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Kansas 4-H Tip Sheet

November 13, 2015

South African Experience Brought Back Rock Springs Memories

Submitted by Jack W. Lindquist

Leading a group of graduates of the Kansas Agriculture and Rural Leadership Program to South Africa last August for a study tour provided a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many of our participants. Our accommodations included hotels in the cities and lodges in the countryside and game parks. Most memorable for every participant was the Chisomo Safari Lodge. We were a bit apprehensive to see that every facility was a tent rather than a stucco sided, thatch roofed lodge or hut. Of all of the places that we stayed in during that two week period of time, it was Chisomo’s lodges with hardwood floors and canvas sides that actually providing the best, most memorable overnight experience due to the “camping” feel on the safari. I was an 8 year old camper at Rock Springs all over again.

During our most recent Rock Springs Advisory meeting this fall we were reviewing the Master Plan and I was struck that a suggestion from years ago was still in print. At a point in our recent history Stoneybrook Housing was considered for replacement or elimination.

I found this baffling. My stay as a camper 50 years ago was in the same style of tent, hardwood floor, tin roof, canvas sides and the wide open space and fresh air that made that experience a lasting memory. Following my own active 4-Her experiences and college, I returned to Rock Springs starting as a 4-H Agent, then as an Agricultural Agent. From 1990 on I kept taking groups as the KARL Program Director, so my 50 years of camping at Rock Springs has included overnight accommodations in Stoneybrook, Hansen, Finnup, KCW, Hilltop and Leadership Lodge. When I reflected in my mind’s eye of what a true camping experience was like, I always taken back to my 8-12 year old experiences at Rock Springs and the stays in Stoneybrook Housing. That overnight stay was a TRUE camping experience to my 8-12 year old inner-self. Thankfully, those suggestions printed in the Master Plan in 2005 have not been followed through due to some deep reflection by servant leaders.

We know full well that the Bath House needs an update, and thankful the Rock Springs Advisory Committee recommendations were made and implemented to renovate Stoneybrook Housing several years ago. Rock Springs installed more substantial flooring, better roofs and canvas sides and a half door to keep out the night 4 legged strollers, all great improvements. Speaking as Chairman at this falls meeting, I summarized the committees consensus and recommended that the Kansas 4-H Foundation and Rock Springs State 4-H Camp Staff retain that memorable camping venue for years to come.

Whenever the comments surface to remove Stoneybrook or cut camp group numbers to boycott the facility, I know full well from experience, that is the complainants viewpoint. They have not polled the campers, nor considered why we are at Rock Springs in the first place…to provide a Learning by Doing, Make the Best Better experience for that 8-12 year old boy and girl.

Respectfully Submitted by Jack W. Lindquist, Chairman
Rock Springs Advisory Development Committee