When the Powell family purchased the current Tejas property, it had an old log cabin on the front field that looked over the natural lake currently behind the motel rooms. In the 1950s the cabin burned down and the Powells built another home which remains as part of the current dining hall. They built a swimming pool in the backyard.
Bill and Bonnie Powell continued adding other facilities to accommodate family, friends, and business associates of Powell Electric Company in Houston. The property became known as the Pal Meadow Ranch in the 1960s and by the 1970s, the Powells began using the ranch as a horsemanship camp for children.
A few years later, the name of the ranch was changed to Camp Tejas, and the facility was then made available to other organizations. Tejas is a Native-American word meaning “friend”.
During the late 1970s, Westbury Baptist Church in Houston developed an interest in Christian camping. In the fall of 1979, Billie Bryson, now Billie Holman, donated seed money for Westbury’s future Christian camping ministry. She donated the money in memory of her late husband, Hoy Bryson, Sr., and her mother, Mary Geist. As a result of the donation, a committee was formed at Westbury to begin searching for “a special place in the country.”
Because of unforeseen circumstances (orchestrated by the hand of God) the Westbury youth could not attend a certain youth camp in the summer of 1980. Therefore, at the last minute, they were able to book a week at Camp Tejas. During that week of camp, it was learned that Tejas was for sale. Under the leadership of Milton Cunningham, the pastor at Westbury at the time, plans were launched to purchase the property. Because of the incredible generosity of Bill and Bonnie Powell, and many of the members of Westbury, the camp was purchased in December 1980. Westbury Foundation was incorporated in 1981 and Camp Tejas became a part of the Foundation.
Billy Jones, who was also greatly involved with the search and purchase of Tejas, was selected to be the Executive Director of the camp in February 1981. His wife, Janice Jones, became the Assistant Director.
The camp began to grow from almost 2,000 guests in 1981 to over 5,000 in 1989. The Cox House was constructed, the dining hall and kitchen were expanded, and many of the private rooms were remodeled.
The growth continued in the 1990s with more guests (over 6,000 in 1999), more staff, more construction, and more ministry opportunities.
Conference room C was constructed, the outdoor gym was erected, the first climbing wall and low ropes course was added, and the bunk houses were remodeled.
The Lord continued to bless us as more guests enjoy the restfulness of Tejas. The provisions have been awesome. The original Marmax Auditorium was built in 2000 and expanded in 2007, the Tejas Inn and new climbing wall were created in 2002, the new pool facility was built in 2005 and the Meadows Retreat Center was completed in 2008. Just over 15,000 guests visited the camp in 2008 and 2009.
The ministry opportunities of Camp Tejas in the summer greatly expanded since 1981. The summer staff changed from being solely a work crew of about eight students to a ministry team of over 80 students from all over the state, country, and world.
David Jones, the oldest son of Billy and Janice Jones, took over as CEO in 2007. Billy and Janice semi-retired and are still a part of the ministry on a part-time basis. In 2009 Conference Room A was remodeled by raising the ceiling from 8’ to 12’ and adding updated restroom facilities.
2010 – Present
The Westbury Lake House was built in 2010 adding 4 more private rooms to our accommodations. That same year we hosted the first Lights of Tejas. This event was created to share the story of Christ from creation all the way to the resurrection. Over one million lights were hung around the camp along with a light show on our main swim lake.
In January of 2013 Paul Biles became the Executive Director. That same year we converted a staff home to guest facilities to add 4 more rooms for guests to use. The dining hall was also expanded to the west to create larger restroom space, cleaning area and food storage and prep areas. With phase 1 of this expansion, the infrastructure was added to allow future growth of seating to the east over where the old swimming pool was located.