July 30 is the grand opening of a place once very dear to my heart. Shannon County’s Echo Bluff State Park will become the crown jewel in what is considered by some to be one of the best state park systems in our nation.
Called by many a financial boondoggle that will serve as a monument to a failed governorship and heralded by those that exemplify the worst of graft in our political process, I doubt that it will nationally remove the stain of an executive that commanded troops to stand idle while businesses burned under his watch.
It will never in his political lifetime overshadow the deteriorating movement to which he helped give life; a movement that has actually increased crime and deaths among its target audience and continues to thrive on inaccuracies and untruths.
But let’s consider what it will do, or more importantly might do. And for that; first let’s remember what it was.
Camp ZOE was started by teachers in 1929 amidst the Great Depression. Teachers “Mac” and Margaret McMahan brought children to the beauty and serenity of the Ozarks on a few hundred acres that encompassed a nice stretch of Sinkin’ Creek.
For up to two months students of diverse ages were instructed in archery and canoeing; treated to swimming lessons and campfire stories. Urban kids grew physically and emotionally while forging friendships that lasted lifetimes.