Twenty years ago, two UT students—Sean Petrie, BS ’93, and Allison Weinstock, BA ’93—wanted a way to help incoming freshmen better acclimate to campus. Inspired by Texas A&M’s Fish Camp, the pair founded Camp Texas, hoping to create an even better orientation program for UT—and they succeeded.
What started out with just 50 students attracted nearly 800 campers this summer for two and a half days of outdoor fun, leadership activities, and time with professors at Camp Balcones Springs. And on Sunday, for the first time, camp counselors of years past and present gathered at the Alumni Center to celebrate Camp Texas’ accomplishments, which go far beyond what Weinstock and Petrie expected.
“It’s daunting,” said Weinstock, who traveled from Arizona for the event. “The number of people here is incredible.”
More than 70 former and current camp counselors met for an afternoon of food, games, door prizes, some much-needed catching up, and, of course, some reminiscing about their times at Camp Texas.
“I went in as a camper and it defined my college career,” said Patrick Ferrell, BS ’12, Life Member, who was a counselor from 2009-11. “It laid everything out. I feel like everything I did in college tied back to Camp Texas.”
Attending the program is a student’s first grown-up experience after high school, said Mandi Villarreal, BBA ’12, MPA ’12, who was a counselor from 2006-11. “It’s where you finally get to be you, and you’re away from family and friends for the first time,” Villarreal said. “We all still love Camp Texas.”
Photo by Enrico De Leon