The Young Life Alumni and Friends newsletter recently posted the question, “What was the short- and long-term impact of your Young Life camp experience?” Among the many great responses was one from Eric Davis.
Davis was a sophomore at L.D. Bell High School in Hurst, Texas, when two leaders, Rick Hinze and W.W. Broyles, approached him and his friends during lunch and invited them to play handball. “I didn’t know the first thing about handball, but I learned quickly it’s an incredibly painful sport,” said Davis. “I don’t know if it was the best way to attract guys to Young Life, but I guess it worked.”
Several of the kids went to Windy Gap in 1974, the summer before Davis’s senior year. “I was attracted to the funny guys. I thought they were brilliant. I can still remember skit night and cabin times,” said Davis. “I had been raised loosely in the church, but I didn’t have the full understanding of the relationship piece. That’s what became clear.”
Davis came home, got involved in Campaigners and headed to Trail West the day after graduation to serve on work crew. Broyles brought him back the next year to be an assistant work crew boss. Broyles even married Davis and his fiancée, Theresa, in 1979.
While in college, Davis strengthened his connection to Young Life, helping to start club in Nacogdoches, Texas. Since then, he and Theresa have volunteered in Richardson, Hurst, Lubbock, Tyler, Sherman, and now McKinney, Texas.
Theresa has also served as an administrator in Tyler, an area director in Sherman and currently volunteers with Capernaum. Their four children (Jordan, Rachel, Katlyn and Sarah) have all volunteered with Young Life during college and beyond.
In July 2010 Sarah spent a month wrangling at Trail West, and became the fifth member of the family to serve at the camp. “We have a legacy thing there since 1975,” laughed Davis. In 1995, Davis took a month off work to serve on assignment as part of the program team. One of his characters was “Sheriff Rusty Hinges.” Davis said, “It was the best month of my life.”
“It seems like all of our family vacations revolved around Young Life.” However, one only has to look in Davis’s closet to see Young Life’s impact goes further than vacation.
“We don’t know how many [Young Life] T-shirts we own; 50 ... 75 ... and that doesn’t count the ones we’ve thrown away. Plus the hats and the mug I had my coffee in this morning — Young Life has good brand loyalty, I think.”
Moreover, Young Life has helped Davis professionally. “I’m in business development. Young Life taught me how to do this. Opportunities develop through building relationships; we [Young Life] do that really well.”
The church where Davis serves on the board has also adopted the relational approach. The pastor, Mel Cure, associate pastor Ross Bebee, youth pastor Garrick Bailey, and fellow board member Richard Black, are all former Young Life staffers. “We have a weird sense of humor because of that!” Davis said.
From declaring his newfound relationship with Christ at the Say-So at Windy Gap in 1974, Davis has seen his own relationship with God grow, and he’s also seen it change his wife, children, and so many others. “Wow,” said Davis, thinking back on it, “Young Life’s been part of my life for a long time.” It doesn’t look like it’ll be leaving any time soon.
Eric Davis is an alumni and friend of Young Life. Visit the Alumni and Friends website at alumniandfriends.younglife.org to join, update your information and reconnect with your Young Life friends.