Braving Family Camp on Friday the 13th

by Autumn Rhea Carpenter on December 22, 2015 in Travel,
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Friday the 13th might not be the ideal date to venture out into the woods, bound for a weekend family camp spent in a cabin. That infamous Michael Meyers character ruined that combination for moviegoers and campers alike for decades. Against our better judgment, we drove into the dark of night with YMCA Camp Cullen along the shores of Lake Livingston on this date with the hopes that we wouldn’t become characters in our own scary movie. My family of four drove into the piney woods of Trinity, Texas, leaving the urban world far behind. A blanket of stars unrolled across the sky, and all horror stories were forgotten. A Camp Cullen counselor greeted us in the 12,000-foot dining hall (Mabree Lodge) for cabin assignments and logistical information. We hopped on a golf cart and were escorted to our cabin named after Bowie, ready for a night of bunk bed sleep and roughing it.

The views at Camp Cullen at amazing. Photo by Autumn Rhea Carpenter
The views at Camp Cullen at amazing. Photo by Autumn Rhea Carpenter

Surprisingly, the climate-controlled cabin defied the stereotypical camp cabin. Thanks to a partnership with David Weekley Homes, each cabin contains bathrooms and showers, granite counter tops and custom bunk beds. We enjoyed a peaceful, uneventful night of sleep and awoke ready for our next day’s adventure. Camp Cullen hosts Family Camp several times a year, celebrating various holidays, such as Valentine’s Day, Father-Son weekend, Spring Break and Mother’s Day.

Theres no shortage of activities at Camp Cullen. Photo by Autumn Rhea Carpenter
Theres no shortage of activities at Camp Cullen. Photo by Autumn Rhea Carpenter

These weekends are filled with outdoor activities, meals, and family games. Camp Cullen is also an overnight summer camp that runs themed one-week sessions from June through August. In addition, it includes water activities: In the summer, Camp Cullen offers banana boating, tubing, kayaking, canoeing, a swimming pool, sailing, wakeboarding and even a 100-foot ‘Wet Willie’ water slide.

Our day began with a hearty family-style breakfast at the Mabree Lodge (which seats 200 campers) and then we were off on a packed schedule. It began with a canoe ride on Lake Livingston. Nothing creates family trust more than stepping into an aluminum boat with two kids under 12 and an unsteady rowing hand. We managed to circle the lake without tipping over and catch a few glimpses of migratory birds.

If you want a thrill, then this is for you. Photo by Autumn Rhea Carpenter
If you want a thrill, then this is for you. Photo by Autumn Rhea Carpenter

Donning headgear and clamps, my youngest son and I crawled our way to the top of Alpine Tower, an extensive 50-foot climbing wall. Next we joined our horses, Oatmeal, Tango, and Angel, at the equestrian trail for a 45-minute ride in the piney woods. Led by staff trained in accordance with the Certified Horsemanship Association and the American Camping Association, we took a leisurely stroll along the trail, with a few eventful stops made by the feisty Tango. By the summer of 2016, an arts and science center and new equestrian center will be completed. The arts and science center will house art, dance, drama, earth science, pottery/sculpture and more. The equestrian center will host more riders in a safer environment, through worse weather and to a more advanced riding level.

As if our adrenaline levels hadn’t already been met, we hiked the hill to the zipline. We climbed the tower and were met by a certified course staff member who clipped us into the equipment then told us to jump and not hang on to the line. In seconds, treetops blazed by and I was flying (backwards) at a high speed hoping that I wouldn’t soon be reenacting a cartoon crash ending. Luckily, we all safely arrived, hearts pounding, faces smiling and tales to tell.

If thrill seeking isn’t part of your family’s DNA, Camp Cullen remains the ideal place to make lasting memories. Reserve your spot today!

YMCA Camp Cullen
ymcacampcullen.org
936.594.2274
460 Cullen Loop, STE A
Trinity, TX 75862

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