Proud of East Texas: Camp Tyler Book

Proud of East Texas: Camp Tyler Book

EAST TEXAS (KLTV) - Like so many East Texas children, some of Patricia Wells' happiest memories are of time spent at Camp Tyler.

Her book, "Camp Tyler, a First of Its Kind" is a walk down memory lane at this very special camp.

Patricia Wells' mother had saved the letter her daughter had written from Camp Tyler so long ago, and when Patricia found the letter recently, childhood memories of this special place flooded back.

Even though the letter was typical of an 11-year-old, it made Patricia remember how much she had loved it there.

"I was sort of surprised to find out that no one had ever written a book about Camp Tyler," Patricia said.

So Patricia set out to remedy that oversight with her book. Patricia admits that writing the book turned out to be a daunting task, since there was no earlier material to reference.

Even the cover shot of Lake Tyler, that had been published in the Saturday evening post in 1952, took months to negotiate.

"I thought this was the perfect cover because it covers the essence of Camp Tyler, kids having fun while learning and doing," she explained.

That combination of knowledge, skills and fun are what made Camp Tyler the first of its kind in the entire U.S.

"Camp Tyler was the first one that was actually on purposed designed and hand-build by the community for the community, and it also was open year-round for community organizations, Camp Fire Girls, boy scouts and schools," said Patricia.

Camp Tyler, sitting on the shores of beautiful Lake Tyler, was chartered in 1945, and in 1949, became an outdoor classroom for the Tyler Independent School District.

The site is comprised of 385 acres of forest and farmland, with most of the buildings on the site build by community volunteers.

"I remember Bradford Lodge where we are right now. The branding ceremony was very special," Patricia recalled.

Brands still line practically every square inch of the lodge.

"All the brands were designed by the students themselves," Patricia explained.

The branding ceremony is just one of so many activities that former campers say helped create the magic of Camp Tyler. Executive director Jim Cunningham says the effect Camp Tyler has on its campers lasts a lifetime.

"It's just the history, everything that went on here, and the magic of the place that just captures you," Jim said.

Proceeds from the sales of "Camp Tyler: A First of Its Kind" will go to the upkeep of the camp.

"The community was built by the community, and it really needs the community to stay well and alive, so we hope the book with help that," Patricia said.

Copies of the book are available at

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