Friday, April 12, 2024

K is for Kamp


#AtoZChallenge 2024 letter K

I am in the process of sorting through everything in my parents' home, and in so doing, I have been looking through all my childhood memorabilia, the majority of which I hadn't seen since my parents packed up my belongings and moved them from the home I grew up in to this house some 45 years ago. My 2024 A to Z Challenge theme is based on the treasures I have found in the boxes and the drawers and closets. Join me on my bittersweet journey back to my childhood.

We didn't have a lot of money when I was growing up, but in spite of that, every summer, we took one week a family vacation to Branson, Missouri. We stayed in a cabin at a fishing resort called Blue Haven, located on the shore of Lake Taneycomo. The original cabins were probably built in the 1940s and the newer ones in the late 1950s. There were about 30 one and two bedroom cabins, with 20 of them located on the lake. The floors were linoleum, the sofa beds were gray vinyl, and each cabin had a tiny kitchenette and a dining room table and a window air conditioner. The main attraction was a large, covered dock (they later added a second, smaller dock) for trout fishing, and on the other side of the cabins was a large pool with a diving board and slide; a second, smaller pool was added by the time I was in high school. I thought the place was magnificent, and I wished we could live there.

Photo of an old postcard from Blue Haven. The top photo 
is a view of the cabins from the pool; the bottom is the dock.
The back side of these cabins face the dock and are
obscured by the trees in this photo.

Many of Blue Haven's guests returned year after year at the same time and stayed in the same cabin each year, and many friendships were forged because of it. I met a girl named Mary Lou there in the early 1970s. She was from St. Louis, and our families vacationed there at the same time for many years (and she and I are still in contact with each other). The typical pattern for most families was the dads fished all day and the moms and kids played at the pool and took trips into town to visit local attractions like The Doll House and Silver Dollar City. There were barbeque grills available, and a walk along the sidewalk in front of the cabins in the early evening would reveal hamburgers cooking on the grills and families eating supper inside the snug little cabins. Mallard ducks would come ashore, and kids would feed them bread. Some of my happiest memories are from staying at Blue Haven, and I looked forward to our week every year.

The summer of 1974, my brother had a summer job and didn't want to go on vacation with us, so my parents let me invite a friend to Blue Haven. I chose my friend Liz to go with me. My mom drove us into town to visit the tourist attractions, and when we weren't doing that, we were at the pool, playing with the other kids. We also hung out in the resort's office with the owner, Jerry Acton, whom Liz mistakenly called Elmer Corn when she met him and which became the name we called him all that week (and for years to come). 

Now, the road that took you to Blue Haven passed a large summer camp, or Kamp as it was called there. The girls camp was called Kamp Kanakomo and the boys camp was Kamp Kanakuk. Sessions were a minimum of 6 weeks, and it was rumored most of the kampers hailed from Texas and came from families with lots of oil money.  One afternoon, Liz and I decided we would check things out at the ol' Kamp, meaning try to look at boys (we were 14 at the time). We walked down the narrow road and back and forth in front of the iron gates, hoping for a glimpse, but all we saw were little boys and an occasional counselor. Mission foiled.

Get in the Time Machine with me and travel to 1989. My parents had continued to vacation at Blue Haven every summer since the early 1970s, even after both my brother and I were grown and flown. They had an epiphany (and more money, since my dad had taken over my grandpa's farm supply store ten years earlier) and bought a house on Lake Taneycomo a couple of miles away from Blue Haven and on the opposite side of the lake. 

Guess what's right across from the lake house? Kamp Kanakuk!

Guess who recently moved into the house two doors down from the lake house? Elmer Corn!

Full circle.

Liz on the left, me on the right (sporting a halter top I SEWED MYSELF), sitting on the front porch of our cabin at Blue Haven. The girl in the center was named Mary,
and we played with her and her brother at the pool all week.


  1. I thought that camp looked familiar! Thanks for the backstory on the lake house, and what a coincidence that Elmer Corn moved in nearby! :-)

  2. This sounds idyllic. What a wonderful way to spend your family vacations. Well done on sewing that halter top. I'm thinking either you were in a home ec class or your mom taught you, or perhaps you taught yourself? I learned to sew at that age from the first 2. My first 2 projects were a wrap-around skirt and an apron.

  3. Your post had me thinking of my camp days at an Episcopal Church camp on the Gulf of Mexico, in the Florida panhandle. Great times! My family did not take many vacations as a group; my mother was a hard-working widow. Most of the time, Mom would spend time with her friends, and my sister and brother would spend time at the beach with their friends. My compensation was two weeks at Camp Weed, the church camp. I attended that camp each summer from elementary school age into high school. One year, my high school best friend and I attended the camp together. We had a ball!

  4. We used to spend time in the summer at my uncles cottage at lake Idlewild. About 4 hours north west of Detroit. It was great. One of my cousins and I planned to run away and live there but we never saved the $10 I said we needed to go, riding our bikes across the state.
    Much later I lived there for 20 years with my husband and children. I do miss it but once the aunts and uncles and our kids were gone, it was just us up there in the north woods, so we moved to where the kids were. Atlanta. I still miss my garden and the woods and the no traffic.

  5. I was wondering was Kamp. Once I read, I understood. Camping is such good fun.
    I am thoroughly enjoying this walk with you into the past. I am going in the reverse alphabetical order. I didn't realise that until now!