A rendering featuring an entry gate at Morgan's Wonderland Camp.
A rendering shows an entry gate at Morgan's Wonderland Camp, which is scheduled to be completed in mid-2020. Credit: Courtesy / Morgan's Wonderland

A 102-acre site near the TPC San Antonio golf resort will soon be transformed into a summer camp designed for children with disabilities and their families.

Philanthropist Gordon Hartman announced on Thursday plans to begin construction on Morgan’s Wonderland Camp, a camp designed to provide free outdoor recreation opportunities to campers of all ages and abilities, including zip lining, horseback riding, hiking, and archery.

“Just as we did with Morgan’s Wonderland theme park and Morgan’s Inspiration Island splash park, we’re going to create an ultra-accessible, barrier-free environment where campers can enjoy outdoor fun to the fullest.”

The $28 million project is being supported by a $15 million gift from Valero Energy. Valero CEO Joe Gorder said the contribution, to be made over six years, is “the largest single charitable commitment ever made by Valero.”

“We decided to get involved because the mission of the camp is undeniably compelling,” said Gorder, whose corporation also provided funding for Morgan’s Wonderland and Morgan’s Inspiration Island in Northeast San Antonio.

“The camp allows those with disabilities to enjoy the same activities as others in an environment free of limitations and restrictions, and to share this experience with those without disabilities.”

A rendering of an accessible zip line at Morgan's Wonderland Camp.
A rendering shows an accessible zip line at Morgan’s Wonderland Camp. Credit: Courtesy / Morgan's Wonderland

The camp, slated for completion in mid-2020, is being built near the eighth hole of the AT&T Oaks Course of TPC San Antonio at the J.W. Marriott Hill County Resort and Spa, site of the Valero Texas Open PGA golf tournament, which began Thursday.

Gordon Hartman stands in front of the new waterpark at Morgan's Inspiration Island.
Gordon Hartman, founder of The Gordon Hartman Family Foundation. Credit: Hannah Whisenant / San Antonio Report

“There are a lot of camps out there, but we found that there are very few camps that allow people with special needs, people in a wheelchair, people with visual impairment,” Hartman said. “Our overarching goal in planning this camp was to make sure that the activities were designed for [all people] to enjoy.”

Programming will include daily options throughout the summer in addition to weekend and week-long overnight camping options.

Creating an accessible camp for people with disabilities includes providing the mobility equipment necessary for everyone to safely enjoy the multiple pools, splash pads, and enclosed sports pavilion. It will also include accessibility features throughout its 20 cabins, 30,000-square-foot welcome center, and 5,500-square-foot medical assistance center.

“Building this camp is about need,” Hartman said. “Nothing can compare to the summer camp atmosphere, and many times [people with disabilities] are not allowed to go to camp. This will be another place that families around the country can come to together that ensures an understanding and inclusive environment for everyone.”

The City Council approved the $3 million purchase Thursday of a conservation easement on the camp property, which is part of the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone, as part of the Edwards Aquifer Protection Program. The program acquires land over the recharge zone to protect it from development.

Roseanna Garza

Roseanna Garza

Roseanna Garza reports on health and bioscience for the San Antonio Report.