Just south of where Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska meet right on The Missouri River near mile marker 486, is a small campground called Camp Katmandu. You won’t find this campground in any Good Sam directory or even with a Google search. Camp Katmandu is a private campground and so are the invitations to visit. We recently accepted our second invitation to camp at what is affectionately called “The River” by our good friends Meg and Jeremy.
For the past two decades members of Jeremy’s extended family have worked hard to evolve Camp Katmandu from farm land to a weekend fishing spot to a family campground. Fishing was and remains central to this camp. Several members of the extended family have belonged or do belong to fishing clubs and participate in catfish tournaments. The weekend of our visit the family was getting ready for their annual community fish fry and Wayne volunteered his extra two hands to help skin the Buffalo and Catfish they had caught.
There are approximately twelve full service hookups at Camp Katmandu; eleven of them are used by members of the extended family. They leave their campers there from spring to fall each year and visit “The River” every weekend they can during that time. Most of the “regulars” have built wooden decks/front porches for their campers. They have also built themselves some “extra’s” that make camp life a little sweeter: a boat ramp, a large boat dock with fish cleaning stations and a live well, a community bathroom, an outdoor shower, an octagon shaped porch swing with a campfire ring in the center, as well as a community food shack.
Given the close proximity to the Missouri River, most everything at this camp is move-able or designed to withstand flooding. And it does flood here. In 2011 the entire camp was submerged in flood water for the summer, just ask Uncle Bud and he will proudly show the water line in the cook shed.
Food is central to so many family gatherings and at Camp Katmandu it doesn’t seem to be any exception. The family shares at least one meal a day but often multiple meals. They select a main dish and each family adds to the community meal. My friend Megs joked that as one meal finishes they immediately begin talking about and planning the next! Moments are made as members sit around and cook, eat, and even clean together sharing stories and laughing as new moments unfold right before their eyes.
You never know what you will see or find at “The River”. Family members tell us that you never know what will come floating down the river, or what animal you will catch site of. We passed the time eagle watching and a fairly large water snake picked the boat ramp as a warm resting spot during our stay. I was even treated to a boat ride upriver to an L-dyke to see the jumping Asian Carp.
Sometimes the unusual sites you see are not animal related; sometimes they are human. On the weekend of our visit, we encountered a man canoeing down the Missouri River. He told us as he approached camp that he had been on the river for 66 days on a quest to set a new Guinness Book of World Record for the longest solo kayak or canoe trip. He had started in Montana at the headwaters of the Missouri and was headed to the Mighty Mississippi and ultimately The Gulf of Mexico! Adventure Aaron might have thought he had found a public campground but in fact he found Camp Katmandu. Extended family members offered up space for a tent and a home cooked meal to Adventure Aaron. We are all watching his journey and you can follow him too on Facebook!
I realize that most of you will likely never visit Camp Katmandu, that is not the purpose of this post. The purpose of this post is to introduce you to another type of RV lifestyle. One where members of a group (in this case a whole extended family) enjoy each others company and decide to build a place so special that they return to it over and over. The families at “The River” may not be roaming and exploring new places together but they are group camping with multiple generations and they are creating a love for the outdoors, nature, and camping that will influence future generations. That is what we have in common and I think that is something we can all buy into.
Thank you, Camp Katmandu, for opening your campground and your lives to us!