What did we teach your camper?

What does it mean to "accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior"?

The Creator of the universe has revealed Himself to humanity as the one true God. He revealed Himself generally through His creation, but specifically through His words spoken through His prophets written down and contained in what we have today - the Bible. (Isaiah 46:9, Romans 1:20, 2 Peter 1:21)

God is perfect, holy and He made the first man and woman that way, but they disobeyed God (sinned) and as a result, brought condemnation to all people who would come after them. Now we are separated from God and under judgment that will lead us to permanent, eternal separation from God and all His goodness. (Romans 3:9-19, 5:12)

But because of Gods great love for us He sent his Son - Jesus - into the world. Jesus lived the perfect life we couldn't live, He died the death we deserved to die, He conquered the enemy we couldn't defeat. (John 3:16, Romans 5:8, 1 Corinthians 15:55-57)

Through Jesus' sacrifice the way has been made open for sinful people to be reconciled to God. The only requirement is faith. When we put our faith (trust) in Jesus by acknowledging that we are separated from God and do not want to remain in that condition, and subsequently turn to Him (repentance) in faith - then we will be saved. (Acts 20:21, Ephesians 2:8-9)

Once we have trusted (or accepted) Jesus we are filled with the Holy Spirit who is a deposit guaranteeing that we will live with Him forever not based upon the good works we have done or will do but based upon the righteousness (perfection) of Jesus on our behalf. (2 Corinthians 5:21, Ephesians 1:13-14)

It feels a bit like Thanksgiving as we gathered with our Alumni families before they dropped off their kids at Base Camp. It makes sense: We are family. In one area, there was a kids table and an adult table. At all the tables you heard laughter, telling stories of "remember when", and catching up on the past year. While we didn't all serve the same summers or sing the same theme songs, we had a lot in common. It was the same thing that the young, college Coaches across the room will have in common in years to come.

A summer of life change.

Some of us might still sing the elbow song at our dining room tables or bid the kids to do "hi hos" on the weekend while we really want F.O.B.

But the way our lives were changed then, is still being lived out now because of how we lived the summer we served at
T Bar M. We know how to ...

We are just ending Session 2 and have LOVED seeing Alumni at our Sunday lunches, Saturdays in the Loft, and around Family Camp tables. Those bringing campers this summer ... our hearts are FUAGNEM to see you. Those that are passing by Camp ... head through the gates, we would love to catch up!

You might remember him as Super Mike ... the families at Prestonwood Schools know him as Superintendent. Mike Goddard shares how his days at T Bar M were used to shape him as he continues to run fast after Christ in the field of Education.

"After serving as a Coach and in Leadership in college at Camp, my dreams of playing in the NFL didn’t pan out, so the day that Jaw-Knee-Poke and Randy Sims called me to work at T Bar M as the Men's Director at Sports Camp, they did so in a way that wasted no fun. They “drafted” me, T Bar M style around the same time the NFL draft. That decision changed my life forever. I fell in love with a Christ-centered impact, never wasting fun, and the joy of seeing others impact kids' lives for Christ. After my time at T Bar M, I worked in Dallas for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. In that role, I saw Christ make a Kingdom Impact happen on 85 junior high, high school, and college campuses and was the chaplain for area professional sports teams. God then led me to teaching at 30, where I walked into a classroom, and I felt like I had met the most significant opportunity for missions I’ve ever seen. It’s been over 25 years, and I’ve seen lives change in many ways for the better.

I’m thankful God planted that seed when I was a college kid with 13 to 14 Campers each as I served as a Coach in Winchester Cabin. That’s the time in my life that God laid on my heart to do what I do today.

I’ve since had the chance to be named CEO of the year, superintendent of the year, and every accolade that the world would say shows success, but my most tremendous success remains in the picture that I have behind my desk, and those guys from the Winchester cabin way back when.  That’s what makes me want to serve. That’s what makes me want to make a difference. That’s what gets me up every day. That’s what helps me work through the hard times and the good times as I celebrate. It’s what Christ can do through me and in me when we give Him everything."

In God's unique and FUANGNEM ways ... the story continues. Mike's son (Brock Goddard) attended Camp, worked as a Coach and leader at camp, and … married a girl (Brooke Tomlin) who attended Camp and worked at Camp (her dad, JD Tomlin, and Mike also worked together at Camp in college). And now they have a future T Bar M Camper in their new granddaughter, Olivia. 

Working at T Bar M brings a lot of intangible benefits that help make up for the low pay and plastic mattresses for a summer.  We all walked away with:
...a deeper love for the Lord,
...heightened work ethic,
...great memories,
...changed lives.

The Lord changed our lives through the people we served alongside. Those people, those relationships, sure make the end of the summer a bit harder when we are called to go on our own paths and say goodbye.

It happens for those of us that work here year-round, too. Sometimes we, as “adults”, get to say goodbye as God takes us on new paths.

Chris Shelton, who has served as our Director of Camps and Camp Travis Director, has his current season at
T Bar M coming to an end.
  (But yay for us … the Shelton Family is remaining in New Braunfels).

Much like we all experienced with relationships in our summers at camp, Chris’ impact in leading the Camp Travis staff and the entire Director Team is dear because the Lord uses His people to sharpen others … just like God intends it to be.  “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”  Proverbs 27:17.

Chris (and his “camp relationship” turned wife, Rachel) have sharpened many people as they have served at T Bar M. Below, the staff he serves with now share how they have been sharpened while working with Chris.   We gladly share this list with you and hope it is a challenge for you too!

14 things we learned from Chris Shelton

"He is so caring and thoughtful not only in the workplace, but he and Rachel have invested in me personally. Which makes me want to shepherd and steward the people and work that I am involved with in every area of my life."   – Kenna

"I have learned the balance of being a leader and a friend. He pursues me as a team member & friend. Chris models what it looks like to be the hands and feet of Jesus in caring for the people around him as he jumps into action when things are hard."  – Chris O

"I learned to always believe the best about people!" - Cassie

"I learned more about the importance of prayer through the way he modeled it for us." - Will

"The way Chris leads out of vulnerability and honesty is encouraging, challenging, and inspiring."  - Emily

"Taking care of your people is the best way to take care of your ministry." - D

"Three words true of Chris – Belief, Vision and Activator. He leads with strong beliefs, holds fast to his conviction, and is excellent at capturing and casting vision for the mission. He initiates action in others, calls us to “excel still more” while instilling deep faith in us as a team. These qualities are highly impactful to our team as it has cultivated a team culture of passion, purpose, and being proactive!" - Jena

"Through Chris Shelton, I have seen 1 Thessalonians 2:8 lived out. He doesn't just lead our team but shares his heart and life with us." -Nola

"Chris has taught me that anything worth fixing or correcting is worth every bit of the time, energy, and resources needed to make it happen. His work ethic is admirable and something I strive for!" - Ryan

"Chris embodies the principle that "if you love someone, you show up." He is there for others in times of need, going out of his way to make them feel cared of, regardless of what it cost him." - Austin

"Chris models a supreme example of hospitality, a passion for the Word of God and graciousness in hard conversations." -Matt

"Every time he finishes a meeting he says, 'I like you, guys'. That, along with him and Rachel inviting me into his life expresses his genuine 'I’m glad you are here.'" -T ori

"He is a great example in being the hands and feet of Jesus." - Jordan

"I learned to invite people into my life the way he and his family does." - Drea

It has always been a prayer at T Bar M that those whose life was changed by Jesus while serving at Camp, would go and make an impact wherever they land. Like many others, Jason Phillips is doing just that.

The summers of 1994-1996, you would find Jason Phillips with a basketball in hand, smile on his face, and great conversation going. He spent his college summers on the courts of T Bar M "Sports" Camp discipling campers and college students. And now, through "Hoopes for Hope" he continues to be a part of changing the world for Christ "one bounce at a time".

He had a great support those summers at camp and still does in Jennifer Dugan (now) Phillips. She and their two children (Hadley and Hudson ... we can't wait for Hadley to serve at Travis this summer!) share an equal love for Sports, God, and Loving on kids. In fact, they are praying and trusting that your passion for all these areas has not waned as you transitioned away from camp life. Jason shares, "In my years at camp I learned that no matter what someone’s demographic background is, sports (not just basketball! Ha ha) can break down any and all barriers that hinder friendship/relationship and then ultimately the open up the opportunity to share hope and the Gospel with children. "

The Phillips personally experienced relationships forged through God's Good News in Uganda as they watched Hudson (their son) teach basketball to children. In Uganda, one of the children gave Hudson a picture and letter for Hudson to take back to home with him. This seems like a small token, but the children in Uganda have almost nothing, so giving this gift is a deep sign of friendship.

Hoops for Hope International is where they have found joy in serving the past 10 years. This organization has allowed them to and so many others to take trips abroad to teach basketball skills with a message of hope. Jason serves on staff with Hoops for Hope in growing their reach across our state and world. Check them out for great mission trips as well as local outreach opportunities.

Four Guys ... four faithful friends experienced something that they wanted their buddy to experience. Though there was a bit of a physical challenge to get him there, that didn’t stop them from loading up their friend who could not walk and taking him to Jesus. Not near Jesus, but TO Jesus. They lowered their friend through a roof and got him right in front of Him. And people are STILL talking about it today.

This is Andrew McAllister's favorite account in the Bible (Mark 2:3-11). Because he is living it.

By the faith and unconventional thinking of Andrew's family, he experienced T Bar M as a young camper. His adventure started with zipping down the zip line and water skiing with Cole at Camp Travis, and then serving as a Day Camp Coach. Just as the paralyzed man’s friends did, Andrew had a dream where he picked up the mat and carried other kids to Jesus. He dreamed and planned how he could bring those with limitations closer to Jesus in ways the world might think to be unconventional. After a conversation between Johnny and Andrew, Camp Hope and the Believe it Foundation were created, and we are still watching the stories unfold today! He claims, "Without T Bar M, I would not be where I am in my confidence or profession."

Recently, another faithful friend of Andrew's, Ross Ormand, posed the idea of running a marathon together as a duo team. Sitting in the hotel lobby, before their first race in Chicago, the next unconventional idea came to mind: Let's do the SIX World Marathon Majors. They set off on their adventure. Five of the six marathons are done, with Boston being the most recent. Unconventional? You bet! Bringing others to Jesus and great experiences? Absolutely!

You see, Andrew believes this: Through experiences and life change at T Bar M, alongside the impact of his local church, St. Andrews in San Antonio, the love of Christ shines in his life, and he knows he needs to share his experiences with others.

Andrew, Ross, and so many others are linking arms to pick up the mats so others can be brought to Jesus.  Kids zipping at Camp, Duo Teams in marathons, talking about Jesus in a broken world. All unconventional ways of this world. And all ways, we will be talking about through eternity!

I was having lunch with a friend last week, and we were both relating over how God uses Camp to bring people into our lives who better us. She said, “There is something just different about Camp friendships.” I couldn’t agree more. As summer is up to bat, I find myself wanting every Coach to make friendships that God uses to show more of Himself. I find myself wanting every Coach to find a friend like Grace.

I first met Grace during a puzzle-like game that put us in our covenant groups during training week in 2019. We didn’t know each other before, though we had many mutual connections through Texas A&M (WHOOP!). It didn’t take long for us to laugh hard together, which is one of my favorite parts about our friendship to this day.

Grace served the first half of summer but returned for an extra week to be a Coach with me in our dearly beloved Southbay at Camp Travis. We have countless stories from that one week when I got to see her firsthand love campers that needed a listening ear and compassionate heart. We also laughed a lot (a recurring theme with us). The next summer, I was honored to step onto the Travis Leadership Team where Grace was in the covenant group I got to walk with. Lots of stories from that summer involved masks, and distance yet still, lots of laughing together. In 2022, God placed both of us back at Camp Travis on the Leadership Team, and we got to serve alongside one another once again. We joked that we have been co-cov members, co-Coaches, my cov girl and co-workers.

Grace is now in graduate school studying Speech Pathology at UT Dallas, while I have gotten to jump on full-time here at T Bar M. Though our time on summer staff has come to an end…for now (who knows what God will do), Grace has continued to be steady friend, and someone who reminds me of Jesus. There really is something different about a Camp friendship.

So ... let's link arms with this summer's coaches!!

As these groups gather this summer, let's send them encouragement, prayers, and a bit of fun from those that have served as they will.

We have 68 covenant groups serving between at Base Camp, Camp Travis, Family Camp, Discover, and Day Camp. Isn't that amazing!

It's as easy as 1-2-3.

  1. Simply email alumni@tbarm.org and we will send you the information you will need. Covenant Group Leader and Coaches names as well as the Camp terms and the Camp addresses. (We'll even send a list of ideas to make it even easier 😉
  2. You will send them one care package in June and one in July, as well as encouragement notes or emails throughout the summer.
  3. Then ... we will all watch God use these coaches do MIGHTY things this summer at the place we love.

Email Abby & Kelli at alumni@tbarm.org if you would like to Adopt-A-Cov!

Covenant Groups are an intentional foundation of the discipleship of T Bar M, fashioned after the covenant that David and Jonathan made in 1 Samuel 18:1-5 and still a foundational part of the DNA of Coaches’ summer experiences.

With the days getting warmer and the sun setting later, it sure does make us wish for the summer days to arrive! Moms thinking about slower mornings, not packing lunches and no homework. Kids thinking about playing late into the evening, not eating at school, and no homework.

And Camp. Summer approaching makes us think about Camp.

T Bar M Camper (and Alumni kiddo), Campbell, thinks about the friends, the fun, and all she gets to do at Camp. There is a smile on her face that shows she can't wait to be back to Base Camp in June ... with friends, yellow meal, and no homework!

There is a bit more she is excited about ... Campbell's friend is joining her at Camp for the first time this summer. She can't wait for Leah to experience the "fun and exciting (and awesome) week because you get to have so much fun while you learn about God." (She's also pretty pumped about her friend doing the high ropes course too!)

Experiencing Jesus wrapped up in all the fun, has her counting the days to this summer, but remembering how she felt about God at Camp has her thinking about last summer. "For me, it's different at Camp, being cheered on and encouraged by the Coaches all the time is just good to be around. God uses it to help us in our homes, with our friends, and at school."

Coming back summer after summer, yields another sweetness: Camp Friends. Another friend, Kallie, (& Alumni kiddo) and Campbell have come to camp before together. "I love it because I don't get to see her except at Camp, and when we are together, we go BIG with everything ... playing together, worshipping together, playing together. We go all in!"

There is indeed something sweet about going to camp. A home away from home with new friends and old friends that form family for a week ... and longer.

The days we remember that shaped us, the day we are living in right now and all the days to follow ... we will rally this summer around what God does in our ... GLORY DAYS.

As adults, feelings of nostalgia about years past when we were younger, a few pounds lighter, and unencumbered by the cares of the “real” world.  A time when our minds were not consumed with mortgages, work stability or the heavy responsibility of parenting. Thoughts of, “if I could just go back” or “those were the days” that often leave us disappointed and discouraged.

For kids, the idea of “Glory Days” will often fill their heads with thoughts of sports icons, celebrities, money, fame and all that comes with it.  They are constantly being bombarded with images that only serve to remind them of what they don’t have and will likely never attain.  “Maybe if I work hard enough, I’ll be able to play like him” … “If I can just look like her, then maybe they’ll like and follow me” … Always chasing significance and acceptance through the avenue of MORE.  But the only thing they are left with is more fear and anxiety.

The problem is not what has been missed in the past or what is just beyond our grasp in the future.  The key to living and experiencing our Glory Days is by shifting our perspective of what true Glory is where it can be found.

The Bible says that glory is even more exclusive than we think — only God himself is glorious. Compared to God, humanity is a mist of vapor and a fleeting breath. We are reminded that “all fall short of the glory of God," (Romans 3:23).

And yet, while God alone is the object of our worship and praise, from the very beginning of the world, God has made mankind to reflect his glory. As Psalm 8:4-5 puts it, "What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You have crowned him with glory and honor." In the Hebrew, "glory" implies weightiness or significance. Essentially, God has bestowed upon us a unique and profound importance, making us reflections of His divine glory.

Our Glory Days are not confined to the past when we were younger, more athletic and full of optimism.  In the same way, our Glory Days are not off in the distant future never to be realized.  For those of us who have experienced the glory of God through the person of Jesus Christ and the hope that he brings ... our Glory Days are to be lived NOW and FOREVER.  

NOW, as we look to live our current life aligned with Jesus' Kingdom that he brought when he walked the earth.  A way of life marked by forgiveness, peace, joy and love.  Living your Glory Days NOW is to walk with Jesus and seek to live and love as He does and experience all the freedom that comes only through a relationship with Him.

FOREVER, as we live in the hope of eternity spent with our loving Creator.  As Jesus taught his disciples, "I go to prepare a place for you ... that you may also be where I am."  To live in the full presence of the glory of God for all eternity ... that is what awaits all who have placed their trust in Jesus Christ.    

This summer, we will delve into how to live a life without the burden of regret but with an abundance of joy, anchored in the promises of God. When we focus on living for God's glory rather than our own, we can discover a life filled with remarkable purpose and meaning, not just for the present but also for the eternity that lies ahead.

So, will you stop living in the past?  Will you stop daydreaming about the future and the fleeting glory that this world offers?  And instead realize that the invitation is open to live out your Glory Days: Now & Forever

“Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name goes all the glory for your unfailing love and faithfulness.” Psalm 115:1

I didn't know the value of good o manual labor until that first Training Camp at T Bar M in 1993, but it did set foundations that I continue to use today. The outcome of two hours of painting fences and moving rocks was quite more than two checks on the "to do" list. It is where I (and countless other college and high school students) learned much, much more.

T Bar M Camps is offering that very opportunity for High School students each summer ... and this summer it is growing even more. We are committed to (and excited about) our dedicated Work Crew, comprised of high school students who are eager to serve, lead, and deepen their faith. These students play a vital role in enriching the camp experience for everyone involved. It's a unique opportunity for them to forge connections, gain valuable leadership skills, and leave a lasting impact on our community. And we are confident these all transfer to their daily life way beyond this summer.

It will be an experience that is built on these five components:
--Strengthening their Faith
--Building Community
--Apprenticeship in Service
--Weekly Bible Study
--Leadership Development

(and did we mention it would be so much fun ... words just don't do justice?)

We believe that our summer work crew program offers a unique opportunity for high school students to grow personally, spiritually, and socially while making a tangible difference in the lives of others.

-Austin Mankin, Base Camp Director

For all the details and how to apply, read below.