By Michael Bushnell
The description on the back of this real photo postcard describes Camp Prairie Schooner Girl Scout Camp of the Pioneer Trail Council as “a hideaway of woodlands, trails and virgin timber. The camp includes units for 125 campers and staff. A chapel, campfire areas, shelter houses, dining lodge, swimming pool, administration building and infirmary.”
Camp Prairie Schooner is located on 176 acres between Lee’s Summit, Raytown and Independence, technically just west of Lakewood. From its vantage point on the bluffs overlooking the Little Blue River Valley, the camp feels like wilderness in the heart of the Kansas City metropolitan area.
Land for the camp was acquired in 1946. Mrs. J. Rogers DeWitt, who was very active in local politics and civic causes, found the land and thought the area would be perfect for a camp for girls. One of the primary factors in her decision was the Union Pacific Railroad that had a line that ran through the Blue River Valley between Kansas City and Lee’s Summit and actually stopped at the base of the camp. With money still tight for many families following WWII, girls could easily take the train from the city to Camp Prairie Schooner.
DeWitt also petitioned an organization called the War Chest for assistance in funding the acquisition of the land. War Chest held the title for the land until 1961 when the initial 130-acre parcel was deeded to the Girl Scouts.
According to the Girl Scouts Conference of Northeast Kansas and Northwest Missouri, the camp features two new state of the art Trail Centers that allow girls to acclimate easier into the wilderness camping experience. The new bunkhouses are completely climate controlled, are Wi-Fi equipped and can sleep almost 40 people each.
This postcard was mailed in 1962 to Mr. and Mrs. J.R. Wagner at 1155 Benton Place, Pittsburgh, PA. The handwritten message reads: “Dear Dick and Fern, How are you? I am fine, Thank you so much for the cute card. I’m writing this from camp. Having a ball. Hoping to see you again sometime soon. Love Madeline.”