I have known Meredith Woolsey since she was a wee Elementary gal, fresh off her first summer in the Canyon as a Singing Hills camper. I had the privilege of babysitting her a few times, even overnight. Along with her brother Bill, we were a traveling circus. We played frisbee golf, ate at Chili’s, made it to school on time, and blared the original LLYC worship CD, singing, “I’ve got the Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy, JOY!!!!!!!!!!!!!” with my windows rolled down. Ah, Corpus in 2000! What rounds out the specialness of our relationship is the fact that Meredith was our family’s counselor our first summer at Laity Lodge Family Camp. How lovely that the girl I once cared for was now caring for us. Meredith Woolsey is a jewel. If you have socks on, they will be knocked off during this interview.
How many summers did you spend in the Canyon?
In total, I spent 15 summers in the Canyon. Nine as a camper, one on crew, four as a counselor at Echo Valley, and one as a Girls Director at Echo Valley. Those are such treasured summers to me!
What are you up to these days?
I live in San Antonio, and I’m getting my Master’s in clinical mental health counseling. I think a lot of what I love about counseling as a profession was sparked during my time as a counselor at LLYC.
This takes up a lot of my time, but I also really, really love San Antonio. When I’m not at work or in class, I am typically scheming up a plan to get my friends together for something fun! This is definitely a busy season of life, but they are all good things, and I am so thankful!
Do you have a favorite camp memory?
How many of my old bosses are going to be reading this?? I’m kidding (mostly). You encounter the Lord in so many different ways out at camp that it’s tough to choose just one favorite memory! But, the one that sticks in my mind most vividly is from the summer of 2010. I was a Cabin I counselor that summer. My co-counselors and I took our girls up to Echo Bluff to learn the infamous “Hitzoo” cheer. We were up there whispering (and by that, I mean making more noise than Chandler makes when he snores…) and throughout our time up there, we watched the storm clouds rolling in. As we stood there in a circle continuously sounding off that traditional gibberish cheer, gusts of wind were whipping up all around us—the lightning in the distance lighting up the Canyon wall for us to see every few minutes. That alone was a really cool thing to watch—the simultaneous acts of a cabin bonding together over a longstanding camp tradition, and the promise of refreshing rain headed our way. The rain held off just long enough for us to finish teaching Hitzoo. As we made it back into Echo, the first drop of rain hit. And then another drop. And then the skies opened up, and before I knew it, the entirety of girls’ side was in the infield dancing and singing praise. I remember this so richly, seeing a huge group of girls, all different ages, all different backgrounds, feeling free enough and accepted enough to lose all inhibitions, and dance like crazy in the pouring rain. I’m telling you, there’s something about dancing in the rain in the middle of the night that is good for the soul!
What do you miss most about your summers at camp?
Oh, there is so much that I miss! I miss the stillness. It seems weird to juxtapose the crazy screaming and dancing that I just described above, to the stillness that I miss about the Canyon. But there is an inescapable peace within the Canyon walls that creates an environment where you can tangibly feel the Lord’s presence. You might have to sacrifice sleep to get it, but there’s something about the river at 7:00 a.m., perfectly untouched, that cannot be matched. The freedom of no cell phone service. The joy of being completely disconnected from anything beyond the Frio River. Have you ever been the last one to rappel down from battleship? Incomparable. I miss that!
How does LLYC still impact your life today?
Virtually everything I know about living in community I learned from my time at LLYC. The nature of camp creates an environment that is conducive to knowing people well. Early on, that set an expectation in my life for the way that I view relationships with others. LLYC fostered my concept of knowing others well and, in return, being known. I would also say about 70% of my close friends are camp friends. My dad grew up going to camp, and my siblings and I all went there as well. Camp has always felt like a family tradition for me, and I find myself reminiscing on those summers so frequently!