Expansive Mission: A Reflection from Deborah Rogers

Hear Deborah’s own voice.

Video by Ocotillo Films
Photos from H. E. Butt Foundation Archive

I was two years old when Laity Lodge opened. I spent much of every summer throughout my childhood in the Canyon. I learned how to swim in the Frio River. I attended Laity Lodge Youth Camp at Linnet’s Wings when I was 8 or 9.

My childhood was also filled with the day-to-day work of the Foundation. I spent many weekends with my grandparents, Howard Butt Sr. and Mary Holdsworth Butt, whom we called Big Dad and Mama Two. Whenever I visited, Mama Two went about her normal business, letting me see the whole process of their Foundation work woven into everyday life and conversations.

For me, family and Foundation were so interwoven that they were sometimes hard to separate. My grandparents began the Foundation in 1933, inspired in part by my great-grandmother Florence Butt, who started that little grocery store in Kerrville in 1905.

Before I met and married David Rogers, I was a schoolteacher, like my grandmother before me. One year, a teacher friend and I took our fourth-grade classes to Foundation Camp. Through the years, I have had several students reach out to me and say that camp was one of the most memorable experiences of their childhoods.

My grandparents loved the Frio Canyon, and they loved sharing it with others.

My grandparents loved the Frio Canyon, and they loved sharing it with others. They purchased the property in 1954 for children who might not have the opportunity to go camping. That was their original dream—and we guard and protect that dream today.

The Foundation Camp has become such a powerful symbol of our work, but it wasn’t the beginning. For the first twenty years, my grandparents worked to improve tuberculosis care, educational opportunities for all Texans, and mental health treatment around the state. My father used to say the Foundation helps people find transformation on the other side of hardship.

The Foundation’s work evolved over the decades as Texas faced new challenges and as each generation found new ways to serve. We also found new language to talk about our mission.

Our freedom today is more than words. Seeing my father and my husband work together with mutual love and respect has been one of the greatest gifts of my life.

Dad told us we were free to care about things within the mission, to consider what we most value, because our mission is expansive and Christ is expansive to meet the needs of our generation and beyond.

More from this issue

Our Faith Convictions

In his letter, President David Rogers conveys the mission and the faith of the Foundation through a series of faith convictions.


Fishing isn't always about getting a bite. Even for sixth-graders. Bite into this Outdoor School story on the importance of fishing.

Bridging Our Differences

On November 3, the H. E. Butt Foundation hosted a luncheon featuring best-selling author Arthur C. Brooks and his book, Love Your Enemies.

A Reflection on "Auguries of Innocence"

These three couplets from William Blake are etched into four places around the Foundation’s property: twice in the Canyon and twice in the Kerrville offices.