This weekend Sarah and I went on a survival campout Friday evening and Saturday with her Venture Crew. We camped about an hour north and east of Oklahoma City, at an old Campfire Girls Camp called “Camp Cimarron” near Coyle. For over 50 years, Camp Cimarron was a much-loved summer camp destination for many Oklahomans, operated by Campfire Girls of America. It was sold to private owners in January 2014. The Facebook Group “Friends of Cimarron” includes many remembrances and photos from past campers, counselors, and staffers testifying to the important impact Camp Cimarron had on their lives.

One of the things which struck me the most, being at Camp Cimarron and staying overnight this weekend, was the water tank and all the painted drawings on the tower’s panels.

The oldest dates we could find amidst the names and pictures were 1968 and 1969, so I’m going to guess that’s about the time the water tower was constructed and put into operation.

Reading the names, nicknames, and slogans on the water tower gave me an acute sense of “if these walls could talk, what amazing stories they could tell.” Camp Cimarron was much loved for many, many years. Kids and adults went hiking, swimming, rode horses, ate together, and surely did a thousand other things which built memories that have lasted a lifetime.

Unlike carvings you often find in rocks and trees left by previous visitors, which appear as vandalism and unwanted defacement of natural spaces, the pictures and words on the water tower at Camp Cimarron struck me as time capsules of stories and memories. I was thankful the paint which was used by those bygone campers and camp staffers was, in most cases, durable enough to stand the test of time of Oklahoma weather… at least through 2017.

It may seem like a stretch, but these hand-drawn images, symbols, icons and words at Camp Cimarron reminded me of Egyptian hieroglyphs carved in stone, paintings in Lascaux Cave in France, and Newspaper Rock in Utah. All of these included human carved or painted records of past experiences, people, and historical events. Relatively speaking, compared to countries like Egypt or places like Istanbul or Baghdad, we don’t have a very long recorded history here in North America. It’s recent history, I know, but I found myself feeling very thankful that so many past residents of Camp Cimarron took the time to draw, write, and paint on the water tower. The images and words they left behind offer only glimpses into the experiences they had and the memories they made, but those are the most detailed “human marks” on the camp today which testify to the important impact the camp had on the lives of so many Oklahomans.

In the course of my brief web searches today for more information about Camp Cimarron and its history, I found a series of videos from 1988 posted to YouTube which include a variety of scenes and information about Camp Cimarron.

These videos from almost twenty years ago bring parts of the camp back to life for me, and help me visualize the laughing and singing faces which filled the chapel pews where I had an Easter weekend prayer and meditative Bible study on Saturday afternoon.

The Campfire staffers and campers may be gone, but the wonderful atmosphere and environment of Camp Cimarron lives on today. I’m thankful and blessed to have spent a few hours there this weekend learning and growing in fellowship with other Venture Scouts and Venture Scout leaders.

“If these walls could talk…..”

What stories from your own life do you need to document for future generations? How can you use digital storytelling as a way to archive stories, memories, and lessons from your own life which you’d like to preserve for your own great, great, great grandchildren? It might be time for you to become a Storychaser.

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