Missori State Parks Recognizes Devoted Campers

By Guest Contributor

First posted on 06-04-2007

Larry and Phyllis Moore of Marshall have been recognized by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources as being the first to complete the Missouri Camper Award Program in state parks for 30 consecutive years.

The Moores accepted the challenge of camping in at least five different state parks each year as part of the Missouri Camper Award Program. While working at Van Meter State Park near Marshall, Larry Moore found out about the program, and the rest is history. For the couple, it started out as a fun thing to do and eventually became a challenge. “We think it was a cool thing to do for so long,” said Phyllis Moore. “We hurried up and finished the program early this year hoping to be the first to complete the program for 30 years.”

The Moores choose camping as their lodging option for a variety of reasons. “Sitting around a campfire beats sitting in a hotel room,” said Moore. “We enjoy the outdoors, and it was a fun thing for our kids as well. Now, we take the grandkids along when we can.” Over the years, they have noticed that the conveniences in the parks have improved, as well as the conveniences of their camping equipment. They went from tent camping to owning a recreational vehicle.

The Moores, who have camped in other states, say they have never been in any parks in other states that compare to Missouri’s state parks. “Missouri state parks are well kept and we appreciate that they are free for day-use,” she said. “We’ve been to all of Missouri’s state parks and historic sites except for two of the newer ones, which we hope to visit soon.”

While visiting the state parks, the Moores enjoyed going on guided nature walks, attending nature programs, doing a little fishing, viewing exhibits in the parks’ visitor centers and walking trails on their own. Their older children also completed the Junior Naturalist Program. Although the Moores have camped in all of Missouri’s state parks with campgrounds, they don’t really have a favorite. “We like whichever one doesn’t have thunderstorms,” she said with a chuckle. “Rain has followed us around on numerous camping trips.”

The Missouri Camper Award is presented to individuals, families or youth groups that camp in five different Missouri state parks during the calendar year. Campers must have a staff member verify their stay on a camper verification card that can be picked up at any of the state parks. First-year participants that complete the program receive a camper award patch, a numbered year patch and a certificate. Each year after, participants receive numbered year patches and certificates. Every five years, each participant receives another camper award patch and each family receives a Distinguished Camper Award that is good for a free night of camping in any state park. For completing the program for 30 years, the Moores received five camping coupons, two nights of lodging and dinner for two at a Missouri state park, a patch, plaque and certificate signed by Gov. Matt Blunt. Thousands of people participate in the camper award program each year.

Although the Moores each already have a jacket full of patches, they’re not parking their RV. They are heading for 35 years of camping.

For more information about state parks and historic sites or the Missouri Camper Award Program, call the Department of Natural Resources toll free at 800-334-6946 (voice) or 800-379-2419 (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf) or visit the Web at http://www.mostateparks.com