A camp unlike any other, where nature, agriculture, and harmonious living with Texas land provide an enriching, unforgettable, and education-focused experience.
ADVENTURE. CREATE. DISCOVER.
Adventure comes to life at Blackwood during the summer. Campers explore the wonders of nature while learning new skills and forming life-long friendships. We are an inclusive community where campers can grow, gain independence, and have fun.
Blackwood Nature Camp is a week-long overnight camp for ages 8-14 located in Hempstead, TX. Our goal is simple: get kids outside and active! Campers enjoy a variety of outdoor activities such as hiking, swimming (swim test required), paddle-boarding, and forest games. They take classes like natural dyeing, cane-pole fishing, and cooking. They learn about wildlife in workshops hosted by local experts. New this year we have paddle boarding and archery added to the roster of activities. At night, they stargaze, tell stories, and roast s’mores by the campfire.
Campers learn about nature, animals, sportsmanship, and camaraderie. With the support of highly trained counselors, they’ll explore the wilderness and discover what secrets and wisdom the forest has to tell. This life-changing week of adventure offers children the opportunity to build a relationship with nature and safely explore the great outdoors. At Blackwood, we take pride in being inclusive to all children.
2021 CAMP SESSIONS
Session 1: Sunday, June 20th to Friday, June 25th
Session 2: Sunday, June 27th to Friday, July 2nd
Session 3: Sunday, July 11th, 2020 – Friday, July 16th
Session 4: Sunday, July 18th, 2020 – Friday, July 23rd
Session 5: Sunday, July 25th, 2020 – Friday, July 30th
A Note on 2021 Nature Camp COVID-19 Precaution
To keep our campers, families, and community safe this upcoming summer, we anticipate frequent reevaluation of our plans to mitigate the risk of spread and infection of the COVID-19 virus throughout the summer. The public health advisories, vaccination rate, infection/re-infection rates are constantly changing, and so too will our plans and procedures change as the need arises. Below is a basic list of the safety protocols we currently expect to have in place by the start of 2021 Nature Camp, based on recommendations from the CDC, the Texas Department of Health, and other camps around the country:
- Reduced number of sessions and pushed back start-dates
- Drive-through drop-off & pick-up
- Daily temperature checks & symptom screenings
- Schedule changes to maximize our time outside.
- Special emphasis and education on hand-washing along with free & available hand sanitizer stations around the camp.
- Single-use disposable dining utensils and plates
- Increase in daily cleaning with special emphasis on high-touch surfaces (door knobs, faucet handles, etc…)
- End of week clean-up will include a thorough sanitization of the entire property to prevent cross-session contamination
At this time, we do not plan to require COVID-19 testing prior to arrival, but reserve the right to require this based on the infection rates near the beginning of each session if it seems necessary in order to keep campers safe.
We appreciate your patience as we navigate these uncertain waters. Our goal, as always, remains providing a safe and exciting environment for your children to play in and experience, this summer, and hopefully many more after that. If you have any further thoughts, concerns, or suggestions, please feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Price & Details
• One Session: $1100/camper
• Two Sessions: Save $100*
• Three Sessions: Save $200*
*largest savings applies (i.e. 2 siblings register for 1 session each, two session discount applies).
Sessions are Sunday evening through Friday afternoon and limited to 26 campers.
Scholarships are available! To apply, complete the scholarship section during registration.
Save On Camp
For each camper you refer, you’ll receive the following discount(s) off your final balance, based on month of referral.
- February, save $75
- March, save $50
- April, save $25
Interested in sponsoring a camper? Learn more about underwriting.
Nature Camp FAQs
Click on toggles to reveal answers
General Camp Questions
Where and how?
Blackwood is about 50 minutes outside of Houston near Hempstead. We suggest either taking 290W directly to the Hwy 6 N/TX-6 N exit in Waller County or I-10 to Grand Parkway to 290W.
Some campers car pool and if you choose this option, please inform the Camp Director.
This is a small camp!
Camp is small so each child gets individual attention. Another benefit of a smaller camp is flexibility in our schedule, giving campers the ability to have some input on activities. Our goal is for campers to have fun, be safe, and enjoy nature.
Tell me about the decision to have multiple ages in one camp session and is it successful?
We chose this model strategically. Our camp functions as an extended family. Younger campers look up to older campers and older campers care for younger campers. Older campers look up to CITs and CITs look up to junior and senior counselors.
Due to the age range, we are more careful with activities. It’s one of the reasons we don’t allow knives. If an activity is not appropriate for an 8 year old, we don’t offer it. It also encourages the pre-teens and teens to evoke the inner child they are fighting so hard to expel. It’s enormous fun but it only works if every child finds courage to be themselves and enjoy childhood.
How many campers do you have in each session?
The maximum number of campers and CITs per session is 26.
How do you separate male and female sleeping arrangements?
All campers sleep in Baleyfield House. There are two main bunk rooms separated by the Great Room. The East and West bunk rooms flip between genders depending if there are more girls than boys in any given session.
Are electronics of any sort allowed?
No. Cell phones can be kept in bags for emergencies. No iPads, laptops, tablets, portable gaming devices, or any other type of electronic device is permitted.
Can I call or visit my camper?
One of the most significant elements of the summer camp experience is learning independence. While it can be hard to be apart, kids often adjust to camp life much more easily than we assume. Usually there are many more kidsick parents than homesick campers!
Hearing a parent’s voice can cause homesickness as well as cause equity issues among other campers whose cannot call home. Therefore, we do not have campers talk to parents on the phone or allow visitation from parents. Please see our homesickness section for exceptions to this policy.
What is the Friday potluck?
Unfortunately, this year due to Covid 19 precautions, we will not have a family potluck as we have in past years.
How do I see pictures?
Pictures of the camp experience are emailed out to parents two to three times per session.
We kindly ask that you please not email or phone for photograph requests.
Do you offer scholarships or financial aid?
Yes! During the registration process please select “yes” to the scholarship section to complete our scholarship request form.
What is the refund policy?
|60+ days||Full refund minus registration fee*|
|31-59 days||50% refund minus registration fee*|
> Registration transfers (i.e. to a different session) based on availability.
> No deductions for late arrivals or early departures.
* $150 non-refundable registration fee (included in 50% deposit)
How do I pay?
Your registration email will include an estimate totaling the cost for your camper, as well as a link to your 50% deposit invoice. Once the deposit is paid, you are welcome to pay in installments or all at once. All fees must be paid in full no later than 30 days prior to the start of the first camp session.
Late Payment Policy:
Remaining balance reminders are sent two weeks before the final payment due date (one month before the first day of Session One). In the case Nature Camp payment is not received on or by the date due, a $50.00 late fee will be charged and is due with the remaining balance. If an account is delinquent over 30 days from the due date, a 1.5% charge will be added to the account balance on top of the late fee.
Health & Safety Questions
How do you handle medication (prescription or OTC), supplements, or herbal remedies be dispensed during the camp session?
All of these are considered “medications” and will be dispensed by the Camp Director, our onsite Camp Health Officer. Campers are not allowed to keep or self-administer any medications. Please be sure to check in all medications during Check-In on Sunday. Medications must be in their original container (including prescriptions). Medications for life-threatening conditions (Inhaler, EpiPen) may be held on camper’s person with written permission from Camp Health Officer.
How do you handle a homesick camper?
This differs from child to child. If the child asks to call home, we encourage them to wait an hour. If they ask a second time, we ask them to wait until the afternoon or the next morning. If they ask a third time, we allow them to call home.
From there, it is between the camper, parent, and Camp Director on what happens next. Some kids go home, some call his or her parent one more time before the end of camp. If the child is mildly homesick and believes they can still have fun, they will stay. If the child is having a horrible time, we will not encourage the child to stay. Each child is different.
Are you able to accommodate my child with a very restricted diet?
It depends. Please call for inquiry.
PLEASE tell the Camp Director about food allergies in the camper application and verbalize them again when you check in your camper.
Are knives allowed?
Camp Life Questions
What kinds of activities are offered? What’s a typical day?
We try to balance activities and games throughout the day.
A typical day begins with breakfast at 8am and clean up, then we head immediately for a game outside before it gets too hot. If it gets too hot before lunch, we’ll move into an activity like nature journaling, totem painting, or a native plant walk.
After lunch, the campers have some free time. Most campers prefer to hang around the house and play board games, rest, or draw.
After free time, we get a game going again (usually by now 10 kids have requested Zombies or Ringalevio, Blackwood favorites).
In the afternoon, we may do an activity such as fire making, shelter building, paddle boarding, a treasure hunt and more. We also include clan bonding activities like painting flags, group crafts, and making chants.
Throughout the week, campers are making totem rocks and decorating them according to the animal totem they drew out of cards on their first night.
Activities are also supplemented with guest presenters or artists. For example, Mary Anne Weber from the Audubon Society has brought two birds of prey and teaches the campers about bird conservation. Journey-Through’s artist Heath Brodie created site-specific natural mandalas with the campers akin to Andy Goldsworthy environmental art work in England. Mark Illian, from Nature Healing Nature, enthralled campers with spray bottles on a tour of the rainwater harvesting systems at Blackwood. Clint Pustejovsky, the Snake Man, gave an interactive presentation with all his favorite reptiles including his huge albino python named Bubba. Texas Park and Wildlife Biologists have brought their herpetology collection in addition to a pet bob cat.
On Thursday afternoons, campers make their own pizza with Chef Cade. Some of the campers are involved in cooking classes to make the dough earlier in the week.
Will kids get to garden at all?
Camp activities and our schedule is at the mercy of the climate and the energy of the campers. Campers can garden if the opportunity arises.
Do you have any water activities?
Yes! Wednesday is usually “Water Day” we play water games, swim, paddle-board, and more. For all water activities, campers are monitored at least two Red Cross certified lifeguards.
Do you ever travel off site?
We do take field trips during some sessions. Parents will be notified in advance if there will be a field trip during their camper’s session.
When we leave, we rent a school bus and hire a licensed bus driver from Navasota. Campers are assigned to a specific counselor in groups of 2-3 and are monitored for the entirety of the off campus trip. An separate vehicle caravans with the bus for use in the event of an emergency.
Examples of past field trips:
Visiting a sacred Sound Chamber commissioned by a Native American medicine man and built by our founder Cath Conlon.
Learning about wolves at the St. Francis Wolf Sanctuary.
Huntsville State Park to take advantage of the jumping dock at the lake when Lake Sommerville is closed.
Celebrating Independence day in nearby Chappel Hill for their annual 4th of July Parade and fireworks!
How does a camper become a Counselor in Training (CIT)?
After being a camper, some want more responsibility and hope to one day be a counselor. The Counselor in Training (CIT) role may be the perfect fit. CITs must be 14 years old, have attended camp previously, apply and interview for the position, and attend Counselor Training Week. They shadow counselors during Training Week and throughout camp sessions. Typically, CITs become counselors when they turn 16 years old.
Counselors in Training are expected to take their duties seriously and sometimes have to leave an activity or game early to help a counselor prepare for the next activity. They do not have any more authority than a camper and are not counselors.
The best CITs are observant, ask counselors what they can do to help, and have positive attitudes. CITs are not paid but their camp tuition is less than camper’s.
How does a camper become a counselor?
Counselors must be 16 years old. While it is preferred, but you do not have to be camper or CIT before you become a counselor. Counselors are paid.
Senior counselors must be at least 20 years old.
There is an application and interview process for counselors and senior counselors. Veteran counselors are not given preference. Applicants must demonstrate each year that they are the best person to ensure campers have fun, stay safe, and enjoy the outdoors.
What kind of training do counselors receive?
All counselors attend a week-long training orientation. Senior counselors must be certified in Wilderness Advanced First Aid (WAFA) and Red Cross Lifeguard. WAFA is a separate training that Blackwood provides for senior counselors. WAFA training may be subsidized for other interested counselors, but it is not required.
During Training Week, we cover roles and responsibilities, safety and emergency protocols, and game and activity procedures. We discuss how to deal with group dynamics and problems that may arise. We meet with a certified child psychologist to learn about the needs of children ages 8-14 and how to best care for them during camp. We also prepare Blackwood’s facilities for camp and work on team building.
Counselors bring all camper concerns to the Camp Director immediately.
What’s the camper/counselor ratio?