A new YMCA camp and retreat lodge for children and families will be opening up right outside of downtown Buda off of Interstate 35.
Camp Cypress, nestled on 85 acres of land on Onion Creek, will be located at 959 Old San Antonio Road. The proposed 98,000 square-foot facility will be built in two phases with the first phase projected to cost $18.3 million.
President and CEO of the YMCA of Austin James Finck presented the project to Buda City Council on May 1.
“This is particularly important with our youth today where the average kid has a screen time of seven and a half hours a day. This has never been more important than now,” Finck said.
City council member Paul Daugereau said he is happy with the project. “I’ve got two children that will hopefully be able to utilize it in the near future, I think it’s great,” he said.
The camp and retreat lodge is intended to serve as a summer camp for youth and children as well as for year-round educational events. It will also be available for retreats for companies or organizations, and even wedding receptions.
The project will be integrated with the the natural area so that the community can connect with nature and also protect it. Finck calls it “one of the prettiest pieces of property that you could ever imagine.”
The camp will be a massive facility with amenities including a dining hall, conference/activity centers, treehouse cabins, kids cabins, a natatorium (indoor swimming pool) with an accompanying outdoor pool and waterslide, an amphitheater, a double zip line and rock climbing wall, ropes courses, an archery range, a livestock corral, among other amenities.
The YMCA partnered with Hays CISD to share the 10-lane natatorium with the district’s swim team.
“Once built, we will be able to teach every first grader that goes through the Hays school system how to swim,” Finck said.
The camp is expected to serve around 20,000 people in a year, with a 320-person capacity per night.
“It is big and it is beautiful and it’s going to be a lot of fun,” Finck said.
In making plans for this project, one of Finck’s biggest concerns was accessibility.
The camp is geographically accessible — off of the I 35 corridor; Financially accessible — it will be affordable and offer scholarships for kids who cannot pay for the full price of camp; it will be physically accessible — with full ADA compliance.
Another feature of accessibility is that citizens will not have to be members of the YMCA to go to events or participate in retreats at the new camp facility.
Finck has raised $15.1 million of the $18.3 million for the first phase of the project. He expects the total buildout to be over $30 million.
The timeline for the project is dependent on funds, which may take another year to a year and a half to raise. Once the money is acquired, the build-time is expected to take 18 to 24 months. The pool will be the first thing to be built, which the YMCA is looking to open in fall 2019, with everything else phased in after.
The property where the camp is being built was donated over 10 years ago by a George Young. Although nothing has been built on the property yet, the land is currently being used for educational opportunities for students all over the Austin area.