Camp Texas Celebrates 30 Years

From the drop-off and the mountains of luggage to the bus ride and the arrival, camp counselors—who are often former campers themselves—show campers the ropes.

At the 20th anniversary celebration of Camp Texas in 2013, co-founder Allison Weinstock, BA ’93, remembers bringing along her 6-year-old daughter, dressed head to toe in burnt orange. Now, 10 years later, as another big milestone for the Texas Exes program approaches, Weinstock’s daughter is starting the college application process.

It’s daunting to grow up and step out of the nest, especially onto a campus with more than 50,000 other people trying to find their way. But Camp Texas, the three-day retreat for incoming UT freshmen and transfer students, makes a massive place like The University of Texas feel a little smaller. Back in 1993, Weinstock and her friend Sean Petrie, BS ’93, were preparing for life after college. Inspired by Texas A&M’s Fish Camp, they wanted to create a better orientation program for UT.

“Sean and I were both orientation advisors,” Weinstock says, “which likely influenced the type of information we thought incoming students might want to hear to get excited about—and comfortable with—their transition to college.”  

“We really had no idea what would work, since we’d never done anything like this before,” says Petrie. “We just tried to imagine what would be helpful for incoming freshmen to know about UT, no matter their background.”  

A total of 49 campers registered for the first iteration of Camp Texas in 1993, which took place at the 7A Ranch Resort in Wimberley and lasted for two days. The program was filled with everything from icebreaker games like “Act in a Sack” and “Win, Lose, or Draw” to hearing directly from UT faculty and administrators about what to expect on the Forty Acres.   

“The goal was to keep everyone busy and excited,” Weinstock says. “We wanted them to leave camp with more confidence and start college with a new group of friends, connections with faculty, and insight into UT’s special traditions.”   

Now, 30 years later, as the counselors and Texas Exes staff prepare to welcome nearly 800 campers to Camp Buckner in Burnet—the Alcalde asked Longhorns to share some of their favorite memories.    

“When we started it, we had no idea it would become such a wonderful tradition.” — Sean Petrie, BS ’93, Co-Founder of Camp Texas 

“Camp Texas was one of my first home bases as an out-of-state student from New Jersey. It helped me jump right into the UT community! I love how Camp Texas provides a fun and inclusive place for students to start making friends before the pressure of school starts in the fall.” — Kirstin McGeary, BBA ’23, Life Member, Camper and Counselor   

“Oh gosh, it’s all a haze 30 years on, but I just have this general feeling of camaraderie, of the energy of doing icebreakers, and so much laughing. I’m smiling right now, thinking about this.” — Petrie  

“Spirit, tradition, and community. That’s what Camp Texas means to me. I didn’t attend CT, but many of my college friends did and then went on to become counselors. They encouraged me to apply, and I was so thrilled to be selected! Even now as a UT employee, I love meeting students who are doing CT training and hearing how many of our traditions are still in place, even from 20 years ago!” — Stephanie Cantu, BA, BBA ’09, Life Member, Counselor 

“I met so many kind and energetic people from different places, backgrounds, and mindsets.” Chris LeBlanc, BS ’07, Life Member, Camper and Counselor  

CREDITS: Texas Exes Staff


No comments

Be the first one to leave a comment.

Post a Comment