By: Hannah Jackson
Growing up in Livingston, Yancy Williams would drive past Camp Cho-Yeh, always wondering what was beyond the big welcome sign. His curiosity grew more after hearing others in his community share their lasting encounters from the time they spent at camp. Intrigued by this large mystery in an otherwise familiar town, Yancy decided to check out what all the talk of Camp Cho-Yeh was about. Initially just looking for a summer job, fast forward four years, and Yancy still chooses to spend his summers at Cho-Yeh. This summer is no different, Yancy already plans to return.
“I did not grow up coming to camp or anything like this” Yancy said. “I did not have the youth group experience, so my first ever summer camp experience was me stepping in to work as a camp counselor. And what an experience! I am now that Livingston local that cannot talk enough about this special place.”
Most counselors say that they return each summer because of the growth and joy they experience getting to serve and help campers experience meaningful moments in their faith. This is true of Yancy, as he shared, “I have learned more about my faith and myself in the three years I have been at Cho-Yeh than anywhere else.”
“I feel like learning patience is a key thing in growing at Cho-Yeh because I love taking care of kids, it is a dream job, but it can be really challenging sometimes” Yancy said. “I did not know anything when I got here, but I have been taught and learned so much about how to love kids well.”
Yet, for as much as camp equips and grows its counselors, the impact counselors leave on the campers they encounter in their cabins is incredible. Walking through the Sweetgum Hollow activities and asking the elementary aged campers what their favorite part of the week is, the answer most commonly given is, ‘My counselor!’
“The most important thing I have learned is to be an example of Christ’s love as a counselor” Yancy said. “Kids will love you just because you are a bigger, cooler presence. But pour out everything you have to love them because you never know if they are pointed to the love God shows when they step outside of Cho-Yeh.”
The way Yancy interacts with campers, you see him give up his entire self to be fully present and invested in the lives he has the opportunity to shape and touch. Yancy patiently listens and directs campers to truth during Bible studies. He gives up his slice of watermelon for a camper to experience the cool, sweet taste on a hot summer day. Yancy emerges from the depths of Crud Wars caked in mud and surrounded by laughing campers. The list could continue on and on. The deep care Yancy displays to his campers is a direct reflection of Christ’s love for each student that steps into Camp Cho-Yeh. Counselors are trained to serve and display a great love for every camper that enters Cho-Yeh’s gates but Yancy Williams is an example of the exemplary counselors that pass-through Camp Cho-Yeh.