Family Camp Counselors Get Counseled

The transformational experience of camp goes both ways.

Boy meets girl. Boy and girl start dating.
Boy proposes. Girl says yes.
Boy and girl head out to Laity Lodge Family Camp to work for the summer…

Chad Anders and Shelby Harrison grew up a couple hundred miles apart in Texas—he in Midlothian, she in Abilene. They met, fell in love, and got engaged while in college at Howard Payne University. They shared a similar determination, having both come from families that experienced divorce: We want to be married once and for all—for the rest of our lives. They wanted their marriage to work.

After graduation, Shelby and Chad decided they wanted to spend the summer before their wedding working in camp ministry. They applied to work at Laity Lodge Family Camp through a recommendation from a friend.

They figured the experience of serving as counselors for LLFC families would be enriching. Maybe in serving families, they’d begin to plant the seeds for their own healthy family.

They knew that, as counselors, they would help host moms, dads, and kids. They knew that they’d be there to create space—taking care of children, giving parents some time alone, maybe praying with families here and there.

What they didn’t expect is that so many families at Family Camp would have so much to teach them. LLFC turned out to be a training ground in how to create a marriage that can last a lifetime.

LLFC parents gave them little tokens of wisdom throughout the summer: “Marriage is a choice.” “Never go to bed angry.” “Always make time for vacations for just the two of you.” For this couple-in-training, these truisms were as good as gold.

Chad remembers how “throwing the baseball with a kid led to impactful conversations with their father about marriage and family.” Chad began to believe that the missing piece in thriving marriages was a foundation built on Christ.

“There were families at camp who had their fair share of hardships,’’ says Chad, “but the key difference was that these families were solidified in Christ, which allowed them and will continue to allow them to prevail.” Shelby adds, ”It was encouraging when we met families at camp with a similar background to us. These couples showed us how to pursue a healthy family dynamic.”

This summer of experiencing families who center their relationships around their faith allowed Chad to reset his expectations for what the word “family” could mean for his own family with Shelby.

“These couples showed us how to pursue a healthy family dynamic.”

Shelby Anders

Now married, Chad and Shelby Anders reside in Brownwood, Texas, where Chad is earning his masters in Christian Studies at Howard Payne University while Shelby works for New Horizons Ranch and Center as a case manager for children in the foster care system.

The couple are happily married and eagerly anticipating the life they hope to build for their children—a family built on a solid foundation of faith modeling after the families that impacted them so greatly that summer in the Canyon.

Chad said his sense of what he learned “comes down to one word: expectations. What I took away from that summer at LLFC were expectations about what I want our family to look like.

“If you love the Lord, you’re going to love your family well. We saw that time and time again, and that’s what we strive to reflect in our family.”

Article by Kat Radney. KRadney@hebfdn.org

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