I used to babysit Bill Woolsey when he was a young lad. What a stand-up guy! Even as a middle-schooler, you could tell there was something special about this fella. Plus, we were both obsessed with camp, so that sealed the bond between us!
Fast-forward 15 years and I run into Bill and his (gulp) wife at a Laity Lodge retreat. I got to share a meal with this sweet couple and it wasn’t long before I saw why Bill Woolsey fell for this blonde sweetheart who has her own camp story.
How many summers did you spend in the Canyon, Sarah?
I was a camper for 5 summers at Echo Valley starting in 6th grade (from 1998 to 2002). Then I was on work crew (’03), a counselor at Echo (04’ and 06’), Work Crew boss (07’) and Sugar Shack Boss the summer of ’08 right after Bill and I got married, so our first few months of marriage were at camp.
What are you up to these days?
God has been so good and so faithful. I am in one of the most fun seasons of life that I can remember. Bill and I live in San Antonio. He is in law school and I work for a branding and marketing firm called Toolbox Studios. For work, I get to help companies tell their stories through design and the words that they use. We have an amazing community of friends that we do life alongside who challenge me, encourage me, and are just a joy to be around – It is one of the best examples I have ever experienced of how God intends us to spur one another on continuously (and they are just fun).
Do you have a favorite camp memory?
Oh my, I am lousy at the ‘favorites’ question; I think because every season and experience is so different. When I think about my experiences with camp, I constantly come back to how God has used it so consistently throughout my life. He has used the beauty and peace of physically being in the Canyon, but when it comes down to it – to me ‘Laity’ and ‘camp’ are about how God has used the community of people to reveal more about his character to me – and this has transcended beyond LLYC to the Foundation as a whole. My first summer as an LLYC camper, I experienced my first friendships where I felt like I came alive through both having fun and talking about my relationship with God in the everyday. They lived hundreds of miles away from me throughout the year, but were my closest friendships. When I was a cabin G camper, my sister was my counselor and that took our relationship to a whole new level of truly encouraging one another in Christ which is still one of the most special relationships in my life. When Bill and I were coming out of a really difficult season of transition, he was offered the opportunity to work on the maintenance team and we lived at Far Horizons for a few months while God really restored both of us. The first 2 years we lived in San Antonio, Bill helped with adventure rec for family camp on the weekends of retreats, so we stayed connected and got to see what God was doing in the lives of families through that ministry. During this season we also got to help lead retreats through the free camps and see kids lives changed through opportunities they would not have normally had. This July we attended the Food Retreat at Laity Lodge and were blessed by the music, fellowship and intentionality to see yet another way that God is at work in the Canyon. And even now, the community that the Lord has placed us with in San Antonio is full of ‘Laity Lodgers’ some who we knew previously and some who we didn’t, but we have a connection with that is an underlying current of our daily community. So ‘camp’ to me encompasses to many ways I have experienced God through Laity over the years.
What do you miss most about your summers at camp?
Taking a moment at a still place in the Canyon, whether at Antenna or sitting down by the river, when all of camp is gathered in the pavilion or elsewhere – and from a distance being able to hear crazy, loud chants or voices singing. For me, that was always a moment of utter peace. To be alone with the Lord, yet in the same moment to hear the action from a distance and know that through those activities and relationships, God’s character was being revealed. I was always overwhelmed by the Lord’s love and knowing without a doubt that He is at work through all of it – the river and the Canyon walls, the crazy, ridiculous games and skits, the intentionality of the staff – it was a glimpse into so many different aspects of who He is all at once.
How does LLYC still impact your life today?
Relationships. There are so many people who I share a connection with through Laity that have become or are still a part of my life today. The high school girls who I lead small groups for in San Antonio who are campers now at LLYC and I can share experiences with them. Friends who were campers/on staff with who are still some of my closest friends. The fact that my sister-in-law was on my Work Crew when she was in high school. My boss as well as a new co-worker (as of today) who both have their own histories with Laity. I can truly say that I am still almost daily seeing the ways that God is using the programs of the Foundation as both a physical place and as a community to build and strengthen His Kingdom.