Old Kia Kima youth camp near Hardy, Arkansas

Old Kia Kima Heritage

On an unseasonably chilly day in mid-July 1993 we stood there as 55-year-old men contemplating the place and the ruins of our beloved Kia Kima Scout camp. This was the place where we had started our treks into manhood some 35 years ago. Without a spoken word, we simultaneously realized that the Spirit of Kia Kima had been lying dormant in our hearts. The Kia Kima Spirit was awakening us to the fact that this sacred bit of land - where the river runs through it - was once again longing for the sounds of youthful voices. We knew then that we must do something to honor this sacred place and to pass on the Legacy of the Kia Kima Spirit.

While milling around the remaining walls of our beloved Thunderbird Lodge an ominous black cloud appeared overhead, accompanied by a chilling wind blowing the top limbs of the trees and giving us a sense of presence of kindred spirits who had shared these sacred grounds with us. It was then that we finally rediscovered our Kia Kima heritage. Our journey to Old Kia Kima was beginning. We came to realize what it was to know the place for the first time:

"We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time."
-- T.S. Eliot

If you are new to Kia Kima or if you are one of those who have memories of your years in or around Hardy, Arkansas, we offer you an opportunity to help create a part of the Kia Kima history that you made or observed. Our intent is to leave for the youth of today and tomorrow a history and legacy so that they too might be enriched by the Spirit of Kia Kima. We hope that you will take part in this effort.

Legacy of the Kia Kima Spirit

The Kia Kima Spirit is our legacy. Words can only vaguely capture the passion of our legacy. It not only consists of the memories and traditions but also of enduring values acquired and nurtured at Kia Kima, values which contributed immeasurably to the process of shaping young boys into men. The presence of this Spirit is evident when alumni gather to express their thoughts and feelings about Kia Kima, both the original camp Kia Kima and the newer relocated Kia Kima Scout Reservation. We invite you to read Reflections from the April Campfire, April 2005, by Jim Moore to sense the treasures behind that Spirit, our Kia Kima Legacy.

Although most of us started our association with Kia Kima as part of a Scout Patrol, a Troop or camp staff, in reality the most meaningful experiences were individual ones. Read Its Influence on One Man's Life by Mike Bowman for one example. Groups provided fellowship and opportunities for learning, but the camp - the place - had its deepest and most lasting impact on us as individuals. This legacy ... this Spirit ... became part of us during our youth, and has subtly grown over the years to become a passion within us as aging adults. Although the old camp had closed and its buildings had lain in ruins for 40 years, we had vivid memories of the cabins, trails, waterfront and the Church in the Wildwood. Those memories have lived on as an oral tradition by those touched by it ... by those who embraced it and made it their own.

To understand the power of the Kia Kima Spirit is to witness the creation of OKKPA. Beginning in 1993, that Spirit brought together and bonded a group of men and women in another great adventure ... the rebirth of old camp Kia Kima ... a rebirth through restoration and utilization. It is through the restoring and use of the camp that we intend to pass on the Kia Kima Spirit to succeeding generations. The deepest and most lasting impact will surely be evident among those individuals who reflect on experiences on the South Fork ... with a willingness to share them with others. Through restoration efforts, Kia Kima has become a place where younger generations have opportunities to learn from their elders and where elders can learn from young people. Our challenge is to provide the means for others to see and feel the Spirit of Kia Kima. As we do this, they too may become true brothers and sisters of the South Fork. We must plant the seeds, allow them time to germinate and then cultivate the growth to fruition.

Sharing and Passing the Legacy

Our challenges are our opportunities to create an environment where the Spirit Legacy of Kia Kima is felt and acknowledged by the young people of today and tomorrow. The circumstances contributing to the original Kia Kima Spirit cannot be recreated ... the place, the times and the people are different today. Our opportunities include influencing attitudes and behaviors ... planting the seed of the Kia Kima Spirit for each individual and for each group. Our Mission Statement and our Core Values are guiding us toward inevitable success.

Our Mission:

Preserve the place, honor the vision of all who have shared in the spirit of the South Fork waters and provide an environment where elders may pass on knowledge and experience, enriching and shaping the lives of young people today.

OKKPA is most fortunate to have advanced its mission by adding to its rolls another generation of men and women who are picking up the torch and carrying it forward to even younger generations. The genuine interest exhibited by men from the Kia Kima Scout Reservation and the women of the former Girl Scout Kamp Kiwani and former YWCA Camp Miramichee represent giant leaps forward in terms of our continuing efforts to recapture and spread the rich heritage of Kia Kima. Their proactive involvement is in many respects our first step toward ensuring not only the future of Old Kia Kima but also the preservation of its heritage.

Old Kia Kima is not associated with the Boy Scouts of America or Chickasaw Council, BSA.
Old Kia Kima Preservation Association is responsible for Old Kia Kima and this website.