How many summers did you spend in the Canyon?
We never really called it “The Canyon” back in the ‘80s, but I’m slowly getting used to that. I spent 13 summers in a row at LLYC, from 1980 to 1992. I started out as a camper at Singing Hills and my last year as a camper at Echo Valley was in 1985. I was a camper in Cabin 4 for 3 years in a row since I was so mature. I did Echo Valley Workcrew in 1986, was a CIT in 1987, Junior Counselor in 1988, then a Sr. Counselor 1989 – 1992, all at Echo Valley.
Workcrew 1986 (David Horridge, David Stone, and me sharing a chair)
What are you up to these days?
Since you last saw me as a counselor in Cabin 4, I graduated UT Austin with degree in Advertising back in 1992. I then started working at Dell in 1993. I married Emily Matthews from San Angelo in 1997. We had a son, Davis, in 1999, then a daughter, Mary, in 2002. Not too much has changed since getting married. My main hobbies include staying healthy and researching all the ways to save money and get college scholarships for my son. I’m still a big music fan and try to play my guitar. But the question, “Dad, will you please play your guitar for us?” has never been asked in our house, unless it was sarcastic. My kids have been LLYC campers since 2009, and this summer will be Mary’s 10th as a camper. My life revolves around my kids right now and watching all the cool stuff they’re doing – high school football, baseball, cheerleading, and dance. They’re so much cooler than I ever was, so I’m totally living vicariously.
Do you have a favorite camp memory?
During my staff summers, I remember how giddy I was driving out there by myself for Work Week to start the summer at the end of May. I had my Honda completely and unsafely packed, with my stereo, turntable, and way-too-big speakers taking up the entire driver’s side and back seats. I just had such a sense of joy and anticipation as I drove, rocking out to some homemade REM and Springsteen cassettes. Then arriving at the Ranch House to see and be made fun of by my best friends. We had a good time during those work weeks. Then the campers arrived.
But I do have some great memories as an actual counselor, too. We had a particularly successful sneak out with my Cabin 4 campers in 1991. We were able to release an armadillo, 3 trash-bags-full of daddy longlegs, and a large snapping turtle into Cabin J one night. No animals were harmed. Bush Patrol was not on their game that night as I think Singing Hills must’ve heard all the ruckus. I also have great memories doing recurring random Round Up skits with the Conquistadors, Russell and the Speaking Mimes, and Todd and the Performing Shy Guys (WE thought we were funny, at least).
Also, just watching a cabin full of all different kinds of kids slowly come out of their shells, come together and become close was always rewarding to watch. I think we all did a decent good job of nipping any bullying in the bud, forming close bonds, and showing the kids a good time. My campers kept coming back every summer, so I took that as a good sign. I’m happy to say I’m still good friends with many of them today.
What do you miss most about your summers at camp?
At camp, I could put my worries on hold for the summer and feel part of something great. I miss being surrounded by such great people every day for 3 months a year. I miss laughing out loud on a regular basis. I miss watching movies on the tennis court. I miss care package food. I miss the sound of 19 box fans and the last two songs on Springsteen’s “The River” lulling me to sleep every night. I kind of miss rescuing the docks from floating down the river during raging thunderstorms at 3 AM. I miss lots of stuff, but don’t want to list them all or I’ll get depressed.
With Clint Lively, Kevin Ormand, Wade Sale, and Matt Self
How does LLYC still impact your life today?
Camp is still huge part of my life. My daughter is still a camper and we all go to Family Camp every October with other ‘80s LLYC Alums. We moved around a lot when I was a kid, so I never formed really close bonds with school friends. I probably looked forward to camp more than most campers because of that. My camp friends became my pen pals, roommates, groomsmen, and best friends. We’re all still really close and can pick up where we left off any time. The Austin ‘80s Aumni group does a great job of getting together on a regular basis. Now most of us have kids that are LLYC Campers or Alums, which blows my mind. In summary, LLYC has been really good to me and I can’t imagine life without it. I’d give it at least 4.8 stars (out of 5). I’d say air conditioning, memory foam mattresses, regular maid service, and Pebble Beach being an actual beach would’ve really topped it off for me.
Portland, Maine last summer with Emily