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Camp Thunderbird





Camp Thunderbird 2018

Dates:  July 3 - 8




Family Camp Sponsored by the

Unitarian Universalist Community of El Paso

In the pines of the Gila National Forest in Southwestern New Mexico


 The following is from the brochure for the 2017 camp.  It will be updated when the 2018 brochure is ready next spring.




UU's have been enjoying the Camp Thunderbird experience since 1963!  Much has changed in that time, but the important things still remain largely the same. While the hundred-year-old pines still provide ample shade and soothing sounds of wind and birds, it’s not just the cool breezes and sounds of nature that keep bringing us back.  We are drawn by the opportunity to relax, enjoy the company of good friends, old and new, and forget about city life.



There is NO obligatory program of activities, but there are extended UU style discussions on just about everything and informally organized activities for everyone.  Take a look at the Activities Schedule posted at the Lodge when you arrive!

This year's scheduled activities will include:    

  • Sack Lunch Day (Tuesday July 4), often with expeditions to outlying points such as Lake Roberts, the Gila Cliff Dwellings, the Cat Walk and historic Silver City,

  • The 38th  Annual Firecracker Fun Run (Sunday, July 2, 2 miles - walking allowed).

  • The No Talent Required Talent Show (evening of Monday July 3), always one of the highlights of the year!  

  • Book discussions...if you want to participate, please try to read the book before camp:  Hillbilly Elegy, J. D. Vance  

  • There will also be an Adult  Cocktail Hour from 5 to 6pm daily under the parachute and simultaneous supervised children's activities will be provided by the camp babysitters.  Wine and cheese (or other goodies) pairing one evening during cocktail hour.  

Other activities usually include horseshoes, poker, bridge and games in the Lodge, arts and crafts, story telling, campfire sing-along and jam sessions (recorders, harmonicas, guitars, etc.)  Bring your musical instrument and join the fun!  You may also find impromptu softball, basketball  and water balloon volleyball games and sunset strolls along the continental divide.  Bird watchers and hikers will find plenty to do in the Gila National Forest.  We are always open to ideas for new activities so bring your imagination and participatory spirit!



The lodge and dormitory style cabins are rustic, solid and more than adequate to shelter us from the elements.  They accommodate families, couples, teenagers and single adults.  There are bunk beds with pretty good mattresses and a table but NO closets.  You are welcome to bring your own tent, trailer or camper (your fee will be the same).  A few electrical hookups are available.  There are separate restroom buildings.  High quality, nutritious meals are served in the lodge three times a day: breakfast at 7am, lunch at noon, and supper at 6 pm.   If you have special dietary considerations, refrigeration is available and some help from the kitchen may be obtained.  Ice is sold at camp.


Other information

Campers 12 and over are asked to share in minor housekeeping duties such as setting tables, mopping, etc.  Quiet time is observed from 10 pm to 6:30 am.   A wake-up bell rings at 6:30 am.  PLEASE disarm your car alarm if you have one.  They are neither needed nor appreciated at camp.  


Location and Climate

The camp is located in the Gila National Forest near Mimbres, NM. The elevation is 6,400 feet.  The temperature will dip into the 40’s overnight and may reach 90 some afternoons. An occasional thundershower is almost inevitable.


How to get there

Go north out of Deming, NM on US Highway 180.  After 24 miles turn right on NM Highway 61 (at CITY OF ROCKS sign).  About 25 miles later go left on NM 152 for half a mile, then right on NM 35.  Follow the signs for Lake Roberts or “Inner Loop” at each intersection.  The camp will be on your left between mile markers 13 and 14.



Guys Talking


For More Information

Pat White (co-chair)  915-591-3562 pat_white@hotmail.com

Joe Knapka (registrar) 915-549-5098 jaknapka@gmail.com


Telephone number at camp





Cliff Dwellings



What to bring

  • Bedding or sleeping bags, pillows, towels, rain gear, clothing for both warm and cool weather, walking shoes, sunscreen, flashlight, folding chair, and insect repellant.  

  • Ice chest, swimsuit, canteen, musical instruments, games, arts & crafts supplies, camera, and munchies and beverages to share for the cocktail hour.

Please don’t bring:  

  • Firearms, BB guns or fireworks.

  •  Radios or music systems (unless you plan to use headphones). 

  • Do NOT bring any animals.  

  • Please don’t bring electronic devices unless you are willing to play them very softly and away from other persons.


Spirit Canyon


Registration and fees

Camp begins with dinner on Friday, June 30, and ends after breakfast on Wednesday, July 5.  (Note: no lunch will be served on Tuesday, July 4, but materials for making your own sack lunch will be available immediately after breakfast.)  You may attend the entire time or any part, but the Registrar must know your arrival and departure times. The camp staff purchases supplies based on the daily attendance expected based on registrations received.  If you find that you cannot attend for the exact period for which you register, you must notify the registrar on or before June 15 in order to receive a refund.  Registration fees must be returned with your registration form by June 15, 2017. The registrar can be reached via email at tbird@uuelpaso.org .The registration fee is $25 for each person 16 or older, if that person spends at least one night at camp.  If you are not going to be at camp for at least one night, then you can drop in and pay according to the "arrival time" chart (See registration and fees form.)     


1.  When you send in your registration for camp  (assuming you do not pay on-line), you will send in 2 (two) checks, one for the registration fee and the other for your camp fee.  The first will pay for UUCEP's overhead costs of running the camp, and the second for your room and board while you are at camp.

2.  The check for the registration fee will be deposited as soon as it is received by the registrar. This small fee is non-refundable.

3.  The check for your camp fee will not be deposited  earlier than June 15, and may be post dated to June 15..  The check MUST accompany your registration packet  Registrations received without camp fee payments will be discarded..

See the Registrations and Fees form for more information about changes in your planned days at camp.     


Registration fee per each adult (16 yr+)


Registration fee per each child not accompanied by family member (max $50 per family)


Camper fee (ages 11 & up)

$48 per day

     (ages 0 through 10)

$24 per day


Camp fees are not only for your meals but for the use of the facilities.  You will be charged whether or not you eat.    

There are 14 possible meals.

 Late fee (Payments postmarked after June 15)



Registration and Late Fees are refundable prior to June 15, non refundable after.  

Your camp fee will be the same whether or not you eat meals in the lodge and whether or not you bring your own sleeping accommodations.


Please note that we can no longer accept late registrations without charging the stated late fee.

 Anyone under 18 attending Camp Thunderbird without their parents must be sponsored by an adult who is at least 21 years of age.  This Sponsor is responsible for them at all times during camp.  See policy for minors attending Camp Thunderbird without their parents. Adults must be fully capable of self care or bring their own helpers.  While improvements are continually being made, the facilities cannot be considered handicapped accessible.

Financial aid:  Limited camperships are available for dishwashing and child care.  If you are interested in any kind of financial aid, you must fill out the financial aid form and return it to Joe Knapka by June 1.  


Read about

Mimbres Valley, Lake Roberts, Gila Hot Springs — trail of the mountain spirits


Registration & Financial Aid Forms

On-line Registration

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Minor Policy


Minor Policy Forms

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Mountain Desert District


Last Updated 07/08/17

Unitarian Universalist Community of El Paso
4425 Byron Street, El Paso, TX 79930-4905
(915) 562-4001   / uucep@uuelpaso.org