Culture / Travel

What is Texas’ Best Summer Camp? This Debate Goes Back Generations

Vote Now to Decide the Sleepaway Champion

BY Staff Report // 08.19.19

Texas’ best summer camps are near mystical retreats that generations of families hold allegiance to. These places are not just camps, they’re entire state of minds.

No, we’re not talking about staking up tents and cooking over small little campfires. We’re talking two to four week-long summer escapes, outfitted with good sized cabins and decently prepared food.

There are a myriad of camps throughout the state, but only one can be crowned the champion of PaperCity’s Summer Camp showdown. And you get to decide the Texas summer camp champ by voting for your favorite.

The rules are simple: You can vote once per day. Let the best camp reign…

Here are the contenders:


Camp Champions been around since 1967, hosting both boys and girls for weeks at a time, with a mission of growing and developing strong values through actives and traditions. And speaking of activities, Champions hosts some pretty neat and unique daily activities for its campers. Its location on Lake LBJ proves the perfect setting for all things water related. Campers can water zip line, hydrofly, water ski, sail, and so much more.


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Heart O’ the Hills

What started off as an actual inn for families picking up their children from camps dotting Highway 39 eventually became a strong and steady camp for girls in 1953. There’s a lot that Heart O’ the Hills offers its campers, but one unique feature is its Seminar Day. Imagine one whole day dedicated to learning fun games and activities from cultures near and far.

From Fiesta to Netball to Harry Potter World (because nothing would be complete without a tribute to the young wizard), the sky’s the limit for the gals at Heart.

La Junta

Dr. Ferdinand Walsh started this all-boys camp in the Texas Hill Country way back in 1928. Generations of boys have attended La Junta, and have been able to experience the camp’s special activities and traditions such as The Rough Riders and The Black Eagles.

But La Junta also brings other distinctive adventures, like a canoe trip, a late night archery hunt, Ghost Dancer ceremony, Camp Craft survivalist adventure, and SCUBA Night Dive.

la junta
The Rough Riders is a special tradition of Camp La Junta.


There’s hardly a more suitable name for a Texas camp than “Longhorn.” Tex Robertson, husband of co-founder Pat Robertson, was a legendary University of Texas swim coach, so you can see where the name might have come from.

Camp Longhorn now holds steady with three camps: Inks Lake, Indian Springs, and C3 on Inks Lake. Every year, the camp hosts a “Longhorn Rangers” leadership program for a group of 10th grade boys, taking them to Colorado and New Mexico for an unforgettable ultimate outdoors trip.


Camp Mystic has been going strong for more than 90 years, with “Doc” Stewart starting the historic camp in 1926, and Ag and Pop Stacy acquiring it in 1934. Traditions are held near and dear to hearts of the girls at Mystic, one of them being “CC Day,” which stands for Camper Counselor Day (or as the younger girls call it Coke and Candy Day).

CC Day is a surprise day at the camp that gives the oldest campers a chance to step into the shoes of their beloved counselors. Just imagine lots of swimming, tanning, games and candy-eating.

Camp Mystic
Camp Mystic attracts generations of campers. For many, it’s a true family tradition. (


Since 1924, Camp Stewart has been a strong retreat for boys across Texas. The camp certainly offers all the standard sports and activities, including archery, rifle shooting, tennis, etc… But it is Stewart’s special events and other traditions that set it apart.

There is Rodeo, Polocrosse, and the much anticipated Condor Specialty Programs for campers ages 13 and up. These programs allow Stewart campers to master skills in ranching, sports, outdoors, or any specific camp activity.

Vista Camps

Vista Camps, which houses one camp for boys and another for girls, has been a Texas tradition since 1921. Rio Vista (boys) and Sierra Vista (girls) campers are all initiated into a team upon their arrival at the camp, and remain on these teams for the rest of their camp lives.

Though the boys and girls live out their day-to-day activities separately, they do get together weekly for special events, including dances, carnivals and picnics.


The Waldemar tradition started in 1926, and has been welcoming generations of Texas women from across the state ever since. The camp sits on 580 acres of beautiful Texas Hill Country land, complete with vast and open fields, rolling hills, and a Guadalupe River waterfront. The cabins (or kampongs) at Waldemar are known for their distinctive Adirondack and European touches.

Between the Spanish tile mosaics and Saltillo tile floors, these cabins are anything but drab.

Now it’s your chance to vote for Texas’ top summer camp:

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