin A, to cover for me, so I could get in a quick passing of a note here and there throughout the day (clearly, this is B.C.: Before Cell phones with texting). A few weeks later on a day off, Tye drove us to Lost Maples State Park to hike around – and where he smooched me for the first time standing among all the towering trees and stillness of the beautiful Hill Country. And I knew then, already- without a doubt, that I would spend the rest of my life with Tye Hunter Justice. No wonder we still feel most at home in the Hill Country, and we jump at any chance to drive down CR 337 or take a walk down a Texas country dirt road.
I can still visualize Tye, sitting in a white plastic chair playing with Chandler’s son, Marshall (thinking what a great dad he would be someday) just outside the singing crowd of the pavilion in the evenings under the huge, star-filled Texas night sky. I can even hear all the sweet voices raising up this song to our Savior: “Light the fire, light the fire, in my soul. Fan the flame, fan the flame, make my spirit whole. Lord, you know where I’ve been, so light the fire in my heart again.”
That summer, we exchanged “I love you’s” for the first time at the River Walk in San Antonio on a day off, after completing the all-important task of doing laundry – with a stack of quarters.
And 19 years later, with a 12 year old daughter, Claire, and a 10 year old son, Blake, we still have piles of laundry. We never have change, but we have love stacked higher than we can measure – for each other, for our Good Shepherd, and for the incredible place that brought us together in a covenant with our gracious Lord. We are just totally jealous that another couple that met that same summer (Cary and Jenny Hendricks) get to LIVE there and serve as Directors! We can’t wait to introduce our kids to LLYC this summer at Family Camp!