Nature Boost Camping Family Tradition
Hey there and welcome back to Nature Boost. I am Jill Pritchard with the Missouri Department of Conservation. You'll recall from our recent camping episode that we discussed all kinds of tips for all types of camping. Today we are sharing a generational story of a family that has made camping a tradition for 60+ years. From the family matriarch that started it all, to great grandchildren all sharing what they love about camping together.
In the 1950s, Ted and Ardella Newenhaus from St. Louis were raising nine children and looking for an affordable way to vacation with their sizable family. With one short road trip a few hours south of town, they started a family tradition that is still going strong today.
>> We have been camping since 1953 here. We would ask dad, "can we go camping?" every weekend and about every three weekends he would say yes. We had about three places we would go. This was everyone's favorite so this became our designated reunion camping trip every year.
>> Before I was born, my folks would come down here in an old VW bus packed full of kids and camping supplies. A friend of my dad's turned them on to this place and lent him all his camping gear. Then after that, it was on. We have been coming here every year several times a year since.
>> I think that me and my sisters and my brother are closer because of camping, because we have done this all our life. We get together every summer and spend a whole three or four days together camping so it has brought us all closer together. With nine kids and all of us being so close, I think that is because of our camping experience.
>> It was really something that our family could do with a big family. It was the perfect solution to have a vacation together. We all enjoyed. We hiked up to the top of the bluff already and got pictures taken up there sitting on the rock way up there. [Laughing.]
>> Hiking is a family favorite. Young and old climb a trail that winds its way to a bluff top with scenic views over the Huzzah Valley.
>> There is a nice trail head to the top of the bluff, wildflowers, and pine trees and the view is spectacular. The creek is crystal clear. My dad is no longer with us now, but when he was probably 80 somewhere in that neighborhood he went up on the bluff for the last time.
>> My dad turned 80 and we came down here and we climbed Red Bluff because he wanted to do it one more time before he got too old. So my mom was 75 and he was 80 and we climbed the trail to the top of Red Bluff and we all took a bunch of pictures.
>> We hiked up to the top and I got a picture of that. First thing I see when I walk in the door in the house is a picture of my dad on Red Bluff.
>> The highlight of any Newenhaus camping trip has to be Huzzah Creek where endless hours are spent swimming, floating, fishing, or just cooling off in the clear waters.
Adults refresh in lawn chairs immersed in the creek bed while kids try the rope swing and search for tadpoles, turtles, and skipping rocks.
>> When I go down to the creek, I usually bring my googles and I will swim under. I get to see, well, there is fish, crawdads and any other stuff that is down there. It is fun because I get to see all the fish. They will just swim right past your face and stuff. It is like an outdoor aquarium.
We like to go fishing. We will swim catch fish, then swim again, then fish again.
>> My husband likes to fish. I don't really fish too much but when I was a little kid and we would go camping I would usually bring a fishing pole and try to catch some fish. I was not very good at it. I think I caught one fish. But my husband always brings a fishing pole when we go camping, catches some fish and sometimes puts them on the barbeque pit and there is supper.
>> Huzzah is a nice little creek to fish.
>> I go fishing with my grandpa.
>> You know how to use that reel? You click it off, right?
>> We have to get our stuff ready like our hooks and our weights. Then we go to where we see like a deep spot and then we keep on moving down and up and stuff.
Some of the fish I have caught here are bass, bluegill, sun fish, rock bass.
>> There you go! You got him. You got something. See! Look there. You see that little blue fish? Oh man that is the biggest catch of the day. Awesome. Nice!
>> That is a good bait fish.
>> Now we are talking fishing. This is what it is all about right here.
>> That's what we think.
>> Did anybody catch a shark today?
>> No, not yet. [Laughing.]
>> Just some crawfish.
>> We would always catch tadpoles and stuff with our hands. When we were little kids we would build a little area with rocks in the water and fill it up with tadpoles.
Yesterday the grandkids had a canoe full of water and they had probably 25 tadpoles, and a little water turtle. There is a lot of wildlife and little critters for kids to learn about while they are camping.
>> The Huzzah Creek is so refreshing. It's crystal clear. You can see all the way across even when it is like 4 or 5 feet deeper you can see the gravel on the bottom. It's super refreshing.
>> I love to camp all summer because the water is nice and cold and you don't need air conditioning. You can just go down to the river and sit in the cold water and cool off anytime you want so I like to camp June, July, August all the way through even the dog days of summer. Because you always got the water you can go swim in.
>> In the dog days of summer, water is a refreshing option and Missouri has many choice rivers and lakes to enjoy. We will meet back up with our happy family campers after a quick break.
[Advertisement - summer is more refreshing on the water. From fast boats to slow floats, a rod and reel or a tasty meal, there are as many things to do on the water as there people to share it with. Missouri, the water is calling. How will you respond? ]
[Song playing - "let me be on the water, Yeah" ]
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>> Welcome back to Nature Boost. After a day spent on the creek, there is down time to relax before the evening sets in for the Newenhaus clan.
Some brought their bikes to ride around the campground, while others are lounging in hammocks. After an evening meal, everyone gathers for a good time around the campfire.
>> Every night we have smores and sing songs around the campfire. It was the perfect place for children.
>> At night we like to roast marshmallows, sit around the campfire and tell stories, play games, sing, every now and then somebody will have a guitar and just spend quality family time around the fire listening to the wildlife, the raccoons and all the critters.
>> You have heard the saying that food tastes better in the outdoors and the same may be said about spending time with family and friends.
There is a closeness that grows from those shared experiences in nature and memories to last a lifetime.
>> In the mornings everybody gets out their cook stoves and one person is cooking up the bacon and another one the sausage, another one the eggs, and the potatoes and it is a huge feast at breakfast time. That is a bonding experience and we all get along really well doing that.
>> I really enjoy my Newenhaus family. Eight sisters-in-laws I have. They all accepted me as a sister instantly, from the beginning, and we just have a blast. Beautiful family, wonderful times, always good memories.
>> We are closer, I think from camping. We've instilled that in our children, and in our grandchildren, especially our grandchildren.
>> You know my grandma's got stories to tell and hopefully when I get older I will have stories to tell, too.
>> When I grow up and have a family, I am going to take my kids here all the time so they can learn how to camp and have fun.
>> I think that they will grow up being campers and their kids will be campers. It is a tradition and something we all love to do.
>> My grandpa, he always taught me to clean up the campground which his dad taught him. When we are getting ready to leave, we walk around the campsite and pick up any trash that we see.
>> Cookie is the queen of cleaning. She organizes keeping the campsite cleaned up and the recycling and making sure that everybody is cleaning up their messes. We all work together on that.
>> I think camping would be easy for anybody to take up if they haven't tried it before. It is my favorite place. I travel all over the country camping and I think this is one of the best spots I have ever been to.
Missouri has got everything.
>> I think my dad would be happy to know that we are all still coming and still keeping the tradition going. We came even when he was 80 years old. He would be happy to know that we are all still carrying on the tradition.
>> Camping has been our lives, really. It was healthy for us. I think all the kids love it. We really enjoy this camp. It was wonderful. Like I said, I feel like we own it. We have been here so much. I really feel at home here.
>> Learn more about camping in Missouri or get ideas for starting your own nature tradition at missouriconservation.org. Also check out the MO Outdoors App for finding places and activities near you. Thanks to the Newenhaus family for sharing their camping legacy and thanks for tuning in to another episode of Nature Boost. I am Jill Pritchard with the Missouri Department of Conservation urging you to get your daily dose of the outdoors.