Sloan Bonfield Baker is a third-generation Laity Lodger, and she is about to introduce a fourth generation to the joy of LLYC.
Her grandmother, Sandra Freeze Hulse, was great friends with Bill and Betty Ann Cody and also one of the first to visit Laity Lodge soon after it was established in 1961. Recently, one of her tapestries was part of an exhibit at the Cody Center. Fun fact: Sandra and her daughter Liz have both been Guest Artists at the Lodge.
Sandra’s children, including Liz, were campers in the early years of LLYC, going on to serve on work and program crew and as cooks and counselors. “Camp was a little wilder back in the 70’s, when my mom (Liz Gunter) and uncle were there,” Sloan told LLYC. During those years, it was common for staff to spend their days off going to Mexico.
Liz would go on to send her daughter Sloan to LLYC, where she would make lifelong friendships and meet the man who would become her husband. Sloan says of her time at camp in the 80s and 90s, “For me, LLYC was a safe haven and a place that my relationship with God became my own. It was also the place for me that linked the beauty of creation with the beauty and love of our Creator. It was a place where every person from all walks of life were accepted, a piece of a larger family; the body of Christ where each unique part is equally as important. And I got to see, through the leadership of the amazing staff, that being a follower of Christ was fun!”
On how LLYC has impacted her life, Sloan says, “Camp is the place that my walk with Christ became my own. It wasn’t enough to carry on the faith of my mother or grandmother or uncle. I had to make a decision about Jesus for myself. … To me, Laity is sacred ground … a meeting place for me and the presence of God. I understand, of course, that the presence of God never departs from me, but I also know that in the Bible, God often marked specific places as Holy Ground. For myself and for so many others, Laity is Holy Ground.”
LLYC was also the meeting ground for lifelong relationships. “Some of my closest friends from camp are spread out now. We have families and busy lives, but they are friendships that will last forever. And did I mention that I met my husband there?”
Camp wouldn’t be camp without its deep Texan roots. “Laity also taught me an unwavering loyalty to Texas and Texas Music,” says Sloan, “how to two-step and important life lessons like THERE IS NO LINE DANCING! Can we bring that tradition back please?” The only person who can rival Sloan’s country dancing skills is Toby Baker, the man who became her husband. And if you’ve ever seen them tear up a Rodeo dance together, it’s quite the intimidating sight!
“Being married to another LLYC Alum, the legendary Toby Baker, has been such an added blessing. The joy that we both get from going back to that place and getting to share it with our kiddos is unmatched. I know that Laity will be a longstanding part of all of our lives.”
“Honestly, I’m a little jealous,” Sloan jokes. “Kidding. I’m thrilled. Getting to continue the legacy of Laity Lodge is a gift that we are so grateful for. I can’t imagine NOT passing on the torch to our boys. Our prayer for them is that they would see God in a fresh and intimate way in their years at LLYC. That they would see that being a man of God (and a Texan!) is cool and that they would make friends to last a lifetime.”
The Baker’s son with be attending his first summer of LLYC with some of their friend’s kids from the LLYC Alumni base (Dr. Charles McCurley being one).