Director's Note
Summer 2020 did not turn out the way anyone expected. The COVID-19 pandemic presented dynamic challenges that were confusing, limiting, haunting, and halting. The Episcopal Diocese of West Texas’s camping program was forced to evolve in creative and painful ways, challenging our faith and our stamina. Out of an abundance of caution, the Diocese and the Camps & Conferences Department decided not to hold Summer Camp at Camp Capers, and for the first time in 73 years the warm summer air did not fill with the joyous laughter of children playing, worshipping, singing, and living together in Christian community on the banks of the Guadalupe River.

However, 2020 is not the first year Camp Capers has had to make the heart wrenching decision not to hold summer camp because of a pandemic. A polio outbreak forced Camp Capers to postpone its very first summer, scheduled for 1946, until the next year. Our story began with hard choices to protect children and staff; choices that allowed Camp Capers to welcome our first campers with joy and confidence in summer of 1947. We are reassured to know that the difficult decisions we faced this year were also faced by the camp directors and diocesan leaders before us, and that it is because of their faithful stewardship that the ministry of Camp Capers began and continues today.

While the diocese did not hold summer camp at Camp Capers in 2020, our camping programs still found ways to continue living out our mission. We conducted nine successful sessions of Family Camp at Mustang Island Conference Center; planned, purchased, prepared, and delivered 2,347 “Camp in a Box” kits to under-served youth through Communities in Schools; hosted families and individuals at Duncan Park in Colorado every week, all summer long; and conducted seven Family Retreats at Camp Capers, with more on the calendar for Fall 2020.

Additionally, the Mustang Island Waves of Growth Campaign has successfully reached its goal, raising $4.6 million in gifts and pledges, to build a beautiful open-air chapel and more lodging. Both projects are long-awaited and much-needed additions to the conference center and will improve the ways we are able to serve families, churches, and guests at our island home. The Campaign committee is co-chaired by Alice Sallee, Gregg Robertson, and Bill Pettus of Good Shepherd, Corpus Christi. We give thanks for this committee and for their persistent work to reach this exciting moment. The Diocese is collaborating with a contractor on the final designs and hope to break ground on the new buildings this fall.

Duncan Park’s site committee, led by Tommy Mathews of St. Helena’s, Boerne, began a Master Planning process facilitated by architect Ben Adam, also a member of St. Helena's. The committee and camp staff have worked hard all summer, studying the current and future needs of the Duncan Park ministry, facility opportunities, and limits. The group hopes to have a plan in place by the end of this year.

The ongoing improvements to the Duncan Park facilities continued this summer, included re-siding the rear exterior wall and adding new windows to the Main Lodge. Now, the lodge has been completely re-sided, providing protection to the outside of the building for years to come.

Camp Capers also launched a Master Planning process, beginning with the Brinsmade Sanctuary, the 108 undeveloped acres added in 2013. Thanks to a generous, anonymous gift, we hired Ten Eyck Landscape Architects to survey the acreage and develop a plan focused on ecological restoration, wildlife preservation, and environmental education. A low-impact teaching pavilion with bathrooms, a rainwater collection system, and solar panels is the first priority. The pavilion will be an excellent place to hold worship, teach creation care, and gather, as well as provide a central re-stocking place for Summer Camp overnight camp-outs and camping reservations year-round. Construction of this simple, highly functional pavilion is anticipated to begin later this fall.

The world will remember Summer 2020 as the summer of face masks, canceled plans, and social distancing. And yet, in the midst of these unknown and tragic times, the importance of focusing on our work, our ministry, and our commitment to you and the Diocese has grounded our camping program and continues to provide stability as we begin planning for the future.

We constantly pray to God for guidance and strive to follow the teachings of Jesus as we walk together through this season; we continue to look to you, our camp community, for prayers and support. Thank you for your trust and the ways you continue to engage with our diocesan camping programs.

Blessings,

Rob
Rob Watson
Camps & Conferences Director
office: (210) 824-5387
Featured Fall Events
Camp Capers, Sept. 11 - 13
Mothers, Daughters and Grandmothers of all ages are invited to a weekend at Camp Capers that centers on growing and kindling that unique and special bond that mothers and daughters have, while participating in fun and faith-centered activities such as swimming, high ropes, kayaking, gardening, arts and crafts, hiking, worship services, Bible lessons, and so much more. The Rev. Carrie Guerra, rector of St. Francis, San Antonio, will serve as chaplain.
Camp Capers, Sept. 24 - 27
Spend a long weekend at Camp Capers, exploring what creation care means for us and our families, while experiencing the natural beauty of this place and brainstorming ways to take action to protect our wildscapes at home and in our communities.
Mustang Island Conference Center, Sept. 25 - 27
Wounded Warrior and Veteran families are invited to a relaxed family weekend at the beach. The weekend will begin with dinner Friday at 6:00 p.m. and ends with lunch on Sunday. Optional activities will include beach time, arts & crafts, campfire, s'mores, and evening worship.
Camp Capers, Oct. 2 - 4
A special service-oriented weekend for families, couples, and individuals to give back to Camp Capers and experience an enjoyable weekend away. Work projects may include grounds clean-up, trail maintenance on the Brinsmade Sanctuary and meditation trail, stocking firewood for campfires and Steves Hall, landscaping, and gardening.
Camp Capers, Oct. 9 - 11
Mothers bring your sons, fathers bring your daughters! You are invited to a weekend at Camp Capers that centers on growing and kindling that unique and special bond that parents have with their children while participating in fun and faith-centered activities such as high ropes, kayaking, gardening, arts and crafts, hiking, worship, Bible lessons, and so much more.
Camp Capers, Oct. 29 - Nov 1
Bring your family out to Camp Capers to learn about and celebrate Halloween, All Saint’s Day and Dia de Los Muertos! Find out more about the origins of each holiday and experience traditional and cultural activities that are specific to our region and the Episcopal Church. Activities will include pumpkin carving, arts & crafts, trick or treating, costume party (socially distanced), movie under stars, haunted/non-haunted family hay rides, campfires, cider sippin’ and more!
Camp Capers, Nov. 6 - 8
A weekend retreat focused on feeding our souls through art! Art & Soul will create space for creativity and for spiritual, Christian learning in community with other artists from across the diocese. Bring your own crafting supplies and work on your projects or sign up for an artist-led workshop and learn a new skill.
Camp Capers, Dec. 10 - 13
Bring your family to Camp Capers and cozy up to the fire with a mug of hot cocoa, make and decorate Capers’ Christmas Cookies, create a family Advent wreath, sing Christmas carols around the campfire, and get crafty making Christmas tree ornaments. Learn more about the season of Advent, Christmas, and how we, as Episcopalians, prepare for and celebrate the birth of Jesus.
Giving Opportunities
The Big Give SA 2020: September 10
Camps & Conferences is participating in The Big Give 2020, an online day of giving supporting nonprofits in Central Texas on Thursday, September 10th. Our camping programs have been greatly impacted by COVID-19, and this year all proceeds from The Big Give will help us to continue providing safe opportunities for members of our congregations to deepen their faith and experience the transformative love of Christ through our programs - in this year, and years to come. Mark your calendars to partner with us by giving online at www.thebiggivesa.org on September 10th, and spread the word by using your social media networks to share your love for DWTX Camps & Conferences!
15th Annual Bishop's Golf Classic: November 6
The 15th Annual Bishop's Golf Classic will benefit three diocesan programs, including Camps & Conferences; the tournament will take place, with modifications and pandemic precautions, on Friday, November 6th at Canyon Springs Golf Club in San Antonio. Registration for golfers and more information will be released later this month at dwtx.org/events.
Planned Giving
Leave a legacy of love: include DWTX camping ministries in your estate planning. A planned gift to the diocesan camping ministries would ensure the camping programs you love continue for future generations. Contact Anne Spears, Director of Development, at anne.spears@dwtx.org, for additional information on the diocesan planned giving program.
Campfire Testimonies
"The great gift of backpacking with Duncan Park is clarity. We finally see, feel, and know in our bodies that God gives us all of creation as a sacrament by which we might know Him more fully. Food, fire, and water; stars and sunlight and the great dome of the sky; the burdens we carry for ourselves and those we we carry for each other; our companions on the way: these are always outward and visible signs of an inward and spiritual grace made surer than the mountains. It's just that at Duncan Park we see them more clearly. - The Rev. Daniel Strandlund
"Our family absolutely loved the super friendly staff at Mustang Island. They were loving, kind, and helpful, and really made us feel a part of everything. We will definitely be back as soon as possible!" - 2020 Mustang Island Family Camp Participant
“This was a wonderful respite from our life staying-at-home. Camp Capers did a wonderful job of giving our family a camp experience and making us feel safe. The food was awesome, and the camp counselors worked so hard to make things great. So grateful to you all. We’ll be back!" - Camp Capers Family Retreat participant
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