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HIFC Youth Programs Description - Camp Dos Cabezas

Youth Programs

Houston Institute for Culture provides in-school and after-school youth programs, and youth summer camps. The camp program began in 2005 with Camp Dos Cabezas. In 2009, Camp Chaco was added. The programs are among the most advanced and beneficial being offered in schools and for at-risk youth in the greater Houston region.

Camp Dos Cabezas engages children at the most critical age, between fourth and fifth grade, when research shows that their attitude toward academic success and commitment to education is formed. The students are exposed to a wide variety of academic and professional interests through visits to national parks, state parks, museums and research institutions in the Chiricahua Mountains and surrounding region of southeast Arizona. Dos Cabezas (Two Heads) is a prominent twin peak found in Southeast Arizona's "Islands in the Sky" mountain ranges. When trying to solve a problem, the students are encouraged to remember that "two heads are better than one."

In 2007, an alternate camp location for this age group was developed in Zuni Mountains of northwest New Mexico. Camp La Ventana (The Window) offers the same impact on the children’s lives through exposure to history, cultures, sciences and other exciting fields of study that will improve their quality of life.

Camp Chaco is the advanced camp for middle school students. It takes place in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Mesa Verde National Park and Chaco Culture National Historical Park, where students learn about the lifeways of an ancient civilization. They make comparisons with the modern issues people around the world face today. Students from Camp Dos Cabezas and HIFC after-school programs are eligible to apply for scholarships to attend the advanced camp. This ensures that they know the benefits and processes to achieve scholarships before they go to high school. The goal is to improve dropout rates and promote higher education interests for the camp participants, while seeding communities with future leaders who will broaden their positive impact.

The Benefits

Houston Institute for Culture youth programs are designed to encourage youth to be future civic and community leaders by giving them tools, like media literacy, communications capabilities and life skills, and by encouraging them to know that their voice matters. In programs like Media Makers and Students for a Better Houston, students deliberate about the key issues in their communities and develop means to make a difference. They use narrative writing and media production methods, like digital storytelling, to disseminate their ideas and possible solutions, as they develop a sense of empowerment and responsibility for the community. They produce messages that are heard on radio and internet, and seen on the closed-circuit TV broadcasts in their schools, reaching peers and community members. The programs encourage the students to first be successful in school, so they will be able to raise standards in their communities, and to make a difference with the knowledge and other advantages they have gained.

The camp programs work with students who have potential to be successful, but face the greatest challenges. Most camp students face severe economic hardships and must overcome the lack of education in their family histories. They often come to school hungry or live tenuous lives. They move frequently and often cannot access essential services, like electricity and water. Many have parents who have little to no formal education and cannot help their children with seventh grade level school work. The camps provide children from these communities with "the experience of a lifetime" to open their eyes to great potential in their lives and raise their commitment to school by helping them feel excited about the possibilities the broader world offers. The program helps the children develop confidence and self-reliance as they hike through dramatic geological formations like the “Heart of Rocks” and explore caves.

Future Goals

The camp programs will expand to benefit more children. Camps will be designed for children with different needs. And a line of camp programs will be developed for children whose parents have the means to send them. Suggestions for this aspect of the camp program include adopted children, and gifted and talented children who may have challenging developmental needs.

The biggest step in making the camp accessible to more children is the establishment of a permanent camp base that will allow more non-profit and community organizations to bring youth groups to the camp. The groups will all benefit from the resources, itineraries and curriculum of the permanent camp. Houston Institute for Culture is seeking visionary individuals to be the founders and serve as fundraising chairs for the project.


Plan to join us for a Camp Dinner on Sunday, October 28 at The Artery. Your support will provide a day at camp for a deserving Houston area student. On the menu will be foods enjoyed by the children and adult volunteers while they are out on a great, educational adventure that provides the "experience of a lifetime" for the students. You will also enjoy The Artery's unique lighting and sculptures, music videos from the Artery Media Project, and spending time around the camp fire.

Information about the dinner is available at www.doscabezas.org. Contact Mark Lacy at 713-521-3686, or by email, mark@houstonculture.org, for more information.

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  Houston Institute for Culture     708-C Telephone Road, Houston, Texas 77023     832-429-4432     info@houstonculture.org