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Summer Camp

Trunk loads of fun

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Matthew Reckling, Stephen Reckling, Hunter Reckling, Bryant Reckling

The Reckling brothers, Matthew and Stephen (top), and Hunter and Bryant (bottom), all have great memories of Camp Longhorn (Photo: www.solarisstudios.com)

Once you’ve packed kids up for overnight camp, you’ve practically crossed the Rubicon River. Never again will you pass the camp section of Academy Sports and Outdoors without your curiosity piqued—what’s new that could make it easier next time? Now just imagine sending four brothers off to camp at the same time! Talking to Galen Reckling, you’d think it was no big deal.

Galen’s four sons are Longhorn campers. Stephen, 18, and Matthew, 17, now a senior and sophomore at the Kinkaid School, attended Camp Longhorn for many years until their commitment to the school’s baseball team made it difficult to continue going. Currently, Bryant, 14, and Hunter, 10, eighth and fourth-graders also at Kinkaid, are keeping the family’s presence alive.

And the family has certainly had a presence at this particular camp. Galen and siblings were campers there, and her mom, Marcia Beveridge, attended in her day.

How does Galen keep the boys camp stuff organized? “I leave it in their trunks,” she replies. “After they come home, we wash everything, then put the sheets, towels, flashlight, sunscreen, even their stationary, back in the trunk.” One summer all four boys went to camp so Galen kept her sanity by only adding things such as shorts, t-shirts and some socks.

The preparation seems to have paid off in hearing the boys recount their wonderful camp memories. Bryant will never forget one particular skit night, when one of the actors dressed up as a Buddha. He told the audience that if they rubbed his tummy, it would bring them good luck, “so everyone tried to rub his stomach,” says Bryant. Hunter remembers his cabin mates lowering him by threading a rope through his belt into the counselors’ cabin, so he could retrieve candy they’d confiscated. (Hopefully, none of them are reading this!) Not that Hunter’s ever gone hungry there. “My favorite food at camp is the BBQ.” He looks forward to getting care packages and word from home. “I like to get letters and candy,” says Hunter. For a great snack on the bus, he recommends beef jerky.

“Most kids are scared to leave home for the first time,” says Matthew, “but I want to tell them that it is fun and comforting when you get there.” Although he sometimes missed his parents, he believes Camp Longhorn made him a better swimmer and kept him in good shape. (Each camper is encouraged to swim the mile of the lake.) “The food is really good. The cook, named Barney, has been there since my mom’s time,” Matthew says.

Stephen’s advice is not to worry if you are not in a bunk with your friends. Because he was put in a bunk with new kids, Stephen was challenged to make friends with those he may not have given time to otherwise. He realized he could have new friends as well as his other ones. “I made friends with people outside of Houston, such as in San Antonio, and we still keep up,” he says.

Hunter Reckling, Bryant Reckling

Hunter and Bryant Reckling reenact some fun Camp Longhorn times together (Photo: www.solarisstudios.com)

​When parents, Galen and Stephen, come to pick them up, the boys don’t mind a show of public affection. “Actually, it is cool,” says Matthew. “I don’t mind it anytime.” If parents are feeling guilty about not being able to drop off or pick up their children from camp, this may lessen those ill feelings. “I like taking the bus,” says Hunter. “I get to meet people before I get to camp.” Even if the letters home seem scant, don’t think your kid has forgotten about you. “I always looked forward to getting letters,” says Stephen. “One of the best parts of camp was getting letters and care packages from my parents.”

One last word of advice while you are agonizing about whether to send that perfect costume for the theme night—stop! Galen says, “The costume will come back perfectly folded. They won’t wear it! Send old things that you don’t care if you get back or not.” That advice should help cut down about half the errands as we prepare to send kids off to camp. Once they go, relax! Your kids are having fun!

Camp tips and tidbits - Advice from those who go and those who send

Jeanette Linville, 18, senior at Memorial High School
Jeannette has attended Camp Mystic for eight years as a camper, one year as an AID (Mystic’s counselor-in-training), and will attend this summer as a counselor.

Funny camp memory: “Because Camp Mystic is an all-girls camp, the girls share a lot of beauty secrets. I recall young campers getting their first lesson on eye shadow and seeing these blue-eye shadowed lids all over the place. One year my friend said she’d pluck my eyebrows. She plucked one of them all the way to line up with my eye’s pupil. When I got home, we had a family portrait scheduled and my mom had to pencil in the rest of my eyebrow.”

Best care packages for girls: Magazines! Everyone likes to get People or Star Magazine. (Not to mention The Buzz!) “One year at camp there was a rumor going around that the Backstreet Boys broke up. We did not know if it was really true so a magazine to clear this up would have been welcome.”

Tip about picking your daughter up: Hugs and kisses are in order and perfectly acceptable. “Everyone is excited to see their parents as they have not seen them in a month. My mom still cries every year when she sees me. She even cried last year and I was 17,” says Jeanette.

Sydney Deering, 13, seventh-grader at Memorial Middle School
Sydney has been attending Sierra Vista for the past five years and will attend again this summer.

Favorite camp memory: “Definitely war canoe,” says Sydney. This is a big race between two tribes at camp. Sydney is in the Chickasaw tribe. “We race in really big heavy canoes. Unlike the guys who get to sit in the boat, we have to sit on the boat! Both tribes train for this all term. When our parents pick us up on closing day, we braid our hair, put on war paint and race.”

Some good ideas for care packages: Pictures, hidden candy in teddy bears, and cameras.

Great packing tips: Sydney’s parents, Sharon and Perry, have some good advice about packing. They have not had much luck with trunks. “The hinges always break. We’ve gone through three trunks. What works better is large Rubbermaid containers with a detachable lid. They are lighter than trunks and more durable,” says Perry. Sydney likes to use stackable Rubbermaid drawers to keep her things organized at camp, so she packs her belongings inside these and then places the drawers in the “trunk.” For labeling clothes, Sharon suggests RubaDub pens by Sharpie. “They don’t leak through. The letters won’t blur when you put clothes in the wash,” she says.

Mike and Katy Clore, 16 and 18, sophomore and senior at Memorial High School
This brother and sister can tell you anything you need to know about Camp Ozark. Mike has been a camper since he was seven, and is returning this summer for his 10th year. Katy attended for nine years and hopes to return in the summer of 2007 as a counselor.

Mike’s tip to parents: The best thing to mail to your kids at camp is the powdered Gatorade mix. “We mix it with water in our canteen bottles,” he explains.

Katy’s fondest camp memory: My bunk mate who also attends Memorial High, Emily Black, brought in some contraband food into our cabin. We ate it on her bunk. That night, she woke up with ants in her bed. My memory of her was her jumping around the cabin in the middle of the night slapping her body. She also woke us up because she fell out of her top bunk into an open trunk on the floor of our cabin.”

Best letter writing advice: Mike says that parents (especially those of boys) should not expect too much from letters. To combat this, his parents, Larry and Martha, came up with some clever ways to lure their children to write. They enclose a questionnaire of direct questions, such as: “Are you enjoying the food?” and “Have you blobbed yet?” (FYI-blobbing is jumping on a giant air mattress in the lake). To make getting letters fun, Larry sends letters with novel return addresses, such as ones from George Strait and Brittany Spears. This always gets the attention of the other campers.

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