Trees in a lake.
A SOUTHERN STORY

How To Become A True Southern Cowgirl

Before I was even born in Dallas, I was put on the waiting list for an all girls camp called Camp Waldemer nestled in the hill country of Hunt, Texas on the Guadelupe River. It was founded in 1926 by Ora Johnson, a genuine Texas cowgirl. She enjoyed trick roping, riding horses and archery. These activities are just a few in which campers can participate.

A photo of True Knowles.

I always felt like the camp brought out the cowgirl in me. I first attended at age 7 and instantly fell in love with the camp culture and people I met

Many of my friends attended camp with me, and all we could talk about during the school year was how excited we were to go back to camp during summer break. 

Then, when I was 12, my family moved to Birmingham, Alabama. I was very worried I would not be able to go to camp anymore since it was so far away. Thankfully, my mom drove me back to Texas every summer. I kept returning until my last visit when I was 16. I loved it so much, I decided to become a counselor for two years. I got to participate in activities such as fencing, trick roping, shooting rifles, archery, horseback riding and outdoor skills.

A valley of trees.

 

Another thing that made me feel like a genuine cowgirl was the location of Camp Waldemar. Hunt, Texas is surrounded by beautiful wildlife and a river. If you look off into the distance, you’ll see nothing but clear skies and tall green hills. At the end of the term, campers participate in a long horse ride through the hill country. You see the beauty of nature surrounding the camp, and it makes you feel connected to the people who founded it. Even the traditional buildings and cabins make you feel like you are in the past.

Trick roping is a popular activity. Campers learn to do tricks with a lasso. This is one of the most traditional activities Waldemar offers. I signed up for trick roping every year, and it was one of my favorite activities. 

When I moved to Birmingham, I found that only a couple of my friends attended camp. I had no idea that it wasn’t as popular in other states. That is part of the reason I feel so connected to Texas. Waldemar was always a place where I could be someone different than who I was in the regular world. I love the tradition, the history, and all the cowgirl culture that comes with it.

A field

Attending a summer camp is not for everyone, but everyone should give it a try. It is an experience you genuinely cannot get anywhere else. If I had to give other cowgirls advice, I would tell them to get out there and find a place that truly makes them feel like themselves and embrace it, even if it is just for one month every summer. 

People should always feel connected to their roots and tradition because it may help them find a part of themselves. I truly feel like Camp Waldemar has helped shape who I am today, and I am grateful that I always have an excuse to visit Texas and my cowgirl roots again.

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