The Moody Foundation has granted $6,250,000 to the YMCA of Austin in support of the Phase I campaign goal for Camp Cypress, an 85-acre overnight and day-camp along Onion Creek in northern Hays County.
With a vision to create a natural oasis in close proximity to the Austin-area for Central Texas youth and families, YMCA Camp Cypress aims to become the most accessible and affordable camp and retreat center in the region.
“At the Moody Foundation, we believe every Texan should have the opportunity to learn about the natural world around them,” said Ross R. Moody, trustee of the Moody Foundation and CEO of National Western Life Group. “Camp Cypress will help Austin’s underserved populations, including economically disadvantaged individuals and those with special needs, engage with their environment in a new way. Through our support of Camp Cypress, we’re proud to help create new learning opportunities for generations to come.”
Although the YMCA of Austin has had integrated hands-on outdoor learning and activities through summer day camp and parent/child camping programs since the 1970s, it is also the largest YMCA in the nation without a specific campus for overnight camping and related activities.
This grant brings the YMCA of Austin’s total to $15 million in its Phase I fundraising goal to raise $18 million for Camp Cypress. Phase I will include a dining hall, treehouse cabins, two bunk cabin villages, a 12,000-squre-foot enclosed competition aquatic center (which will also support all swim programming for the Hays Consolidated ISD), 700-foot dual zip lines, climbing wall, archery range, ropes course, entertainment amphitheater, open-air sports space and accessible trails. All of these amenities and activities will utilize universal design to be accessible and welcoming to people of all abilities.
“Today’s future scientists, problem-solvers and environmental stewards are being shaped by their outdoor experiences,” said Elizabeth Moody, trustee of the Moody Foundation. “Camp Cypress has the opportunity to help mold tomorrow’s leaders and give outdoor experiences to children for the first time, and we are proud to be part of this project.”
The Camp Cypress property was donated to the YMCA of Austin by George Yonge in 1999 with the desire to establish a camp for kids to explore the great outdoors. The property boasts a pristine, scenic and diverse 85-acre nature preserve located along a half-mile stretch of Onion Creek just off Old San Antonio Road in Buda, Texas. Located 15 miles south of downtown Austin off I-35, Camp Cypress gives children, teens and families a chance to experience the outdoors through YMCA programs.
“There is a clear need to preserve more natural spaces in Central Texas where kids can be physically active, connect with nature, and just play and explore in a safe environment,” said James Finck, YMCA of Austin President & CEO. “We’re addressing a need to provide an accessible overnight camp experience; one that is closer to the city, affordable to all families, and welcoming to people of all abilities. All this while holding true to our character values taught at the YMCA - there is no greater place for that to happen than at an overnight camp. It’s a life-changing experience these kids will never forget. We’re excited to partner with the Moody Foundation to bring Mr. Yonge’s vision to reality.”