My best friend at church, Rebecca Loucks and I went to Wentz Camp every summer for years. Wentz was outside of Ponca City Oklahoma and was a fabulous camp. There was an amazing swimming pool, lovely stone cottages holding twelve folks in each, and a wonderful tower to climb each year.We began for just three days when we were quite little. But then we progressed to one week, then two weeks and then we were camp counselors. One of the requirements for being able to go to camp was we had to attend Vacation Bible School at the church before camp.
I am not sure who started “the going to camp bit” but it was about the best thing ever thought up. Our church, Presbyterian Church of Arkansas City Kansas, probably started kids going there. But over the years other Presbyterian churches of Kansas also went.
By the time we were in junior high school us older kids would sneak out in the middle of the night. At first it was just going to the swimming pool. But as time went on, we would trudge down a hill path and sneetch a rowboat at the Ponca Lake. I don’t really remember if we did that for several years or just one year. We had named the rowboat we took out and cracked a pop bottle on the side of the boat. When we returned to shore I stupidly stepped on a broken piece of glass. That hurt, but we managed to bandage that spot on my foot, and I don’t think any of the counselors ever knew about it. This made a deep impression on my having fun.
The Wentz Camp made a deep impression on my fun times as a kid
“In 1925 Lew Wentz began work on his “castle” by donating the site for the present Wentz Camp. An old farmhouse served as mess hall for campers. The farmhouse was later torn down, and in 1928 construction started. The first significant structure was a custombuilt water tower, topped by an observation deck. The combined water tank and lookout held 30,000 gallons of water which was used as a general supply for the camp. The tower or cylindrical portion is 7 feet in diameter and 75 feet high and encloses a circular stairway which extends through the tank to a platform or lookout 10 feet 6 inches in diameter. The observation point, which is 94 feet above the ground, was surrounded by a lattice fence.
The swimming pool was soon added, followed by walls, crenellated towers, gateways, cabins, guard houses, pavilions and terraces—all constructed of locally quarried sandstone. The pool is 50 feet wide by 150 feet long and varies in depth from 3 1/2 feet at one end to 10 1/2 feet under the diving boards. It was finished in white and blue granite tile.
Wentz Camp and Pool was set up under the Ponca City Educational Camp, Inc., a trusteeship, and was open to organized recreational, religious and educational groups of young people.”