Category: Blog

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.

Recreation

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.

Activities

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.

Spiritual

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 www.deercreekcamp.com 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.

In just about every genre, movies like depicting camp. Hollywood has used the setting for so many films that they’ve nearly romanticized the whole concept. Kids who have never been can hardly believe such a place exists, and grown ups retain nostalgic memories of their time at camp. First timers attend in wide-eyed expectation, but kids returning always have a few Christian camp activities they can’t wait to do again. Individual preferences certainly vary, and the diversity of camp activities lets everyone choose a favorite, but these three are always near the top of any list.

  1. Reuniting with friends. It can’t be listed among formal Christian camp activities because it happens in an instant. Camp gathers together kids from all over the state, sometimes nation, to spend a few summer days in friendship. Campers might write letters to each other during the school year, but it’s always the first day of camp where bonds truly reunite.
  1. Encountering creation. Camp offers kids a wide range of learning opportunities. Christian camp activities can teach sports, crafting, swimming, and a whole host of other skills. It’s the opportunity to be outside, though, the real immersion in the natural world that kids love the most. City dwellers rarely get to see the untamed wilderness, which is why so many campers look forward to just being outside.
  1. Time with God. It’s called Christian camp for a reason, and really, all of the other activities pale in comparison with the true purpose of camp. The youngest campers may not have developed the mind or faith for a profound spiritual experience, but older kids and counselors know these weeks can be a time of intense connection with God. Without distractions, responsibilities, and a bustling city, the worship sessions and quiet times at camp often lead to a deeper connection with the Lord. It isn’t uncommon, then, for many campers to appreciate their time with God most of all.

With all the anticipation leading up to Christian summer camp, the actual time there passes by in an instant. It certainly isn’t a forgettable experience, but with so many activities, friendships, and adventures condensed into a few short days, it’s easy for campers to forget the bulk of their experience. Journaling or writing events down in letters to parents can help the memories stick, but hours spent transcribing camp are hours lost enjoying it. Scrapbookers collect mementos because pictures, items, and pamphlets aid the recollection of the past. Since camp is nestled so deeply into the wilderness, you can utilize the concept of a scrapbook while appreciating the outdoors.  Making a field guide at camp helps you enjoy your natural surroundings and remember the bulk of what you’ve seen and done.

Field guides have been around for centuries. From ancient explorers to modern-day bird watchers, they force the mind to closely observe plants and animals. One of the main allures of Christian summer camp is the rare opportunity to witness God’s creation. It’s common for campers to spend most of their free time exploring and hiking: taking in the scenic beauty of the world. By documenting the animals and plants you encounter, you see them better and appreciate them more fully. A field guide, though, doesn’t just make that camp experience more enjoyable: it helps you remember your time at camp. A sketch of an armadillo doesn’t just conjure up the moment you saw that animal. It’s a key that opens a doorway of memories: from the potato salad you ate before your hike to the worship session you were almost late to afterward. So much of camp is enjoyable that you don’t want to forget anything. Keeping a natural journal with a field guide can ensure you won’t.

It takes years, sometimes an entire lifetime to really know yourself. Humans are incredibly complex, and every experience, tragic or seemingly insignificant, changes and develops people in some way. Many marriage counselors know that the root of many relationship problems comes not from infidelity or abuse; it’s the simple fact that couples don’t just have to understand themselves but their spouse too. With kids, work, and something of a social life, many married couples can’t find the time to fully get to know each other. The pressures and duties of life can naturally create distance in marriages, which is why group retreats can prove so enriching.

Group retreats come in many forms, but at their core, they’re a kind of escape, a weekend or single day respite from routine and responsibilities. They benefit anyone, but married couples often need this the most. One date night a week is rarely enough to really know and understand a spouse. Humans are constantly changing and growing, so husbands and wives need time, focus, and energy to continue to learn about each other. Group retreats allow all of that, and many are catered specifically toward couples. These concentrate on learning cues, building a stronger foundation in communication, and just taking the time to revel in each other’s company. Everyone can agree those things are extremely important for a healthy relationship, but careers, kids, and social pressures regularly hinder them from happening. The benefits of a group retreat may appeal to everyone, but they can be absolutely vital to a married couple that just needs some time together.

Your son could be the bravest, most independent child you’ve ever met, yet still the concept of overnight Texas camps might terrify him. Homesickness doesn’t just afflict the children who developed an extreme dependence on their parents; the confident kids may be hit the hardest, because their confidence often stems from knowing their environment well. Once they’re pulled out of school, home, and little league, the unknowns of an overnight camp can overwhelm any young boy. The first time they go, kids often want at least one familiar element. If they’ve never used a security blanket, having a close friend go too can be the key to a great camp experience.

Probably the greatest benefit of overnight Texas camps is the unexpected friendships campers form while working, eating, and playing together. It’s a perfect opportunity to gain social skills, but the loneliness of the first day remains incredibly daunting. Having a friend already there relieves a lot of the terror, and with one friendship already settled, forming new relationships comes much easier.

That said, overcoming the initial fears of overnight Texas camps can prove enriching and developmental in itself. Whether it’s college or moving to a new city, we all experience times that require social courage. Many parents like to coordinate their children’s camp plans, but others intentionally send their kids to an overnight camp alone. Most kids end up thriving in both situations, which proves that going to camp with old friends isn’t necessary. For some kids, though, it certainly helps.

Westerns gave Texas the reputation for being full of cacti, rattlesnakes, and for the sole purpose of transportation, horses. It was a land only suited for ranchers, outlaws, and the few lawmen lonely and crazy enough to keep them all at peace. Despite the fact that it’s now the second most populous state in America, for many people it retains that barren reputation. Anyone who lives in the state knows that the geographical climate between Galveston and Lubbock is about as diverse as naturally possible, but many Texans don’t know much about the flora and fauna in their own backyards. There’s certainly more to be seen than tumbleweeds and armadillos: you just have to know what animals to look for at San Antonio summer camp.

The ecosystem surrounding San Antonio could roughly be classified as a desert. Vegetation grows, but there aren’t many prairies. The grass is hard and the trees are often too few to clump into forests. Every children’s book on deserts, though, emphasizes the diversity and hidden life of these climates. In even the rockiest portions of the hill country life abounds; some of it may resemble Mars, but the land around a San Antonio summer camp still teems with varied and fascinating species of plants and animals.

Because they rely more heavily on water than birds and reptiles, people expect drier climates to lack many mammals—or at least, large mammals. Deer, wild pigs, and the mischievous opposable-thumbed raccoons tend to be some of the most commonly seen animals at San Antonio summer camp. Decades ago, a food shortage caused malnutrition among the local white tailed deer; their growth is permanently stunted, but the animals survived and once again thrive in the local area. It might seem dry, but the region contains many hidden springs and underground bodies of water that allow these and other creatures to remain hydrated. With numerous caves, too, on many nights bats are spotted circling the skies just after sunset. Cougars have been seen, and coyotes are often heard howling throughout the night, but they’re much less common than herbivores.

The water that allows the presence of deer and javelina also holds species that seem much better suited for swampland. Under rocks and vegetation around creeks, campers sometimes find salamanders and cricket frogs. Amphibians require constant moisture to live, and the springs and ponds in Texas are just enough to sustain them through the intense months of heat. They’re a surprising addition to the animals found near San Antonio summer camp, which is mainly due to the lifeless reputation Texas geography has acquired.

Bird watchers love the region for its blue and green-backed herons and gorgeous kingfishers, and campers with arachnophobia need to be wary of the tarantulas that occasionally cross hiking paths. San Antonio summer camp counselors should warn hikers of the snakes to avoid, but on the whole, the land isn’t the brutal, dangerous climate that John Wayne films made it out to be.  The geography around San Antonio might seem stereotypically “Texas,” but it holds a captivating array of species to encounter during your time at camp.

Prayer can be a very private thing. It’s communication and conversation with God, which often makes it a time to share fears, hopes, and secret requests with the Creator of the universe. That’s not a conversation to be interrupted, and it’s rarely a conversation that people want to share, but prayer can be a much bigger thing. It can involve and foster community. Group retreats bring together many people to grow in God, and one of the best ways to do that is by practicing corporate prayer. It can take a variety of forms, but all communal prayer accomplishes the same goals: intimacy with God and intimacy among fellow believers.

  1. Small groups. Praying out loud requires vulnerability, and one of the best introductory methods to this is praying in groups of two or three. After a worship service, before a meal, in the midst of a talk, participants can break into small groups and share their hearts. People will likely be drawn to pray with others they know, but it will still bond and unify the group as a whole, which is a central ambition of most group retreats.
  2. Popcorn. As people become more comfortable with the idea of sharing their prayers out loud, many gain the courage to pray in front of many people. Popcorn prayer is a series of little blurbs—praising God, requests for healing, and expressions of gratitude—anything that God puts on the heart of participants. They’re not required to stand up in front of an auditorium and launch a huge prayer; they can pray corporately from their seats.
  3. Korean style. Though rare in America, this method of corporate prayer has become more and more common at group retreats. In essence, every person in the room prays out loud at the same time. It’s terrifying to first timers, but it creates a setting and unified voice that exudes communion with God. Because it forces everyone to abandon insecurities and speak openly to the Lord, it can open community better than any other method. That community and closeness with God surpass any other outcome of retreats, which makes corporate prayer a good thing.

The biblical Church, the collection of all Christians in the world, is said to work like a body. In his letters, Paul talked often about the importance of every part, the individual gifts every person brings to create a functional whole. The reality, though, is that most groups of Christians, from churches to school clubs, work more like a contentious family than a body. We’re humans, and flawed, so while there might be love, there’s a lot of bickering, jealousy, and conflicting personalities too. The only perfect community will exist in Heaven, so here on earth the best we can do is strive for that standard set by Paul. It’s helpful in all of life to think of community like the body of Christ, but it’s especially good preparation for Christian summer camp.

If you’re sending your son or daughter to Christian summer camp for the first time, they’re likely to be shocked by a number of things. Homesickness often dominates the letters sent home, and the ruggedness of the outdoors surprises many kids who haven’t spent much time outside of the city. The first time away from home and expansiveness of God’s creation is a lot to take in, but encountering the diversity of fellow campers can require more preparation than anything else. Camp may be the first time they’re confronted with kids of different denominations, upbringings, and ethnicities—or at least the first time they all have to live side by side. Culture shock isn’t just something that happens to missionaries going abroad. It’s a reality for even Americans, and one of the best antidotes to that shock is understanding the Body of Christ.

In 1 Corinthians, Paul described the various gifts that Christians receive, from teaching to wisdom to faith. It’s a long list and a segue into his metaphor of the Church. Like parts of a body, every Christian has different gifts, different strengths, and different weaknesses. On their own they’re very limited, but together they create a human machine better and more powerful than the sum of its parts. It all sounds great in theory, but differences tend to create disruption and distrust more than unity. Paul discusses the Body of Christ in almost all of his letters because he has to instill this notion in every church: that living and worshipping together may be a challenge, but it’s God’s design for Christian community. It applies to Bible studies, international ministries, and even Christian summer camp.

At Christian summer camp, the main things kids have in common is that they’re there, and they’re Christian. Everything else, school, home lives, and hobbies, can be completely different, but that’s okay—it’s actually one of the joys of camp friendships. Your kids will get to sleep, hike, and eat alongside dozens of others from different schools, denominations, even states. It’s a small glimpse at the grander Body of Christ. Amazing friendships will emerge, but not all campers bond instantly. Some will annoy your son or daughter; some will seem calloused or strange; and a few tend to boss everyone else around. In a work environment, that’s a fact to tolerate, but at Christian summer camp, it can lead to a spiritual lesson. If your kids know about the Body of Christ and understand that God gifted each person differently, they may be more patient with the campers that seem annoying. They might be hard to live with, but often they’re just different, and always they’ll have gifts and talents that the Church needs.

Unless you’re in a FEMA bunker a mile underground, the common cold virus can reach you. Wherever two humans are sharing the same air, bacteria and viruses can be exchanged, so it’s no huge surprise that even the most remote regions encounter sickness. Summer camp in Texas is a pretty secluded place, but illnesses can get there, so campers and moms alike need to be prepared. Understanding the risks while trusting the institution can make summer camp in Texas a little safer and more carefree.

For Parents:

Just the idea of having sick kids away from home goes against all maternal and paternal instincts. At Deer Creek Camp, we realize all of our campers are someone’s children. We understand how hard it is to leave your loved ones in the care of others, so we take our role very seriously. Our staff is trained in emergencies, and though even the common cold isn’t common, we’re prepared and experienced enough to ensure your son or daughter recuperates fully and quickly.

For Kids:

Germs are everywhere. Daycares and airplanes are notorious for spreading viruses because they’re confined and crowded spaces. A lot of summer camp in Texas is outdoors, but cabins create the same environment as a plane. It’s less of a risk, but sanitary precautions should be taken. Washing hands isn’t just something to appease parents and teachers; it’s a powerful preventative method of contracting an illness. Enjoy the outdoors, but wash regularly in the cabin and before meals—and when you’re eating, even if a whole cup of punch is going to waste, never eat or drink after your friends. These little rules might sound silly, but they’ll keep you safe, which will keep your camp experience as fun as possible!