On a hazy morning with salt hanging heavily in the air, gentle waves crash against little sailboats as they drift away from a floating dock. On the edge of Copano Bay, campers wait patiently on sturdy ground in their life vests to have their turn in a sailboat.

Camp Aranzazu offers a unique camp experience for people who might not otherwise had an opportunity to attend camp. Situated on a stunning bay front property nestled on 135 acres, the camp offers an array of outdoor activities from swimming to sailing, climbing a ropes course, bird watching in their elegant bird blind and much more. The camp tailors their experience to children and adults who have special needs and chronic illnesses. No matter what challenge a person has, they are welcome at Camp Aranzazu.

Youth from the Brownson Home in Victoria, which houses children whose families are no longer able to provide for them, visited Camp Aranzazu for a second year in June. Campers participated in a variety of outdoor activities such as sailing, birding and fishing.

For the children and house parents of the Brownson Home, daily life in Victoria is filled with routine, extracurricular activities and homework. Camp Aranzazu serves as a peaceful retreat from that daily grind and allows the children and house parents to bond with each other in a unique environment away from home.

One of the camp’s activity leaders demonstrates how to bait a hook in preparation to fish and proceeds to show the kids how to cast a fishing line. Camp Director Amelia Haslam explains that the camp experience is also about offering up life lessons, such as patience and responsibility, through fun activities so campers don’t even realize they’re learning.

After taking a water break in the shade, the Brownson Home group ends their morning activities with a trip to the birding blind. On the walk there, the group stops to observe some brown pelicans on the bay, which used to be endangered in Texas. At the birding blind, Haslam explains the uniqueness of the laughing gulls to the Texas coast, named for the sound they make. As the group quietly peers through their binoculars to watch the birds, a sense of peace and calm fills the air.

Camp Aranzazu underwrites 70 percent of the cost of sending a child to camp. To support Camp Aranzazu through volunteering or a donation that will help a child go to camp, head to camparanzazu.org/support-us. To check out upcoming events in the area benefitting Camp Aranzazu, go to camparanzazu.org/events.

This opinion reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate’s editorial board.

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