Carlen Long

I am a long-time camper, counselor, and leadership team member. Having graduated from Pomona College May 2015, I am very excited to be working at camp year-round and learning more about the camp industry, where I hope to further my career!

Recent Posts

Summer Camp Reviews (2016)

Posted by Carlen Long on Feb 5, 2016 2:31:56 PM


Summer camp is all about people: the staff, the campers, the parents, and more. So the best way to learn about various summer camps is to talk to people with experience at a given camp. If you know someone who’s attended camp, great! Chat with them and their kids about it. If not, try reaching out to camps via phone or email. Finally, you can also look up online, third-party reviews. Reviewers are people who vouch for the summer camp's reputation, and can give an honest account of their relationship with the camp and the experience that their children had there.

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Tags: Parents, Summer Camp

Summer camp in Texas: Best resident camps in Dallas (2016)

Posted by Carlen Long on Jan 28, 2016 10:21:40 AM

In this day and age, it seems like more than ever children need to be involved in every extracurricular and summer achievement program just to “get ahead” in academics or sports. Traditional overnight camp, however, provides the opportunity for kids to development truly valuable modern day skills: they can practice oral communication, reasonable risk-taking, problem solving, and more. All of that surrounded by friends and fun. If you haven't already, read more about the advantages of summer camp – there are many.

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Tags: Parents, camp

Summer camp in Texas: Best resident camps in Austin (2016)

Posted by Carlen Long on Jan 21, 2016 3:50:32 PM

Overnight summer camp is not only a fun way for kids to get outside and play, but it’s also a powerful youth development experience. We know that finding the summer camp that best matches your family's needs is a time-consuming process that begins early and involves lots of research - in particular, talking to lots people with experience in sleepaway camp. After all, summer camp is a place that is all about people. 

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Tags: Parents, Summer Camp

Summer camp in Texas: Best resident camps in Houston (2016)

Posted by Carlen Long on Jan 14, 2016 8:57:54 AM

Houston has a many choices when it comes to summer camp plans. There are several organizations that run day camps within the city, but for an overnight camp experience, many parents and children start thinking about getting a little farther out of town. As an incredible learning and growth opportunity and a ton of fun, summer camp is a valuable part of many families’ lives.

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Tags: Summer Camp

Summer camp in Texas: Best resident camps in the hill country (2016)

Posted by Carlen Long on Jan 7, 2016 9:10:44 AM

There are many benefits of summer camp and the independent, character-building experience that children find when away from home. Campers learn make new friends, take reasonable risks in a new environment, and be a part of something bigger than themselves. Most summer campers will tell you that they treasure the friendships and memories made at camp. It’s not just a growth experience – it’s a blast, too!

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Tags: Parents, camp

Horseshoe Bay, TX Named International Dark Sky Community

Posted by Carlen Long on Dec 21, 2015 8:46:18 AM


Our neighbor, Horseshoe Bay, was recently honored as an International Dark Sky Community, only 8 of which exist in the U.S. Dripping Springs, Texas is also an International Dark Sky Community, and there are two nearby International Dark Sky Parks – Enchanted Rock State Park and Copper Breaks State Park - giving Texas one of the highest regional densities of IDA International Dark Sky Places in the world.

According to their website, “IDA designates Dark Sky Places following a rigorous application process requiring applicants to demonstrate robust community support for dark sky protection and document designation-specific program requirements.” Basically, a city, park, or place has to follow strict guidelines limiting light exposure in their area from homes, streetlights, businesses, and more. They also agree to bi-monthly reviews to ensure they continue to follow Dark Sky guidelines.

A dark sky is beautiful, but it’s important for other reasons, too. On their website, the IDA will describe many of the environmental impacts dark skies, and the negative effects of overlighting. At camp, the importance of our starry sky is harder to measure. But I’ll do my best to describe it here.

We’re right down the lake from Horseshoe Bay. Our night sky here at camp has always been a point of pride. We actively take care of it, too – with the exception of the senior camper cabins, none of our cabins have lightbulbs during the summer, and we are always sure to turn off all floodlights over the fields and buildings every night. (We leave just a few small ones on near the cabins and bathrooms for safety if anyone wakes up in the middle of the night).

There are few things in life more powerful than sitting under the stars, especially when those stars are as abundant and bright as they are here in the hillcountry. Every night that it isn’t cloudy, you can easily see the Milky Way – something that most city-dwelling folks don’t get the opportunity to experience very often. Some of our younger campers have even pointed, asking “What’s that?” or thought it was an unexpected cloud.

Most counselors utilize the sky as a calming feature to bring the cabin together or provide comfort. A common time for homesickness is right before bed, when nothing is going on, and a camper might miss Mom or Dad tucking them in.  One counselor brought her homesick camper outside and they looked up at the stars together. She said, “Your mom and dad can see that same moon. They can see those same stars. They’re thinking of you, and they’re hoping you’re having a blast.”

Usually, it’s not simply the counselor’s words that put the camper at ease. It’s a feeling of connectedness that can really only been found under the night sky. And while their parents can certainly see the moon and some stars, for most, their sky isn’t exactly same. Only the campers are lucky enough to see a sky unfettered by city lights.

Young ones aren’t the only ones who enjoy the stars. For the older campers, a favorite activity is “star-tipping,” or spinning around and around looking up at the stars until they tumble over, laughing, onto the grass. And conversations illuminated by starlight somehow end up deeper and more honest.

Living under camp’s night sky, especially if coming from a big city, is a “disruptive moment” – an unfamiliar setting that causes our brains to open up and absorb more fully everything that’s going on around us. It’s one of the things that makes camp a growth experience even before you get to all the lessons learned from activities and cabinmates.

Sometimes we’ll talk about constellations and legends at Torchlight. One of our department heads this past summer, Torie ma’am, loved to share stories based in the stars, such as the legend of Naga the Goat. Your camper might remember Naga! In the summer, we can easily find the constellations Scorpio, Cassiopeia, Corona Borealis, Delphinus, and the Big and Little Dippers; planets Venus and Jupiter; and the Summer Triangle (made up of the stars Altair, Deneb, and Vega, which are the brightest stars in the three constellations of Aquila, Cygnus, and Lyra, respectively.)

I spent the last four years in college near Los Angeles, so my nightly star-viewing opportunities were limited. It was oddly disconcerting to look up at night and see so little. Here, though, looking up never gets old. No matter how many nights I spend at camp, I never tire of seeing the stars.

I hope that campers next summer will come to appreciate the stars as much as I have.


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Why Go Tech Free in a Technological World?

Posted by Carlen Long on Dec 11, 2015 4:20:16 PM


One of our favorite things about resident camp is that it’s almost entirely tech free (for the campers). Instead of being distracted by the buzz and glare of a cell phone screen or TV, kids at camp engage in meaningful face-to-face interactions with everyone they meet. They are running, swimming, climbing, and enjoying the outdoors instead of sitting in front of a computer or Xbox. It’s free play at its finest: allowing kids to be kids and have fun without relying on technology.

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Tags: Parents, skills, growth

Improvements at Camp, Part 2

Posted by Carlen Long on Nov 18, 2015 11:07:03 AM


In my last blog post (, I described some of camp’s biggest physical improvements over the past few years and gave a sneak preview of improvements and additions that are yet to come. We love our location and property here in Marble Falls. One of the best things about camp is all the cool things you can do as a camper – climbing, swimming, ziplining, skiing, horseback riding, and more.

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Tags: Counselors, Camper, growth, Counselor Training

Improvements at Camp

Posted by Carlen Long on Nov 5, 2015 4:14:01 PM

While we already think camp is already a beautiful and fun place to be, we aim to get better year after year. Almost four years ago now, we built the Pirate Ship, a three-story ropes course with scads of cool elements – but we didn’t stop there. We added new elements every year and built the awesome ship front and hull around it. We don’t stop at “cool” or “good enough.” We go for amazing.

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Tags: camp

What Sustains Us - Love Letters From Campers

Posted by Carlen Long on Nov 2, 2015 11:07:27 AM

Friendships at camp are made for life!


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Tags: Campers, growth, independence