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  • 07 Mar 2018 11:32 PM | Michael Harman (Administrator)

    Fellow Austinites, We Have a Problem

    Written by Erica Gordon

    Chief Executive Officer

    Austin Sunshine Camps

    In Austin Independent School District alone, nearly 60% of students are low-income, meaning their family of four earns $44,000 a year or less.  An additional 20% are thought to qualify as low-income, but never complete the district’s application.   

    And did you know that more than half of the achievement gap between low and middle//high income students is due to unequal access to high-quality summer learning opportunities?

    In Central Texas, one in four children are at risk of hunger, a number that is 25% higher than the national average. 

    Enter Austin Sunshine Camps 

    Summer Camp Program: Since 1928, every single summer camper has been low-income and has attended our week-long, residential summer camps -- free of charge. 

    When a child arrives at Austin Sunshine Camps, they enter a completely different world. They enter a world of new and friendly faces, where fun and unlikely friendships define each day.  For a majority of our campers, many born in Central Texas, it’s the first time they’ve ever seen Zilker Park or felt the water of Lake Travis.  They get three square meals a day, discover self confidence in the treeline of our ropes courses, and experience the unfamiliar warmth of caring mentors like you.

    Sunshine Afterschool Program: Since 2014, every single student has been low-income and has received programming five days a week for three hours a day -- free of charge. 

    Our Sunshine Afterschool program focuses on outcomes related to STEM, life skills, and outdoor learning.  90% of our students improved their math grades from the beginning to the end of the year. Perhaps more importantly, 70% of parents reported that they saw a decrease in behavioral issues since their child began attending Sunshine Afterschool.

    While the mission of our organization is to engage and empower youth through education and outdoor experiences, I know first hand that the full impact we have on a child’s life cannot be measured.

    I was a low-income kid myself, the first person in my family to go to college.  In the sixth grade a friend invited me to a week-long overnight summer camp.  Her parents paid my way.  The experience I had that week changed my life forever.  My worldview was expanded, my curiosity was sparked, and I haven’t looked back since.  It has become my life’s work to give to others what many people gave to me along the way -- support, time, and a belief in me that I didn’t have in myself.

    This is Where You Come In

    Many Austinites have already taken the first step by joining the Young Men’s Business League. In doing so, they have made a statement to their community:

    They value connecting with others, fostering leadership and serving those who are less fortunate. 

    And our community needs you. The summer campers and afterschool students of Austin Sunshine Camps need you. 

    They need your support - both financially and by sharing our story. 

    They need your time - as a volunteer and as a mentor. 

    They need for you to believe in them - as a student and a person. 

    The research is clear, children are much more likely to become successful adults if and when they have trustworthy and successful role models in their lives.  With every dollar raised and every hour spent with a student, you help weave together a fabric of strength and belief in the less fortunate youth in our community.  You give them hope and you give them a chance for a bright future. 

    How Will We Measure Success?

    Now that our beautiful Zilker Lodge is up and running (deep bow to all of you who were involved), we must create a future-focused financial model that is both achievable and sustainable.  One that accounts for quality, impactful programming.  One that attracts rockstar talent and inspires them to make a career at our organization.  And most importantly, one that aims to serve as many children as our facilities and programming will thoughtfully allow.    

    It will take the work and dedication of each one of us.  It will take all of our connections, perseverance, and determination.  And it will take smart, calculated decisions, and innovative, steadfast strategies.  I am honored to lead us into our next 90 years, and build upon the inspiring work that has come before us.  Austinites, these children -- our community -- deserve our very best.

    On behalf of every child whose life has been or will be impacted because of your service, thank you.

  • 04 Jan 2018 5:59 PM | Michael Harman (Administrator)

    We are so pleased to announce that we have hired a new Chief Executive Officer of Austin Sunshine Camps (ASC). Erica Gordon will be just the fifth full-time leader of our organization in its 90-year history and we are thrilled to share this news with the ASC community as she reports to her post at Zilker Lodge on Monday, January 8, 2018.

    Erica’s passion for ASC’s mission stems back to her upbringing on the Southwest side Houston. In the sixth grade, a friend invited her to attend an overnight summer camp. Her experience there would change her life forever and spark a sense of curiosity that still drives her today.

    “I am thrilled to have been chosen as the CEO for Austin Sunshine Camps. Throughout the entire interview process I have felt connected to the organization in an exciting and unwavering way. This role will allow me to combine my personal passions and professional experiences to ultimately serve our community for years to come.” 

    - Erica Gordon

    Erica began her career in the private sector, where after six years as a software consultant, she couldn't shake the desire to find a more mission-driven career path. She moved to Austin in 2006 and joined AmeriCorps. Following her first year of service, Erica became the program director for College Forward, a nonprofit that helps low-income, first generation students get to, and through college.

    Erica has spent the past four and a half years at Marathon Kids, first as chief programs officer and most recently as chief operations officer and interim chief executive officer. Erica was instrumental in building and managing the team, programs, and national partnerships that have enabled the organization to grow from three to all fifty states.

    Erica holds a B.A. in Communications Studies from Sam Houston State University and a M.S. in Communications Studies in Human Relations from Texas Christian University. She is currently a board member and the strategic planning committee chair of ATX Kids Club and is a member of the Michael and Susan Dell Community Collaborative for Child Health. When she's not working or volunteering, you can usually find her with her fiancé and their two daughters exploring the great outdoors.

    For many months we searched diligently for the most qualified and dynamic person to step into this new leadership role. The YMBL Executive Committee reviewed more than 150 applications for the position, and heavily weighed 30 of the top candidates. The best applicants represented diversity in gender, ethnicity and professional experience. We spoke to candidates who had been heavily involved in non-profit and child development, and others who were new to the field to ensure we left no stone unturned. Our board of directors and staff met with three of the top candidates and provided feedback to the executive committee. The search was thorough, fair, and wide in scope.

    The feedback about Erica was universally positive. She conveyed exceptional qualities of leadership and intellect. She also carried a deep understanding of a growing organization, the challenges it faces, and how to build a framework for a successful future. Erica is passionate about our mission, a natural fit with our staff and organizational culture, and she brings with her a strong network of relationships throughout the Austin community.

    The executive committee feels confident that we have found the ideal person for this important job. This is an exciting moment for the Austin Sunshine Camps, as it represents an opportunity for our beloved organization to take the next step and fully transition from a volunteer-operated to a professionally operated organization. This exciting shift will allow the Austin Sunshine Camps to fully develop into the larger, more stable, and well-known community gem that we supporters all believe that it is. With Erica at the helm, we have much to look forward to.

    Lastly, I want to acknowledge the extraordinary contribution of our chief operations officer, Jenny Stucky, who has served our organization incredibly well as executive director over the past five years. We are so grateful that she will now focus her efforts and passions solely on further developing our summer camp and afterschool programming, ensuring that we are providing the absolute best possible experience for the kids that walk through the doors of our camps. The exceptional growth and strength of the Austin Sunshine Camps is credit to Jenny’s leadership and dedication. We shall remain ever-grateful.

    Gordon Moore


    Young Men’s Business League & Austin Sunshine Camps

  • 26 Jun 2015 12:02 PM | Anonymous

    Thank you to the Austin area media for your coverage of this historic community milestone.


    TWC News:


    On June 25, 2015, Austin Sunshine Camps and the Young Men’s Business League marked the completion of their $3.5 million capital campaign and the culmination of a lot of hard work and generosity from many dedicated individuals, organizations, and area businesses including IE2 Construction Inc., Furnishing Dreams, IKEA Round Rock, Mabee Foundation, Nelson Puett Foundation, and the YMBL Sunshine Foundation.

    The new facility increases capacity by 50% by expanding the number of camper bunk rooms from 8 to 12, thus allowing the programs to serve over 1,000 Austin area youth at no cost to them or their families. The new facility also includes a computer lab, library, multiple programming rooms, an expanded kitchen, and office space for the staff. The previous facility, built in 1932, was last renovated in the 1970s.


  • 13 May 2015 3:27 PM | Anonymous
    Enjoy this audio recording from our May 2015 luncheon, featuring guest speaker Shawn Bose, CEO / Co-Founder of

  • 02 Mar 2015 2:02 PM | Anonymous
    YMBL's March Membership Drive
    Today through Tuesday, March 31st (midnight)

    Today kicks off YMBL's March Membership Drive! This is an opportunity for you to reach out and encourage that friend, family member, or co-worker you feel would be a great fit for YMBL to join. Every referral you make resulting in a membership this month (i.e. DUES PAID) enters your name into a raffle to win a $100 gift card to No Va Kitchen on Rainey Street.

    YMBL is only as strong as its membership, so I hope each of you will refer quality gentlemen who could have a mutually beneficial relationship with us. The best way to refer a prospect is by filling out our online Refer-a-Friend form or by emailing the candidate and copying Chris Miller ( We'll take it from there!

    A.J. Bingham, VP of Membership
    Chris Miller, Chair of Recruiting

  • 14 Jan 2015 5:36 PM | Anonymous

    Enjoy this audio recording from our first luncheon of 2015, featuring guest speaker Dan Graham, CEO of BuildASign.

  • 03 Dec 2014 3:18 AM | Anonymous
    All information in the summary references campers who attended unless otherwise specified. In 2014 we served 495 campers at the Lake Travis facility.

    We had 1080 campers make an enrollment request – their parents either sent in a paper application or completed the initial registration request online. We received completed applications from 607 parents. There were 70 no-shows and 38 withdrawals/cancellations.

    Thirty percent of campers this year came from households with income less than $14,999 per year, and 46% of campers were receiving food stamps.

    Hispanics/Latinos were the largest ethnicity group, at 45%, with African-Americans and Whites making up 33% and 15% respectively.

    Boys made up 53% of campers this year, while girls made up 47%. The most popular age group was the 8-9 year old boys, while the least popular was 12-13 year old girls.

    Word of mouth was the most popular form of advertising, with 114 applicants saying that’s how they heard of us.

    Geographically, the East Riverside area was the most popular source for campers, sending 35. Pflugerville was second, sending 28, and the Rundberg area, South Manchaca area, and East Austin round out the top 5, sending 27 each.

  • 17 Oct 2014 12:30 PM | AJ Bingham

    Daniel G. Carl

    Congratulations to Daniel Carl on joining BSA LifeStructures’ Austin office as director of engineering services! In this role he will support business development and engineering for projects in the healing, discovery and learning markets. 

    A licensed professional engineer in Texas, LEED AP and energy manager certified, Daniel lent his expertise to YMBL and the Austin Sunshine Camps in obtaining the necessary permits for the Zilker Lodge (currently under construction).

  • 09 Jun 2014 11:39 AM | Anonymous
    We've got a full house at the Travis Camp, with roughly 70 campers signed up for this week's summer camp. All the YMBL members and their assigned campers to pick up are excited to get out there! Thanks to Jenny, Julie, Derek and Molly for being so prepared for such a big undertaking. And welcome to 2014's summer camp staff! More photo to come.

  • 04 Jun 2014 3:42 PM | AJ Bingham
    Please be a part of YMBL history and join us as we celebrate the groundbreaking of what will be our new Zilker Camp facility. 
    Day and Time: Thursday, June 26th (9am-10am).
    Location: Zilker Park (2225 Andrew Zilker Rd., Austin, TX 78767)

    RSVP to Carol at:
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