Beck Marlar, director of Singing Hills, says there are two main reasons for Staff Week: “the first [reason] is to foster relationships within our staff that’ll last through the summer, and hopefully for a lifetime.”
Weeks of meetings and hours of planning in the Kerrville office came to fruition as staff poured into the Canyon from across Texas (and in some cases, from outside of it) to meet each other for the first time or reunite after nine months apart. New friends talk like old friends. Old friends talk like they never left camp.
“The second [reason],” Beck says, “is to give our staff the necessary training to physically, emotionally, and spiritually equip them for the summer.”
Staff Week is a combination of celebration and certification. That ice-cream-coffee-board-game-dance-party only came after four days of meetings, presentations, and trainings, and Staff Week itself only came after a 10 days of optional activity certifications, like mountain biking, lifeguarding, and wilderness guiding.
Summer staffers put those certifications to the test in their free time—when they’re not hearing talks on mental health, caring for the Canyon, how to manage cabin time well, and parent Q&A panels.
According to Ethan Oliver, LLYC intern and program director, Staff Week is even more than relationships and training: “There are so many details that go into each summer and it’s hard to get it all into one week, but at the end of it, Staff Week is for staff to feel loved, to feel served, and to feel ready for the summer.”
This summer is going to be Ethan’s fifth on staff. He’s gradually moved from receiving the Staff Week experience to being part of the team that plans it.
“My first Staff Week was in 2015,” Ethan says. “I was new and, honestly, it was intimidating. But I ended up comfortable.”
And that’s what LLYC is meant to be: a safe, comfortable place. For some, that’s somewhere that constantly kindles lifelong relationships; for others, it’s the only place they can experience an ice-cream-coffee-board-game-dance-party.