Rob Watson, the director of Camps and Conferences, began the department’s report by thanking the diocese for their support of the thriving ministry at each camp site: Camp Capers, Mustang Island Conference Center, and the Colorado Adventure Program. He then introduced the 2013 Camps promotional video, which covers all three camping programs.
Watson delivered an update on the Colorado Adventure Program, saying the department was able to send youth from Good Samaritan Community Services in San Antonio and St. Jude’s Children’s Ranch on a one-week backpacking trip last summer, at no cost to the children. Many of the children that attended had never been out of the state of Texas or on an airplane. Watson said they were full of wonder and excitement the entire journey. Watson reported that Jody Sickle will return for her fifth year as the camp guide this summer, and a trip for college-age adults will be added.
Brian Kates, program director at Camp Capers, spoke to the success of the summer of 2012, saying Camp Capers hosted over 1,100 campers. He recognized the summer staff and the deans, chaplains, and teachers. Kates introduced Caroline Kittrell who will serve as staff director this coming summer. Kittrell recently graduated from New York University and has since performed on Broadway. She grew up going to Camp Capers and is ready for and excited about the summer ahead.
Kates reported that the adopt-a-staff-member program was a huge success, and is open again for 2013. Churches that participate are randomly assigned a staff member’s name and asked to send them goodies and care packages throughout the summer.
Registration for Camp Capers is now open year-round and in full swing. Kates also informed Council of a music camp that is being planned for the summer of 2014 with St. Mark’s, San Antonio. The camp will be held on St. Mark’s campus and will provide musical opportunities for children and youth of all skill sets. Kates told Council to keep April 14, CAMPS Sunday, on the calendar and to plan to wear your favorite camp “swag,” or merchandise, to church that day.
Johnson Jeffers, program director at Mustang Island Conference Center, delivered a brief end-of-year report on the ministry at Mustang Island, saying 58 groups plus 222 families came to the conference center; and the incredible kitchen staff served over 15,000 meals in 2012. Of the 222 families that attended Family Camp, 74 were new, which represented a nine percent increase from 2011.
A couple of different activities for the summer Family Camp staff included partnering with the diocesan department of College Missions and working a discipleship program and Bible study. The staff would gather in fellowship to “fill their cups before they poured out their hearts to our families,” said Johnson. In addition, the staff began serving and mentoring to the children at Cliff Maus Village, a low-income housing complex in Corpus Christi that is sponsored by many of the local Episcopal churches. They went to Cliff Maus every Tuesday for ten weeks throughout the summer and found that more and more kids showed up to play and visit with them each week. “The staff loved building the lasting relationships; we realized we need to serve those outside our own walls, too,” said Johnson.
In the first eight weeks of 2013, Mustang Island Conference Center has hosted 11 groups, including the Wounded Warrior Program. Thirteen warriors retreated to the beach in January and will return in August. Johnson said serving these men and women who have selflessly served us is only possible because of diocesan support.
Johnson said the 11th season of Family Camp begins in less than three weeks with the Spring Break session. Registration for all sessions is open, and he encouraged churches to send their families down to the coast for a relaxing and spiritual time. Johnson then said after attending the national Episcopal Camps and Conferences annual conference in Kanuga, North Carolina, this month, he knows the Diocese of West Texas is so blessed to have a diocesan family and bishops who understand the importance of camping ministry and so devotedly support it.
Click here to view the Camps 2013 promotional video. You will also find the link to register for sessions at Camp Capers, Family Camp at Mustang Island, or the Colorado Adventure Program.