Laity Lodge Youth Camp’s five summer sessions saw 1,511 campers from roughly 1,200 households enjoying another beautiful summer where hundreds of campers got to be themselves, develop powerful relationships with each other and staff, and explore their faith.
Of course, they got their share of shaving cream fights and river belly flops, too.
Late last year, LLYC held an essay contest, calling campers and summer staff alike to tell stories of how camp changed their lives. The entries were a showcase of the transformative power of youth camp.
In her winning essay, Echo Valley camper Isabella Vadala wrote about how the relationships fostered at camp and the beauty of the surroundings prepared the way for a life-altering decision one summer. “Sure, I had gone the year before, but I still thought that camp was all for fun and pleasure, not so much about God. I met one of my best friends, Hannah, at Jam Session 2014, but it was so much more than good friends and a river.”
One night, a Roundup talk struck her in a new way. “After Roundup ended that night, the whole camp laid out under the stars on towels with their Bible or journal, and I sat thinking on the big lawn,” she remembers. “On that spot, under thousands of beautiful stars, I dedicated my life to Christ.”
Similarly, in the winning staff essay, former Singing Hills counselor Sarah Culpepper writes, “the beauty of the Canyon is the simplicity and sufficiency of the gospel.”
“My eleven-year-old campers [were] pondering God in a way I have long forgotten,” she continues. “But when I go back to the Canyon, I always start to remember.” That’s because although LLYC may be filled with nonstop action, it’s also a place where everything comes to a stop so that kids and staff can come to truly know each other and God.
Soon, the Canyon itself is changing a bit for Youth Camp, with the construction project known as Echo Valley 2020 inching closer every day. The $5 million project entails updating the landscaping, replacing 12 outdated cabins, and replacing five septic systems.
“EV 2020 is daunting in its scope and timeline,” says Chandler Pruitt, LLYC’s director, “but the results on the other side will be amazing. It’s going to be a tangible expression of our hospitality and excellence.”
Echo Valley 2020 will make a huge difference in LLYC’s summers, but it will also benefit Foundation Camp and Outdoor School alike. Between the three programs, Echo Valley hosts over 12,000 campers a year.