Pack The Sleeping Bag: A Summer Camp Guide for Texas Kiddos

This summer we are not whisking ourselves across the pond to Europe and sending our kiddos to a summer camp is fresh on my mind.  Although Max has been to summer camps in France he, nor Amelie, have actually been to a Texas summer camp … and they’re freakin’ Texan!  So, in my quest to do my homework on camps I have either received recommendations from other mothers or have heard from other sources are great, … here are the top 5 camps worth considering, along with important factors that I am using to make an ultimate decision.

And … in no particular order:

Camp Mystic.

I first stumbled upon Camp Mystic some years ago when reading Molly Ivins biography, A Rebel Life.  I don’t know why, but there was something about the memories she shared growing up in Texas and going to this camp that stuck in my permanent memory.  So, I thought – why not put this one of the list.  Established in 1926 by The University of Texas coach, “Doc” Stewart, when researching this place, here is what they have to say about their camp: Camp Mystic is a private Christian summer camp for girls. Established in 1926, Mystic is nestled among cypress, live oak, and pecan trees in the hill country of west-central Texas on the banks of the beautiful Guadalupe River. Mystic is located near the geographical center of Texas, 18 miles northwest of Kerrville. The staff at Mystic strives to provide young girls with a wholesome Christian atmosphere in which they can develop outstanding personal qualities and self-esteem. :

  • Website:
  • Address: 2689 Highway 39, Hunt, Texas 78024
  • Distance from Houston, Texas: 270 miles (estimated)
  • Religious Affiliation:  Nondenominational Christian
  • Camper Ages: 2nd Grade – 12th Grade
  • Time Options: Term 1 (30 days) is 06/02/2017 – 07/01/2017; Term 2 (30 days) is 07/05/2017 – 08/03/2017; Term 3 (13 days) is 08/06/2017 – 08/18/2016
  • Price: $5,575 (Term 1, or Term 2) and $3,525 (Term 3)
  • Sex Segregation: All female camp
  • Packing List: Recommended list
  • Activities:  Aerobics, archery, arts and crafts, basketball, beauty inside and out, camp craft, canoeing and kayaking, cheerleading, chorus, cooking, dance, diving, drama, drawing, fishing, golf, guitar, horseback riding, hunter safety, journalism, lacrosse, land sports, riflery, snorkeling, soccer, swimming, race swimming, synchronized swimming, tennis, tumbling, war canoe, water sports, and yoga.

Camp Ozark.

I have been getting Camp Ozark’s postcards for the past few years, and only recently see that they have their logo on a building off of I-10 … so they do seem established.  With further research, it seems they have moved their headquarters to Houston!  And, if having an established headquarters that doesn’t seem established then perhaps their advertisement of over 6500 campers spending their summer at Camp Ozark, on average, gives a better sense of their magnitude.  They pride themselves on having 400 acres of beautiful, forested terrain and rolling hills; 150 activities and educational classes; and, 11 weeks of summer sessions that “change your life.”  And … as you peruse their site you’ll make a note of Ryan Seiders, Co-Founder & President of YETI Coolers, sharing his experience as a camp alumni, “Camp Ozark instilled the confidence in both Roy and myself to go out and start our own business.  If you have a young camper that might want to be an entrepreneur, the leadership skills and values learned at Camp Ozark are invaluable.”  The only circumstance with this camp is that in my quest to finding something in Texas, this is a bit outside of that jurisdiction.  Nevertheless, the more I learned about the camp, the more the distance became less of weight.

Initially starting as an all-boys camp, Camp Ozark’s co-founders, Carey Selph and John Froelich, purchased the land over 60 years ago and commenced its first year of camp in 1949.  By 1953, the camp was sold to a retired professional baseball player, Pat Ankenman, who remained the sole owner for over 30 years.  Eventually, in 1985 a Houston attorney, Sam Torn, purchased the rights to the camp, being camp alumni from the 1953 class!  Sam not only was a camper but he eventually became a junior counselor and counselor during his adolescence.  Since he and his wife took over ownership, they have grown the camp from 375 campers per summer to over 6,100 campers, and the camp is now extended as a dual-sex camp.

  • Website:
  • Address: 155 Camp Ozark Drive, Mount Ida, AR 71957
  • Distance from Houston, Texas: 420 miles (estimated)
  • Religious Affiliation:  Evangelist Christian Principles (They hold to a spiritual them termed “F.I.T.”, which stands for “First Is Third”.  This theme represents the idea that in order to “win” in life as a Christian, a person must put God first, others second, and themselves third.
  • Camper Ages: Ages 7 thru 17
  • Time Options: 7-Day camp sessions; 14-Day camp sessions; or, 21-Day camp sessions.  A complete list of dates: Click here.
  • Price: $1795 (7-Day), $3095 (14-Day), and $4890 (21-Day) *** prices do not include the cost to transport the camper from their home to Arkansas!
  • Sex Segregation: Both male and female campers; campers are grouped in cabins according to sex, age, development, school grade, and session.
  • Packing List: Recommended list
  • Activities:  Waterfront, water toys – lake, water slides, water skiing, water polo, wakeboarding, wacky world tube, swimming, swim lessons, scuba diving, Ozark water park, kayaking, fly fishing, float trip, fishing, canoeing, Zumba fitness, weightlifting, volleyball, ultimate frisbee, tennis, softball, soccer, smash ball, skateboarding, inline skating, ping pong, miniature golf, lacrosse, track and field, golf, football, dodgeball, disc golf, Coach John Herndon Basketball Camp, capture the flag, camp combat, battle, batting cages, basketball, baseball, athletic training, 9 square, tandem, slacklining, pamper pole / super swing, outdoor survivor, outdoor construction, mountain biking, mini-drone racing, journeys, hunter safety, hiking, high adventure ropes course, boy scout merit badges, bouldering and climbing, barn swing, trail rides, horsemanship – arena, young engineers courses, woodworking, wood burning, wax painting, walking sticks, t-shirt printing, superhero crafts, string art, stained glass, seat weaving, rocketry, robotics, PVC crafts, pottery wheel, pottery hand-building, needle felting, mosaics, model building, marshmallow launchers, Lego building, jewelry making, iron chef culinary institute, grill masters culinary institute, glass fusing, fabric arts, duct tape design, drawing and painting, derby cars, ceramics, candle making, baking culinary institute, art journaling and doodling, airbrushing, gymnastics, dance – stomp, dance – jazz, dance – hip hop, cheerleading – stunting, guitar, acting, skeet shooting, riflery, paintball, laser tag, archery, writing, short films, newspaper, digital photography, babysitter training, etc.

Camp Pine Cove.

A few of the mothers I know referred Pine Cove because of the location, and it seems their kiddos enjoyed their camp experience.  Opening its doors for the first time in 1968, this camp was founded by four men in 1964 in their quest “of God to show favor on the idea of a new Christian camp.”  Their website shares they have had over 1 million campers since it’s first summer camp and has expanded from an original 10-acres campground to now encompassing a host of camps: 6 camps in East Texas (Towers, Ranch, Timbers, Shores, Woods, and Bluffs), and three near Columbus, Texas (Crier Creek, Silverado, and Outback).  The founders still look for Pine Cove “to be used by God to transform the lives of people for His purpose and His glory …”.

  • Website:
  • Address: P.O. Box 9000, Tyler, Texas 75711
  • Distance from Houston, Texas: *** varies depending on the camp chosen
  • Religious Affiliation:  Inter-Denominational Christian (Lutheran, Baptist, and Bible churches)
  • Camper Ages: Grades 2nd thru 12th
    • Camp Silverado is for 2nd – 5th Graders, located in Columbus, Texas
    • Camp Towers is for 2nd – 5th Graders, located in Tyler, Texas
    • Camp Outback is for 6th – 12th Graders, located in Columbus, Texas
    • Camp Ranch is for 6th – 7th Graders, located in Tyler, Texas
    • Camp Timbers is for 8th – 9th Graders, located in Tyler, Texas
    • Camp Shores is for 10th – 12th Graders, located in Tyler, Texas
  • Time Options: 7-Day allotments where parents can choose the total weeks they wish their children to participate in the camp.  A complete list of dates: Click here.
  • Price: Between $949 – $1149/per week, depending on the week(s) chosen: Click here for pricing information.
  • Sex Segregation: Both male and female campers; campers are grouped in cabins according to sex and school grade.
  • Packing List:  A packing list couldn’t be found, but a typical day could look like this!
  • Activities:  Horseback riding, oasis pool, canoeing, water zip lining, dunk basketball court, treehouse, “The Blob” lake tube, aqua trampoline, runway, “exploreteering”, stealth patrol, zip lining, BB’s, archery, scooter squad, sports court, football, volleyball, and arts & crafts

Camp Cho-Yeh.

Another Texas camp inspired for greatness, Cho-Yeh seems to have been established in 1947 as a Christian camp and retreat.  The name was apparently inspired from native roots, where Cho-Yeh means “land of tall pines” from local Alabama-Coushatta Indians.  They have a full-time staff of over 25, and a summer crew that grows over 200 in counselor and support staff.

  • Website:
  • Address: 2539 Highway 59 South, Livingston, Texas 77351
  • Distance from Houston, Texas: 80 miles (estimated)
  • Religious Affiliation:  Nondenominational Christian
  • Camper Ages: Ages 6 thru 16
  • Time Options: Day Camp One Week Sessions, Overnight Half-Week Sessions, Overnight One-Week Sessions, and Overnight Two-Week Sessions
  • Price: Day camp is $180/week, Overnight Half-Week is $460, Overnight One-Week Session is $915, and Overnight Two-Week Session is $1,690. Click here for pricing information.
  • Sex Segregation: Both male and female campers; campers are grouped in cabins according to sex and school grade.  Cabins vary in capacity size, with an average ratio of 1 counselor per 6-7 campers.
  • Packing List:  Recommended List
  • Activities:  Archery, arts and crafts, fishing, gaga ball, jumping pillow, pool, riflery, treehouse, rock wall, swimming, tomahawks, wrist rockets, zipline, bubble soccer, dodgeball, fire building, improv acting, lake Livingston, paintball, screamer (giant swing), stand up paddleboard, ultimate frisbee, water wall, archery tag, blog and zip, hang time,

Camp Lonehollow.

This camp came at the highest recommendation from a friend’s daughters who are camp alumni.  The top two reasons for their admiration for this camp: (1)the most breath-taking campgrounds … the water from the rivers are crystal clear, and (2) compliments of the chef(s) for camp food that meets a kid’s taste buds!  With over 3,000 acres to roam and play, this camp acclaims the spirit of this place is due to “the opportunity to unplug, enjoy acres of the outdoors, grow full-circle in skills and character, establish lifelong friendships, and experience a simpler style of living”.

Additional insider information is that once kiddos step onto this property, all cell phones and technology are asked to remain behind.  Kids are encouraged to write home to parents as often as they’d like, and vice versa.  And, if it happens your child’s birthday occurs while at camp, they can call home … but, the best part is that the camp presents a surprise birthday cake for everyone to sing along to and eat together 🙂

Lonehollow is prideful to their approach in incorporating the latest child development research into their programs, which aims at providing campers social-emotional learning and 21st-century skills.   Their core values are: Growth, Empower, Adventure, and Resilience.

  • Website:
  • Address: 1010 Cooley Lane, Vanderpool, Texas 78885
  • Distance from Houston, Texas: 280 miles (estimated)
  • Religious Affiliation:  Nondenominational Christian, although “All faiths welcome”.
  • Camper Ages: Ages 7 thru 16
  • Time Options: Term 1A: 06/03/2017 – 06/17/2017, Term 1B: 06/18/2017 – 07/02/2017, Term 2A: 07/08/2017 – 07/22/2017, or Term 2B: 07/23/2017 – 08/06/2017
  • Price: $1,755 (this price applies only to a One-Week Session for ages 7-9), $3,510 (Two-Week Session), or $5,790 (Four-Week Session)
  • Sex Segregation: Both male and female campers; campers are grouped in cabins according to sex and school grade.  Cabins accommodate between 7-15 campers, with a 1:5 counselor-to-camper ratio.
  • Packing List:  Recommended List
  • Activities:  Adventure activities, archery, fishing, mountain biking, mountain boarding, outdoor education, riflery, rock wall, camp crafts, ceramics, fused glass, jewelry making, leather works, sewing / knitting, sketching and painting, woodworking, bible study, game on, “kidsz konstruction”, leisure sport, mad science, outdoor cooking, pathfinder cooking, puppy park, summer reading, yoga, horseback, equine care, western trail riding, polocrosse, mounted games, English equitation / jumping, badminton, baseball, basketball, cross country, field sports, flag football, golf, lacrosse, soccer, softball, table tennis, tennis, ultimate frisbee, volleyball, weight training, drama, glee, guitar, hip hop dance, illusions, journalism, music, photography, radio station DJ, skits and props, videography, canoeing / kayaking, paddle boarding, sailing, scuba diving, snorkeling, swimming, and water games


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