One summer back in the 1970s, legendary LLYC director Frog Sullivan started the LLYC co-ed work crew program after experiencing it himself through Young Life, a Christian ministry that reaches out to middle school, high school, and college students.
Work crew began because LLYC had dishes to be cleaned and trash needed to go to the dumpster. From the beginning, though, they were also a way for high schoolers to perform community service (an important thing to impress colleges these days).
According to former H. E. Butt Foundation employee Dan Roloff, the fingerprints of Frog, and later Mickie Rector, are all over the crew program.
“Frog was always about relationships,” Roloff said. “He would yell across the playfield to other guys telling them he loved them and back then it wasn’t as common to go around telling people that as it is today.”
As for Mickie, “she had this unique blend of understanding of the kitchen through being a home economics teacher, but also had the counseling abilities through her studies in guidance counseling to work with the cooks, work crew, and work crew bosses. She was a very special person,” said Roloff.
In the early 1990s, LLYC directors split up the boys and girls in the kitchen in order to create what we now know as program crew. Program crew came about as a result of the increased number of special events and programs for the campers.
More events meant more heavy lifting of equipment and increased amount of time for set up and tear down. Solution? A group of high school boys to do the heavy lifting.
Thirty years later, the loving and intentional community that Frog and Mickie started still stands. The transformative experiences don’t only happen in the kitchen or during the heavy lifting, but in the off hours between meals and trash hauls.
Hear from former crew boss, Jordan Soupiset:
“Crew brings two things together—purpose and identity—by inviting its members to join in Christ-like service and Christian community with each other. My co-Crew Bosses (John Jones, Kaila Thomas, and Mackensie Faulk) and I helped create this transformative space at LLFC by first providing our crew kids the capacity to share about their lives in a set aside time without other demands or expectations. This gave ample time for each crew member to be heard, to share the highs and lows and ins and outs and most of all big questions from their lives and walks of faith, so that we as an entire Crew could know the life and faith journey of each one of our own.”
The H. E. Butt Foundation is intentional about mentoring high school and college age kids. “There is purpose and vision behind the whole Crew experience,” said Chandler Pruitt, Senior Director of LLYC. “They are an indispensable part of the overall ministry of LLYC. Responsibility and leadership are nurtured in a fun and team-oriented environment. Out of the hours of hard work come an honest sense of commitment to the task at hand and a rewarding sense of accomplishment for a job well done.”
“Overall, we had a blast of a summer doing really simple things,” Soupiset remembered, “like taking out trash, washing dishes, lifting heavy things and putting them down again, but the community that we did it as—and the identity that we shared in Christ—brought life and beauty to the seemingly mundane.
“It was one of my favorite summers of my entire life, hands down.”
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