Camp Aranzazu (pronounced Ah ran' zah zoo) is dedicated to enriching the lives of children and adults with chronic illnesses and special needs by providing unique camping, environmental education, and retreat experiences. We accomplish this mission based on an ecumenical understanding that, as people of God, we are called to demonstrate love and compassion for others, and responsibility for our environment.
Camp Aranzazu is the only camp on the Texas Gulf Coast that serves as a host facility for children and adults with special needs and chronic illnesses. Our completely barrier-free facility features paved walkways to assist wheelchair travel, specialized equipment to enable maximum participation in water sports and other physical activities, as well as a health center for campers requiring daily treatments and medications.
Each group of campers we serve has a different challenge. Some are teenagers with cancer; some are kids with muscular dystrophy; others have epilepsy or asthma. Click here to see our complete list of camping partners. Historically, 65% come from the Coastal Bend area; 18% are from the Houston area; 17% are from San Antonio.
Young Rodrigo was tending sheep in the Basque region of Spain when a spiritual vision suddenly appeared. Perched in a menacing thorn bush, a beautiful lady holding an infant in her arms appeared before him. "Aranzan Zu!" he cried out, "You, in the thorns!"
Rodrigo's vision that summer day in 1469 became known as Our Lady of Aranzazu. A shrine was built on the site and the word Aranzazu came to mean a spiritual place requiring a difficult path to reach.
In 1746, Captain Joaquin Orobio y Basterra was commissioned to explore a lonely section of the western Gulf of Mexico. In the course of his travels he discovered a hidden cove thick with thorns from native coastal brush and appropriately named the bay Aranzazu. Pioneers and settlers followed and, over the years, Aranzazu evolved into Aransas.
We have adopted the name Aranzazu, and what it represents, for this place will serve those who have difficult paths before them including physical disabilities, chronic illnesses and terminal diseases. At Camp Aranzazu they will find respect, love and freedom from the obstacles that challenge them so that they may enjoy the independence so many take for granted.
Camp Aranzazu was founded as a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization in 2002 by Houston and Rockport residents Holly and Tom Forney. The site was originally an Episcopal Church retreat facility. The first campers attended in June 2006. The camp was accredited by the American Camp Association in 2007. Since that time, more than 20,000 campers and their support staff have enjoyed time at Camp Aranzazu.
- 501(c)(3) non-profit organization
- Located on 104 acres on Copano Bay, near Rockport, Texas
- The camp features 27 acres of waterfront and wetlands
- Open year-round
- 135 beds
- 8 full-time staff, 1 part-time
- The camp provides room, board, and all activities, as well as supervision by three highly trained programming staff.
- Campers pay only one-third of the actual cost; Camp Aranzazu depends on support from the community to help underwrite the other two-thirds, which will total approximately $1.2 million in 2017.