IDEA Camp Rio

Adventure Awaits

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Who we are

We are educators with a passion for the outdoors. Our vision is to provide a quality Camp Experience for students in the Rio Grande Valley.

The Camp

Safe. Fun. Engaging.


Camp Rio
280 Fish Hatchery Rd.
Brownsville, Texas 78520
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Canoeing • Geocaching • Plant and Animal ID • Photography • Survival Skills • Archery • Tomahawks and Slingshots • Land Stewardship • Team Building • Nature ELA • Animal Encounters • Riflery • Hiking • STEM Activities • Orienteering • Natural History

Our Story

Camp RIO at Lula Sams sits on approximately 85 acres of predominantly untouched wildlife preserve. The land was originally developed as a girl scout camp and was gifted to the community by the Earl C. Sams Foundation in 1953. It served many girl scouts until the 1990s.

The property is filled with various native plants and animals that in most places in the Valley have long been eradicated by urbanization. IDEA Public Schools, in coordination with the Valley Land Fund, is working to preserve this unique piece of land so that generations to come may enjoy it in its natural form.

Meet the Camp Rio Staff

Photo of Nancy Mance

Nancy Mance

Programming Director

Nancy is from a long line of Brownsville natives dating back to her great grandparents. Her mom even attended Camp Lula Sams as a Girl Scout in the 1950s! Although she was not born here, her family returned in the mid 1980s. She attended Oliveria Middle School and St. Joseph Academy.

Photo of Howard E. Mance IV

Howard E. Mance IV

Facilities Manager

Howard was born in Baltimore MD to a military family. As a chlid he traveled all over the world including Japan, the United States, England, and Germany. One of Howard’s favorite memories is learning to fish with his grandfather at Saranac Lake. He also learned a great deal of outdoor skills from his grandfather at their log cabin homestead in Pine Bush, NY.

Adventure awaits at IDEA Camp Rio

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