A Letter From RV Alum, Doug Haden

Dear Vista Camps,

Recently you asked me to write a piece on camp and what it meant to me. How having my daughter attend the same camp that I did so many years ago means to me now. It’s been a few months since that request, my apologies. The problem is camp means so much to us as a family, I don’t know where to start. So, here we go!

Back in 1976 I followed my older brother to camp unknowing what was to come. We boarded a large bus from the mall parking lot in Houston. Our trunks loaded, waving goodbye to my mother unknowing what lay ahead. Once at camp it was a buzz of activity. Finding our bunk, getting settled, swim test, riding test, same as it is today. Bryan Lee, John Reuter, Dean Colley, Tom Iglehart, my Plainsman cabin bunkmates. People and names, among others, I will never forget. Before I know it, we are settled in and I, for the rest of my life, am a member of the Golden Arrow Tribe!

Camp was awesome! Horses, archery, rifelry, team sports, swimming and best of all…. BOMBARDAMENT! LOVE THAT GAME! Bryan Lee was the best at that. Before I knew it, camp was over. My mother was there to pick my brother and I up from First Term 1976. I asked her immediately…. may I stay another term? She said NO!

Over the next years, I loved every minute of Camp Rio Vista. I thought about camp throughout the school year. As the years went by, camp was part of my foundation. Becoming accomplished at riflery and archery. Being a part of War Canoe, a River Rat and best of all….. a Rebel, it all meant so much to me. At the time, I had no idea what a special time this was.

Rick and Spencer. Arturo and Jordi. Single names that are like celebrities today. Tim Cavell, Tim McGhee, and of course Freddy, councilors who’s names are forever in my memory. I even sometimes wake my

daughter up the way Tim Cavell used to in our Plainsman cabin. That or with reveille. Camp was a magical time in my life that I will always cherish.

After only one year of being a councilor, I left camp for the final time. What a mistake that was! I heard the next year they were making a girls camp, Sierra Vista…what were they thinking? They will ruin my beloved Rio Vista! I later heard Rick Hayes thought the same thing! More to come on that!

Fast forward many years and my daughter is ready for camp. I obviously am partial to Rio Vista and this “New” Sierra Vista, but I don’t want to limit her options. I want her to have her own unique camp experience. We looked at all the camps online. Without hesitation, she chose Sierra Vista. She will be attending camp for her forth year soon and she can’t wait! We are a year round camp family. Vista Camps T-shirts, Chickasaw songs, Tim Cavell’s wakeup chant & reveille in the morning….sometimes. Every year when we pick up our daughter from camp, she has grown. Not just in height, but in confidence, responsibility, and more.

Vista Camps is such a special place. Sharing camp with my beloved daughter is beyond words. Just as Justin Hawkins describes camp at closing. Vista Camps is a place where children can be children. Away from life’s pressures and electronics. A new freedom within the structure of camp. Kids can just be themselves… and thrive! And on the Sierra Vista ruining my Rio Vista thing….. girls are awesome! Sierra Vista ROCKS!

With all the challenges and opportunities life has for each of us, attending Vista Camp equips us with life skills and lessons not often found in everyday life. Thank you Hawkins family for keeping camp alive! Rio Vista and Sierra Vista means so much to so many.

God Bless Y’all!

Sincerely, Doug Haden Rio Vista 1976-82 Golden Arrow Wreath Barer & Chief Flaming Arrow Chief White Arrow War Canoe Rebel River Rat Most importantly… Father of a Chickasaw!