Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Meet the Owner

Christine and her three children
(Katie, Annabelle and Mac)
We had the opportunity to talk with Camp Balcones Springs’ fabulous owner, Christine Baskin, to hear her feedback on camp’s background, her role as owner and why CBS is the amazing place it is today.

A graduate of Southern Methodist University and Ursuline Academy in Dallas, Christine is actively involved in every facet of Camp.  She helps with counselor recruitment from colleges and universities, in addition to adding her energy and talents to the entire programming taking place at Camp Balcones Springs.  Further, she helps to plan camper recruiting events  throughout Texas and beyond. 

When did you originate Camp Balcones Springs?

Camp Balcones Springs was established in 1993.  We plan on having our 20th birthday next summer!

What did you initially envision when deciding to build on your property?

I envisioned almost exactly what we are right now, and that is a premier summer camp that enjoys a dual use, converting at summer’s end to a Retreat/Event Center.  There are still a few works in progress.

Did you attend summer camp growing up?

I grew up in California and did not know of anybody who went to summer camp.  My siblings and I grew up going to my grandfather’s cabin outside of Lebec, California, and spent summers going to the beach in Santa Monica.  My family moved to Dallas, Texas, when I was in the middle of the 8th grade (my father’s company decided to open a southwest branch of his engineering company).  I attended Ursuline Academy in the 9th grade and was mesmerized by the stories of my soon-to-be-closest friend, Anne Wunderlick; she told countless stories of Term 3 at Camp Longhorn. I felt like I had been cheated out of a part of growing up.

What has CBS brought to your life?

I receive letters weekly from parents and from children who say that they could not imagine their lives without CBS and the impact that not only camp but Camp Balcones Springs has made upon them. 

What would you say makes CBS different from other summer camps?

Our staff, and the almost two weeks of training that staff receives. We spend more time and resources recruiting our Counselors than we do on any other area of Camp; that’s how important our staff is to us. We also focus on many areas of traditional summer camp that we feel are important in helping children succeed while here at Camp. For example, we provide air conditioning so that children can receive a good night’s sleep and be prepared, therefore, to tackle challenges every day. We have a talented and year-round culinary staff that is able to satisfy every dietary need. We spend almost twice as much on food as other summer camps; buying higher quality, fresh fruits and vegetables rather than the canned, processed, premade items purchased by many other camps (per John Gallimore, our Labatt representative).  Food, sleep, training, Counselors – and we set aside a period during the day for children to roam wherever they wish around Camp.  Of course, the entire property is supervised and carefully watched. They get to experience a bit of freedom and unscheduled leisure time, which is a direct response to the frantically overscheduled lives children deal with these days. Our year-round staff of 38 people provides a strong stability for our Camp, rather than having to rely on ‘summer-only’ staff that often does not return.

What is your favorite CBS memory?

Every day provides a new bit of stitchery to a wonderful memory-tapestry; choosing one is very difficult. 

Most recently, at “Team Initiation” this summer (a very solemn event conducted at the Team Hideouts, and there are four of them), I persuaded a young man, a favorite counselor here last summer, currently our inspirational Sunday speaker who is training to be a yell leader at A&M, to do the unprecedented – to come to the Girls-Only Team Initiation of new campers.  He was hidden in the shadows; however, most of the girls knew that he was there. One of the girls whispered to me that somehow, eight years ago, she had not been initiated as a new camper.  I whispered back to her that maybe we should have our guest perform a symbolic initiation.  At that point, the three girls standing with her said that they also had not been initiated!  They were kidding, of course. ;)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Our Counselors. Our Heroes.

A hero is an individual who exhibits bold, honorable and daring actions; he or she is willing to replace his or her own needs with the needs of others. A hero doesn’t have to have super powers or save the world in the nick of time. In fact, oftentimes a hero humbly steps back and does not seek recognition for his or her actions.

Here at CBS, we find these unique characteristics in our counselors daily. We could not operate our winning program or impact lives without our amazing counselors and cannot begin to tell you the endless praise we receive from parents and campers about their enthusiasm and charisma.

To make sure we bring on only the best counselors, we invest much of our off-season time searching for the most enthusiastic, fun-loving, tender-hearted counselors. We travel to universities across the country to find the young men and women who are passionate about spending their summer building into children and modeling a Christ-like lifestyle for our campers.

Our counselors encourage and inspire campers to grow in character and integrity. They touch the lives of campers in ways that change them forever and build relationships that last. They wake up every morning with a smile on their faces, push their personal needs and wants aside, and are ready to take on the craziness of camp! 

Thank you to all of who have ever served as a CBS counselor—all of you really are our heroes.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Why send your child to summer camp?

Parents, for those of you who attended summer camp growing up, it’s a no brainer. Camp was life. Some of you could even say camp defines who you are today. However, those without what we camp folk call an essential “life experience” may need some convincing.

Summer camp is more than sports, cabins and blow up lake toys (though our Blob is certainly a highlight of CBS J). Camp is a platform that gives children the opportunity to step out of their comfort zones, build confidence, create friendships and gain independence.

We have 5 reasons summer camp is a positive addition to a child’s life:

1. Drop the iPhone

Imagine a place where your child takes a break from his or her computer and electronic devices. Today, children can be so busy with texting, Facebook and YouTube that they forget how to communicate in real life and in real time. Without these distractions, a child is able to get outside, try new things and truly engage in meaningful conversations with his or her peers.

2. Build Confidence

Our camp counselors are trained to nudge their campers out of their comfort zones and try new things, whether a new activity or trying new foods! When campers are encouraged to try things on their own, they discover new and positive things about themselves, thereby building an inner-confidence. 

3. Develop New Skills

Camp Balcones Springs offers over 40 activities to choose from, and campers are given the opportunity to choose what they would like to participate in. It gives them a chance to step away from their usual sport activities and try new ones they would not normally get to do at home. Camp is a great way for children discover and develop new activity and personal skills.

4. Experience Diversity

Children are often only exposed to a core group of people including family friends, school friends, teachers, etc. Camp brings children in contact with children and counselors from different schools, communities and cultures. This encourages them to not only accept different types of people and customs, but gives them the opportunity to begin different types of friendships.

5. Create Lifelong Friendships

One of the most important things about camp is making new friends. Camp friends are a different kind of friend. The friendships a child creates at summer camp stem from a strong family-type bond. The experience, excitement and education of making new friends, learning to live together  and appreciating differences quickly transforms camp from just a group of peers into an ever-growing family unit.