Category: Texas Summer Camps

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 www.deercreekcamp.com.

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 www.deercreekcamp.com. To learn more about Camp Barnabas, check out www.campbarnabas.org. If you have questions about which term your child should attend, contact our Camp Registrar, Sandy Smith, at 417.737.7076 or email sandy@campbarnabas.org.

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.

Sleepovers

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.

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.

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.

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!

If it wasn’t great to be a camp counselor in Texas, no one would do it, because on paper the job isn’t the most appealing. Long hours, unhappy campers, and a pretty modest paycheck don’t add up to the best job. People, though, continue to return to the position, year after year, because it’s also one of the most fun and fulfilling things you can do with your summer. An internship at a major accounting firm might inflate your bank account, but investing in the lives of kids and being paid to create friendships make for one of the best jobs in the world. Making money by being social is an extrovert’s dream, but it still requires a bit of patience to be a camp counselor in Texas.

Every job requires a lot of empathy. Understanding where a customer’s frustration lies, reconciling contradictory opinions among coworkers, adapting communication skills for different personalities: all lines of work need empathetic people. Camp counseling is no exception. To really excel at the work, you have to communicate with campers at their level. Some nights you might not get much sleep, might have a poison ivy outbreak, might have to clean the sheets of a kid who had a scary dream. Things go awry, but through it all, patience is required to be a camp counselor in Texas. Your main job is to ensure kids have a great time, which means you need to stay composed and upbeat in even the most aggravating situations. It’s not a role just anyone can fill, but if you’re capable of being patient, it’s a truly amazing job.