Susan & Merric: A Camp Friendship

How did you end up at LLYC?

We had a neighbor – Sandy Youman – who was into everything and knows everyone.  Her daughter, Becky, who was my age, went to LLYC, so Sandy suggested that I go, too. I remember Sandy driving me and Becky to camp for 4th session – trunk in the back of their wood-paneled station wagon.  My parents didn’t go, there were no drop-off tears, just unloading the trunk and adios! It’s funny now how involved the parents get when dropping off their kids. They make their beds and help them get their cubbies organized, but we were dropped off and that was it! Becky and I are still good friends today, but at camp, she and I ran in different groups. Becky is very athletic and ran with the group of cool kids that played tennis and did all the sports. I found my own little niche of people who liked to do arts & crafts, sit on the porch, and chat.

Becky and I started going both 3rd and 4th sessions when we were about 13. They called us the “hangovers” back then, because we got to hang out with the counselors and work crew in-between sessions, making us BEYOND super cool.

Enter Merric.

Merric was a 3rd session person, so I didn’t meet her until I went both sessions. She was athletic, but more gymnastic-y and liked to chat. Because we were both young for our grades, we were put in the same cabin together and that’s when we first became friends.

Merric’s older sister Drue first started going to camp, which is how she ended up in The Canyon. They were from Corpus Christi, so Drue knew Frog from Corpus Young Life.

Solid Gold Dancers 1987

Solid Gold Dancers 1987

A Camp Friendship

Although we did meet when we were young at camp, because she was from Corpus Christi and I was from Austin, we really didn’t become good friends until later. We were “camp friends” and looked forward to seeing each other, with a letter or two throughout the years, but that was about it. We served on Work Crew opposite halves of the summer in 1984 and the next year (CIT year), Merric did the 1st half of the summer again – I was scheduled to do the 2nd half in the same cabin!  Merric was paired with Sandra Kilgore as her Sr. Counselor in Cabin H (13 year olds). The Jr. Counselor in their cabin left during 2nd session, so they asked Merric to stay on the 2nd half of the summer. She did, so our cabin had Sandra and two CITs – Merric and me. Sandra is one of the funniest people that has ever walked the planet and Merric and I love to laugh, so we spent 99% of our Cabin Times laughing hysterically.

Any funny stories?

Our cabin backed up to the tennis courts, so we had a closet attached to the back that had tennis balls and rackets. Sandra told the girls that they had to keep that closet closed at all times because the deer would dive to the bottom of the river and pick up sticks and build nests in the closet if it was left open.  It made no sense, but those girls were serious about keeping the closet closed at all times.

When Sandra would go on her days off, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum were in charge and we would do the silliest things. We would giggle all day and the girls loved it. After the girls were asleep, we would sit on the front porch and laugh. I just remember everything being funny – all day long. This was the summer before our freshman year in college so I was headed to TCU and Merric was headed to A&M.

The College Years

During that school year we talked often and saw each other pretty regularly. After my freshman year, I decided to transfer to A&M.  And after that, we were pretty much joined at the hip – even though we didn’t live together until we were 5th year seniors. We each lived in our respective sorority houses which were across the street from each other. When it was time to schedule classes for school, we would “barter” with each other. I need to take a science class and she needed to take a math class – so we would take the classes together. I graduated with almost 190 hours because I had so many classes that didn’t go towards my major. Oh, to be young and silly. During college, we always went to camp during the summers. She stayed on the counselor side, while I went into the kitchen. After college, we had one last year at camp before we moved to Houston. I moved back to Austin in 1991, but Merric stayed in Houston.

TAMU Bonfire 1988

TAMU Bonfire 1988

 

LLYC’s Role

Unequivocally, without LLYC, we would not be friends. Because of LLYC, we are great friends that have grown up together. Since we were 18 years old, we have known almost everything about each other.  When we were younger, LLYC was the carrot at the end of each school year. If we could just make it through the spring semester, we could go back to camp and be happy. After we got out of school, camp was the glue that connected us to each other, as well as our other friends.  Weddings, babies, and big events for camp people were our main social events. Even though we lived in different cities, we met up often to play golf or see friends – but always, always, always – we laughed. Our camp friends and LLYC circle gave us a strong sense of who we were and who we wanted to be. Merric and I were in camp friends’ weddings through the years – or we went to camp weddings as each other’s dates many times.  We have been LLYC ambassadors together and loved seeing old friends bringing their own kids to camp.

San Miguel 1998

San Miguel 1998

We still laugh about funny events, funny people, and fun times. Christi Harding Stanton has been a great friend to both Merric and me throughout the years. We lived together in Houston immediately after college. After I moved to Austin and Christi went to Kerrville, we would all meet up – with and without husbands – and it was always as if no time had passed. We would get right back into our silliness. Terri Kilgore Hay, who was also on our Work Crew, is the BEST at planning get-togethers with the group. We’ve had several reunions for Work Crew 1984 over the years. As we have gone through marriage, kids, teenagers, empty-nesting, etc., these reunions have changed somewhat, but they’re really exactly the same. We sing, we dance, the boys build fires, we eat and we laugh! LLYC friends are the best friends to have!

 

Work Crew Reunion 2015

Work Crew Reunion 2015

 

What does your friendship look like today?

It’s different, and yet, the same. Merric has a great husband and two boys (10 and 14). I do not. When friends have different lives, it can make things strange, especially since you don’t necessarily share the same experiences. Over the years, Merric has dealt with in-laws, kids’ activities, school, and living the life of a wife and mother, while I live the life of the coolest aunt in the world who works too much. Even though I may not have the experience, I love her kids and want them to be happy in life. Her wife/mother problems are important to me – because they are important to her. She cares about my nieces and nephews and my job. What’s important to me is important to her. A couple of weekends ago, we were in San Antonio for a college friend’s 50th birthday. Merric and I roomed together at the hotel.  We had talked to each other, but hadn’t seen each other in about 9 months. Each night we caught up about life, current annoyances, current excitements, and we laughed. With Merric, it’s always like no time has passed at all and we are right back in Cabin H with Sandra Kilgore. Laughing about deer making nests and Frog saying, “Mmm, good word!” too many times during Round Up.

Vegas 1994

Vegas 1994

 

Golfing 2000

Golfing 2000

 

What is it like when you both return to the Canyon for reunions now?

I get to the Canyon more than Merric does because my family does LLFC and I like to tag along when my niece and nephew are getting dropped off at Singing Hills. Merric and I both attended the LLYC 50th Reunion last fall and it was a ball! I loved seeing friends – especially with their kids! So much has physically changed at Echo Valley, forcing us to mostly remember what it was like, namely the Ranch House and the Round Up Pavilion. It’s beautiful now, but not the same. We love being there, but because the place is different, it almost doesn’t matter. If LLYC friends are there, being with them is always great.

2015 Reunion

2015 Reunion

Relationships

One of the things I remember Frog saying over and over again is that you cannot talk to someone about faith if you haven’t established a relationship with them. You can’t just walk up to people on the street and evangelize. Camp was that for me. We established deep, meaningful relationships as kids, as teenagers, and as young adults in The Canyon. To be honest, the spiritual part of it seemed secondary to the fact that we cared so deeply for each other in a way that it difficult to explain. I’d do anything for camp folks, even if I didn’t gel with them. We experienced a sense of love and community that – for me – is not replicable in the “real world.” I look forward to time spent with camp people, just because we KNOW each other. I do believe that our basis in Christianity is part of that – but there are several LLYC folks who have moved away from the church. The love we feel for each other is still there, even when the spiritual connection to God is not. We love each other because we have SEEN each other. We have known each other in a very unusual and united way. I know that Christianity was the basis of our relationships, but regardless of where we are in our faith, our ties are all about love, compassion, and true caring for each other.

LLYC 50th Reunion

LLYC 50th Reunion

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