What are some of your favorite childhood memories? For my friend, Bonnie Winslow, Camp Cimarron holds a special place in her heart. This 4th of July, she invited me along as she went back to visit the camp. If you grew up in this area, you too may have spent time at Camp Cimarron, which is just east of Coyle along the Cimarron River. The camp operated by the Camp Fire Girls, now known as Campfire USA, sadly closed in 2007 after seventy years of operation. The camp was recently divided in two sections and sold to private individuals. One of the new owners, Mark, was gracious enough to let us look around.
While much of the camp that Bonnie remembered remained, parts had been added in more recent years, and some older parts had fallen into severe disrepair. Those of you that remember the camp will be happy to know that the new owner intends to keep parts of the camp and has even already taken his boy scout troop camping there.
Bonnie was a counselor in training at the camp in 1968 and 1969 and councilor in 1970. She hadn’t been back since, having spent much of her adult life working for the National Park Service in the southwest. It didn’t take long for her memories to start to fall into place as we walked around the camp.
First, we found the old camp lodge, which is still in good condition. Next, we wandered around the cabin areas, found the wigwams and then the water tower with many names still just as legible as the day they were added. We quickly found the names of the councilors that Bonnie worked with and then after some looking we found her own faded name on the tower. Some parts of the camp look just as they did at the end of the last season, seemingly unaware that there would not be a next summer. Mattresses and brooms remained in the cabins, the stables still had horse tack hanging by the stalls, and papers and badges remained in the office cabin. The wagon trains and caboose have seen better years but the tent cabins nearby have been used by a boyscout troop this past year. While time changes all things, memories remain and new memories continue to be made. I want to thank Bonnie for allowing me to come with on this journey.
If you would like to share your memories of Camp Cimarron, a Facebook page has been set up for the camp.