Mark Heger first learned to waterski at five years old, and by the age of ten he was wakeboarding. When he turned twelve, he and sister Lauren (14 at the time) cooked up a plan to earn some spending money “mass-babysitting” around the family’s backyard pool. At 15, Mark suggested hosting the kids at his family’s Cedar Creek Lake house, and Heger Watersports Camp was born. Since that first summer in 2000, more than 500 kids, mostly from Lake Highlands, have enjoyed a week of fun and friendship on the water.

“The best part of camp is watching somebody achieve a skill that they have worked really hard at,” Mark told me. “There really isn’t anything more satisfying than helping a camper accomplish something they never thought they’d be able to do. We get just as excited watching campers learn to waterski for the first time as we do watching campers learn spins and flips on the wakeboard.”

Heger Camp offers multiple sessions each summer for girls and boys of all ability levels aged 8-18. Their beautiful and spacious lake house hosts 18 kids at a time, with two camper bunk rooms and four camper bathrooms, plus a pool table, ping pong and other activities for down time or rainy days. Mark’s mom, Marcia, serves as “Camp Mom,” supervising safety, cooking up tasty meals, and communicating with parents about how the week is going.

“The hardest part of camp is dealing with all the stuff that isn’t ‘camp,’” said Mark. “Administrative work, scheduling sessions, and getting campers signed-up and committed – parents often wait until the last minute to sign up or stay on the fence for weeks” while juggling summer camp, sports and vacation options. “We understand that scheduling is very difficult when you have kids,” added Mark, “but it is definitely our least favorite aspect of camp.”

In 2004, Mark was a finalist for the Texas Youth Entrepreneur of the Year Award for his vision in creating the camp. He now lives in Lakewood with his new bride and runs the camp full-time.

“I feel like I have learned almost all my life lessons from doing camp,” said Mark. Starting a business when I was 12 and watching it grow into something that I could never have imagined has been the most incredible journey ever. Camp has taught me moral lessons like patience, kindness and persistence. It has taught me practical business lessons like entrepreneurship, building and maintaining relationships, and treating your employees well. It revealed to me what my true passions are. I consider myself incredibly blessed to have been able to turn a passion into a career, especially this early in my life.”

If you’d like more info about sending your student to Heger Watersports Camp, you can email Mark here.

In the group photo: that’s 2005, LHHS grads of 2010 and 2011, with counselors Mark (in the cowboy hat), Ryan Christy (in the visor) and Kevin Renkes. Mark can send you better, more updated pics, but I couldn’t resist sharing mine. (That’s my Ben waterskiing.) Many of the kids pictured now spend summers helping Mark as camp counselors.