“Howdy y’all, are we having fun?!!!” When you hear this phrase booming from a tall, friendly, high-energy guy with fluorescent sunglasses and big sun hat, you know you ‘re about to have a great day! That guy is Stuart Chapman, Executive Director of Mission Creek Academy, a non-profit organization that serves children from military families by inspiring them for a lifetime of leadership through outdoor adventure.
Last year, Stuart was contemplating uprooting his family (wife Dev, and their four kids) from the Boerne area to take a job as director of a youth camp in northern California. His Texas roots are strong, however, and he had this nagging feeling that the Chapman family needed to stay in San Antonio. Enter a local businessman, and Stuart’s friend, who was developing an idea for a non-profit that would serve the military community.
A self-described “military brat”, Chapman’s friend grew up moving around as his dad was transferred various places with the Air Force. Stuart told his friend about the possibility of moving his family to northern California and he convinced him to stay in the San Antonio area and help him develop his non-profit. When you put two high energy, highly creative people together, BOOM, magic. Both immediately agreed that the military group they wanted to serve was military youth.
They both knew how difficult military life can be for kids…just when you find a group of friends that you’re comfortable with, your family has to move again. In addition, military kids spend a great deal of their time “on base”. Mission Creek Academy was formed with the purpose of connecting kids that were going through similar life challenges and getting them off-base to stretch their bodies and brains in the great outdoors around San Antonio. As the plan for MCA began to gel, it became clear that teaching and inspiring leadership skills in military kids would become the main focus for each adventure.
THE 7 PEAKS provide the core values for inspiring growth in each child that attends a Mission Creek Academy adventure or camp. Confidence, courage, perseverance, integrity, initiative, responsibility, and cooperation are all themes that are integrated and expanded on at each event.
Crazy, fun, cool connections…climbing, kayaking, caving, horseback riding, biking, zip lining, tight rope walking, paddle boarding, fishing…the list is endless and so are the opportunities for growth, leadership skill building and connection. Heard from campers at recent Mission Creek Academy events: “That was the scariest thing I’ve ever done and I’m glad I did it!”, “So many new friends!”, “I was really brave today”, “Can I come back again?”. From parents: “Thanks so much for doing this for military families. We could not afford to give our kids these kinds of adventures.”, “Fun-filled adventures with amazing instructors.” From Stuart Chapman: “ We want to teach leadership skills, but we also want kids to have the opportunity to test them in the great outdoors! Courage is best taught when standing 35 feet off the ground in a harness preparing to jump for a trapeze bar!”.
In less than a year, Mission Creek Academy has had the privilege of connecting with and inspiring over 150 youth from local military families. If you, or someone you know, has kids from an active duty or reserve military family that would like to participate in one of Mission Creek Academy’s upcoming summer overnight camps in Hunt, Texas (Aug .4-7 or Aug. 8-11) please visit our website mymissioncreek.com for more information.