When my two sons were going through Tyler ISD, the highlight of their elementary years was without question their school trip to nearby Camp Tyler. It was all they could talk about for weeks.
The trip gave them the opportunity to stay a few nights in a cabin on the shore of Lake Tyler. They spent their days outdoors doing hands-on experiments, exploring the huge campgrounds with its walking paths and ponds and having fun with their classmates.
I am not a dad who spent a lot of time doing the camping thing with my boys, so this provided them a rare childhood ex-perience of spending a lot of time enjoying nature.
They loved it.
I am grateful they had the experience. They learned that they really could survive a few days without video games. They had their doubts.
When Camp Tyler Outdoor School opened in 1945 it was one of the first — by some accounts the first — outdoor education facility of its kind.
The nonprofit school has expanded many times over the decades and is looking to continue its unique brand of education.
On its website, Camp Tyler Outdoor School bills itself as a "sanctuary that promotes the natural learning process. We are fortunate to see many ‘Aha!' moments as children gain knowledge through understanding and analysis. It is more important than ever to protect Camp Tyler for children today, tomorrow and in the future."
In seeking donations, Camp Tyler notes: "This wonderful facility still depends on the vision, determination and commitment of forward-thinking, caring donors like you. For 63 years, Camp Tyler Outdoor School has led children from public, private and home schools in discovery learning through overnight camping or day programs.
"Your donation will support outdoor education and nature experiences for many more children."
One way people can help ensure the future of Camp Tyler is to take part in its annual benefit gala set for April 12 at Willow Brook Country Club in Tyler.
The theme of the fundraiser is "Camping Under the Stars." The gala will include a chance drawing for a Yamaha Viking 4-Wheeler.
To find out more about Camp Tyler, go to its website, camptyler.org. For more about the gala, contact Leslie Roberts at 903-939-8136.