Camp Aranzazu
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Camp Aranzazu

Our First Camp Aranza-Crew!

Written by: Carleigh Mitchell, Program Manager

This past November, we had our first ever Camp Aranzazu hosted family camp weekend called Camp Aranza-Crew!

Two family campers, Dawn and Caden, smile while Caden waits to climb the rock wall at Camp Aranzazu. Dawn and Caden are seated at log benches in the middle of camp

We were thrilled to finally have the opportunity to host a family camp weekend which was created out of a want to serve people safely in the midst of the pandemic, and to reach those who may not fit into our traditional camping model. Camp Aranzazu typically serves campers on a “partner model,” meaning we partner with other established groups, organizations, schools, etc., who coordinate sign-ups, gather volunteers, and come by population to be hosted by our team! Many of our partner groups are family camps who we have been lucky to serve throughout our years. We decided it was time to expand our horizons a bit and offer an opportunity for individuals to sign up through camp directly, as opposed to with a partner organization, and the family camp weekend came to be! In November, five families were able to come together to experience the fun and respite of Camp Aranzazu.

One of these families was the Nix family, from San Marcos, and I had the privilege of hearing them share their thoughts on spending time at Camp Aranzazu as a family.

The Nix Family enjoying arts and crafts at Camp Aranzazu. David, Alex, and Armilyn (left to right) paint tiles in the art center

“We heard about Camp Aranzazu about 3 years ago through [Camp Aranzazu partner organization] Aspire Accessories…I looked at [Camp Aranzazu] and liked what I saw and I was thrilled that there was a camp for kids and young adults with special needs out here. I looked into a way to go and saw that you guys offered a family camp weekend so we decided to try it.”

When asked why his family chose Camp Aranzazu, David said, “The camp always looked nice, and the facilities looked nice through the pictures I had seen on the website and Instagram. The variety of activities offered was a bunch of stuff that we’ve never done before.”

“There’s a lot of first-time experiences and we’re up for trying new things and new adventures,” adds Armilyn.

Families were able to participate in a variety of activities all together, including archery, painting tiles, tie dyeing t-shirts, swinging on our Screamer, fishing, and sailing in Copano Bay!

Family camper, Cara, flying through the air on the screamer at camp aranzazu
Family campers, Carol and the three other family members, enjoy fishing at the inland pond at camp aranzazu

The Nix family’s favorite activities were sailing and archery — both things they don’t typically have the opportunity to do!

Family camper, April, takes aim with her bow while at the archery range
Family camper, Alex, sailing on Copano Bay with Camp Aranzazu activity leader. Riprap is pictured int he background.

The family camp weekend experience offers a unique opportunity to not only bond as a family, but build connections and friendships with others.

David notes that what made their experience at Camp Aranzazu so special was “just being around other families who are in similar situations. And even though each of their families has different special needs, we all can kind of relax and did not feel self-conscious about it….We all have a common bond and patience [with each other]. It was just nice everyone being able to relax and be themselves.”

Family campers, Erin, Olivia, Carol (pictures left to right) each hold up their freshly painted tile in the arts center and smile.
Family camper, nicole, hods up her catch after an afternoon fishing on Copano Bay

To other families considering attending family camp, David says to do it! “It’s worth it. It’s just a great time to be with your family. The grounds are lovely, we enjoyed our morning walks and seeing wildlife. It’s very calm and peaceful. The family camp especially…it’s laid-back and you can really focus on enjoying your family and family time.”

Camp Aranzazu typically hosts partner groups from the Coastal Bend, Houston, and San Antonio areas, but family groups are welcome to come from all over Texas and beyond. The next Camp Aranza-Crew is scheduled for March 2022! Be sure and check our website for additional information and to sign up!

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