THIS IS HISTORICAL INFORMATION ONLY

Lighted Lantern Folk Dance Camp
Lighted Lantern
Folk Dance Camp
(Rocky Mountain Square Dance Camp)

1948 to 1967 History


It will be twenty years this summer since the beginning of the Rocky Mountain Square Dance Camp (RMSDC) at the Lighted Lantern on Lookout Mountain in Colorado. The praises of this small camp have not been widely or blaantly sung but it has persisted quietly and unpretentiously through good years and bad and very few people realize just how much it has done in training, inspiring, and encouraging many of our country's leading Square Dance callers and Round Dance instructors. More than one ambitious callers today have had their careers launched by haing been given the chance to serve on the staff of the Rocky Mountain Square Dance Camp.

Paul and Pauline Kermiet have been the Directors of this camp over these twenty years and during the early years of the camp they did most of the teaching, too. They were teaching Round Dancing when "Laces and Graces" and "Waltz of the Bells" were the hits of the season! They can remember giving the old "step-close-step" routine to many of the leading Round Dance instructors and dancers of today who were introduced to Round Dancing at the Lighted Lantern!

The Kermiets have six children--all who have been born and raised in the camp atmosphere and who now are all old enough to assume some of the responsibilities of operating the camp. The children all dance and sing, too, as well as work and are invaluable in creating a congenial atmosphere for the young people who come to camp with their parents.

Pauline wrote an article for the Viltis Folk Dance Magazine last year in which she said:

"For nineteen seasons we have been meeting 'our' kind of people at the Lighted Lantern and making wonderful friends over the years. We have had campers from nearly every state in the Union and from Canada and Hawaii. Many of them come back year after year and every camp session is like a home-coming! Our camp is small, but for that reason very personal and friendly. We started with more enthusiasm than money back in the early days of "dance camp" history when there were no other "square dance" camps ond only two other "folk dance" camps in operation -- both in the eastern part of the country. We silk-screened by hand our first brochures, and that first year operated a short ten-day camp with a total of twenty people, inclusing staff. Now our camp season extends through the months of July and August with week-long sessions--an International Folk Dance week, teachers workships in rhythm and dance, dance camps for children, and, most important, four fun-filled square dance weeks.

The Lighted Lantern has changed a great deal since that first ten-day camp. The campers no longer help harvest the garden vegetables or feed Annabelle, the pig, as they did then, but the food is still served family style and everyone helps with table duty when his name comes up on the KP list. The changes ahve taken place gradually, simple improvements accomplished mostly by the "do it yourself" process. Not only staff members and many friends but the campers themselves have contributed their time, interest, and effort to our efforts, making it possible for us to continue as we have done. Last year, one of our long-time square-dance-caller staff members did a professional-looking job reupholstering a chair. We have had college professors fixing the clothesline, a retired Naval Commander working on a plugged-up drain, and a commercial artist weeding the flower garden . . . If you should happen by the Lighted Lantern during the week before camp opens you could very well find yourself with a paint brush in your hand."

The Lighted Lantern is located on Lookout Mountain above the town of Golden, Colorado, and from the height of 7,460 feet, the camper has a view of Denver twenty miles away to the east and of the towering snow-capped Rockies to the west. At night from the open-front dance pavilion the lightes of Denver present an unforgettable spectacle of brilliance, with sometimes a full moon hanging over the lighted city.

The mountain air is brisk and "unsmoggy," the temperature wonderful most of the time--never too hot for dancing even in mid-August -- and one is never bothered by mosquitoes or gnats at this altitude. The camp buildings ar simple frame buildings for the most part and certainly nothing to brag about but they are clean and comfortable, equipped with indoor plumbing and all bedding is furnished. Because of the modest facilities, the camp fees have been kept unbelieveably low over the years, having been increased to only $63 per person for a full six days fromt the beginning rate of $40 per person in 1948.

Campers have often remarked that coming to camp at the Lighted Lantern for a week was cheaper than staing at home! The food has always been very good at the Lighted Lantern and Paul's Saturday steak frys on Colorow Point are famous. Ray SMith is the "chief chef" at this affair and it surely cannot be said that anyone ever left the Rocky Mountain Square Dance Camp hungry. Tired, yes, but never hungry!

Throughout the nienteen years of the Rocky Mountain Square Dance Camp's continuation many, many leaders and callers have come and gone. Two couples, who perhaps are more widely known than any others in the Round Dance field, Dr. Roger & Jean Knapp and Manning & Nita Smith, served for several years on the camp staff. They were the early unquestionable "leaders" in the art of Round Dancing and did more than any others have done in directing and stabilizing the rapid development of Round Dancing throughout the country. Dena Fresh was also a Round Dance instructor on the Lantern staff at one time. Surely every round dancer in the country at one time or another learned and danced some of Dena's many beautifully choreographed waltzes. Joe & Millie Urban were staff members for several years, as were Wally & Maxine Schultz, Jack & Na Stapleton, Date & Dot Foster, and Pete & Ann Peterman. Ernie & Naomi Gross were campers at the Lighted Lantern for five years, then served as Round Dance instructors (Ernie is also a caller) from 1957 through 1965 -- making fourteen years in all. The Round Dance instructors who are presently on the Lantern staff ware among the contemporary "best" in the field and most of them were campers at the Rocky Mountain Square Dance Camp before they became instructors -- Gene & Edna Arpfield, Bob & Helen Smithwick, Charley & Betty Proctor, Vaughn & Jean Parrish, and Don & Pete Hickman.

And of course there are many other former campers who are instructors now, have not been on the Lighted Lantern staff, but are doing outstanding work in their own areas, such as Les & Betty Houser, Glen & Beth McLeod, Jimmy & Vivian Holeman, Ed & Wanda Franks, Earl & Dora Frye -- to mention only a few. And the many fine callers who owe a certain portion of their sucdcess to the contacts, instructors, and prestige they have gained at the Rocky Mountain Square Dance Camp are too num erous to even try to mention here.

There are a great number of young people too, besied the Kermiets' six, who must feel that the Lighted Lantern has meant a great deal to them during the years of their growing up. Ray Smith's Sherry and Danny, Manning Smith's Sherry and Dee, the Knapp's duaghters, the Parrish trio, Bill and Judy Proctor, Ann and Susie Harris, and several other children of staff and campers have been given their first jobs and first responsibilities at camp. In many instances it is the children of the campers who insist on their parents coming back year after year. They ahve a great time.

The Rocky Mountain Square Dance Camp, I think, is the only camp that can boast of having "Outposts" in several places over the country. Ray & Millie Smith established the first Lighted Lantern Outpost in Dallas. All square dancers who had attended the Rocky Mountain Square Dance Camp and had a Lighted Lantern badge automatically became members of the Outpost, met regularly for dances, cemented their friendships, and had a wonderful time in general. Dodge City, Kansas, organized Outpost #2 and #3 was in Lincoln, Nebraska. Several others followed in rapid succession. There are now as many as 8 or 9 Lighted Lantern Outposts. At several of the National Conventions, special Lighted Lantern parties or dinners have been planned, usually with someone in the area of the National taking the lead in the planning. At the party in Des Moines, Iowa (a dinner planned by Jim & Phyllis Moore), Paul & Pauline came in late and the whole crowd started singing, "Why do you linger so long in bed?" Those of you who are Lighted Lantern campers know all about that!

Ray & Millie Smith were campers at the first camp held at the Lighted Lantern in 1948. They returned the following summer as staff members and, along with the Kermiets, have been the mainstay fo the staff ever since. For five years, 1953 to 1957, Butch Nelson of El Paxo, Texas, enlivened the camps with his crazy antics and after-party fun. Butch and Raymond took the lead in popularizing the stunts and after-party skits for which the Lighted Lantern is famous as the originator of such "goings-ons." Ray Smith's After Party Fun handbooks have sold hundreds of copies. "Talent Night" is a unique feature of the Lantern camps, as is "banquet night," which is planned around a different theme each year, complete with decorations, costumes, floor shows, and hilarious stunts originated by each table on the spur of the moment.

The caller who has been longest on the Lighted Lantern staff (next to Raymond Smith) is Johnny Le Clair. The 1967 season will make his 13th year. It will be the 9th year for Vaughn Parrish and Al Brownlee, the 8th year for Bob & Helen Smithwick, the 6th year for Gaylon Shull and Gene & Edna Arnfeld. These and all the other staff members, unmentioned here because of lack of space, have each given their own unique talents and personalities to make each and every week of the Rocky Mountain Square Dance Camp an unforgettable experience of fellowship and fun.


LIST OF RMSDC STAFF MEMBERS -- 1948-1966

1948
(10 days)
Paul & Pauline Kermiet - Rounds, Squares, Folk
Ruth White - Pianist, Song Leader
          Cooked in small kitchen which is now the laundry room.
          Danced on open concrete floor where present dining room is.
          Karen Kermiet was six months old.
          Chris Kermiet was two years old.
1949
(2 weeks)
Paul & Pauline Kermiet - Rounds, Folk, Folk Singing
Ray Smith - Squares
Fay Feree - Folk and Western Couple Dancing
Ed & Elsie Bossing - Folk
Ruth White - Pianist
Jean Ritchie - Song Leader
          Still cooked and served meals in Lodge.
          The one dance hall completed.
          Mary Evelyn Kermiet was four months old.
1950
(2 weeks)
Paul & Pauline Kermiet - Rounds, Folk
Ray Smith - Squares
Fay Feree - Folk
Ed & Elsie Bossing - Folk and Squares
Ruth White - Pianist
Edna Ritchie - Song Leader
          Kitchen added to dance hall but as yet no pantry or commissary.
          Pauline Kermiet pregnant with Jonny.
          Mary Evelyn Kermiet 14 months old.
          Except for Paul, Kermiet family in Denver most of the time.
1951
(2 weeks)
Paul Kermiet - Rounds, Folk
Edna Ritchie and Pat Deardorff help Paul with Rounds, Folk
Ray Smith - Squares
Bill Mitchell - Squares
Fay Feree - Folk
Edna Ritchie - Folk Singing and Play Party Games
          Added new dormitory (Nights of Gladness) with plans for another dance hall.
          Kermiet family still living in Denver.
1952
(2 weeks)
Paul Kermiet & Pauline Kermiet - Rounds
Pat Deardorff helps Paul with Rounds
Bill Mitchell - Squares
Ed & Elsie Bossing - Folk and Squares
Edna Ritchie - Folk Singing
Ruth White - Pianist
Paul & Gretel Dunsing - Folk
          Open dance hall finished
          Kermiet family living back on mountain in house near riding stables.
          Kathleen Kermiet 3 months old.
1953
(3 weeks)
Paul Kermiet & Pat Deardorf - Rounds
Ray Smith - Squares
Bill Mitchell - Squares
Butch Nelson - Squares, After-Parties
Bill Castner - Squares
Kirby Todd - Song Leader, Children's Activities
Joe & Millie Urban - Rounds
          Pauline Kermiet in Kentucky during camp, pregnant with Paula.
1954
(4 weeks)
Paul Kermiet & Pauline Kermiet
Ray Smith - Squares
Bill Mitchell - Squares
Butch Nelson - Squares, After-Parties
Al Scheer - Squares
Mike Michele - Squares
Kirby Todd - Song Leader, Children's Program
Joe & Millie Urban - Rounds
          Kermiet family had started construction on home across road from camp.
          Paula Kermiet 11 months old.
1955
(6 weeks)
Paul Kermiet & Pauline Kermiet
Ray Smith - Squares
Bill Mitchell - Squares
Butch Nelson - Squares, After-Parties
Al Scheer - Squares
Paul Phillips - Squares
Kirby Todd - Song Leader, Children's Program
Roger & Jean Knapp - Rounds
          Kermiet family had moved into new home across the road from camp.
1956
(4 weeks)
Paul Kermiet & Pauline Kermiet
Ray Smith - Squares
Bill Mitchell - Squares
Johnny LeClair - Squares
Lloyd Fraezee - Squares
Roger & Jean Knapp - Rounds
Manning & Nita Smith - Rounds
1957
(4 weeks)
Paul Kermiet & Pauline Kermiet
Ray Smith - Squares
Bill Mitchell - Squares
Johnny LeClair - Squares
Butch Nelson - Squares
Al Scheer - Squares
Manning & Nita Smith - Rounds
Ernie & Naomi Gross - Rounds
Jo Keller and Gerry Twinn - Rounds
1958
(5 weeks)
Paul Kermiet & Pauline Kermiet
Ray Smith - Squares
Johnny LeClair - Squares
Butch Nelson - Squares, After-Parties
Al Scheer - Squares
Bill Castner - Squares
Dean Snider - Squares
Virg Knackstedt - Squares
Joe & Millie Urban - Rounds
Pete & Ann Peterman - Rounds
Jack & Na Stapleton - Rounds
Ernie & Naomi Gross - Rounds
Gretchen Castner - Children's Program
1959
(5 weeks)
Paul Kermiet & Pauline Kermiet
Ray Smith - Squares
Johnny LeClair - Squares
Vaughn Parrish - Squares
Al "Tex" Brownlee - Squares
Harper Smith - Squares
Bill Castner - Squares
Dave Taylor - Squares
Kirby Todd - Song Leader, Children's Program
Roger & Jean Knapp - Rounds
Jack & Na Stapleton - Rounds
Ellwyn & Dena Fresh - Rounds
Joe & Millie Urban - Rounds
Ernie & Naomi Gross - Rounds
Bill & Mary Lynn - Rounds
1960
(5 weeks)
Paul Kermiet & Pauline Kermiet
Johnny LeClair - Squares
Vaughn Parrish - Squares
Al "Tex" Brownlee - Squares
Harper Smith - Squares
Jim Moore - Squares
Don Roberts - Squares
Bill Pappan - Squares
Bill Castner - Squares
Bill & Mary Lynn - Rounds
Ernie & Naomi Gross - Rounds
Wally & Maxine Schultz - Rounds
Bob & Helen Smithwick - Rounds
Jerry Joris - Folk, Children's Program
Fred & Mary Enholm - Folk
1961
(5 weeks)
Paul Kermiet & Pauline Kermiet
Johnny LeClair - Squares
Vaughn Parrish - Squares
Wally Schultz - Squares
Harper Smith - Squares
Don Roberts - Squares
Johnny Jones - Squares
Jerry Haag - Squares
Ernie & Naomi Gross - Rounds
Bob & Helen Smithwick - Rounds
Date & Dot Foster - Rounds
Vaughn & Jean Parrish - Rounds
Wally & Maxine Schultz - Rounds
1962
(4 weeks)
Paul Kermiet & Pauline Kermiet
Johnny LeClair - Squares
Vaughn Parrish - Squares
Al "Tex" Brownlee - Squares
Wally Schultz - Squares
Jerry Haag - Squares
Ernie Gross - Squares
Gaylon Shull - Squares
Bob & Helen Smithwick - Rounds
Ernie & Naomi Gross - Rounds
Vaughn & Jean Parrish - Rounds
Wally & Maxine Schultz - Rounds
Gene & Edna Arnfield - Rounds
Fred & Mary Enholm - Folk
1963
(4 weeks)
Paul Kermiet & Pauline Kermiet
Johnny LeClair - Squares
Vaughn Parrish - Squares
Al "Tex" Brownlee - Squares
Wally Schultz - Squares
Johnny Jones - Squares
Gaylon Shull - Squares
Emery Wilson - Squares
Charles Leet - Squares
Bill Copeland - Squares
Bob & Helen Smithwick - Rounds
Gene & Edna Arnfield - Rounds
Vaughn & Jean Parrish - Rounds
Wally & Maxine Schultz - Rounds
Ernie & Naomi Gross - Rounds
1964
(4 weeks)
Paul Kermiet & Pauline Kermiet
Ray Smith - Squares
Johnny LeClair - Squares
Vaughn Parrish - Squares
Gaylon Shull - Squares
Al "Tex" Brownlee - Squares
Johnny Jones - Squares
Wally Schultz - Squares
Sal Fanara - Squares
Willard Riddell - Squares
Ernie Gross - Squares
Bob & Helen Smithwick - Rounds
Gene & Edna Arnfield - Rounds
Charley & Betty Proctor - Rounds
Wally & Maxine Schultz - Rounds
Vaughn & Jean Parrish - Rounds
          Kermiet family moved in October to Lookout Mountain Lodge
1965
(4 weeks)
Paul Kermiet & Pauline Kermiet
Ray Smith - Squares
Johnny LeClair - Squares
Vaughn Parrish - Squares
Gaylon Shull - Squares
Sal Fanara - Squares
Johnny Jones - Squares
Al "Tex" Brownlee - Squares
Willard Riddell - Squares
Ernie Gross - Squares
Bob & Helen Smithwick - Rounds
Gene & Edna Arnfield - Rounds
Charley & Betty Proctor - Rounds
Don & Pete Hickman - Rounds
Ernie & Naomi Gross - Rounds
1966
(4 weeks)
Paul Kermiet & Pauline Kermiet
Ray Smith - Squares
Johnny LeClair - Squares
Vaughn Parrish - Squares
Gaylon Shull - Squares
Al "Tex" Brownlee - Squares
Willard Riddell - Squares
Beryl Main - Squares
Frances Zeller - Squares
Bob & Helen Smithwick - Rounds
Gene & Edna Arnfield - Rounds
Charley & Betty Proctor - Rounds
Don & Pete Hickman - Rounds
Vaughn & Jean Parrish - Rounds
          Chris and Jon Kermiet were dishwashers.
          Karen Kermiet assisted the cook.
          Evelyn Kermiet worked in the commissary.
          Kathy and Paula Kermiet were table-hoppers.