Our mission is to help every camper grow into the champion they are intended to be.
There are many quality camps in the US, several of which call the lovely state of Texas home. Separating great camps from good camps isn’t always easy to do. Here is the definitive, unapologetic, and comprehensive argument for why Camp Champions is not just a great camp, but the best camp in Texas.
From afar, Camp Champions looks like pure fun: from state-of-the-art facilities (their waterfront is truly top notch) and activities like wake-boarding and axe-throwing, to popular traditions such as camp-wide dances, Trojan/Spartan Games, and Torchlight, there is plenty of fun to be had.
Champions, however, approaches fun as a vehicle for growth. They understand how a high ropes course or a horseback lesson presents a unique opportunity to challenge children and teach them important life skills. They have made character development – in particular the cultivation of resilience, independence, confidence, and bravery – their modus operandi.
How do they do it? Here are a few examples:
Read more about building strength and resilience at camp in the four articles below.
Champions’ technology policy may be one of the most powerful elements of camp. Campers leave their devices at home and spend their time at camp untethered to the digital world. Counselors keep their phones in a personal locker and only use them during their off-time.
In a world where screens and devices stretch as far as the eye can see, Camp Champions has become an oasis where children and staff build relationships – meaningful relationships – by playing and working together and communicating face-to-face.
No social media distractions.
No buzzing pockets.
Everyone is present.
Steve Baskin, co-owner of Camp Champions, explains his position on technology and camp in his TedTalk:
Your child will be the one comforting a friend in college, not the other way around.
Champions understands that the benefits of camp last a lifetime and because of this, the staff take great care to establish and reinforce universal principles in the community. Ask just about any camper – especially the littlest kiddos – what the 4 R’s are, and they’ll recite them from heart:
The 4 R’s are the pillars upon which the Camp Champions community is built. Respect and Responsibility are fairly straightforward, but no less important, and at camp they manifest themselves in a variety of ways. Everyone – campers and counselors alike – address each other with “Sir” or “Ma’am” to convey respect (for example, “Good morning, Steve Sir!”).
At mealtimes, campers are responsible for cleaning and clearing their table. Each morning, they make their beds and prepare their cabins for inspection.
Reasonable Risk refers to Champions’ support of campers as they reach for new heights (i.e. learn to swim) and overcome old fears (i.e. ride a horse for the first time).
Reaching Out encourages campers to make friends with new people each year, and is critical to welcoming first-time campers to the Champions family.
It’s hard to fast-forward a decade and imagine your little 8-year-old heading off to college, but before long it will be a reality. While children don’t have college on their minds, it’s important for parents to know that it’s coming.
There is, however, no cause for worry: Champions is ahead of the curve here, too. Thanks to their counselor role models, intimate cabin model, and wide variety of activities, Champions prepares campers (and staff) to succeed in college. The campers are challenged to think critically and develop communication skills, creativity and collaboration. Everyday they build independence by tackling and surmounting challenges – even homesickness – without parental aid.
The Camp Champions experience culminates in the High School Leadership Program. Developed by the owners, it is a gold standard for teen programs around the country, having inspired and influenced other camps to create similar curricula for young adults. The High School Leadership Program bridges the often uncomfortable years between childhood and adulthood, challenging campers to grow as leaders, think for themselves, and give back to the community.
It is the cherry on top of a brilliant camp experience and prepares each graduate to succeed in college and beyond.
To read further on the intersection of camp and college, click below.
Given Camp Champions’ commitment to child development and preparing kids for the future, it is no great surprise that they earned recognition as an “Exemplar Program” from the Partnership for 21st Century Skills.
This award places Champions in rare company – Champions is one of only 4 non-school programs to receive it, which speaks directly to their dedication to education.
Okay, they’re not guitar-wielding rock stars, but when it comes to owning a camp, Steve and Susie Baskin are at the top of their field and have many adoring fans. They have shaped and guided Camp Champions since 1996, accumulating appropriately high honors and numerous accolades over the years. Steve is frequently consulted by behavior scientists and authors about child psychology, camp, and technology, and has regular speaking gigs at both national and international camp functions.
Some specific examples of why Champions is so respected and admired throughout the camping business.
Camp Champions is featured in the definitive book on camp and children, Homesick and Happy by Dr. Michael Thompson, himself a New York Times bestseller author.
Camp Champions has been named favorite overnight camp by Austin Family Magazine three years in a row (2017, 2018, 2019)!
Camp Champions is a top 60 camp in North America.
Steve is the US Ambassador to the International Camping Fellowship.
Steve is the Chair of the American Camp Foundation
Steve writes for Psychology Today on Parenting and Youth Development
Steve gave a Tedx talk on the power of unplugging at camp.
Steve developed a study to prove the benefits of camp with Dr. David Yeager (University of Texas) and Dr. Chris Hulleman (University of Virginia).
Steve worked with Dr Shawn Achor on ways to cultivate Optimism in camp environment.
Steve served on the American Camp Association’s National Board for 6 years, and spent 3 years on the Executive Committee.
Steve chaired the largest gathering of camp professionals for 3 years.
Steve received a National Honor Award and National Service Award.
Going to camp for the first time is super exciting…but it can also be a little daunting. After all, it’s a foray into the unknown, a big leap of faith for both child and parent.
Camp Champions knows this and is prepared to make that first summer a truly magical experience. With several different touch points across multiple mediums, Champions is crushing the parent communication game. Here’s how they do it:
They have an entire wing of staff (called “SERF”) exclusively dedicated to first-time campers. Trained by Kate Hutson, their Director of First-Time Campers, SERF counselors float from cabin to cabin, paying special attention to the new kiddos.
First-time parents will receive email updates from SERF staff in addition to a phone call update from their child’s cabin counselor.
Champions sends a daily stream of curated photos to parents so they can see their child doing all sorts of fun activities!
Recently, Champions added an “Extension” option, allowing campers to add a week onto their original session. This is especially helpful for first-time campers, who sign-up for one week but don’t want to leave after just seven short days! Division Leaders correspond with parents to make an informed decision about the extension.
Champions sends first-time camper packages in the winter, letting families know they are being thought about even when camp is not in session. The packages – stuffed with fun camp swag and necessities – help kids get excited for the summer.
New families receive a Parent Guide with detailed and thoughtful information about preparing for camp, including a section on how to lessen pre-camp anxiety.
Champions hold their counselors to extremely high standards and tolerate nothing short of excellence all summer long.
Training: Before the campers arrive, Champions holds a two-week-long orientation program for its staff, which is one of the longest in the nation. These fourteen days are mission critical to success: they empower counselors, train them thoroughly, and bring them together as one big family ready and excited to welcome the kids on opening day.
Mature: Champions counselors tend to be a bit older and more mature than those at other camps. Unless they have graduated from Champions’ High School Leadership Program, these young men and women must have completed at least one year of college or university.
Drinking Policy: Once they step foot on camp property, counselors pledge not to drink alcohol…even on their off nights. Many camps have similar policies, but few enforce it as effectively as Champions. All summer long, nobody drinks – that includes Leadership Staff, Directors and Owners. This helps ensure that every member of staff is there for the right reason: namely, the kids!
Technology: Counselors keep their devices stored away in personal lockers for use during off time only. When they’re working, they are 100% committed to the job.
International: Their directors travel the world in search of excellent staff, often hiring from Australia, Great Britain, Mexico and Asia. A panoply of accents await your ears each summer at Camp Champions.
Camp Champions offers 1, 2 and 3 week terms for boys and girls ages 5-17.