Branson, MO Trip

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5

Day 1

Good Evening Camp Courageous,

Happy Birthday, Brandon Clark!!

What a great day we had on our journey to Branson, MO!! Not only were we excited about visiting Branson, it was great to celebrate Brandon’s birthday at the same time.

We started st Camp where we met Dean Hogan from Tipton, IA. When then made our way to Marion, where we picked up Ben Pedersen and Shane Hughes. After saying goodbye to their folks, we made the drive to Coralville, where we picked up the majority of our travelers, Brandon Clark, Chris Weir, Laurie Ruth, Dennis Jacobsen, Jerry Seydel. Once that group was checked in, we made our way to Four Corners in Ainsworth where we picked up Terry Knight.

During our drive to Missouri, we listened to some great music and stopped for lunch at Wendy’s. After lunch we drove further into Missouri where we met our last traveler, Katie Berrey at a travel stop in Kingdom City, MO. Once we picked up Katie, we made our way to Ozark Missouri to eat at the famous restaurant Lambert’s! Home of the thrown rolls!! The travelers were pumped up about the thrown rolls and all the extra fixn’s they had to offer. We watched two movies along the way, The Peanuts movie and Willy Wonka, both classics on Camp Courageous trips.

We arrived at Lamberts around 5pm and we were ready to eat. They sat us right away and we made sure to watch out for the flying rolls. Before we knew it, we were asking for our Hot Rolls! Along with rolls, people were passing out fried okra, molasses, fried potatoes, black eyed peas, and macaroni and tomatoes. These were extra, on top of the food we ordered. Some people had meatloaf, fried chicken, pork, and traveler Chris Weir had fried frog legs. He loved them! Did I mention that they serve our drinks in 32 once jug. It’s huge!! Some of the travelers bought the jugs, they were amazed.

Once we were stuffed, and I mean STUFFED! We finished our drive to Branson. It only took 40 minutes to get to Branson from Lamberts and we arrived at Stormy Village around 7pm. We are trying out this resort like complex and it is beautiful. We have two houses, right next to each other and it is perfect! We have to cook our own breakfast, but it is worth it! The travelers are so relaxed and enjoying this home away from home.

A fun story about this evening. I walk into the welcome center and the manager says hi and I say hi back, of course with an enthusiasm “HI!”. I say, “I’m checking in!” So the manager hands me a list and a pen. I look at the list and it reads “housekeeping!” I looked up and I looked down and then I looked up again thinking, “what’s this?” I look at the ladies at the desk and I say, “What do I do with this?” They look at me and we all just start laughing! They thought I was housekeeping coming in. With the lanyard on and the work hat, I do look like I’m working, not on vacation lolol! The manager was so apologetic and we just kept laughing. I introduced her to a new word, “Gomer!” It was a hilarious. She felt so bad that she grabbed a bunch of cookies and gave them to our group. It was hilarious. It’s not the first time someone thought I worked for a certain business.

Anyways, it was a great day and I am so happy to be with all my friends! I do want to mention that one traveler didn’t get to make it on this trip, so I hope they are doing better!

Tomorrow is a busy day, have a great night everyone and we will talk again soon.

Peace,

The Travel Team


Day 2

Good Evening Camp Courageous,

It was such a great first day in Branson. We had a lot in store for our group and everyone was well rested for the day. These houses we are staying in are very comfortable, with lots of space and the best part, we get to make our own meals. Everyday we are having a delicious breakfast prepared for our travelers. This morning, the travelers enjoyed some eggs, fried potatoes, and fresh fruit. If they were still hungry, they would enjoy some cereal or oatmeal. They had a choice of Apple Juice, Milk, and Orange Juice for their drink of choice. We go all out for our travelers and they really appreciated it.

Once everyone had their fill, we made our way to the College of the Ozarks. When we arrived, we were a little early, so our tour guide wasn’t out of class yet. So we got off the bus and toured a veteran memorial site, it was pretty cool. Before we knew it, Andrew, our tour guide met us at the memorial and introduced himself. We then boarded back on the bus, where Andrew began to tell us about the College. The College is 111 years old, it was originally a high school until 1956. Now it has grades 4 year old preschool to graduates in college. They have 40 different majors and 40 different minors. There is a total of 1600 students attending this college. The best thing about this school. The students work, sleep, and go to school Tuition free. So they do not have any loans when they leave college! The catch? Work on campus and help each other out making it the best Christian College. Everywhere we visited, was either built by the students or hand crafted by the students. One important building was the Women’s memorial Chapel. It was built by high school students and it took them 12 years to build. We had a chance to tour the church and it was a pretty cool.

After we visited the church, Andrew had a surprise for us. Some free samples of fruitcake! Yes, the students make fruitcakes as well, they also make homemade custard and ice cream. They raise their own cows! This campus make 100 pounds of fruit cakes a day and 20,000 a year! Crazy!! But I am not going to tell you how they compare to camps fruitcake. Try camps first and then go down to Branson to try their free samples. Other things that the students make and sale are stained glass, candles, roasted almonds, and basket making. Everyone seems busy but also seem very happy.

After we toured the fruitcake/ice cream/everything else building Andrew brought on a surprise. We drew a name out of a bag and traveler Terry Knight won 1 pound of a fruitcake. He was so excited to receive it. Before we knew it; it was coming to the end of our tour. Andrew showed us a couple more buildings which we toured later, like the stain glass shop and the almond store. This was after lunch. Speaking of lunch, it was time to eat, and so we made our way to the College main restaurant at the Keeter center. We were greeted right away and brought into a room, called the presidential room. On the big screen there was a “Welcome Camp Courageous” sign just for us. The table was set and we had three waiters/waitresses helping our group. The manager and the other three servers, introduced themselves and talked about there majors, they were all freshman. It was nice to get to know them and they were awesome with our travelers. Once introductions were done, the delicious food was brought right out to us. Roast beef, mash potatoes, and green beans, with a homemade roll and a chocolate moose cake. It was all scrumptious!

Once we were done, we shopped, made our way around to the other buildings on campus. Oh, before we left, we tried some delicious ice cream and it was good! But we were too full to buy any, which probably was a good thing! After our visit, we made our way to downtown Branson where we hopped on the Branson Railway to take a two hour tour through the beautiful wilderness of Missouri and Arkansas. On this train ride, we sat back, listened to our tour guide and enjoyed a wonderful ride. It was incredible just to stop and look at the scenery and marvel at all the beauty around us.

We had so much fun on the train ride, that it came to the end to quickly. We said our goodbyes to the conductors and shopped at their gift shop. It was a great tour and a busy day. After we were done, we made it back to Stormy Village, where a lot of the travelers had a chance to rest, while Melissa and I made a delicious chicken breast meal with sautéed veggies, fresh fruit, and mash potatoes. The travelers were stuffed and enjoyed every bite. We cleaned up our mess and before we knew it; it was time for our performance of the night, Legends in Concert!!

Travelers Katie Berrey, Jerry Seydel, Chris Weir, and Ben Pedersen were ready to see their favorite stars in Legends in Concert. What a great show for our travelers. I have never seen so happy of travelers as their favorite music stars came on stage. The stars of the night included, Alan Jackson, Michael Jackson, The Blues Brothers, Barbara Streisand, and Elvis. Oh, don’t let me forget about Santa. It was a holiday show, but all the stars sang their most popular songs and sang a little holiday songs as well. It was such a great evening. Lot’s of singing, dancing, (impersonator) Alan Jackson threw his guitar pick right toward Jerry Seydel and he was so thrilled to receive it!

It was such a great evening. Lot’s of fun things we did and to top it off with a Legends in Concert performance just made the day. Tomorrow we have another fun day planned, so stay tuned to all that is in store.

Have a great night!

Peace,

The Travel Team

 

 


Day 3

Good Evening Camp Courageous,

What a wonderful day we had in Branson on this second day of our adventures! This morning we had another delicious breakfast. This time pancakes, bacon, and fruit.

Once we were ready, the group ventured off to downtown Branson. We spent the morning shopping and riding on Sparky! What’s Sparky? He is a free trolley service through downtown Branson. We hopped on the trolley and listened to an audio of the city. It was a great tour and the traveler’s really enjoyed riding on Sparky.

Sparky dropped us off on Main Street right in front of a bunch of gift shops. Which was perfect because all they wanted to do was shop. So we went to quite a few stores to find the best souvenirs, which they all did!

We then walked down to the Branson Landing where we had Subway for lunch. After lunch, we visited one more gift shop, and it was a sweets gift shop. Our group has some sweet teeth! Before we knew it; it was time to head to our next activity. THE BRANSON TITANIC! Did you know that Branson had it’s very own Titanic museum? It is a fun museum that has a lot of items taken from the titanic and from individuals who gave the owner of this Titanic a lot of artifacts and pictures about the Titanic. When we arrived, our tour guide walked on board and welcomed us to the museum. He had a strong English accent and he really played the role of an English man. His name was Kevin and he stayed with us the entire time. He taught us about the history of the Titanic and all the cool facts that most people didn’t know about. One cool fact, the Titanic was made in Belfast Ireland and departed from England for it’s voyage to New York City. Forgot to mention, at the beginning of the tour, we all got boarding passes that had information about a certain person that was on the titanic. We got to find out if these people lived or died at the end of our tour. The different hands on activities we got to experience, was touching a very cold iceberg replica, putting coal in the furnace, putting our hands in cold water, and learning about the rescue boats on the Titanic. One cool item, is when the travelers had a chance to learn how to send morse code. They learned how to send a S.O.S. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take any pictures, so now all we have is our memories of this experience. At the end of the tour, we found out that our individuals, that were on our cards, all lived. So thank goodness our individuals lived, the travelers were excited about that.

After our visit, we thanked Kevin for showing us around and then we shopped. Once we were done, we made our way to Fajitas Locos Mexican Restaurant, where had a delicious dinner. We have had a lot of delicious meals and this one was no different. I HIGHLY recommend this restaurant.

When we were done eating, we danced to some good Mexican music and drove around the city to spend some time checking out the sites before going to the show for the night, called The Haygoods. We saw some pretty cool attractions that we never seen before. One of them was a glowing and flashy color Ferris wheel. It was pretty cool, and what we found out later, was that one of The Haywood brothers helped with the glowing and the flashy colors.

Before we knew it; it was time to watch THE HAYGOODS!! This band is a family band, 6 brothers and 1 sister. They were excellent. The show they put on was one of the best in Branson. The show was sold out, with over 20 charters present. The Haygoods were everywhere. Up the aisles, flying down from the rafters, throwing beach balls in the crowd, and sang some awesome songs. The first half of the show features the top hits of the band and the second part of the show was the Christmas performance. Yes, it’s the holiday season and the entire city is decked out in Christmas decor. It is difficult to explain how great this show is. This band has been together for 25 years and both their parents help out during and after the show. What a great family band. As we listened to the great music, you couldn’t help but also sing along. At one point we had all the Travelers dancing. It was a great time. We couldn’t post any videos, but there will be plenty of pictures in the blog.

By filling out an information form, we got a free video of tonights performance. So after the show, we said goodbye to the stars and got on board. We drew names out of the hat and traveler Lorie Ruth won the video. She was so excited. The inside cover was also signed by 3 of the performers.

Today was awesome and we had tons to do. Tomorrow we have more fun, so stay tuned to another fun day in Branson, MO!

Peace,

The Travel Team




Day 4

Good Evening Camp Courageous,

What an amazing week we are having in Branson. Have I mentioned how great it is staying in a house instead of a hotel. It feels like we are coming home and relaxing. We took advantage of breakfast and dinner at the house today and it was well received. This won’t be the last time we stay in houses like this. The travelers really enjoyed them.

This morning we began our day a little later than usual. Since we had late nights the past couple of nights, we made sure to take advantage of today and sleep in a little. Well, most of us did anyways. Breakfast was served at 9am, eggs, ham, cheesy potatoes, and fruit. We finished getting ready for the day and we made our way to the Showboat Branson Belle River Cruise. We were ready for more music and fun. When we arrived, we were welcomed by one of the staff and then made our way on the Belle.

Like everywhere in Branson, the Belle was decked out in Holiday attire and people were already saying Happy Holidays. It is such joyful week, especially during the Holidays. Once we loaded the Belle, we did a little shopping and made our way to our seats. The Belle has a stage and music was already playing as we entered the main dinning area. When we sat down, our waitress was waiting eagerly to help us and she was a dealt to have. We were served a salad to start our meal, then we had roast, chicken, mash potatoes, and green beans for our main course. Our drinks consisted of tea, lemonade or water. Our dessert was very different and awesome! We had ice cream cake! Oh man we were in heaven. The entire meal was delicious and it was worth it.

During our meal, we listened to some great music and enjoyed the wonderful acts that these performers put on for us. We took an intermission and walked the ship. One of the highlights included meeting the Captain. The travelers loved going in to meet the Captain. Before we knew it, it was time to head back in the theater to watch some more great acts. What a wonderful performance. One of the acts included Traveler Jerry Seydel up at the front dancing away with our waitress. He loves to dance and this made his night. I forgot to mention that while we were experiencing all this, the boat was moving across the river. We didn’t feel a thing or we didn’t even notice it. Even when we returned to the dock, we didn’t even know we were docked until the second to last song. After we did a standing ovation, we made our way out of the boat onto the dock and made our way to The Butterfly Palace. On our way to the Palace, we drew names from a hat and Shane Hughes won a photo ornament and Dean Hogan won a photo book. These items were given to us towards the end of the performance. They were excited.

If you ever come to Branson, I HIGHLY recommend The Butterfly Palace. It is one of the coolest places in Branson. They are lucky to have them. This place was so great to our travelers, they offered us a complimentary visit. We even had a tour guide and her name was Glory. She was so happy and excited to see our group. Glory welcomed us and took us straight upstairs to watch a documentary on the Monarch Butterfly. It was in 3D and it was pretty neat and we learned a lot about the great monarch migration. After we watch the documentary, we then made our way into the main exhibit. Here we saw TONS of butterflies. Travelers Brandon Clark, Jerry Seydel, and Shane Hughes had a chance to let butterflies out for the first time. When this happened, they and many other butterflies gravitated to Terry Knight. He didn’t know what to do, so with a smile he just stood their as the butterflies landed on him. We walked around the exhibit and saw many beautiful butterflies. We even had a chance to witness an angle that chances position, she was dressed up in all white.

When we were done, we exited the exhibit, which involved spinning around and checking our clothes to make sure we didn’t have any hitchhikers. Glory then took us back downstairs to visit the reptile exhibit. Glory brought out a lizard we got to touch it’s back and learn more about the reptiles/bugs they had on hand. Before we knew it, it was time to shop and head out. So we thanked Glory for a wonderful time and then made our way back to Stormy Point Village.

We had dinner at the house, which consisted of stir fry chicken and broccoli and carrots, potatoes, and fruit. It was a delicious meal and it wasn’t too heavy. Before we knew it, it was time to head to our final show of the night, The Grand Jubilee. This show is a must when coming to Branson, so many wonderful performers. They had two performances, one consisted of Holiday material and the other was their regular show. It was a good mix. In the show they had a comedian. So not only were we listening to some great music, but we also couldn’t stop laughing. If you look at the pictures on the blog, it’s the gentleman in orange who was making us laugh.

It was such a great performance we didn’t want this to come to an end. The travelers were dancing, singing, cheering, and loving every bit of the show. Traveler Ben Pedersen got so excited when he finally saw Santa Claus. On the intermission he told me how great it was to see Santa. I’m glad he showed up!

The show was two hours and it felt like it went way to fast. We had such a great time but it was coming down to the end. We saluted the amazing Veterans (Thank you for serving out country) and gave the crew a standing ovation as well.

It was another great day and the travelers didn’t want it to end. Traveler Laurie Ruth loves it so much, she wants to extend her vacation. What a great day and we have one more day full of fun.

Have a great night everyone!

Peace,

The Travel Team

 


Day 5

Good Evening Camp Courageous,

Before I begin this email. I would like to give a shout out to Volunteer Ashley Peterson. Her parents Linda and John Peterson came over to our group yesterday at the Show Boat. I didn’t get to put that in the blog yesterday, so I wanted to make sure I did tonight. Thank you Linda and John for stopping by, it was great to meet the parents of one of our great volunteers!!

Today was our final day in Branson. It has been such an amazing week in Branson. From the nice houses, to all the great people we met and the wonderful activities, we surely had a great time, it will be one of the most memorable trips to Branson. The travelers had a chance to sleep in again this morning, since we had a late night. The other house came walking into my house around 9am ready to chow down on some pancakes, sausage, fruit, cereal, and left over eggs. After they had their fill, we got ready to relax at the pool and for some hangout in the pool and hot tub. For the ones who didn’t swim, they played some card and board games. It was nice to hang out pool side.

After we swam and hung out at the pool, we made our way back to our houses. The travelers freshened up while Melissa whipped up some lunch. Which was Turkey/Ham sandwiches, fruit, and chips. Not a huge meal, because we had a feast waiting for us later on. Once we were done with lunch, we made our way to Branson’s Promised Land Zoo.

I would like to say that Branson’s Promised Land Zoo is one amazing place. When I set up this tour, I was hoping to get a reasonable price for our visit to the zoo, since we are a group. Instead the head director gave us a complementary tour of the zoo. What an amazing gesture. When we arrived at the zoo, I was expecting just a walk around the zoo, like we normally do at zoos, but Promised Land had other plans. They gave us the VIP treatment. We saw two amazing live shows, with some cool animals which the travelers got to pet. We then rode on a Safari Shuttle through the zoo, where we had a chance to feed were, alpaca, and camels. That was awesome, the animals came right to the bus and grabbed the food right out of the travelers hands. It was amazing! A couple of the camels put their heads right in the laps of Katie Berrey, Brandon Clark, and Jerry Seydel, just to grab all their food! It was so funny. We had such an awesome driver who told us some great facts about the animals and about Promised Land Zoo. I think he enjoyed showing our group around.

Once we were done with the Safari tour, we made our way to a private animal demonstration. Here two zoo keepers took out three awesome animals to show all of us and made sure each one of the travelers had a chance to pet them. They first brought out an animal that I cannot remember it’s name, but check out the pictures to see, traveler Dennis Jacobson said it looked like a squirrel with little alien hands. The second animal was a boa snake that lives in the desert. The final animal was a baby Kangaroo! This was a huge highlight! They brought the Kangaroo out in a carrier and had each traveler and volunteer hold and pet the Kangaroo. It was so cute to see our travelers hold this beautiful animal. Dean Hogan rocked the baby and Ben Pedersen sang him a song. It was great!! After we pet these cute animals, we then found ourselves feeding a ton of parakeets. It was great! We walked into their enclosure and fed them some bird seed. Which in turn, they climbed all over our shoes and ate that food quick off our stick and whatever was on our shoes.

This zoo was amazing and they really gave us the royal treatment. If you are ever in Branson, I highly recommend coming out and exploring the zoo. But don’t just get the general admission, go all out and experience everything this zoo has too offer. Thank you Promised Land Zoo!! We will be back again in the future.

Before we knew it, it was time for our final dinner and show of the week. The famous Dixie Stampede!! This is always a highlight on all our trips to Branson, so we couldn’t miss out. When we arrived, we were greeted by the groups department. They showed us in around the crowds, got our picture taken, and made our way to the pre-show area. When we arrived, we grabbed our souvenir boot drinks and saw a high school band playing and witnessed a southern band that was played by 3 brothers. They were awesome. Great songs and they made us laugh. This show was different from past years and they were good.

At 5pm, it was time to head towards our seats. So we made our way into the main area and took our seats. Immediately our waiter helped with drinks and started passing out our delicious meal. Whole Rotisserie Chicken, Hickory Smoked Barbecued Pork Loin, Creamy Vegetable Soup, Homemade Biscuit, Corn on the Cob, Herb-basted potato, and a apple crisp dessert! It was delicious! Check out their website to see the picture of all this food! Man I can see taste that chicken. Oh, if you visit, make sure to dip the biscuit in the soup, it’s delicious. While we ate, we watched the amazing show. The show was filled with live horses, Christmas musicals and tons of fun games. It was a great performance and the travelers sure loved it. We even had a chance to see Santa Claus and when we saw him, Ben Pedersen stood up and yelled “Hi Santa, You’re in my heart!” What a great guy!

The arena is split into two sides, the North and the South. We were the North and we cheered on the North horses riders. At the end of the performance, both sides ended up tie-ing. There were a lot of cheers and laughs. It was a great time.

After the show we made our way to our last gift shop experience and hopped back on the bus. The travelers thought it was all over, but we had one more surprise up our sleeves. We made our way back to Branson’s Promised Land Zoo for their safari christmas light display. The travelers jumped for joy, when we showed up. This was all part of the zoos amazing package that they generously gave us, the royal treatment. We drove through the light display and saw so many beautiful lights. As we toured the loop, we sang classic christmas songs, for example, 12 days of Christmas, Frosty the Snowman, Joy to the World, and Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer. At the end of the tour, there was a final sign that read, “Have a Very Merry Christmas!”

What a great way to end our trip. Tomorrow we head back to Iowa. We will stop at Arby’s for lunch and drop off traveler Katie Berrey. Then we drop off travelers in Ainsworth, Coralville, Marion, and then back to Camp. Have a great night everyone and please pray and wish safe travels for us.

Peace,

The Travel Team

 

 

 

 

 

2 Responses

  1. Julie Pedersen says:

    thanks Rolando for the great summary! wish we could be there too! Julie

  2. leanne mayhrw says:

    am glad you guy had fun i wish i was there