Author: ryancahill

A Christian Camp Director in Ohio was struggling one year to find a creative way to find out how their programs were being received by their campers. A written survey would likely not be taken seriously and the challenge of constructing the proper questions was overwhelming.

He knew in his gut that there had been many young campers that had life changing experiences based on the chatter he’d overheard during the course of the summer and feedback he had received from staff, but this was not the qualitative feedback he was searching for. So he had an idea. What if he could get each camper to write a letter home explaining what the experience at his youth Christian camps was like, and what they thought was the most important lessons they learned. This was in the form of a pre-written template that had a few specific questions on it. The director, of course, had their parents consent for this and would share the letter with the parents. So he embarked on the campaign near the end of the term.

He had instructed the kids to turn their letters in to their camp leaders a few days before camp ended. Then, he and a few key members reviewed the letters and noted in summary fashion the results of the exercise.

There were the occasional complaints about food (not quality, but the “forced” vegetable and fruit regimens), but most letters took on a very positive outlook. Most of them cited that they started new friendships and especially close ones. Many spoke of becoming closer to God through the many activities in the natural settings of camp, and the programs and exercises that focused on reflection, study, and practice.

The most touching however came from those that shared their personal stories about gaining a new and stronger relationship with Christ. One young lady in particular talked about how camp taught her to ask Christ for strength and to take on her burdens while her mother fought breast cancer. She felt a renewed sense of hope and acceptance at the same time that if she trusted the Lord, she could make it through anything.

The letters from the youth Christian camps affirmed that when you provide a safe environment and encourage kids through challenging programs in both team and individual realms in a natural setting, good things will happen. That is all they needed to know.

So it’s summer, and you have not had time to plan a family vacation to some exotic location outside the city. Also, if you have kids, your plans must revolve around whether said vacation keeps the interest levels peaked so you do not hear the dreaded, “I’m bored”.

Now you could certainly be a tourist in your own town and try the “staycation” route. For example, if you live in San Antonio, you could actually take time to dine on the Riverwalk, tour the Alamo, or visit the many museums that San Antonio has to offer. However, what if there was a place close to home where the kids would never be bored, and you parents could still do the staycation thing without ordering kids’ meals? What if there was a place where your kids could learn great new things about themselves and about others in a safe environment? There is at a Texas overnight camp!

One of the places to accomplish this in the San Antonio area is Medina’s Deer Creek Adventure Camp. Led by a professional, trained, and dedicated staff, your child will learn to perform basic life skills on his or her own without having to be told.

The many group and individual activities at the camp teach children how to work together to meet common goals, as well as how to meet their individual goals. Leadership skills learned at this Texas overnight camp will stay with your child throughout his or her lives.

At the same time, kids learn how to slow the pace of their lives and break away from the tether that cell phones, video games, and computers seem to have on them. Adventure activities like rope climbing, swimming, and zip lining are just a few of the many activities that add the fun quotient to the mix.

At the end of the camp term, your child will appreciate the natural, little things in life, have improved confidence, and likely will have made long term friends. You on the other hand, will appreciate your child and benefit from time away with a new sense of connection.

You can learn more about these amazing programs at

Medina, Texas based Deer Creek Adventure Camp is teaming up with Camp Barnabas in August to bring smiles and adventure to some special young campers. Deer Creek Adventure Camp is geared toward kids ages 7 to 16 and serves about 100-120 campers per term. Camp activities, as well as adventure activities, round out the camper’s experiences in this safe, Christ centered San Antonio summer camp.

In 2010, the staff at Deer Creek began a partnership with Camp Barnabas to bring a new opportunity for children and adults with special needs to attend summer camp. By bringing the mission of Camp Barnabas to Deer Creek, kids with special needs that live near the San Antonio area can participate in this awesome summer camp opportunity.

What Is Camp Barnabas?

Camp Barnabas is based in Purdy, MO and is a place for children who have intellectual or physical challenges and/or chronic illnesses to be shown the love of Christ. It started as a place for children who could attend a typical summer camp.  Camp Barnabas is not typical; it is an incredible place where people come to just be kids at camp, a place where they are participants, not observers, in life.

Cindy Teas founded Camp Barnabas in 1996, out of an experience with a young camper while she was Director of Health Services at Kanakuk Kamps, a conglomeration of Christian sports-oriented camps near Branson, Missouri. In that 1992 summer, a young camper had complained about pain in her leg, which tragically turned out to be cancer. She ultimately lost part of her leg and had to undergo chemotherapy. However, the young woman yearned for the ability to return to camp and have fun like a “normal” kid. That experience inspired Cindy and her husband to start Camp Barnabas.

Partnering With Deer Creek

This year Camp Barnabas will bring their programs for kids 7 to 18 to the Deer Creek facilities on Wednesday, August 1st through Monday, August 6th, 2012.  This year’s program will be expanded to include children with chronic diseases, along with children that are blind or deaf/hearing impaired. Additionally, kids with chronic diseases such as AIDS, hemophilia, sickle cell, Crohn’s, cancer, diabetes and others, along with those who have been diagnosed with Asperger’s (no PDD or ODD). Siblings are also invited to attend this camp.

From Wednesday, August 8th through Monday, August 13th, the Barnabas team will lead programs for campers with physical ages 7 to 25 who have been diagnosed with a developmental disability or are challenged from autism. Siblings are invited to this week of fun as well. Campers in these programs are ambulatory and must be able to tolerate outdoor activities.

Activities at Deer Creek will include swimming, barn swings, zip lining, a rock wall, field games, arts and crafts, canoeing, and other outdoor adventures. Campers utilize adaptive equipment and programming in all activities.

Shared Mission

Both Deer Creek and Camp Barnabas share a Christ centered mission that embraces the belief that everyone, young or old, normal or physically/mentally challenged, are unique creations and reflections of God. Every person deserves to experience a San Antonio summer camp adventure that pushes their individual limits and tests the boundaries that society builds around them.

Reaching a camper’s fullest potential is a shared mission as well. Life-long positive improvements in confidence, new friendships, and shared experiences work together to build self-esteem and self-worth. The unique attributes that define each individual are embraced and nurtured throughout this experience.

You can learn more about these amazing programs at To learn more about Camp Barnabas, check out If you have questions about which term your child should attend, contact our Camp Registrar, Sandy Smith, at 417.737.7076 or email

Little Johnny or little Sally is about to venture off on their first San Antonio summer camp trip. Are they ready? Are you ready? As a parent, you’re naturally nervous, and as a child, they’re probably nervous too! Here’s how to determine if your child is ready for a summer camp adventure, and how to prepare them for their first time at camp.


Has your child attended or hosted sleepovers with friends? Sleeping away from home can be an indicator if your child is comfortable with separating from you for a short time. If you have had difficulty in this area, you may need to address the causes behind any apprehension before embarking on a summer camp adventure.

Shy Kids

Some parents send their kids to camp in an attempt to force them to “socialize” or to overcome shyness. Sometimes this works out okay, especially if your child tends to make friends with relative ease despite his or her shyness. If your child displays genuine fear or apprehension in groups or when you’re not around, though, you should work on those issues with your child before sending him or her off to camp. Most of the time, however, summer camp is an overwhelmingly positive experience for kids—even shy ones.

School Behavior

San Antonio summer camps have rules, regulations, and schedules, much like a typical school day. If your child does well in school with these conditions, they should be able to adjust to the camp schedules and rules just fine.

A little nervousness and apprehension is normal—even on your part! Sometimes, the parents are the nervous ones and the child feels perfectly fine with the idea of leaving home for a week or two.  If that’s the case, focusing on the benefits your child will experience by attending summer camp may help you to let go of your fears.

Planning on sending your son or daughter to one of the many summer camps in Texas? Soon you’ll be packing their bags and sending them off to a summer adventure that you know will positively impact their life. But now what? How do you pack for a one- or two-week trip? What if you forget something? Here are a few things to think about.

Plan Ahead

Most summer camps in Texas have a checklist of required items. For Deer Creek Camp, the 2012 list is located here. Also, be sure to see what is on the “unacceptable” list as well. For example, Deer Creek doesn’t allow iPods, video games, magazines, cell phones, food items or gum, among other items. If you’re in doubt, just call; our staff will be happy to help clarify the list.

There are three distinct categories you should plan for. Divide your list into hygiene, clothing, and personal stuff.

Hygiene Stuff

Start this list with shower and personal care items: deodorant, hairbrush, toothpaste and toothbrush, feminine items for teen girls, and any lotions and creams. If your child takes medications, make sure you check with your camp to see if they need any medication release forms completed. Bug spray, lip balms, and sunscreen are very important. You might also consider a mini first-aid kit for them to take along as well (though first-aid items will be provided if necessary).

Clothing Stuff

Pajamas and slippers are one of the most commonly forgotten items. Plan clothing amounts around the length of your stay: if the camp will be a week long, take 6-8 pairs of shorts, t-shirts, and underwear. Tank tops are allowed, as long as straps have a two-finger width, and swimsuits should be one-piece. Pack a pair of jeans and a hoodie in case of cool nights. A laundry bag for soiled clothing is recommended, and your child will need a sleeping bag or set of sheets and a pillow.

Don’t forget rainwear or a lightweight poncho to wear over clothes. Hats, sunglasses, and appropriate footwear (water shoes, tennis shoes, hiking boots, etc.) are other essentials that will make your camper comfortable. Oh, and include a few extra towels for whatever.

Personal Stuff

A particular favorite stuffed animal, or even a small family portrait, can keep your child from getting too homesick. Be sure to include a small personal flashlight with a few extra batteries, as well as a water bottle. Sending along stationery with stamped envelopes will help ensure you get a few notes to ease your own longing to be with your child. Also, an inexpensive camera, such as a cheap disposable one, will provide lasting memories to share. Since Deer Creek Camp is a Christian youth camp, don’t forget to send your child’s Bible, along with a pen and journal.

If you forget any items, the Camp Store carries water bottles, hats, visors, shorts, t-shirts, laundry bags, stationery, flashlights, and other items for easy replacement.

The youth of today is in dire need of a collective summer camp adventure. Why? Simple; in our interconnected and wired world, our children (and adults) are increasingly tethered to their digital devices, working tirelessly to maintain digital profiles. As social as these exercises seem, they are in fact becoming more of a way to isolate oneself and stunt social interactivity, rather than a tool to encourage it.

According to a summer camp research study done by Troy Glover at the University of Waterloo’s Healthy Communities Research Network in Canada, kids who attended a summer camp experienced significant growth and positive change in many key areas.  Glover said:

“Sending kids to camp allows children to grow and learn good citizenship, social integration, personal development and social development, exploring his or her capabilities and being in a safe environment where they can grow, gain independence and take risks.”

Overcoming Over-protection

In this age of 24-hour news, many parents are bombarded with stories about child endangerment in our communities, leading to a tendency to over-protect with a vigilance bordering on paranoia. The truth is, our communities are generally safe, and while parents should still take reasonable precautions, the dangers of over-protection are just now being realized. The unintended consequence of digital isolation may have a negative impact on early childhood development.

Self-Esteem Development

Summer adventure camp shifts the focus away from the individual, and teaches campers to be more selfless and become better team players. Learning team and individual goal setting, conflict resolution, and overcoming challenges lead to improved individual confidence and self-worth. Campers have expressed feelings of increased self-confidence, and a stronger sense of their own individuality.

We have all heard children proudly exclaim, “Look what I can do!” This proclamation of accomplishment comes from doing something they hadn’t done before, and gaining the confidence to do it again. Children and adults alike build self-esteem and confidence by challenging their fears and doubts, and winning.

The Value of Play

It has been reported that children spend four to six hours a day in front of TVs, computers, and cell phone screens. Children lack the time to play in natural settings. These activities (or rather, lack thereof) have led to increased childhood obesity, anxiety issues, and social inhibitions that manifest themselves silently.

Actually playing in an outdoors setting versus virtually playing is profoundly different. The exhilaration and sense of accomplishment experienced by reaching the top of a climbing wall can only be felt by actually climbing it. Flying along on a zip-line and feeling the rush of adrenaline cannot be duplicated in a virtual setting.

The Benefit of Leadership

The leadership skills that are learned in a summer camp adventure are irreplaceable. Many current leaders in government, education, and business point to summer camp as a pivotal and instructive point in their lives. Best-selling author Seth Godin wrote, “Camp does two things at once. It lets kids be kids, and it encourages them to solve interesting problems.”  Solving interesting problems in life is what separates the leaders from the followers in our society.

“Making” Friends (Not “adding” friends)

The popular social networking site Facebook encourages users to make friends, seek out others, and add to a growing list of personal contacts in a sort of popularity tally. The line between “acquaintance”(someone you have met, but do not know very well) and “friend” (someone you really know, care about, and can rely on) may have been forever blurred.  There is a huge difference between “adding” friends and “making” friends.

A summer camp adventure allows campers to forge real, long-lasting friendships and contribute to more meaningful relationships that support, nurture, and add diversity of opinion to the social development of children.

Consider a summer camp adventure for your own child or a youth that you know could benefit from the experience. Extraordinary changes and lifelong lessons are the two results most often recounted by summer camp veterans. The benefits of a summer camp adventure are immeasurable!

Most campers would agree that when you venture outdoors to enjoy fun summer camps, it is more than just a recreational experience – it can be a spiritual one as well. One cannot walk through a forest, paddle a canoe on a tranquilly still lake, or even stare up at the stars in a clear night sky, and not ponder how such beauty was designed.  However, this mystery of creation eventually gives way to a sincere thanks and appreciation that is celebrated by an ever present urge to smile a satisfied and gracious smile.  We are reminded that God is the Creator of all things, and for all of His glorious creations, nature is as close to perfect as you can get.

A camping experience that is Christ centered and is built around the sharing and celebration of experiences in a safe social setting is what Deer Creek is all about. Christ has been described in many ways, but not the least of which are the terms: counselor, teacher, and prayer leader. If you think about it, Deer Creek Christian Camp is modeled after the very teachings of Christ. Deer Creek and it’s guests are supported by trained, committed counselors; activities create learning and sharing experiences that lead to personal growth, and Bible study and reflection allow Christ’s teachings and words to penetrate the thirsty souls of the young people that attend the camp.

For generations, Christian camps have played an integral role in raising believers who stand for Christ and witness His message and lessons to people the campers influence and socialize with. In many instances, the lessons learned in the interdenominational Christ centered programs at these fun summer camps, form the leadership basis that future community, business, and government leaders need to ensure success.

The safe environment that is Deer Creek affords our young campers the proper environment to gain perspective without the distractions and noise that modern life inflicts upon us. Every year, there are countless personal stories of tremendous growth and tales of campers overcoming fears and gaining courage or perspective to face life challenges.

Consider Deer Creek Summer Camp or Retreats for people you know of any age or background. Fun activities coupled with exciting learning programs, will ensure your time at Deer Creek is a rewarding one.

Summer adventure camps can be socially rewarding experiences, as well as educational and exciting. By setting goals and working together with teams, campers learn how to trust each other and work together to accomplish common objectives.

According to the Experiential Learning Center at the University of Colorado Denver, experiential learning is “a process through which students [people] develop knowledge, skills, and values from direct experiences outside a traditional academic setting.” The Experiential Learning Center website continues to explain that, “Learning that is considered ‘experiential’ contains all of the following elements:

  1. Reflection, critical analysis, and synthesis.
  2. Opportunities for students to take initiative, make decisions, and be accountable for the results.
  3. Opportunities for students to engage intellectually, creatively, emotionally, socially, or physically.
  4. A designed learning experience that includes the possibility to learn from natural consequences, mistakes, and successes.”

Summer adventure camps provide an atmosphere ripe with opportunities for children to engage in experiential learning. This type of learning allows kids to take the information and lessons they have learned and apply them in real world situations.

At Deer Creek camp, cabins rotate together through a series of high and low ropes, adventure based, and team-building activities that we feel are age appropriate for campers in that cabin. We teach them realistic goal setting and give them something to look forward to next summer through our program.

By learning and sharing adventure camp experiences, campers gain knowledge on how to encourage one another in a healthy and safe environment.  Led by a committed team of counselors from colleges and universities, the camp staff ratio is 1 staff member for every 4 campers, thereby facilitating strong relationships that last well beyond summer. To learn more about Deer Creek, and how a child (or adult) you know could experience a summer adventure that provides life-long lessons, visit or call: (830) 589-7123.

Finding the right Christian summer camps in Texas can provide a fun, rewarding, and educational experience.  Camping has been part of American life for a long, long time. In the mid-eighteen hundreds, pioneers of all faiths and various countries of origin, camped out of necessity in their covered wagons, tents, and on the bare ground, as they made their way to the west coast of the United States.  In the years that followed, because of the growth of cities and urban centers, our society began to become disengaged from the natural “life education” benefits that camping provides.  In fact, as early as 1854, Henry David Thoreau chose to live in a Massachusetts cabin to write his classic, “Walden”, in which he chronicled his pursuit of solitude, combined with a search for the nostalgic life of a more rural time.

In 1864, a schoolmaster named Frederick William Gunn from Connecticut, decided to take an all boy group on a wilderness-teaching trip; the site ultimately became the Gunnery Camp near New Haven. Mr. Gunn made the correlation early on of how much an environmental shift can enhance the learning experience.  In 1930, educational expert Ben Solomon gave a speech to Teachers College about camping and the field of education. His speech was entitled, “Camping as a National Movement”.  In the speech, he established five values of camping: recreational, physical up-building, character-building, educative, and spiritual growth.  These values are cherished and understood today.

At Deer Creek, we strive to meet the aforementioned values through our programs and adventure experiences with our Christian summer camps in Texas.  We provide an atmosphere with opportunities for children to engage in valuable, experiential learning. This type of learning allows kids to take the information and lessons they have learned and apply them in real world situations.


Deer Creek is a summer camp in Texas that offers all of the things you would expect a summer camp to be in the area of recreation and fun. At the end of a long day filled with new adventures and learning experiences, you may even partake in the American custom of roasting marshmallows and making s’mores around the campfire. Napkins are provided J.

Specialty Classes

Campers may choose 2 classes from football, basketball, soccer, baseball, softball, volleyball, photography, dance, drama, swimming, outdoor wilderness, guitar (guitars not provided), tennis, and arts & crafts. Specialty counselors are hired to coach these classes so that campers gain skills and confidence in their desired specialty, all while still having a blast.


Team building activities are a big part of the Deer Creek experience. Working together to set goals and achieve them, individually or as a group, teaches the campers life-long skills, as well as increases confidence and trust in societal situations.


Whether it is contemplating God’s beautiful creations while staring up at a star-lit sky, or sitting on the cabin porch studying the Bible, Deer Creek is committed to teach interdenominational, Christ centered values to campers through guided learning and activities. Sharing experiences and new understandings with new friends is a very rewarding experience, and happens every day at our Christian summer camps in Texas.

When you tally up the benefits derived from attending a well rounded camp like Deer Creek, you realize that many “life education” experiences have been gained and will likely impact the lives of campers for a long time to come.  They will carry their experiences with them, as they become tomorrow’s leaders.

According to a report by the American Camp Association:

  • 96% of campers say camp helped them make new friends.
  • 92% of campers say camp helped them feel good about themselves.
  • 74% of campers say they tried things that they were afraid to do at first.
  • 70% of parents say their camper gained self-confidence at camp.

To learn more about Deer Creek, and how a child (or adult) you know could benefit from the experiences outlined here, visit or call: (830) 589-7123.

You can find day camps in the middle of any city, but the charm of overnight camps is their rugged surroundings. Hills, deserts, creeks, and open prairies await campers from all over the state. Exploring the outdoors has tempted children for centuries, and for almost as long adults have instilled the necessity of safety. At Deer Creek Camp, we know how captivating wilderness ventures can be, and we also know that they’re safest when campers are prepared for survival. Before letting anyone embark on even a short hike, we instill time-honored information to ensure they’re entering the wild as safely as possible. Whether you’re an experienced outdoorsman or have only encountered nature through your television, these survival tips will make the most out of all wilderness ventures.

  1. Never go alone. Bear Grylls’ Discovery Channel show should really be called Man and Well-Supplied Camera Crew vs. Wild. There’s a romantic, courageous notion of experiencing the great outdoors on your own. There are also immense dangers that can harm the most equipped and knowledgeable adventurer in the world. Carrying compass, box of matches, canteen, and food supplies won’t negate the fact that the wilderness remains unpredictable. Rattlesnakes can strike; floods can literally appear in a flash; and one misstep over a boulder can result in a broken limb. Those scenarios are certainly rare, but they’re possible, and they’re much less dangerous when you’re venturing into the wilderness with a hiking partner.
  1. Stay on the path. Trails are never built to keep hikers from seeing the good stuff; they’re designed to give people as full an experience of a mountain or forest as possible. Following a path, then, is a surefire way to really see the sights on wilderness ventures. It’s also a surefire way to keep from getting lost. Unless America acquires Canada, Texas will forever be the second-largest state. The hill country around Deer Creek is one of its most expansive regions. It doesn’t take a long route off the beaten path to forget your way back. Though you’ll find civilization eventually, if you get lost around dusk, the more dangerous night is a harder time to navigate.
  1. Trust the Scouts: be prepared. We don’t issue our campers a survival kit with flares, rope, and dehydrated foods, and we don’t expect them to bring all of that from home. It isn’t a bad idea, though, to bring and carry a few essentials to prepare for worst case scenarios on wilderness ventures. Three simple items, in particular, can prove lifesaving in dire moments: a flashlight, whistle, and bottle of water. More than snakes or cacti, dehydration proves to be the greatest peril you can encounter. A bottle of water will keep you safe during a hike and sustained during an emergency. In the event that you do get lost or severely injured, a flashlight and whistle can help others find you—in the dark and without killing your voice.

Of course, this list could continue for ages. These three tips don’t amount to much compared to the training that Boy Scouts and Navy SEALS receive, but they’re a good starting place for safety. Wilderness ventures will always appeal to our campers, and we’re always thrilled to let them experience the great outdoors. Safety, though, remains among our highest priorities. Hiking with friends, sticking to the path, and carrying a few essentials will lead to a much safer encounter with the wild world.