Camp Hope / Camp Lake of the Woods / Swope Park / Kansas City, Missouri


Opening of Lakeside Nature Center, May 1, 1966, by Ray Heady , KC Star Outdoor Editor

We sort of like the casual approach to Nature, because Nature in many of her moods is casual.  The old Dame is other things, too---violent, gentle, ruthless, beguiling, phlegmatic, exciting, depending upon her time, place, occasion---but she is often casual .  For one thing, Nature does not take herself too seriously.  She leaves the serious side (and amorphous writing such as this) to humans who sometimes take themselves too seriously.

What we are trying to say is that Nature begins where concrete and asphalt ends, and you don’t need to make a safari or climb a mountain to find her.  She is often in the back yard, the vacant lot, the next bend in the road.  She often sits at the side of the road beckoning to those who have eyes which see.

And that’s the approach the division of recreation of the welfare department of the city of Kansas City is taking toward nature today, which happens to be Arbor day.  It has set up a casual approach---a house-by-the-side-of-the-road affair, in Swope Park where a Sunday driver and his family, out for an afternoon’s drive in the spring---may pull up, park the car, and sort of meet Nature.

No planning, no dressing up, no R.S.V.P.’s m, just drop in and meet nature, in some form, casual like.

At 2 o’clock this afternoon, the city’s new Lakeside Nature center will be dedicated in Swope Park.  It’s not a new building.  It’s an old, but well constructed, concession stand at the intersection of Gregory and Oldham roads, in the park.  It has been completely remodeled and dressed up for exhibits, displays, and programs.  It will have on display, in natural settings, many of the small animals, fish and insects of Missouri.  Also some of the nature and outdoor clubs of the area will be invited to set up displays of their hobbies and interests, such as rocks, minerals, artifacts, etc.  They will be changed from time to time to keep them current with the seasons.

It’s not a fancy center, but it is most attractive, showing good planning and arrangement of materials in the natural sciences.

Also available is a large room, equipped for movies, which will seat about 75 persons.  This will be available for meetings of outdoor and nature groups in the future.

Located as it is, at the junction of two main roads in Swope Park, with plenty of parking space, it is hoped the Lakeside Nature Center will attract many of the regular park visitors.  Native fish and animals, of course, can’t compete in size and glamour with the lions, tigers, and chimps of the SwopePark zoo, but a zoo is only one approach to nature.  In its own way, a big, old Missouri snapping turtle is just as interesting as a giraffe, but the snapper may need some “interpreting,” which is what the new Nature Center intends to become---a station of interpretation.

There is a lot of interpretation going on in Swope Park the year around that many Kansas Citians don’t know about. For example the eastern side of the park is rough, rugged country  That’s where nature trails are located, and camps for youth in spring and summer.  Many visitors to the park see only the west side---the golf course, picnic area, and ball diamonds.  The east side is a gem of nature in the rough.

Beginning in March, a series of Thursday morning nature walks started from the lakeside Center.  These are led by Dan Dougherty, the park naturalist, who points out the wide variety of subjects found in Swope Park.  Dougherty also is tremendously interested in building a swamp habitat immediately to the rear of he nature Center.  By creating a small dam in a ravine, he figures he can create habitat for muskrat, woods ducks, and marsh birds with little expense.  Beginning April first, Dougherty also is available for conducting nature tours through the park for public and school groups by appointment.

Starting in April, a series of natural science lectures will be made in he Nature center.  This schedule is as follows:

These lectures will begin at 8 pm and will be open to the public.

Assisting the recreation division in setting up the first year’s program for the Nature Center were the Humane Society of Kansas City, Science Pioneers Inc, the department of biology t the University of Missouri at Kansas City, the Burroughs Nature Club, the Astronomy Club of Kansas City, the Ozark Wilderness Waterways Club, the Association of Earth Science Clubs of Greater Kansas City, and  the Kansas City Wildflower Club.

It is hoped the Nature center will attract adults as well as children to Swope Park.  Children already are “exposed” to the delights of the huge park, mainly through an intensive summer camping program.

The question most frequently asked of leaders of the Municipal camps is “What do you do in the fall and winter after the summer camping programs have ended?’ One reply:  An after school natural science hobby club is in operation
during September,r October, November, December, March, April, and May.  Boys and girls from various grade schools are transported to the resident camp in Swope park by camp bus.  Some 200 youngsters enjoy natural science exploration, camp crafts, horseback-riding, singing, and games.

Natural Science clubs are also available to boys and girls, ages 9-15, at the Camp Hope Nature lodge.  These groups meet once a month on Saturdays.  Studies are made of the natural sciences in relationship tot he seasons of the year.  Laboratory work, field rips, and discussion periods are available.

For further information on the Natural Science clubs, youngsters may call John Banghart or Patricia Kortkamp, BA 1-1400, ext. 411.

Weekend camping in Swope Park is enjoyed by organized groups, such as Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and church groups,.  Facilities are rented to these groups at a nominal fee.  Eight cabins and two dining hall sand 350 acres of woodland, nature trails are available to all interested groups.  Reservations may be made by calling the Recreation division.

The past year has brought many new additions to the camps.  Included are the new day camp building for handicapped youngsters, a new stables, the winterizing of Camp Hope dining hall, and an Astronomy building.

The Astronomy building, housing a 16-inch reflecting telescope made available by the Astronomy Club of Kansas City and a telescope made available by the Junior League, is an asset to the programs now in operation at the camps.

With the new stables and riding area, a new horseback riding program is anticipated in the summer of 196.  Lessons will be made available to youngsters o the Kansas City area on a pay cost basis.

Several new nature trails are being constructed.  For those interested in birds there will be trail leading to the Shirling memorial bird sanctuary.  There will be a trail along the west shore of the Lake of the Woods and another through a marsh habitat  along the Big Blue river.  Future trails will extend south along the Blue River Parkway, now under development by the Jackson County Park department.  These trails will feature forests, prairie, marshland, aquatic lie, fossils and geology,  Guided nature walks will be conducted for groups y the naturalist or an assistant by appointment.

(The article finished with 6 more paragraphs summarizing summer camp and volunteer opportunities)