It’s the first Intern Day of the year.
One of the seven is Karla Heath, known as an Echo Valley Director throughout the summer, but known to the six twenty-somethings with her as Intern Director.
“This sort of thing is where I really enjoy ministry,” Karla says, “with a smaller group of people I can really get to know.”
According to Chandler Pruitt, Senior Director of LLYC, the Foundation first hired interns in 1996. LLYC summer staffers aging out of seasonal work still wanted to be a part of LLYC, and LLYC needed full-time help in the off-season. Hiring interns gradually spread to other departments of the Foundation, and, over time, the internships evolved from a year’s job into an intimate, year-long professional and spiritual development program for young professionals who are transitioning out of college into their first careers. It has become a key part of the Foundation’s commitment to walking with people in all seasons of life.
Today, Karla runs the internship program: helping all departments recruit and hire interns, guiding them through the Foundation’s mission and programs, and leading them through a year of professional, personal, and spiritual development.
So how does a spin class fit into that?
Each of the monthly Intern Days throughout the year includes a variety of wholeness activities, like physical activity, artistic expression, conversation, shared experiences, spiritual encounters, and self-reflection. Karla aims for well-rounded and jam-packed days so that everyone will love what they’re doing even as she challenges them to engage in new experiences, engaging their whole selves over the course of a full day.
In addition to Intern Days, the curriculum for the year consists of biweekly meetups, a monthly book, time with the Giftedness Center out of Dallas, on-the-job vocational training, personal and professional budgeting practice, and a trip to the Faith & Work Conference in New York City.
Of course, the Foundation doesn’t just train the interns. It puts them to work.
“Any department you start in as an intern, you jump right in,” says Jacqueline Brustkern, former intern and current LLYC Assistant Director & Alumni Coordinator. “Everyone has a job for you to do and there’s a role set for the interns to fill. It’s important and real work they entrust you to do.”
Jacqueline is one of six full-time employees of the Foundation who were interns within the last six years. For her, the experience ended with a rare opportunity to join the Foundation full-time. Of the approximately 40 people who have finished the program so far, most moved on to professions outside of the Foundation, including jobs in education, fashion, real estate, church ministry, architecture, and graphic design, to name a few.
“I think there’s a misconception that it’s always a Youth Camp Internship,” Karla says. “Our aim is … to learn and experience something applicable to wherever these interns might be in the future.” Not all the interns are going to be camp directors or youth ministers.
“[The internship] is applicable to everyone,” she says. “There’s a unique attention and care for who the intern is—an investment from the organization and from the program leaders that says they care about interns getting something deeply significant out of the experience, and they deeply care about walking through that season of life with each person.”
This year, LLYC, the Communications team, and Outdoor School each have two interns in their early 20s.
Myles Amador, one of last year’s interns and now one of the Outdoor School’s Program Coordinators, says he applied for the internship because he “wanted close-knit community and to become an expert in some sort of craft, personally or professionally.”
“The internship … brought me into reality,” Myles says. “It taught me about myself and what I’m really capable of, and I’m better prepared to serve others now thanks to the community that came from Karla, the other interns, the Outdoor team, and the job altogether.”
The interns and Karla begin each Intern Day together, and they end it together. Their day this fall ends with dinner at the home of Erik Silvius, the Outdoor School Senior Director.
Warm conversation fills the Silvius home as everyone makes their own fajita tacos in an informal buffet line through the kitchen and dining room. The interns, exhausted from the fullness of the day, still have energy left to laugh and discuss the day between bites of taco.
As dinner slows, Erik divides up the leftovers for everyone to take home. Karla thanks Erik for hosting everyone, and Erik thanks Karla and the interns for the good company. Tired and sated, the interns travel to their various homes, all of them ready for a good night’s sleep.
After all, they have work tomorrow.