By Amy George Rush
For Today’s Catholic
When Erik Fulkerson attended the Texas Catholic Boy’s Camp (TECABOCA) in Mountain Home, Texas, in the late 1960s, he experienced a lot of firsts. His first trip alone, away from home. His first swimming lessons. Horseback riding. Shooting a bow and arrow.
“I’ll never forget pulling up to camp and, for the first time, crossing the low-water bridge that signals your arrival.” After attending the camp for three consecutive summers, he knows what that bridge — and the TECABOCA experience — means. “It means excitement. It means adventure.”
A FAMILY LEGACY CONTINUES
Thirty years later, Erik and his wife have three boys of their own. Erick wanted that same excitement and adventure for his children. “I remembered TECABOCA fondly for so many reasons. But I hadn’t been back since 1970, so I was a little nervous about sending my boys there,” Erik said.
During a summer road trip, the Fulkersons visited TECABOCA on a whim. “We just showed up one day. We met with Sonny (Kaufhold), the director, and were treated wonderfully by everyone there. I was really impressed; the camp was the same — but better. We were even invited to stay for lunch.”
“The food was really good. In fact, it was great,” said 14-year-old Kent, Erik’s oldest son. Good food is a major selling point for a young teen nicknamed “Hungry” by his siblings.
As the Fulkersons toured the camp, Erik said, “The memories just started flooding back.” And so did Erik’s family. Every summer since, there’s been at least one Fulkerson boy in attendance at TECABOCA. Kent attended for the first time in 2005. Travis, 11, attended three sessions, from 2005 to 2007. And David, 10, has attended since 2007 and plans to attend this summer as well.
HILL COUNTRY HIDDEN TREASURE
Under the stewardship of the Marianist Province of the United States, TECABOCA has served as a summer camp for boys since 1951. A well-kept secret, comfortably hidden from day-to-day, city-life hassles, the camp is located 15 miles northwest of Kerrville. TECABOCA sits on more than 100 acres in the Texas Hill Country, along a tributary of the Guadalupe River.
While the camp offers traditional activities such as fishing, swimming, horseback riding, archery and woodworking, its Marianist roots give TECABOCA a distinctly different feel, says former camper Joe Barber. All campers are invited to attend morning prayer and weekly Mass.
“The fact that every day starts with a prayer and Communion service is different from most camps,” says Barber, who spent 15 summers at TECABOCA and now serves on the center’s board.
TECABOCA’s spiritual lessons live on in Travis Fulkerson. When asked what he most enjoyed about camp, he offers a decisive answer: morning prayer. “I always think about one of the readings that I heard at camp — the one about the merchant and the pearl. (Mt 13:45-46) I like it because it is now so familiar to me, as I hear it every time I am there. I like the story behind it, and I think it has a good point — about how Jesus and God are one pearl, and they are buried treasure in the fields.”
Those who know TECABOCA talk about how the camp itself is a hidden treasure of sorts. Kaufhold calls it “one of the best kept secrets in Texas — and in the whole country, for that matter.”
“We are tucked away in the beautiful Texas Hill Country but not too far a drive from some major cities. The camp is easy to get to but offers rich experiences so different from the boys’ everyday lives. It’s a place not too many people know about, and I wish they did. We have so much going on here.” he adds.
The Fulkerson boys agree that the camp has much to offer. “It’s fun. A lot of fun,” says Kent. Travis and David chime in with agreement. But when asked about the experiences that make the camp unique, Kent’s thoughts reveal the true spirit of TECABOCA.
“TECABOCA taught me to make my ‘aim’ in life better,” he said. “The things I learned at camp help me think about what I am doing, what my choices are and the consequences of those choices. For instance, when making a wood carving, I have to stop and think, ‘How do I cut this to make it look the way I want it?’ When horseback riding, I have to think about the different ways to lead the horse to get it to do what I want. TECABOCA teaches you how to look at life from lots of angles.”
Erik beams with pride in hearing his son talk about TECABOCA this way. “This is what TECABOCA is about — self-reliance, self-confidence, self-knowledge. These are the things my boys have learned there, and these are the things I learned there, too, 30 years ago — even if I didn’t know it at the time.”
Erik and his sons know the real value of the TECABOCA experience. Crossing the low-water bridge at the camp entrance is just the beginning. Kent urges other boys to follow the Fulkerson boys’ lead. “Go. Try it. Then see what you think. See how much you experience. See the adventure for yourself.”
TECABOCA is offering two, two-week sessions of camp this summer. The sessions will take place Sunday, June 21, to Saturday, July 4; and Sunday, July 5, to Saturday, July 18. A $950 camp fee covers room, meals and all activities. For more information or to register, call (830) 866-3425 or visit TECABOCA online at www.tecaboca.com.