“It’s the best kept secret anywhere.”
“Actually, White Memorial Camp, on the north shores of the picturesque Council Grove Reservoir, is the worst kept secret, because so many people really aren’t aware of these beautiful, well-kept facilities and the many opportunities offered,” according to Don Peterson, public relations coordinator of the White Memorial Camp Management Group, Inc.
Appropriately tagged “The Camp in the Heart of the Flint Hills,” White Memorial Camp, 1271 South 1050 Road, north of Council Grove, will host a special Open House and Harvest Celebration this Saturday, Nov. 15, from 10 o’clock in the morning, to 4 o’clock in the afternoon.
“Our main objective is to introduce and ‘show-off’ the quite elaborate, yet rustic accommodations, which are so under used. Yet, the camp is available year around for groups and individuals of all ages to use for business, education, entertainment, celebration, relaxation, you name it,” Peterson said.
“We’re still the same White Memorial Camp, but we are under different management. We want everyone to use the features and structures to help build a better tomorrow for everyone, especially the youth,” he added.
Saturday’s activities include a homemade chili lunch at noon, hayrack rides, walking tours, prairie surfing, balloon catapult, face painting, fireplace chats and much more.
“Come see some of the great things at White Memorial Camp. Everyone is welcome. We’ll even have door prizes awarded,” Peterson noted.
While White Memorial Camp and Retreat Center is affiliated with the Kansas – Oklahoma Conference of the United Church of Christ, the facilities are supported by user fees.
Land for the camp was originally owned by four generations of the Harry White and C.H. White families and was given in memory of their father and mother, W.H. and Sara White. The land was dedicated to the camp in a ceremony led by Council Grove Mayor Harry Rosser on July 26, 1964.
Purpose of the camp is to use the facilities, the natural setting and the everyday offering of nature to nurture and develop the mind, body and spirit of campers.
Its objective is to have forward thinking individuals working as a team to plan and implement the offering of mind searching ways to benefit those who come to the “nature setting.”
“The main goal of the White Memorial Camp Management Group is to make use of the physical facilities to as near optimum capacity as is realistically possible,” Peterson informed.
A peninsula surrounded on three sides by the reservoir water, the camp facilities are part of the original Kaw Indian Reservation. It served as hunting grounds, supplying food, shelter and clothing, and also includes some of their ceremonial grounds.
“Contributing to the longevity of the unique camp structures is the fact they are all constructed from native Flint Hills limestone which came from structures now inundated by the water of the Council Grove Reservoir,” Peterson explained.
Main facilities include a dining hall, cabins, administration building and a director’s home, all environmentally controlled for year around comfort.
Combined or separate dining hall rooms have a capacity of 211 people and can be utilized for meetings, with excellent acoustics, and fireplaces for heat and atmosphere.
While they’re generally called “cabins”, each of the five cabins is almost like being at home, or better. There is a large living area, bedrooms and complete bathrooms.
“The fully accredited swimming pool is for relaxing and fun time for all of our summertime campers,” Peterson commented.
“We are very fortunate to have several sites and areas that take advantage of “man working with Mother Nature” to provide exceptional sites and features,” Peterson related.
Among these are the outdoor theatre, Vesper Point, the challenge course and observation tower, along with the volleyball court and softball field.
“At White Memorial Camp, we sing, we have talent shows, we enjoy the lake and swimming pool, we go on hay rack rides, make art and craft articles, do archery, canoeing, kayaking, boating, hiking, cooking outdoors, enjoy beautiful sunsets, campfires, watch movies, dance, just have fun and close the day with a quiet worship service each evening,” Peterson said.
Churches, civic groups, colleges, individuals, industry, families, military, schools, private groups, youth organizations and many others have taken advantage of White Memorial Camp opportunities.
There are weddings, family reunions, corporate retreats, group workshops, and challenge course programs for personal and team building as well as cabin rentals for a “Lovely Get-Away from it All.”
Listed as annual programs are several levels of youth camps, family camps, October Fest, Holiday Camp and especially unique camps for adults with developmental disabilities.
“Vacation fun for adults with a wide range of developmental disabilities is our favorite part of the summer. Campers enjoy the company of friends they see each year as well as welcome new campers to the experience. We have handicapped accessible facilities for those who need them and lots of help from capable volunteers and experienced staff. A nurse is on-site throughout the camp,” Peterson explained.
A Challenge Course Camp for seventh grade through high school seniors was featured this summer, according to Peterson, emphasizing the several aspects it offers.
“The ‘Challenge Me Camp’ will put your child or teen ‘through the ropes’ of our high and low ropes challenge courses to focus on team building and push them through their fears to help them find out all about the good stuff they are made of. This is an intense, yet very fun experience your children will carry forward through many other aspects of their life,” Peterson said.
A couple of other especially unique opportunities are Wild Water Week and Creative Arts Camp.
Additional members of the White Memorial Camp Management Group, Inc., include Jeff Keller, Manhattan, president; Marty White, Council Grove, vice president; Nancy Fike, Carbondale, camp programming, David Gronquist, Alma, building and grounds; Carl Smitheran, Council Grove, marketing; and Paul Beck and Penny Selbee, both of Topeka.
“Last year, we celebrated 50 years of being a place that people of all ages come to relax and expand their horizons of physical, mental and social satisfaction and fulfillment. Now, as we move toward the century mark, there is almost no limit to the sharing we can do,” Peterson forecasted.
Among those include efforts to incorporate a volunteer camp counselor program. “This would open the doors to many people, even those who are retired, but want to be involved with various groups, including youth, and with White Memorial Camp itself,” Peterson related.
For those inclined to assist financially, gifts can be reported as “tax deductible” on income tax reports, according to Peterson.
Additional information about this weekend’s White Memorial Camp Open House, discussing opportunities, signing up for camps or scheduling activities is available from White Memorial Camp, 620-767-5165, or [email protected].