Wednesday, March 6, 2013


 My first experience with Bull Shoals White River State Park ( ) was the summer after my sixth grade of school.  Many of my friends in our  Girl Scout troop were going for a week-long camp at the park.  I persuaded my parents to let me go, and I happily camped with my buddies in a huge army-style tent (it slept about 24 girls), overlooking Bull Shoals Dam.   We took our meals in the old lodge, that formerly had been used as an overnite stay for dam workers. (That building was torn down in 1979) Since I was raised by strict parents where profanity was forbidden, I took great delight in mailing a postcard to my parents, saying I was enjoying seeing the "damn lights" at night, and that the "damn traffic" sometimes lasted late into the night, because the "damn fishermen" had been out trying to do night fishing.  They were probably NOT amused.   Although there was not a Parent Visitation Day as part of the camp, my father and HIS parents gave me a surprise visit  during the camp.  It may have been my grandparents' first time to see the Bull Shoals Dam, and the state park, as it was just added to the Arkansas state park system in 1955.
 I had the opportunity to relive a modified version of that experience a while back, by participating in the Women's Outdoor Weekend ( W.O.W. ) at the park.  This photo shows some of the ladies participating in the ritual of meal preparation using cast iron "Dutch ovens".  I do not know if these big kettles have anything to do with the phrase "Dutch treat" (when each person pays for their own meal ), but I can testify that it was truly a delicious TREAT from a DUTCH oven, and hence a "Dutch Treat"!
 When the supper was finally ready (this was DEFINITELY not "fast food"!), we enjoyed it al fresco, under the roof of the pavilion in the park. 
 After supper, we built a fire, and gathered around it to swap ghost stories, sing songs, and get acquainted with other ladies who had traveled from all over the state, to get to participate in this event.
 Everyone was up early the next morning, to enjoy another meal, cooked outside.  Everything we needed to make all varieties of omelets was at our disposal.  We each were given a zip-lock sandwich bag, and instructed to put the raw eggs, cheese, vegetables, bacon bits, etc., into the bag, and write our name on the outside of the bag with waterproof marker.  Then we dropped our individual bags into a big pot of boiling water that was kept simmering with hot coals.  In just a few minutes, we had a custom-made omelet, exactly to our specifications. 
 With our tummies full and satisfied, we posed for a group photo, before starting the day's activities. 
 The camping area for Bull Shoals White River State Park, is situated below Bull Shoals Dam, along the famous White River.  In addition to tent sites, like the one shown in this photo, there are RV sites, complete with concrete patios, and full hookups (including WIFI !)  With its 732 acres being located in both Baxter County and Marion County of the Ozark Mountains, it is one of the most popular of the Arkansas State Park system.
 One of our activities was to get a demonstration from an expert in the field of backpacking equipment.  She taught us how to choose the proper shoes, pack, sleeping bag, and other necessary items one would need if they were going to carry their "home" on their back, for an overnight trip, or even several days. 
 This area is famous for its trout fishing, so we also had lessons on how to properly use a fly rod.
 We also were able to try our hand at lake kayaking.  Bull Shoals Lake is Arkansas' largest lake, containing over 45,000 acres of water, along the northern border of Arkansas.  The fee for the Women's Outdoor Weekend covers all your meals and the park supplies all your equipment, including the colorful kayaks shown in this photo.  We had an extensive class on kayaking skills and safety practices, before we were allowed to actually get into the watercraft.
 Can you tell from this photo of me, that I was enjoying being out on the water?  In addition to lake kayaking, one can also do river kayaking within the park, as it stretches along the riverside and lake shore, where the White River and Bull Shoals Lake join, at Bull Shoals Dam. 
 The reason I was reminded of the fun time I had when I participated in W.O.W., was because of one of the memory verses from my First Place 4 Health  ( ) class.  It is from Isaiah 54:2 and says "Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back;  lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes."   (The  fact that Isaiah 54:2 is one of the verses I saw on the original Hebrew manuscripts, when I visited a museum exhibit of the Dead Sea Scrolls, makes this verse even MORE meaningful!)   Participating in an activity that is outside your comfort zone, can definitely help you "stretch" your personal growth!  So if you would like to give this a try, mark off  October 4 - 6 , 2013, on your calendar, then contact the park at 870-445-3629 to  reserve your spot.  According to their website, the fee of $125 covers all your needs for the weekend.  The only thing the women need to bring is a spirit of fun and adventure!  This will be a weekend that will give you miles of smiles!     Tricia
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