Young camper shares Texas Brigades experience

derek1Editor’s note: This article was sent to LSON by 14-year-old Houston resident Derek Graber. Derek is an avid outdoorsman who is involved with his local 4-H club, shooting sports and he competes in 3D Archery tournaments around the state. He recently attended the Texas Brigades and wanted to share his experience.

I heard my friend Nick whisper, “look.”

I saw the glowing eyes of the white-tailed buck scraping his rack on the branches as we shone the spotlight in his direction. He was the biggest buck I have ever seen in my life, and I wanted to thank Texas Brigades for providing this camp of a lifetime.
Texas Brigades is a teen leadership development camp that focuses on team building, conservation and wildlife management. When I walked into that camp, I knew very little about the deer. But during the camp, my knowledge of the whitetail skyrocketed each and every day.

The camp leaders and staff consisted of the state’s leading wildlife experts, biologists and land managers that all share the love for conservation and the need to educate the new generation.
During our week of camp we were assigned what is called a Silver Bullet. A Silver Bullet is a popular quote that each camper is assigned on the first day. Our goal was to describe what the quote meant to us. Here is how I read my Silver Bullet to my camp peers:

“Hi, I’m Derek Graber, and I’m a student of deer. My Silver Bullet is, ‘Where you stand on an issue usually depends upon where you sit.’”

What this means to me is that your beliefs depend upon your experiences.

HOOOO AHHHH A HOOOO AHHHH is the punctuation at the end of the Silver Bullet. It is kind of like a war cry. The Silver Bullet is made to help you overcome the fear of speaking in front of an audience. It will give you the confidence that it gave me.
Conservation is another topic we learned about at the Buckskin Brigade, and I will use it for the rest of my outdoor life. To me, hunting is not about killing animals. It’s about being in the great outdoors and being with lifelong friends that you make at this camp. Even if you never have hunted, it still is a great camp to go to because you can learn about land management, conservation and much more.
When we were in the field we shot archery and rifles. We also had the opportunity to shoot tranquilizer and net guns. Safety is a huge factor at camp while handling firearms and other types of weapons. We were also involved in some really fun games and management-related surveys.

You will meet some great men and women at Texas Brigades that take five days out of their lives every year to volunteer to teach you about the deer. Texas Brigades has a motto that revolves around everyday at camp — “Tell me, I forget. Show me, I remember. Involve me, I understand.”

That’s one of the many things I learned at Texas Brigades. One of my favorite moments at the camp was, right before every meal, someone would volunteer to bless the food.

This camp changed my life from “I want to do okay” to “I want to do magnificent!”