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.
5/15/2016 02:43:01 pm
Thank you so much for posting the pictures taken at Camp Cimarron. I no longer have any pictures from when I went to camp there in the 1980s. I'm sad that the camp fell into disrepair and closed, but it's so nice to see these pictures. I even found my name in one of them.
10/28/2018 06:04:18 am
Camp Cimarron was founded by my great aunt Lou B Paine. She and her husband were PE teachers and when he went off to be in the ski corps in WWII she got involved with Camp Fire Girls and helped found the camp. She went up the corporate ladder to VP in Camp Fire Girls and was one of the few women executives in New York City. She met many Native American Chiefs, some were women, and had incredibly beautiful gifts from them in her home, such as wood carvings and handmade moccasins. She instilled in me a love in nature, and an urge to share it with others. When the camp was founded many of her husband Stamley’s horses were stabled at the camp for the girl campers to ride. Off season my father and his brothers got ride their aunt and uncle’s horses all over the camp, pretending to be Indians and Cowboys. My sisters and I all went to the camp, and in 1975 I was a counselor. It was the most rewarding, fun job I had ever had. I was a counselor for rising 2nd graders, so young!! And I kept them busy from the time they woke until the time they fell into bed exhausted so they never had time to get homesick. I remember singing in line for meals, singing as we washed our dishes at our tables, singing around the camp fire—it was a happy place and is full of limitless memories—many big lessons in life were learned there for me. I learned to respect the power of nature, and to be in awe of the natural world, and I did often feel unbounded joy. I hope we, all us Camp Cimarron former campers and counselors, will carry our experiences there forward with us to share with others, as Aunt LouB would have intended us to do.
6/16/2022 08:05:16 am
What a great story! Thank you for recording this here. This camp gave me my favorite childhood memories. To be away from home, on an adventure with same-age girls, really fun counselors, and all of the fun songs- these are treasures of the heart. I remember counselors were all “Miss… Quito, etc. I wish I could remember mine’s name from one summer, but I do remember her sweet face and how one day she took us on an adventure of a lifetime to the Cimarron River and into the town of Coyle. I am quite certain, now that I connect all of this, this started my sense of adventure without fear. It’s taken me to exciting places.
7/20/2022 07:37:19 am
Hi! I actually have been looking for the owner of this site, regarding camp rentals, for yeas now. IS there any way you could pass my information along, or give me their info?
11/19/2022 08:55:48 pm
Thank you for sharing your story! I’m so thankful for your Aunt and getting Camp Cimarron up and going! My best childhood memories are there in the summers and my Aunt Beulah Ames as Ms. Cookie the Camp Cook! I’m was devastated when they closed the Camp!
10/18/2019 12:49:03 pm
Loved seeing these pictures! Have such great memories of this place!
Dalynda [Morgan] Evans
8/3/2020 03:39:52 pm
This is a wonderful blog! Thank you so much for sharing this with the world.
Linda (Blackwell) Cooper
2/24/2021 10:05:18 am
For some reason I looked up the camp today and I'm so glad I did. It has warmed my heart as I remember all the great adventures 1969-74 with the girls of the Bethany Chapter, friendships made, and lovely memories! Spending time with the horses was just one of the many highlights of my weeks there.
3/4/2021 07:55:43 pm
Hi thanks for sharing this
7/29/2021 03:23:13 pm
I have some of my favorite adolescent summer memories here. I couldn’t even of told you where the camp was but me and all 6 of my closest friends, wearing our Sony walkmans would catch the bus each summer. It was our get away. We treated it like a nature retreat / boot camp! It would really whip us into shape. We lived for the canteen when the hottest part of the day we would get one candy bar and our choice of an ice-cold can of pop. It was such a treat. Early- mid 80’s. We would camp in the caboose or the Canastoga wagons. Our favorite part was preparing for the talent show at the end of our stay. So much fun! Thanks for sharing such sweet memories.
Sue Padgett Schools
2/20/2022 09:09:49 am
Attended camp in 1952 (9 yrs old) ... great memories!
RaeLene (Dickenson) Golay
5/19/2022 06:01:45 pm
Incredible memories here! I so wish I could go visit. Thank you so much for sharing. I wonder what happened to the time capsule we buried in 2000 or 2002....under the old lodge bell.
Margaret Tresch Owen
10/14/2022 02:24:41 pm
Lovely seeing the pictures. I think I have some of me from my time at Camp Cimmaron (for 3 summers) when I attended 1961-63. I always wanted to get old enough to stay in the wigwams but didn’t quite make it. Our really big adventure was the time we hiked with sleeping bags to camp out on the river’s sandy shore and a big storm rolled in. We had to roll up our sleeping gear and hike back to our cabins in the pouring rain. Not the adventure we’d imagined! I still have my Camp Fire Girl’s vest decorated with beads and patches. The grandchildren wonder what it is!
10/15/2022 05:46:06 pm
My friends and I were there in 1970 and 1971. Amazing experiences for a 10-year-old kid. Spending a day on the Cimarron River, walking into Coyle, dealing with snake fear issues to get to the latrine at night, and darn I really learned how to swim well there - in that green water, and including the "dead man's float"! Seriously some good stuff. I was so proud to get the Cimarron badge. I'm so glad girls got to experience it for 70 years. What a treasure.
11/20/2022 04:19:51 am
I spent many a summer at camp and loved it so much I sent my daughter there as well. We both have so many many find memories or this place. We were both devastated when it closed.
11/20/2022 08:38:57 am
I went the last year it was open and many before and was absolutely devastated when it closed. My best childhood memories were here and I miss it every summer! Thank you for the walk through memory lane!
11/20/2022 04:57:22 pm
Thanks so much for posting these pictures! What a wonderful time I had there.
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This blog was created by Amy Loch to share stories of experiential history in and connected to Logan County.