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Spicewood camp hoping volunteers, golfers keep programs affordable for kids


SPICEWOOD — With 242 acres, lots of amenities, including frontage on Lake Travis, and a top-quality ropes course, the Highland Lakes Camp and Conference Center does many things. But the thing that brings the biggest smile to executive director Danny Dawdy’s face isn’t any of that, it’s what the camp does for children and youth.

“We’ll serve about 10,000 kids from across Texas each summer,” he said. “And last year, 779 accepted Christ as their savior. That’s what this is all about.”

The camp, 5902 Pace Bend Road, is preparing to celebrate its 60th anniversary in 2014. When the Southern Baptist Church district created Highland Lakes camp in 1954, organizers probably hoped it would touch the lives of children and adults, but they might not have envisioned the reach it has come to have.

Even kids who come to camp already walking with Christ leave with a new, or rekindled, commitment.

“One of every four kids who come through the camp make some sort of significant decision in their relationship with Christ,” said Rod Cordsen of Highland Lakes Camp and Conference Center. “It’s truly an amazing place.”

It’s not a Baptist camp. Dawdy said it provides facilities throughout the year for any Christian denomination or organization such as Walks to Emmaus.

Like many Christian camps, Highland Lakes Camp and Conference Center does it on a shoestring budget. It relies heavily on donations, fundraisers and volunteers to serve the youth, families and the community. To make the camp experience available to as many children as possible, officials keep the week-long summer camps as affordable as possible.

“It’s $250,” Dawdy said.

Cordsen said keeping it that low opens up the opportunity to attend to kids of almost every socioeconomic level.

“And that’s what we want,” Cordsen said. “We want to let as many kids as possible to come out here and experience this camp and God’s love.”

The camp is in the process of holding one fundraiser now with another major one scheduled April 20.

The “Pathway of Friends” fundraiser is an opportunity for people to help the camp pay off the construction of a new $500,000 swimming pool. With the camp fronting in Lake Travis, it might seem odd to build a swimming pool, but the past several years of drought have left the lake a shadow of its typical self. And with the water retreating from shore, it makes swimming in it questionable, even possibly dangerous.

So the camp built a new swimming pool.

To help pay it off, people can purchase paver bricks that will line the pathway to the swimming pool. The brick can be ingrained with a message, name or even Bible verse.

On April 20, Highland Lakes Camp and Conference Center is hosting its fifth annual golf tournament at Delaware Springs Municipal Golf Course in Burnet.

People can register online at There are also opportunities for hole sponsorships. Organizers would like golfers to register by April 15.

Beyond the two fundraisers, the camp is always looking for volunteers, whether individuals or groups.

“There’s always something that needs to be done out here,” Dawdy said.

Since 1954, the camp has continued to serve God despite many challenges. But Dawdy sees it as something special, something more than a summer camp.

“I think God ordained this campground 60 years ago to influence and change the lives of children and teenagers for a better life,” he said.

For more information on the camp, go to