Embrace the adventure. That’s the motto Mike Maddry and his wife, Libba, latched onto in 2020 when an unexpected calling in a year of unknowns brought them to Kerrville, where he recently joined the H. E. Butt Foundation as vice president of youth and family camping.
Adventure is not new for Maddry, who spent decades in Young Life, often guiding students outside of their comfort zones at Young Life Camps and on wilderness camping trips in Colorado.
Since then, he has chaired a Bible department at a private school and served as a family pastor, establishing deep roots in Houston.
“We’re moving from a town that we’d been in for 20 years, a community that we really loved,” Maddry said. “There have been a few tears, a few times where we thought, ‘What in the world are we doing? What have we gotten ourselves into?’ But we felt like God was moving us and calling us.”
Libba said that though the few months leading up to the move from Houston were extremely challenging in many ways, the Maddrys saw God’s sovereignty come to life.
“Looking back over the years, I keep seeing the pieces God has put together,” she said. “It’s an affirmation of his sovereignty.”
In his role, Maddry will oversee the youth and family programs in the Canyon, serving and guiding the leaders of Laity Lodge Family Camp, Laity Lodge Youth Camp, and the Outdoor School.
Maddry will also serve as the head of the Foundation Camp. He plans to focus on “renewal” once the tuition-free program reopens to church, school, and nonprofit groups later this year.
“To have groups that can come in and use the camp—free-of-charge—and bring their own program is fantastic, especially if we seek to serve and care for those who wouldn’t be able to afford it otherwise,” Maddry said. “That’s the dream.”
In fact, it is the original dream for the H. E. Butt Foundation property. In 1953, as Howard Butt, Sr., and Mary Holdsworth Butt were looking to purchase a ranch, Mrs. Butt wrote in her journal, “Our first aim would be to put a first-class camping experience within the reach of every child.” Of course, she was only imagining 100 campers at a time.
“The way that things have grown over the last number of years,” Maddry said, “we’ve gotten to a place where the numbers are simply pretty overwhelming, and there’s not a lot of opportunity, from what I can tell at this point, to take a breath.”
Taking a breath means rest for Canyon operations staff as well as the Canyon itself. Maddry aims to balance “a fantastic experience” for guests with careful stewardship of the property.