The Unstoppable Goodness

It was the best of times: “Just good, old fashioned, soul-filling camp fun!” That’s how one Session Four parent described the summer of 2021 at LLYC.

It was the worst of times: “Probably the hardest session to date,” the same parent acknowledged, alluding to positive COVID-19 cases at Singing Hills that brought the session to an early close. Another parent commented simply, “I’d love a year without COVID! :)”

We would, too. Ending Session Four early was hard, but hardest of all was JAM, the session that didn’t happen due to the regional rise in COVID-19 cases. LLYC JAM families were understanding but understandably brokenhearted to learn that their campers would go a second year without experiencing the joy of LLYC.

And yet, as you can see throughout these photos, Summer 2021 held real moments of joy. Tons of them, every day. Jumping into Blue Hole. Singing and dancing at Roundup. Cheering on everyone at the rodeo. Dressing up for the dance. Field sports, hikes through the Canyon, zooming down zip lines. And of course—and most of all—building relationships that can last a lifetime.

Nothing—not COVID complications, not shortened sessions—could stop the goodness of God gracing LLYC’s summer yet again. As we enjoy this look back, let’s also look ahead with hope and prayer for Summer 2022.

“The fun, the food, the LLYC experience is truly magical and unparalleled. It is just good, old fashioned, soul-filling camp fun! … Thank you to the AMAZING staff for everything you did during probably your hardest session to date. You handled it beautifully in our eyes, and big prayers that you all NEVER have to deal with that type of situation again!!! Thank you for a beautiful session 4!”

What parents said about this summer:

“I just don’t know what we’d do without LLYC. It’s been one of our family’s greatest gifts, to have our child experience such joy.”

“I’m glad I sent my kids—this year more than ever it was so important for them to have this experience of independence and being away from screens and making friends and building connections. This has been one of the few things I felt like I could do for my kids to help heal from the last year and a half. Thank you for providing that. We have nothing but love for the LLYC team.”

“Our camper “had the most incredible time in Cabin 4 during 4th session. He loved his counselors and truly had the best two weeks! Even though it was cut a couple of days short we couldn’t be happier with LLYC! The COVID situation was handled so well and we understood the choice to end camp early 100%. He can’t wait to come back next year for 4th session and many more summers to come!”

“We are so thankful for LLYC! Our daughter tried so many new things this summer, and really went out of her comfort zone. So glad she has a place where she feels safe to try new things!”

“Camp has been an integral part of our family’s life since I was a camper. It was a healing, transforming experience for our kids after a really hard and isolating year. This summer exceeded our expectations. Prioritizing safety helped us feel confident and comfortable in allowing our children more freedom and independence than has been possible during the entire pandemic.”

“LLYC is magical in so many ways! We are so thankful our children are able to spend summer after summer growing there with the wonderful counselors, scenery/ setting, and friends. They always come back a little more humble and definitely more in touch with Christ.”

“My kids love it there! It is more than just a camp for keeping kids ‘busy’ with activities. So much more! It’s definitely a special place in a unique environment. Yes, you feel Christ’s presence. But forming lifelong relationships with others and placing an importance of developing relationships with others with Christ at the center is exceptional there.”

“Thank you for the incredible experience and faith leadership provided by the team at EV and LLYC. My boys had an incredible camp experience.”

What campers said about this summer:

“Coming off of a hard year, I feel fully refreshed and healed in my faith. I’ve lost a lot this year and God helped me understand and be grateful for his timing.”

“My counselors “had deep conversation with me, they made me feel loved, they prayed with me and helped me grow spiritually.”

“I loved camp so much this year. It was my first year at Echo Valley and it was amazing! I feel like my faith in the Lord has grown more than ever these two weeks. I absolutely loved my counselors and I’m definitely coming back to camp next year and all the rest to follow.”

“Very thoughtful cabin times, lots of hugs, talking about personal lives, joking around with us, literally so much. I loved my counselors.”

“This is my last year, and in my 8 summers here, I’ve seen love, light, beauty expressed in ways that I never have before. This place is my home and my second family is here. Thank you!”

“My counselors “took the time to get to know me and my struggles. They wrote me kind words and prayed over me.”

“Katelyn talked to me about feelings. Madeleine helped me see good in God. Winnie helped me find God.”

Chandler Pruitt says goodbye

The end of Summer 2021 coincided with another ending: longtime LLYC senior director Chandler Pruitt announced his retirement in August. His wife, Margo, has also served LLYC for many years as camp nurse, standing up a medical program that set a new standard for youth camps. Chandler and Margo are beloved among multiple generations of LLYC families. We’re sad to see Chandler go, and it was incredible to see the outpouring of emotion—and celebration—that greeted Chandler’s retirement. (Thankfully, Margo will be serving again in 2022 in the same capacity at the LLYC clinic.)

“If there was a Hall of Fame for youth camp directors, Chandler Pruitt would be the first one inducted. Chandler is an amazing director. I love watching kids gravitate toward him at Roundup. He’s funny. He’s zany. But he’s also a leader. A man of God. A follower of Christ who has led countless others to follow Christ, too.

We’re grateful for Margo, too. Over all these years, Margo has really professionalized the LLYC clinic. So much so that I believe we now have one of the best camp clinics around the state and country. We are thankful that Margo will be returning next summer to continue running our health care in the Canyon.”

— David Rogers

“Chandler is an incredible leader and friend who deeply loves God and others, and who poured his heart and soul into LLYC for the last 26 years. We are so grateful for his faithful work and ministry, and we are committed to honoring Christ and remembering Chandler’s incredible legacy at this place we all love so much.”

— LLYC directors Tom Bowyer, Jacqueline Brustkern, and Molly McIntire

“For 26 years, this place has been home to us. Thank you for entrusting your kids to us. We love them. … Our biggest hope through all of this is that you either started your relationship with Jesus as a camper or you deepened your relationship with Jesus as a result of being in the cabin and growing as a camper or serving on staff. We’ve had so many memories we can’t even count them all.”

— Chandler and Margo Pruitt

More from this issue

Putting Mission Into Action

B. T. Wilson’s Outdoor Ed program for sixth graders helped these students find the confidence to serve their communities.

Someone Like Virginia

Virginia Mata's story comes full circle—and shatters misperceptions along the way.

The Canyon's Witnesses

Cypress trees line the Frio riverbanks, providing shade, respite, and inspiration now and for hundreds of years to come.

It Has Always Felt Sacred

One family shares how the Laity Lodge programs flow into their lives and into their community.

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