Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Steven King, Director of Operations

By Stephen S. Mabry, CFRE, CAE
Chief Executive Officer

It is my privilege to announce that Steven King’s title has been changed to Director of Operations in order to more closely reflect the scope of his duties at TLC. Steven has been an indispensable member of the TLC professional staff since 2000, having been the Asst. Program Director from 2000-2004 and until recently, the Client Services Director. Prior to joining the professional staff, Steven was also a member of TLC’s seasonal staff from 1990 - 1996.

As Director of Operations, Steven's duties will expand and continue to include supervision of TLC's seasonal staff recruiting effort, management of the Summer Camp Program as well as the operation of TLC's successful leasing program. The leasing program currently adds close to $150,000 per annum to TLC's operating revenues.

Together with his wife Karen-Anne, the Kings have made the continued success of Texas Lions Camp a family affair; as many of you know, Karen-Anne is a Registered Nurse and serves with distinction as Medical Director of TLC’s camps for children with physical disabilities. Congratulations Steven and thank you for all that you do to advance the mission of Texas Lions Camp. 

Tipi Village: an Eagle Scout's Project

TiPi Village at Texas Lions Camp

By: Stephen S. Mabry, CFRE, CAE
Chief Executive Officer

Tipi Village at Texas Lions Camp

This past summer, Texas Lions Camp was the recipient of many acts of kindness and thousands of man-hours of service in preparation for the 1,383 children who attended Camp in 2012. To say it takes the expertise of many people to provide our services to so many deserving children is an understatement, as the Camp operation is actually a conglomeration of many smaller operations and systems that operate synergistically in order to create our program.

Over the years, Texas Lions Camp has been the beneficiary of a number of Eagle Scout projects and it was my great privilege to get to know Evan Schaff of Houston, Texas as a result of just such a project. When I met Evan, he was classed as a "Life Scout" and was looking for a project that he could undertake in order to achieve his Eagle Scout classification.

There were a number of needs the Camp had at the time; however, one particular need seemed like a match too good to pass up for an Eagle Scout candidate, namely: TLC's Tipi Village. As I discussed this need with Evan, taking a project of this size and scope was understandably...well...daunting. After all, how many of us have ever erected a Tipi (let alone three tipis) or would even know where to begin?

Moreover, I asked Evan to conduct some research and to consider how the Native Americans present in the Texas Hill Country may have lived when planning artifacts to create and add to the village. Evan had many great ideas to share and of course the Camp had many objectives that had to result in order to create the safe atmosphere desired for the kiddos of TLC. After a number of meetings and idea sessions, Evan submitted his project for approval, and was given the approval to proceed by both his certifying body and Texas Lions Camp.

On June 2, Evan mobilized with Troop 1001 of Katy, Texas and bivouacked on site at Texas Lions Camp. Throughout the weekend, the troop under the direction and leadership of its senior patrol leader, Evan, set about the task of constructing TLC's all-new Tipi Village. 

One of the items that Evan decided to include, was an exhibit to demonstrate the tanning of hides which would have been used for clothing or other leather-goods needs.
More than just "Clowning" around...the tri-pod configuration is the beginning and foundation of the framework and must demonstrate integrity and strength before the remaining poles and framework can be added. Like anywhere else, the Texas Hill Country can produce some high-winds and thunderstorms on occasion and Evan was careful to construct the structures to withstand the potential for windy weather.

Each tipi also has a center, anchor line that runs from the top of the frame, to a stake in the ground which helps to ensure the integrity of the structure.

In addition to the three full tipis, Evan and the team also erected two "shells" without canvas in order to give the impression of nomadic lifestyles. Lastly, Evan created a full-color report to document how to construct the Tipis as well as information and facts he had learned about how native Americans lived in the area.

When asked about the project, Evan said, 'The only way that I was able to do this project was with the unsparing and industrious help from the scouts of my troop.  These scouts and friends worked so hard on the project that they are the ones who should really be applauded.  They knew how to do most of the tasks I assigned to them and if not, they were very quick to learn.  The majority of all the helpers I had out there working on the project were scouts from my own troop, the rest were personal friends who were in a different troop.  I am with Troop 1001 in Katy, TX.  We have about 30 scouts in the troop and are always looking for new friends.  We go camping, every month and do a wide variety of things from fishing, kayaking, backpacking, hiking, or just having a good time at one of our favorite camp grounds.  Feel free to check out our new website: HTTP://
Evan Schaff and Troop 1001 from Katy, Texas

Evan with his Dad.

In mid-August, Evan returned with his family and dismantled the village in order to store it until it is needed once again next summer. To be sure, many long hours of planning, work and travel were freely given by Evan, his family and others, and it is with our deepest gratitude that I say thank you, Evan for a job well done!

Congratulations on the achievement of your Eagle Scout badge Evan, an honor that was earned and well deserved.

Sincerely yours,

Stephen S. Mabry, CFRE, CAE
Chief Executive Officer
Texas Lions Camp, Inc.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

TLC Specialty License Plates

TLC Specialty License Plates
by: Stephen S. Mabry, CFRE, CAE

Ever wonder if TLC really benefits from your electing to place our specialty license plate on your vehicle(s)? In 2011, TLC received cumulative earning of $59,108.42. Already as of this date in 2012, we have earned another $7,114 in support of our operations or other Board designated expenditure. Thanks to all and keep showing your TLC pride when you's working! 

To learn more, or to order on-line, please visit us on the web at:

Best regards,

Stephen S. Mabry, CFRE, CAE
Chief Executive Officer
Texas Lions Camp, Inc.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Frontier Village – What’s New at TLC in 2012

By: Stephen S. Mabry, CFRE, CAE
Chief Executive Officer


With over a decade of planning, fund-raising and round-table discussions, Texas Lions Camp is proud to announce the addition of Frontier Village as one of the many new resources awaiting Children at Texas Lions Camp for the summer of 2012. The new facility is a “themed” campsite that is constructed to remind visitors of the frontier and “old west” style amenities that may have been seen in the area with early settlements (except for ours has a foundation, reinforced steel girders and over 24 ceiling fans).

Over-looking a serene valley, campers will be treated to one-of-a-kind views, out-door cookouts, and sleeping under the stars in an outdoor setting. The new site is situated to the North of the main campus and overlooks the sports lake - portions of which can be seen from inside - since the pavilion’s NW elevation stands open to the view for campers to enjoy.

Many campers come from the inner-cities or for other reasons may have never had the opportunity to camp overnight in nature. The new campsite will provide campers the opportunity to experience nature and overnight camping at its finest while never being more than 500 yards from the infirmary and the Camp proper. The natural path leading to Frontier gently meanders through the woods and is both wide and relatively flat, making the trek accessible to all, regardless of their abilities or appliances used for ambulation.

While the design and concept for the new campsite had been adopted by the Board of Directors some time ago, the price tag was rather steep at an estimated $250,000.00 – that is, until Lions District 2-X2 stepped forward with a $116,000.00 pledge for funding as well as a volunteer contractor in Past District Governor Jimmie Muckleroy. In addition to owning a contracting company, PDG Muckleroy is also director of a volunteer group of contractors and handy-men known as the “Christian Church Disciples of Christ” whose mission leads them to travel abroad, helping organizations erect structures so that the organization can better accomplish their mission…and that certainly has been the result at Texas Lions Camp.

“Volunteer” construction on this scale is outside the norm for Texas Lions Camp, and there were many details and obstacles that had to be addressed in order for the project to proceed. Moreover, both the distance and construction requirements that are unique to building in the rocky, Texas Hill-Country, posed many puzzles to be unraveled by PDG Muckleroy and his crew who are based in deep East Texas; however, by working together, consulting and inviting the participation of a number of Kerrville based contractors and a determination to overcome issues, children visiting Texas Lions Camp from this point forward will benefit as a result of this tremendous effort. My heart-felt appreciation and congratulations go to PDG Jimmie for his tremendous work and sacrifice in seeing this project through to completion. Many thanks also to Mike Dyal, of Kerrville based  Mike Dyal Custom Homes, for his many hours devoted to the project.

It is definitely noteworthy to also let you know a number of Dads and relatives of TLC campers both worked on this project and donated towards making this project a reality both for their children and the children of others. I can’t think of many things stronger than that!

In addition, I can’t express my appreciation and admiration enough for the many fine Lions of District 2-X2. They have a long standing and distinguished record of service to children through Texas Lions Camp, and have once again stepped up in a big way on behalf of the children we serve.

Lastly, I would be remiss if I did not also mention the tremendous efforts of 2nd Vice-President Leon Van Alstine and DG-elect, Nancy Van Alstine for their tireless efforts in presenting their vision for Frontier Village to the District of 2-X2. The many presentations and long trips they have made to invite the financial support needed for the District to adopt and financially support the project was the impetus and driving force behind our ability to move forward to completion in time for Summer Camp 2012.

I am very excited for our kiddos and can’t wait to see the wonder in their eyes as they enter this new facility that has been constructed just for them.

Happy Camping…

Stephen S. Mabry, CFRE, CAE
Chief Executive Officer

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Fantastic Four

By: Stephen S. Mabry, CFRE, CAE
Chief Executive Officer


Four Fantastic individuals recently received four phenomenal offers, and I couldn’t be more excited for the future of all four.

Today, I am officially announcing that two (2) key, full-time employees will be leaving Texas Lions Camp in order to accept positions with other service-based organizations: Paul Brouse (Program Supervisor) whose last day will be April 30, 2012 and Stephanie Hodges (Registrar) whose last day was Friday, April 20, 2012. Both of these high-caliber individuals have served with distinction and their talents will be missed, but at the same time, we are excited to watch them embark on the next step in their personal journey through life.

It is a difficult thing to invest in employees and to later have to say good-bye, but the
truth is “Cream Rises to the Top” and just as quality people come in, they inevitably will rise to even greater challenges and go out. Texas Lions Camp has a long standing tradition of celebrating the natural flow of this cycle and for decades has invited those who have served “to evaluate what they have given to TLC and what they have taken away from TLC.” This cycle is true for all and occurs at varying degrees both large and small…directly and indirectly…obviously and quietly.

Paul Brouse - 2012
Paul Brouse – Program Supervisor
Paul was the second person I ever met at Texas Lions Camp, over two decades ago, as we both served on the summer staff at TLC in 1989. Even then, his calm, steady and gentle way with people was legendary and well established. Paul soon began his full-time career in organized camping at another organization and returned full-time to TLC in December of 2008 as TLC’s Program Supervisor. Paul has been an integral part of the TLC Team, devoting his time and efforts to recruiting, supervising, and coaching TLC’s seasonal employees. Paul was also charged with coordinating TLC’s Advanced Diabetes Seminar and facilitated both the medical team and attendees of the seminars, since the seminar’s successful inception in 2009. Paul has accepted a position at the University of New Mexico where he will manage the University’s Camp Program for Children who have Autism. Thank you Paul for your service to TLC and we wish you well in all of your new adventures.

Melissa Wilson (Left) Stephanie Hodges (right) - 2012
Stephanie Hodges – Registrar
Stephanie came to TLC in January of 2009 in order to assume the duties of Camp Registrar upon the retirement of long time employee, Mae Nell Rhymes. To be sure, taking over for an employee with 46 years of experience in a role as important as the single registrar for 1,500 children who have special medical conditions is understandably intimidating, but Stephanie proved that she was up to the challenge of mastering numerous systems and quickly met the needs of all concerned. Since 2009, Stephanie has coordinated every child who has attended TLC and directly contributed to their safe return home. Most recently and most notably, Stephanie was charged with the implementation of taking TLC’s camper applications on-line for the first time in TLC’s 63 year history. This new system was launched in January of 2012 and is making registrations quicker and easier, setting the stage for faster and more efficient responses to all concerned, not to mention faster and more efficient access to information by our program and medical teams. Stephanie will be joining Dani Johnson’s team, a motivational life coach who has appeared on Oprah and others.

Though not a requirement, it has admittedly become a pattern for TLC to promote from within and many of those invited to join our full-time team have worked on our seasonal team in the past. I am very proud to announce that two of our newest employees are no strangers to our mission as both are former employees who are merely coming home.

Patti Rodgriquez - 2012
Patricia “Patty” Rodriquez – Program Supervisor
Patty has been hired to take the position of Program Supervisor, which was vacated by Paul. She is a recent graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, where she earned two Bachelor of Arts degrees: 1) Journalism and 2) Communications Studies. 
Patty was a member of the TLC Summer staff from 2007-2011 having worked up to the supervisory level, and was one of our Program Interns this past year from January – August of 2011, where she actively participated in a supervisory role.  Patty is fluent in sign-language and is currently working to become a certified interpreter.  Patty states that working for Texas Lions Camp is her dream job and that she is still walking on “cloud nine” since her dream has become reality. I am very proud to have Patty join the TLC Professional Staff and to introduce her to you, the TLC family – look for great things from her – she will no doubt be a credit to us all.

Melissa Wilson, MS, CCLS, CPST – Camp Registrar
Melissa has been hired to take the position of Registrar, which was vacated by Stephanie. Melissa was a member of the TLC Summer Staff from 1996 - 1998 and joined our professional staff in 2009 as Donor Relations Specialist, before finishing her Masters degree in Family and Child Studies and then joining the hospital staff of Christus Santa Rosa in San Antonio, as a Child Life Specialist. Melissa’s undergraduate degree was completed in Psychology and Social Work from Southwest Texas State University. Melissa’s favorite quote is: “Life without compassion is like trying to dribble a football…it just doesn’t work” and she has great plans to employ this philosophy to the duties of bringing children to Texas Lions Camp. Melissa holds a special certificate as a Child Passenger Safety Technician and is qualified to instruct families on the installation and use of children’s safety restraints for vehicles. In addition, Melissa is a Certified Child Life Specialist, with emphasis on bridging the gap between the home and hospital for child patients. Melissa is notably fluent in Sign Language and a Certified Sign Language Interpreter for the deaf. Oh, and by the way…you might recognize the name...she is Glenn Wilson’s wife who is TLC’s Equestrian Director. I am excited to have Melissa rejoin TLC’s Professional Staff in this capacity and to have the benefit of her considerable qualifications once again put to work on behalf of our kiddos.

Congratulations to these Fantastic Four…may you be blessed to prosper as you step into your new roles.

Sincerely yours,

Stephen S. Mabry, CFRE, CAE
Chief Executive Officer
Texas Lions Camp, Inc.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Down syndrome Camp Comes to TLC

Down Syndrome Camp Comes to TLC
Down Syndrome Camp
For decades, when asked if children who have Down syndrome qualified to attend Texas Lions Camp, the answer was always disappointingly, “No.” This past summer, TLC opened a pilot program to test how Lions might provide services to this special population of children and families and turn that “No” into a “Yes.” And, on July 17, 2011, we did so for the very first time in our history.
As planning began to facilitate this exciting, first step, many methods of accomplishing the goal were entertained and there were many issues to be addressed. Should children with Down syndrome be mainstreamed into the general sessions? Should the age groups for this camp be the same? Or should it be more restrictive than the norm? Should the session be offered during summer or at another time period? If children with Down syndrome were to be offered their own session, how many children should be allowed to register?
Ultimately, our plan included inviting 75 children between the ages of 7-16 to attend a one-week session programmed specifically for their care needs. The session ran concurrently at TLC in conjunction with the Texas Burn Survivor’s Camp, though the two groups were completely autonomous and assigned separate areas of Camp so that they did not over-lap.
So What Did We Learn?
It is a wonderful and terrifying experience to take a confident step into the unknown…and there were a number of unknowns as 75 children and their families arrived for check-in. Some of the things that became immediately apparent included, but were not limited to the following:
-          Definitely, the decision to offer a specific session (rather than mainstreaming into the regular sessions) served the children well in the Texas Lions Camp setting
-          The 75 slots allotted for the Camp did not create a small camp…but a VERY-LARGE-CAMP
-          With a group of this size, the age limits should be shifted upwards to allow younger children the additional time to develop the skills needed to be away from home (and Mom)
-          Programmatically, our standard format and schedule needed to be altered in order to provide one of the things this population needs the most: Routine…Routine…Routine.
-          Behavior, rather than age, is more of a critical factor for this population to thrive in TLC’s setting
-          The parents/families of this population were very appreciative of the Lions and staff and were a privilege to work with
So What About 2012?
After observing the week, I met with the entire TLC seasonal staff who worked hands on with the kids in order to debrief and request their input for the future. Who better to answer the question, “Is TLC’s offerings in the best interest of these kiddos?” Honestly…I didn’t know what the final outcome would be as the week was a significant departure from our norm, but I expected there could be mixed reviews as to whether or not the program should be adopted in 2012.
To the credit of these young men and women who had just expended every last ounce of energy…there was not a single dissenting vote or negative comment about repeating the program. When asked specifically if they would recommend the program to continue, ~130 hands went enthusiastically skyward with zero stating they wouldn’t enjoy working with these kids again.
This past August, it was my privilege to make a full report to the Board of Directors along with a recommendation to include the Down Syndrome Camp in the schedule for 2012. The Board adopted the proposal and excitedly…we are now making preparations for a repeat program next summer.
What to Expect in 2012
-          Camp for children who have Down Syndrome will be offered on July 15-21, 2012
-          The ages for the program will be shifted upwards to include ages 12-16
-          The program will include up to 75 children
-          The 2012 application will seek additional information about behavioral patterns and care needs of campers
We are looking forward to another great season and anticipate the arrival of your kiddos.
Happy Camping!
Stephen S. Mabry, CFRE, CAE
Chief Executive Officer
Texas Lions Camp, Inc.

Friday, July 15, 2011

New Sound System Comes to TLC – A Resounding Thanks!

New Sound System Comes to TLC – A Resounding Thanks!
Texas Lions Camp just completed installation of a brand, new public address system at the Camp’s amphitheatre. On average, TLC’s Kerrville based campus hosts 1,500 children per year from across the State of Texas and celebrates their accomplishments at the amphitheatre each Friday evening of the summer, camping season.
It is an amazing experience to collectively celebrate the accomplishments of these children. For many, this kind of opportunity remains elusive and a rare event…to have their name called from a microphone so that their achievement(s) can be publicly recognized as they move to center stage before a crowd of 600 people is a moving and powerful experience for all.
The new sound system is comprised of professional quality, outdoor components, that are a vast improvement over the temporary system that has been used since TLC’s inception. Our practice has been to setup a portable sound-system each Friday evening, which poses a hazard to both equipment and personnel, not to mention the additional time outlay in an already task-packed day. The former system has worked with some success, but has often left those in the back wondering what was said.
The new system sports 4-two way high output speakers, 1 sub-woofer that you can feel from a distance, 2 Crown amplifiers, 1 Rolls mixer, and 2 high-end wireless microphones the latter of which are all encased in a weather-proof, secure cabinet.
What does a state-of-the-art, new sound system mean to an operation such as Texas Lions Camp? It is at the heart of our mission to improve the self-esteem of children with special medical conditions. Thanks to the generous gift made by the Odessa Downtown Lions Club, we now have an improved system by which to tell everyone present that Children Can…With TLCTM.
And now we can say it with more volume and clarity than ever before…well done and MANY THANKS!
Sincerely yours,
Stephen S. Mabry, CFRE, CAE
Chief Executive Officer
Texas Lions Camp, Inc.