Mission & History

Camp Aranzazu (pronounced Ah ran' zah zoo) cultivates belonging for campers of all ages and abilities by creating accessible, empowering, and intentional camp experiences.

Since opening our doors in 2006, Camp Aranzazu has served more than 28,750 campers and their support staff. Camping groups come from more than 55 counties in Texas to enjoy our 100-acre, barrier-free facility on Copano Bay in Rockport, Texas. At Camp Aranzazu, campers of all ages and abilities can fully participate in and enjoy all the typical camping activities, such as fishing, swimming, sailing, archery, arts and crafts, and more.

Aranzazu is a Basque term that means “a spiritual place requiring a difficult path to reach.” At Camp Aranzazu, our campers are able to leave behind the stresses of their physical, medical, and emotional challenges, and spend time outdoors, socializing and interacting with others who face similar challenges. 

From 1959 to 1996, part of the current property served as the Bishop Elliott Conference Center, an Episcopal Church retreat facility. Houstonians and camp founders Tom and Holly Forney purchased the first 20 acres in 1997. After spending several years enjoying the property, they decided to share the historically and ecologically rich land with others.

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Quick Facts

Aranzazu quick facts 1 8b Aranzazu quick facts 1 8b mobile

Our Facilities

Camp Aranzazu is located on 100 acres on Copano Bay near Rockport, Texas. On the inland side of camp, we have four guest cabins with a total of 135 beds, a dining hall that accommodates 350 people, an art center, two swimming pools, an archery range, Challenge Course, sanctuary, and two freshwater ponds. Our 28 acres on Copano Bay are accessible via a 600-foot bridge and feature a fishing pier, floating dock, nature education building, bird blind, boardwalks and firepit. We have a lot to explore!


Strategic Plan

In addition to hosting our busiest year yet, the Board of Directors modernized our mission statement to highlight the impact of our programs and unique culture: Camp Aranzazu cultivates belonging for campers of all ages and abilities by creating accessible, empowering, and intentional camp experiences. The Board of Directors approved a strategic plan to guide our next phase of growth. This plan builds a solid institutional and fiscal foundation upon which we will grow in the coming three years, through the special milestone of 20 years serving our campers.

Strategic Plan

Board of Directors

Fields Alexander, Chair
Beck Redden
Houston, Texas
Daryl Allen
Managing Director
UBS Financial Services, Inc.
Houston, Texas
Mary Margaret Ara, M.D.
CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital in Corpus Christi
Corpus Christi, Texas
Traci McLester Arellano
Executive Director | Government Banking
JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Houston, Texas
Sara A. Baldwin, Ph.D., RN, APHN-BC
Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi
Emeritus Professor, Retired
Corpus Christi
Casey Cullen
Cullen, Carsner, Seerden & Cullen, LLP
Victoria, Texas
John C. Elkins
Ytterberg Deery Knull LLP
Houston, Texas
Kathie Forney
Forney Search
Founder & Coach
Houston, Texas
Tom Forney, Founder
Chief Executive Officer
Forney Construction
Houston, Texas
John Guill
Associate, Private Banking
Houston, Texas
Bobby Hatcher
Avalon Investment & Advisory
Houston, Texas
Hunter Hawkins
Hibbs-Hallmark & Company San Antonio
San Antonio, Texas
Denise Hazen
Creative Director
Aspire Accessories
Houston, Texas
Keith Little
Energy Industry Executive
Houston, Texas
Anne Mahaffey
Teacher, Retired
Corpus Christi ISD
Corpus Christi, TX
Marks Moore
Marks Moore Photography
San Antonio, Texas
Bryan Phillips, Secretary
Ytterberg Deery Knull LLP
Houston, Texas
Joanne Taylor
Community Volunteer
Rockport, Texas
Greg Watson
McNair Interests
Houston, Texas


Advisory Board

Katie Mattingly Brass
Community Volunteer
Houston, Texas
Blake Finger
Hazel Smyth Jewelry
San Antonio, Texas
Tom Flaherty
Business and Financial Consultant
Houston, Texas
Robin Floyd
Community Volunteer
Houston, Texas
Shannon Gunn
Gunn Automotive
San Antonio, Texas
Gloria Hicks
Partner, Ed Hicks Imports
Corpus Christi, Texas
Mark Kelly
Vinson & Elkins, LLP
Houston, Texas
Jack Kins
Houston, Texas
Chip Jenkins
First State Bank
Louise, Texas
Rob McClane
Luther King Capital Management
San Antonio, Texas
Alison Leland McKinney
Political Science Instructor
Houston, Texas
Jeff Panknin
Rock City Church Corpus Christi
Corpus Christi, Texas
Katherine Smelko
San Antonio, Texas
Ashley Rhodes Smith
Navy Army Community Credit Union
Corpus Christi, Texas
George Strickhausen, IV
Developer, The Preserve
Rockport, Texas
Linda Strickland
Community Volunteer
Houston, Texas
Ronarose Train
Corpus Christi, Texas
John Watson
JMI Inc.
Houston, Texas

Camp Staff


Ted Birmingham

Sailing Supervisor

Aranzazu Palm

Kristi Gonzalez

Finance Director

Gillian Hale

Gillian Hale

Program Supervisor

Hannah Heide

Hannah Heide

Program Supervisor


Bianca Hernandez

Development and Communications Project Manager


Mandy Hood

Operations Director

Aranzazu Palm

Betty Hughes

Housekeeping Supervisor

Aranzazu Palm

Pat Hughes

Grounds Supervisor

Aranzazu Palm

Shay Keys

Development Coordinator


Carleigh Mitchell

Program Manager

Aranzazu Palm

Norma Navarro

Kitchen Manager


Kate Plouvier

Development Director


Kurt R. Podeszwa



Amelia Smith, CTRS

Camp Director


Carson White

Facilities Manager


Paige White

Administrative Assistant & Abuse Prevention Liaison

Accreditation and Recognition

Shared Stories

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Camp Aranzazu's kayak pond
Photo by: Beyond Memory Photography Camp Aranzazu's kayak pond
Photo by: Beyond Memory Photography


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Camp Store

Partners Area Login

Thank you for choosing Camp Aranzazu!

Rockport Adventure Day Camp

St. Mary's Hall - San Antonio

The Bag Ladies - Rockport

Women in the Wild - Rockport

Thank you for choosing Camp Aranzazu!

Community partners are nonprofit organizations that choose to host programs at Camp Aranzazu.

ACE Afterschool Program for Aransas County Independent School District

Aransas Pass Chamber of Commerce

Cristo Rey Jesuit - Houston

DFW Dance Hub - Dallas/Fort Worth

Fulton Learning Center Birding Team – Rockport

Girl Scouts of Victoria

Keystone School – San Antonio

Onxy Engineering – Corpus Christi

Portland Chamber of Commerce

Regents School of Austin

Rockport Adventure Day Camp

Rockport-Fulton Chamber of Commerce

Sacred Heart Catholic Church - Rockport

Sparkling City Chorus – Corpus Christi

St. Paul’s UMC Houston

The Student Conservation Association - Various

St. Thomas Aquinas Newman Center & Chapel - Kingsville

Texas Ornithological Society - Various

Texas Parks and Wildlife - Various

Women: It Begins with Us - Houston

Yorktown Baptist Church - Corpus Christi


Camp Aranzazu is extremely grateful for all the support given to our organization and is committed to cultivating trust with our campers, partners, sponsors, donors, board, and volunteers.

Audited Financial Statements

2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015

Form 990s

2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015


We are committed to fulfilling our mission and maintaining the trust of our friends, donors, partners, campers, and families.

Camp Aranzazu is proud to have a four star rating from Charity Navigator, which evaluates the financial health, accountability & transparency of non-profit organizations. Four stars is their highest rating.

Privacy Whistleblower

Host Committee

Dee Dee & Steve Robinson, Chairs 

Jennifer & Fields Alexander

Elizabeth & Daryl Allen

Kim & John Bonner

Dee & Jeff Boswell

James Brolan

Stephanie & Ernie D. Cockrell

Ned Crady

Don Fernbach

Tom Fish

Katherine & Bobby Hatcher

Bill Hightower

Leigh & Jack Kins

Tracie & Terrell Palmer

Katherine & Brian Parsley

Al Pratka

Tim Reilly

Steve Rothbauer

Ward Sheffield

Culver Stedman

Patia Strickland

Reagan Swinbank

Prissy & John Watson

Julie Williams

Host Committee

Shannon and Jon Turner, Co-Chair

Blake and Perry Finger, Co-Chair

Heather & Harry Affleck

Betsy & Wally Baker 

Sage & Rowe Blount

Mills & Tres Buchek

Sarah & Will Caruth

Mary & Hunter Conger

Liz & Chris Dewar

Caroleene & Bobby Dobson

Jolie & Meade Flavin

Tifini Furst & Paul Golibart

Katherine & Matt Gainey

Shannon Gunn & Chris Hosner

Allegra & Hunter Hawkins

Trish & Clint Hennessey

Gretchen & David Herrmann

Brendan Herrmann

Sally & Roger Hill III

Camille & Clark Mandigo

Nicole & Rob McClane

Muffin Moorman 

Kristan & Tom Northington

Courtney & Chip Percy

Katherine & John Smelko

Chaney & Tripp Stuart 

Jeanne & Kelvin Tatum

Ashley & Rad Weaver

Jodi & Michael Wood

Christen & George Wommack

Zazu Host Committee

Traci McLester Arellano

Darrell Atkins

Frank Bay

Robin and Jeff Floyd

Cindy and Larry Forney

Holly and Tom Forney

Melissa and Charles Hall

Gloria Hicks

Chip Jenkins

Robert Kelley

Scott Meares

Chris and David Nesloney

Bob Shockney

Britni and William Key

Bob Shockney

Ashley Rhodes Smith

Camp Aranzazu Reservation Inquiry

Type of Group:

Months/Dates Preferred:
Length of stay:
Activities You Are Interested In:

Thank you for choosing Camp Aranzazu!

Camping partners are nonprofit organizations serving special populations. Camp Aranzazu underwrites up to two-thirds of the cost of camp for these partners.

36th Judicial District Juvenile Probation Dept. - Sinton

American Cancer Society - Corpus Christi

American Diabetes Association - Dallas

Autism Community Network - San Antonio

Aspire Accessories - Houston

Brownson Home - Victoria

Be An Angel - San Antonio

Camp Shield - Houston

Driscoll Children's Hospital - Corpus Christi

Driscoll Health Plan - Corpus Christi and Laredo

Epilepsy Foundation of Central and South TX - San Antonio/Austin

Hope for Three - Houston

Keystone School - San Antonio

Mission Road Ministries - San Antonio

Muscular Dystrophy Association - Dallas

Periwinkle Foundation - Houston

Respite Care of San Antonio

Richmond State Supported Living Center

Texas Children's Hospital - Houston

The Tuttle School at Briarwood - Houston

The Vine School - Victoria

The Vine School Bridge Program - Victoria

The Vine School Foundations Program - Victoria

Victoria Independent School District Special Education

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Below are a list of volunteer opportunities at Camp Aranzazu. We will continue to update and add additional volunteer opportunities as they become available. Thank you for your interest!

Special Events Support

Camp Aranzazu holds several fundraising events throughout the year in Houston, Corpus Christi, San Antonio, and Rockport. Volunteers are always needed to help make each event successful!

In Fall 2023, our special events include:

  • Bells & Shells in San Antonio - November 15-16, 2023
  • Holiday Bells & Shells in Houston - December 5, 2023

If you are interested volunteering at one of our special events, please email our development and communications project manager, Bianca, for more information on upcoming events.

Maintenance of Facilities and Grounds

Whether you are an individual looking to assist with landscaping or a company looking to make a big impact on our facilities, we can always use help more maintaining our beautiful 105-acre camp.

If you are interested in this type of on-location volunteer opportunity supporting our 3-person facilities team, please email our facilities director, Mandy, for more information.

Partner Camp Volunteer Opportunities

Are you looking for ways to work directly with the children and adults with special needs and chronic illnesses that we serve? Check out our camping partners who are looking for volunteers for the coming camping season! 

Camp Aspire

Aspire Accessories


Denise Hazen
(713) 461-7200


Driscoll Children's Hospital


Yesenia Neil

Camp TLC & Camp Little Golden Warriors

Driscoll Children's Hospital


Shannon B. Broughton

Activity Leader Summer 2019 Job Opportunity​​

Every year, Camp Aranzazu hires roughly 20 college aged individuals with varying skill sets to work as Activity Leaders from mid-May to mid-August. Activity Leaders have the fun and impactful job of enriching the lives of our campers with special needs through unique camping, environmental studies and retreat experiences.

Activity Leaders facilitate a variety of activities including, but not limited to arts and crafts, archery, high and low challenge courses, sports and games, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, fishing, sailing, swimming, nature sessions and more!

Benefits of this paid position include room and board and the potential to satisfy fieldwork and internship requirements in various fields of study. The buttons below include the additional documentation you will need to apply for the Activity Leader position. Email your completed application, resume and two unique and completed reference forms to our Camp Director, Amelia Haslam, and prepare for the summer camp experience of a lifetime!

If you have any questions, contact our Camp Director, Amelia Haslam, at ahaslam@camparanzazu.org.

Job Description Application Reference Form

Part-Time Receptionist

Are you looking for a part-time job opportunity that allows you to be surrounded by nature in a supportive work environment? Camp Aranzazu currently has an opening for a part-time receptionist position on our staff. This opportunity will allow you to support our mission of enriching the lives of children and adults with special needs and chronic illnesses. To learn more about the position, click the job description below. 

The Receptionist is responsible for overseeing functions related to the front office. The Receptionist also assists with special projects and provides some administrative support for all staff. If you are interested in the position and have any questions, please contact Lillian Anfosso, our Finance and Administative Director at lanfosso@camparanzazu.org. 

Job Description

Sailing Supervisor

Imagine a position that allows you to work with campers each day and have a beautiful view of Copano Bay along the Texas Gulf Coast.

Camp Aranzazu seeks someone with strong sailing experience to supervise our summer sailing program from mid-May through August 2019. The Sailing Supervisor will ensure that Camp Aranzazu provides a safe environment for children with special medical, physical, emotional, social or financial needs to experience sailing. Camp sessions include day camp sessions, as well as residential sessions that last from one to six nights. If you have any questions, contact our Camp Director, Amelia Haslam, at ahaslam@camparanzazu.org.

Make sure to check out the job description below. To apply, email your resume to Amelia Haslam. 

Job Description

Summer Art Instructor

Do you have a passion for providing fine arts education and working with a committed staff of people dedicated to enriching the lives of children and adults with special needs and chronic illnesses?

Camp Aranzazu seeks someone with art teaching experience to supervise our summer fine arts program from mid-May through mid-August 2019. The Art Instructor will ensure that Camp Aranzazu provides an intentional, expressive, and safe environment for children with special medical, physical, emotional, and/or social needs to create and experience fine arts. Camp session include day camp sessions, as well as residential sessions that last from one to six nights. If you have any questions, contact our Camp Director, Amelia Haslam, at ahaslam@camparanzazu.org.

Make sure to check out the job description below. To apply, email your resume to Amelia Haslam. 

Job Description