What Makes Camp Champions So Great?

A tradition of excellence since 1967, fantastic activities, and best-trained counselors are a few of the reasons that Camp Champions is consistently ranked among the top camps in the country, but what really sets our camp apart is the intentional community we create year after year.

We believe every child has an inner Champion, and we create a loving community in which every camper can flourish. Whether they realize it or not, we push every camper to grow in character skills like independence and confidence while they are at camp. And because there is an important niche in our community for every camper to fill, we are consistently told that our campers are free to discover “the best versions of themselves.”

We are as committed to children and their growth as any institution or program out there, and our community is the primary way we support campers in this goal. Of course, we wouldn’t be able to create such a community if we didn’t have such a blast every day at camp!

In 2011-12, Steve and Susie took their kids out of school for a year to travel to Europe, Asia and New Zealand. They remain surprisingly sane.In 2011-12, Steve and Susie took their kids out of school for a year to travel to Europe, Asia and New Zealand. They remain surprisingly sane.

Owners & Directors

Susie and Steve Baskin came to Camp Champions in 1995 and live at camp year round with their four children: twin boys Wiley and Liam (17), daughter Terrill (16), daughter Virginia (13) and basset hound Dodger. They are committed to making camp an extraordinary place to serve families.

Read our camp’s history

STEVE SIR

Steve is the executive director of the boys’ side of camp. That means that he gets to spend time with great campers and counselors during the summer and avoid growing up.

Steve is a lifelong camper. He first attended camp when he was 8 and he continued for 11 years. In his years as a camper and a counselor, he discovered the power of the camp experience to develop confidence, social skills and joy.

He even wrote about camp in his college applications as one of the defining experiences of his life. After graduating with honors from Davidson College, he got off the camp track for a few years during which he was an investment banker with Goldman Sachs in New York and Simmons & Company in Houston. He then went to Harvard Business School, where he decided to pursue his true passion: summer camp. He and Susie have been full-time campers since 1993. Steve is lucky to have the pleasure of partnering with his wife (and best friend).

Steve has been featured in articles in the Wall Street Journal, American Way magazine, the Houston Chronicle and the Austin-American Statesman. He currently writes for Psychology Today on youth development, education and parenting. Steve chaired the Tri-State Camp Conference (the largest camp conference in the world) from 2008-2010. In 2009, he received the National Service Award from the American Camp Association (ACA). In 2010, he was appointed Treasurer of the ACA and serves on its Executive Committee.

The Tiger Story: Play ►

SUSIE MA’AM

Susie is the camp mom and the director of the girls’ side. She adores her many “children” at camp.

Susie loves talking with camper parents all year long and helping them with any issues about camp, including parental separation anxiety (camp can be hard on first time parents). In addition to being a parent liaison at camp, she also directs our camp health center.

Susie did not attend camp as a child or young woman, but has become a powerful fan of the camp experience as she watched its positive effect on her own children.

In her past life, Susie was a family and adolescent counselor at a hospital in Wellesley, MA and later became a manager at a Boston hospital. She attended University of Michigan undergrad and Northwestern University for graduate school.

In 2014, the Texas Commissioner of Education appointed Susie as the sole camp representative to the Texas Expanded Learning Opportunities (ELO) Council.

Susie is a die hard Bostonian and thought she’d live there forever until Steve met her and convinced her to move to Texas. She is very happy that he did as she could never envision a better place to live than right in the middle of camp on the beautiful shores of Lake LBJ.

Our Mission

Our passion is to help EVERY camper grow into the CHAMPION God intends him or her to be.

You can’t understand Camp Champions until you understand our mission. This is what drives us. In all that we do, we try to help every camper grow into a CHAMPION!

We want our kids to learn to live lives of integrity, to get excited about serving others and about doing the right thing, all of the time, even when it’s hard.

Although we don’t promote a particular religious emphasis, the values we represent—through our activities, through our traditions, and especially through our people—are values that families from a host of different religious traditions can get excited about.

So with all this serious “mission” stuff, is camp still fun?

You bet! We can’t accomplish any of our goals without making sure camp is full of wild fun. But it’s fun WITH A PURPOSE. We want our kids to grow into true CHAMPIONS in life—to pursue big dreams, to serve others, to make a difference in the world around them.

Say hello to the people who make summer amazing

When you choose a summer camp for your child, you must make sure that, above all else, you feel comfortable with the PEOPLE who will care for your child. That feeling of trust is essential!

If you decide that Champions is the right place for your child this summer, we want you to feel great about the people who will help YOUR child grow into a CHAMPION!!!

Meet Our Senior Staff

Michael Moak

Assistant Director, Michael Moak, or to us, Moak sir, grew up way out west in Midland, TX. He first fell in love with summer camp while attending Laity Lodge Youth Camp for three summers after 7th, 8th and 9th grades. Moak sir attended Texas A & M and Hardin-Simmons University seeking a degree in recreation, hoping to work at a camp someday. His dream came true! In 1997 he joined the full-time staff of Camp Champions as Sports Director, was the Head Counselor in ’98 and became Assistant Director in ’99. Moak sir serves on the Board of Directors for the Texoma Section of the American Camp Association, is trained in Emergency Medicine and enjoys his aquariums when not busy at camp.

Michael Moak Assistant Director, Michael Moak, or to us, Moak sir, grew up way out west in Midland, TX. He first fell in love with summer camp while attending Laity Lodge Youth Camp for three summers after 7th, 8th and 9th grades. Moak sir attended Texas A & M and Hardin-Simmons University seeking a degree in recreation, hoping to work at a camp someday. His dream came true! In 1997 he joined the full-time staff of Camp Champions as Sports Director, was the Head Counselor in ’98 and became Assistant Director in ’99. Moak sir serves on the Board of Directors for the Texoma Section of the American Camp Association, is trained in Emergency Medicine and enjoys his aquariums when not busy at camp. Leah Mesches Girls’ Camp Director, Leah Mesches, hails from Westfield, NJ. She has been a day camper, a sleep away camper and a counselor for both day and sleep away camps. Leah graduated from Northeastern University with a Business degree, but ultimately found the world of summer camp to be more appealing than a desk job in New York City. Before coming to Champions in 2009, she was assistant director of one of Pennsylvania’s largest residential camps in the Pocono Mountains. She enjoys living in Austin with her husband, Robbie, and their dog, Lucy and spending her summers at camp. Leah Ma’am is involved in the American Camp Association and serves on the EPIC committee which promotes and supports the careers and professional education of developing camp professionals. Leah loves to spend time with the Girls’ Camp! When not practicing yoga, checking out live music, roaming the outdoors or searching for a good game of Scrabble, Leah is learning the correct usage of “y’all” (for a Yankee). Erec Hillis Boy’s Camp Director, Erec Hillis, is originally from Austin, TX. Erec first arrived at camp in the summer of 2000 as a clueless but excited Letterman in Cabin 7, and has had the privilege of seeing camp from almost every angle as a camper, counselor, and leadership team member. He graduated from UC-Berkeley with a degree in biology, but always spent his college summers back in Central Texas at the mighty Camp Champions. He loves reading, sports and the outdoors, and all frisbee related activities. His competitive ultimate team (Austin’s Cosa Nostra) placed 5th at the 2012 USA National Championships, and looks to improve in 2013. His favorite things at camp are pickleball, Lake LBJ, Trojan/Spartan Games, torchlight, and all of our other fantastic traditions! Robyn Rosenberg Office Manager, Robyn Rosenberg was born and raised in Dallas. Graduating from The University of Arkansas in 2011 with a BSE in Recreation and Sport Management she is currently working on her Master’s degree in Physical Education and Teacher Certification at Texas State University. Robyn began her camping experience in 1999 at Camp Champions as a camper, moved on to be a counselor in 2008, was in charge of special events in 2011 and 2012, and this past summer took over the office full-time. Besides living life as a Champion, Robyn enjoys spending time with her family and friends, watching sports, being outside, reading by the pool and trips to the beach. Call camp and the friendly, warm and caring voice you get will likely be Robyn Ma’am. George Zoeckler Caroline Crawford Assistant Director, Caroline Crawford (Craw ma’am), grew up in Mobile, Alabama. At the age of six, she began her camping career and has spent over seventeen summers devoted to camp life! Craw ma’am attended the College of Charleston in South Carolina and went on to receive her masters in Clinical Social Work at The University of Texas. As an advocate for child empowerment, Craw ma’am wholeheartedly believes camp is the best venue for mental, emotional, and physical development and growth. Josh Kirksey Joshua (Josh) Kirksey or Kirksey Sir was born and raised on a farm in Chickasha, Oklahoma. His first camp experience came in middle school when he attended Falls Creek. When he entered the 7th grade he began attending Our Lady of Guadalupe Summer Camp, and eventually became a counselor for three summers. In 2007 he joined the Camp Champions community as a counselor and worked his way up the ranks to become the Outdoors Department Head and eventually Activities Director. Josh attended St. Gregory’s University where he was a baseball player and studied biomedical sciences. Upon graduation, he decided to put off medical school to explore the world of being a camp professional, and couldn’t be happier. When not busy at camp, Josh enjoys exploring the Hill Country, live music, great food, two-stepping, climbing, and every sport imaginable.

Summer Leadership Team

The Best Role Models

Children will have role models. The critical question is “what kind of role models will they have?”

We never forget that we are in the role model business.

Children hear less of what we say, but see everything we do. Our actions and image stand large in our children’s life. All the prettiest words won’t help guide a child into adulthood like model behavior and positive reinforcement from a camp counselor.

Kids are looking at older children, teens, young adults and full grown adults all the time. They want a glimpse into the future. What will I be like? What will I be able to do? What will I dress like? What actions will I take? How will I treat others in my life?

These positive role models play an incredibly crucial role in the development of our children.

“I wanted to let you know that our 8 year old is a first time camper this summer. I initially had strong reservations about it. But after dropping her off, meeting her awesome counselors and seeing her cabin, I was thoroughly impressed and I left feeling relieved and confident in her ability to succeed and extremely impressed with the entire process. I just wanted to commend you, your family and this incredible camp and the outstanding job they do.”

Parent, Austin

You can have a great camp on an acre of asphalt if you have great counselors and role models.

Happily, we have so much more than an acre of asphalt, but we do always remember that counselor heroes and role models are the center of the camp experience. With this in mind, we do three things to assure that we have an exceptional staff.

Hire Better

We visit dozens of the nations best university and college campuses to identify the highest quality individuals we can find. We don’t just hire people who are excited to spend a summer at camp, we hire the role models that your children will look up to and who help our campers grow into the champions they are intended them to be.

Train Better

Our orientation training before camp is the longest and most thorough of any camp that we know of. We bring counselors in two weeks ahead of time to bond as a team, learn about our mission, and provide the tools and knowledge they need to love your children and help our campers grow and acquire new skills.

Hold Them to Higher Standards

We are the Army of the Willing here at Camp Champions. The staff, partner families, and alumni are all a part of something bigger than ourselves. Our counselors and staff make the commitment not to drink each summer during the terms of their employment, not because we think it’s wrong, but because it helps us filter for people who really want to be here for the right reasons. That’s just one example of how we hold ourselves to higher standards so that we can continue our tradition of excellence.