As a 10 year old boy, Amon G. Carter Jr. went to the YMCA Camp Holland near Weatherford, Texas and had the time of his life. His joyful experience caused his father to hope that someday the Fort Worth YMCA would have a camp of its own.
Several years later, Amon Carter, Jr. enlisted in the Army and was sent to fight in World War II. His father, Amon Carter Sr., wrote to him steadily while at war, but one day the letters ceased returning. This worried his father immensely, and he mentioned his concerns to a friend at the Fort Worth YMCA.
Unknown to Amon Carter, Sr. , his son had been captured as a prisoner of war in North Africa. The YMCA used its global connections and eventually the YMCA of Poland located the young man at a POW camp near Szubin, Poland. The Carters connection was re-established through the smuggling of letters and packages to the camp’s prisoners. Again, the YMCA made its impact on the Carter family.
During the war, Amon Carter Sr. had begun acquiring land with all the prerequisites of an ideal campsite. Following the release and discharge of his son, the two proceeded with a plan that had been decades in the making – the creation of a YMCA camp for Fort Worth. In 1948, YMCA Camp Carter opened its gates to the children of Fort Worth and has been impacting the lives of all who have entered for the last 65+ years.
Portions of the previous Carswell airbase were purchased from the US Air Force. This area includes the Tucker trail area to the east of the Native Cabins. It features remnants of old bunkers from the Cold War on top of the hill overlooking the base area.
Land to the far north of the Cowboy cabins, stretching almost to the river, is known as the Allen Property. Given by the Allen sisters, it is now a nature sanctuary and is the location of the Allen trail, hiked by thousands of children each year in our Outdoor Education program. It is also the home of Grandmother Oak, our legendary oak tree estimated to be over 400 years old.
In 1998, a capital campaign was completed to add four new cabins, the Alexander Cabin, the Retreat Center, and a new equestrian center with a covered riding arena.
Camp Can-Do, a day camp for blind and visually impaired children, was created in 2001 with the help of the Junior League of Fort Worth. Now it is a collaborative effort with Camp Carter, Cook Children’s Hospital, and the state of Texas Division of Blind Services. It is staffed by adult volunteers and teen mentors.
YMCA Camp Carter is adding capital improvements. As the child obesity epidemic grows, YMCA Camp Carter is responding by serving fresher and healthier foods in the dining hall. In order to complete this, we must upgrade and redesign the dining hall kitchen. Adding new ovens, additional fresh preparation space and new furniture to the dining hall will ensure that we can serve the best tasting, freshest and healthiest foods, in an environment perfect for talking and sharing the day’s activities.
Additionally we will be redesigning and enlarging the program pavilion to accommodate more seating and expand the programs we can offer. We will be adding a deck and floating dock to the dining hall to provide better access to the water for those with limited mobility. Whether for water ecology classes with Outdoor Education or for just plain enjoyment of nature, this deck and dock will be a great addition. We will also expand the high challenge course to help better facilitate school and corporate team building groups.
With a great partnership with TRWD, the City of Fort Worth and Streams and Valleys, we will finally be able to repair the high bridge across the Trinity River and make some much needed upgrades to the low water crossing. This will also provide community access to the Trinity Trail system and finally allow connection to the Trial to the Lake Worth Trail System.