[Diocese of West Texas] The new Lillbridge Dining Hall at Camp Capers in Waring, Texas, was dedicated June 5 and named in honor of the Rt. Rev. Gary and Catherine Lillibridge, in the presence of senior high campers, camp staff and numerous Camp Capers alumni who came to celebrate this momentous occasion. The construction of the 11,000-square-foot dining hall completes the master plan of renovations at Camp Capers, a plan created in the 1990s and put into motion around 2008.
The Lillibridge Dining Hall allows 360 people to sit and share a meal together and offers an updated, flexible kitchen for meal preparation. In this new space, a separate, smaller dining area exists to accommodate conference lunches or other meeting or retreat groups.
“Everything you do at camp is part of life in the Church,” said the Rt. Rev. David Reed, bishop coadjutor of the Diocese of West Texas. “One thing the Church does well together is to bless and share a meal. That is a gift at camp – to share a meal, converse with each other and grow in love. God’s people eat, so that they may go out and feed others.”
The master plan for Camp Capers, which started with the vision of a new dining hall, is a $4.5 million project. Other new or updated buildings on site include: Steves Hall (meeting space), two exquisite lodges, a welcome center with office space for year-round staff, a health center, activities building, river-side amphitheater, a new entry into camp and new road through camp and an outdoor garden. An additional 108 adjacent acres also were purchased in 2013, more than doubling the size of the original 80-acre camp.
The Lillibridge Dining Hall honors the ministry of Bishop Gary and Catherine Lillibridge throughout the years at Camp Capers and in the diocesan camping program. Jeff Rochelle, chair of the Camp Capers Capital Campaign Committee, said, “Lillibridge is to be commended for us celebrating this; he has worked very hard for it. It is quite telling that the entire Development Committee wanted to honor him and Catherine with this dedication.” Lillibridge, the ninth bishop of the diocese, retires this summer.
Catherine Lillibridge, during her remarks, told the present campers that Camp Capers has stayed in her heart since she first attended at age 15. “I always recall Jeremiah 31:3 – ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have continued my faithfulness to you.’ Let that sink into your heart and carry it in your bones. You are loved.”
Bishop Lillibridge, humbled by the honor, said the dedication of the dining hall is a special gift, a birthday gift, for Camp Capers, which celebrates its 70th year in 2017. “Though we are blessed by many sacred sites in our diocese, Camp Capers is known as the ‘spiritual center of the diocese,’” said Lillibridge.
Also during the dedication, a gift was presented to Camp Capers in honor of the Lillibridges from Bishop Reed. Two chalices and a paten bearing the Camp Capers logo, were designed and created by silversmith and jeweler Skip Edwards, member of Redeemer Episcopal Church, Eagle Pass, Texas. “Today they are dedicated, and they will be made holy by your use of them for what they were created,” said Reed.
After the earlier construction and numerous projects, a plea was made to the diocesan family to raise $5 million for the new dining hall at Diocesan Council in February 2015. The people responded and the money was raised in less than a year, which led to the quick construction of the dining hall, ready for this year’s summer campers.
“The timing was incredible,” said Rob Watson, director of camps and conferences. He extended many thanks to the work of the Capital Campaign Committee, including Rochelle and honorary co-chairs Bonnie and Ed Longcope and Mollie and Bartell Zachary. Watson also acknowledged the hard work of Beatty Palmer Architects, which also designed Steves Hall and the new lodges; MJ Boyle Construction, which also built the activities building; as well as Alan Lindskog, civil engineer who is also a Camp Capers alum. “They all performed unbelievably well to meet our summer camp deadline,” said Watson.
Ron Wood, Camp Capers alum, and the staff from summer camp in 1986, designed a stained glass window in the shape of the Camp Capers cross that is striking above the entrance to the dining hall. The middle square is a sundial, set to Daylight Savings Time, and you can track the time by shadows beginning at 2:30 p.m. each day. There is a small mark on the sundial that commemorates the death of Bishop William T. Capers, third bishop of the diocese for whom the camp was named, on March 29, 1943. “A shadow will fall on this mark each year on March 29,” said Wood.
Following the dedication service, guests and campers were served a delicious meal of fried chicken, homemade macaroni and cheese, and coleslaw, all with freshly sliced watermelon on the side, prepared by Camp Capers Chef Graham McKim and the summer kitchen crew.
Speaking to all, especially the present campers who have never been in an Episcopal church, Reed said, “Live in this, share this meal, be the Church and keep coming back.”
— Laura Shaver is communications officer for the Diocese of West Texas.