Posted by Ellen Krafve - email
TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Steeped in more than 60 years of tradition and memories, operations at Camp Tyler could change. Thursday night, the TISD school board will decide whether to hand over operations to the Camp Tyler Foundation. It's a move TISD said would save the district some 600-thousand per year, but before the big meeting, we wanted to examine the proposal that's generating so much emotion.
Anyone who's been to Camp Tyler will tell you it had a profound impact on their life.
"Trapping gophers and doing woodwork and shooting bows and arrows," Bob Brewer reminisced about the activities they used to do.
His class attended Camp Tyler in the late 50's and early 60's, as did Melinda O'Quinn. They're both worried if Camp Tyler opens up for more students, it'll lose quality.
"Camp Tyler was one of the things that made Tyler special and if we dilute across the county or across East Texas, they're just going to try and run more and more kids through there, faster and faster," said Brewer.
O'Quinn is also concerned about who would replace the teachers.
"Those people are going to be basically without a job and they are marvelous teachers," said O'Quinn. "That's a big fear."
TISD's superintendent has said those teachers would be first in line for new positions. School board President Ron Vickery said he will weigh his vote heavily and personally. He has a fourth grader anxious to attend camp next year.
"My youngest son is looking forward to it so much [that] he wore older brother's Camp Tyler t-shirt yesterday to school," said Vickery. "As a parent, I want to make sure it stays the same."
He also said the foundation's plan looks very similar to current one.
"The foundation is going to run the same 3 day 2 night program, but it's going to be condensed into a shorter window of time," explained Vickery. "They feel that they can operate the camp more efficiently."
"Yes, the foundation has a good looking replacement program over here that may or may not work, but it's one of those situations if it ain't broke don't fix it," said O'Quinn. "You can't put a price tag on Camp Tyler."
"I went out for Earth Day last year and, God, the memories just came flowing back," said Brewer. "It's really something."
Emotions are high and board members are facing a delicate decision.