UHV student serves on board of Christian retreat

University of Houston-Victoria student and Yoakum native Eric Nelson has the distinction of being vice president of the board for an organization founded more than a century ago.

Melody Belvin
Eric Nelson

The Texas Baptist Encampment started in 1902 in La Porte, Texas. Four years later, the camp was moved to its current location in Palacios.

Nelson, an associate pastor at the First Baptist Church of Yoakum, was elected to the board in 2002 by his church’s association. Southern Baptist churches in Texas are divided into associations, each with a central office that acts as a hub of information and resources for the churches in its district. Representatives from five of those associations elect officers to serve on the camp’s board.

The Texas Baptist Encampment is a nonprofit, Christian family retreat, camp and conference center providing a meeting location for many different groups and individuals. The camp hosts weekend retreats, weeklong summer camps, conferences and mission project opportunities.

Nelson said his responsibilities as a board member are to assist in the direction, planning and vision of the camp, as well as to support, encourage and hire staff.

“The biggest challenges for me on the board are the future needs of the camp, things like extra lodging and a recreation pavilion,” Nelson said. “We lost the last pavilion in 2003 during Hurricane Claudette. Future expansion is always exciting, but the finances for these projects come in slowly, so a lot of times it feels like a hurry-up-and-wait situation.”

Nelson jumped at the chance to serve on the board because he has attended the camp since sixth grade, but he said he had no idea what it took to keep the camp operating. The reward for his work has been seeing so many people of different ages and backgrounds come together for a common goal.

“I thought serving on the board would be a good way to say ‘thank you’ to those who worked hard to keep the camp running and growing,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to work side by side with them and to provide other people with the opportunities I had when I came to camp.”

Nelson, who is 32, is pursuing a communications degree at UHV to further his career as an associate pastor. He also is a mentor at Yoakum Junior High School through the Letting Education Achieve Dreams (LEAD) initiative at UHV.

The UHV Outstanding Student is an online feature highlighting the exceptional students who attend the University of Houston-Victoria. To nominate a student, contact UHV Communications Manager Paula Cobler  or call 361-570-4350.

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.