My summer internship: designing for a summer camp

September 14, 2017

Interns across Texas collaborated to produce design options for YMCA Camp Grady Spruce

By Hunter Bradshaw


Summer camp. Those words ignite a different image in each of our heads. Perhaps simply a place to gather. Or maybe a place full of stories and adventure. Currently, summer camp immediately makes me think of the pro bono work I did over the summer for YMCA Camp Grady Spruce in Graford, Texas. YMCA Camp Grady Spruce, a branch of the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas, is a 300-acre camp on a peninsula in Possum Kingdom Lake. The camp features summer programs, cabin rentals, and outdoor activities for a wide variety of guests and is comprised of two distinct units that offer overnight facilities and comprehensive amenities. 



The camp has been operating in this location since 1949, and the facilities needed assessment, the board needed a new vision, and the community needed a master plan to lead it into its next 70 years. Utilizing multiple design disciplines from across several Texas offices, Stantec had the unique ability to offer solutions that married the practical and poetic issues.


Exterior view of a new cabin concept by Gabby Bermea, Hannah Earle, and Janice Kim from the Austin (Bee Caves) office.


During the assessment, it became obvious that the cabins of the Ray Bean unit were at the end of their design life. Visioning discussions with camp stakeholders focused on how to renovate or replace the cabins, but no conclusion was reached. This is where we (Stantec’s summer interns) had a chance to shine.


Section view of a new cabin concept by Hunter Bradshaw and Alexa Coleman in the Plano office.


YMCA Camp Grady Spruce’s need for multiple cabin replacement designs was a perfect fit for the 2017 project. As part of the summer internship program in Texas, we were given a real design project that allowed us to collaborate with all disciplines, create an innovative project, and gain valuable experience in team work, communication, and design. Office leadership dedicated one day of our time each week to the project.

I worked alongside 12 other interns—studying to be architects, interior designers, structural engineers, and electrical engineers—from offices in Austin, Houston, and Plano to solve issues ranging from storage to aesthetics. Ultimately, we produced seven designs for Camp Grady Spruce to consider. The community’s comments on our designs will inform the master plan’s final designs, and our imagery will be used as marketing collateral to promote the capital campaign.


Exterior view of a renovated cabin concept by Madelyn Melton and Katie Mark from the Plano office.


This internship was unlike any I’ve had—the project was inspiring and the hands-on experience was invaluable. Because the amount of fun we had was matched by the amount we learned, we decided to document our experience for the American Institute of Architect’s I Look Up Film Challenge. The Film Challenge’s theme, “Blueprint for Better,” fits my team’s quest to work for the greater good—and it fits Stantec’s plan to cultivate a strong work force today for a brighter tomorrow. To view our project, click here.


Hunter Bradshaw was an architectural intern in our Plano office in summer 2017. He returned to Louisiana Tech University for his final year of schooling in architecture. Project contacts include Chad Martin and Terry Hoyle, and summer intern program leadership includes Samantha Markham, Douglas Dover, and Brad Robichaux. 

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