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[Her]story of Camp Founder Girls

In 1924, a woman by the name of Mattie Landry had a vision for a summer outdoor experience that would transform the lives of young Black girls in the San Antonio Eastside community.


After being denied funding and support from local outdoor organizations due to the color of her skin, she decided to start (found) a camp herself: Camp Founder Girls. Ms. Landry worked tirelessly with her husband and the St. Paul Methodist community to raise the money necessary to build a campsite in Boerne, TX. Camp Elvira (named after her late mother) opened in the summer of 1924 with 75 campers, and became one of our country's first Summer Camp for Black Students.

By the 1940s, Camp Founder Girls became so popular that Mrs. Landry was forced to raise more money and build more cabins for girls. Due to growth at Camp Elvira, improvements in 1942 and again in 1945 included additional cabins and a mess cabin.

In the 1950s, Camp Elvira had grown into a renowned campsite with over 10 separate cabins for each age group, a 150+ person dining hall, and a recreation building that seated over 300 people.

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Summer after summer, girls would return to the cherished Camp Elvira to experience the magic of Camp Founder Girls, and many alumnae of the program returned as counselors. 

By the end of her life, Mrs. Landry transformed the lives of hundreds of Black girls from across San Antonio. After her passing in the 1960s, the camp ceased operations, and the land was sold, yet the legacy of Camp Founder Girls lived on in the memories of her last campers.

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With the help of former Camp Founder Girl Gaynell Gainer, the St. Paul Methodist Church Community, and Black Outside, Inc., Camp Founder Girls is BACK to carry on the legacy of Mrs. Landry.

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Black Outside, Inc is a 501c3 Texas-based organization dedicated to reconnecting Black, African-American youth to the outdoors.

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