Camp History

In 1925 Lew Wentz began work on his "castle" by donating the site for the present Wentz Camp. An old farmhouse served as mess hall for campers. The farmhouse was later torn down, and in 1928 construction started. The first significant structure was a custom built water tower, topped by an observation deck. The combined water tank and lookout held 30,000 gallons of water which was used as a general supply for the camp. The tower or cylindrical portion is 7 feet in diameter and 75 feet high and encloses a circular stairway which extends through the tank to a platform or lookout 10 feet 6 inches in diameter. The observation point, which is 94 feet above the ground, was surrounded by a lattice fence and was originally equipped with telescope and search lights.

The swimming pool was soon added, followed by walls, crenellated towers, gateways, cabins, guard houses, pavilions and terraces--all constructed of locally quarried sandstone. The pool is 50 feet wide by 150 feet long and varies in depth from 3 1/2 feet at one end to 10 1/2 feet under the diving boards. It was finished in white and blue granite tile.

Fifty-eight submarine lights made it possible to see the bottom of the pool at all times. The pool held 310,000 gallons of water and required 10 hours for filling and could be emptied in 22 minutes. The swimming pool was large enough for regulation swim meets.

Wentz Camp and Pool was set up under the Ponca City Educational Camp, Inc., a trusteeship, and was open to organized recreational, religious and educational groups of young people. Originally to be a Boy Scout Camp, the scouts were only a small part of the number of visitors.

One of the closing features each year was the Wentz Bathing Beauty Revue, at which little girls - "unmarried ladies under 12" - competed in two divisions for the titles of "Baby Ponca" (under age 5) and "Miss Ponca City" (ages 6-12). In 1933 Wentz Pool was the location for the State beauty contest to select Oklahoma's young lady for the "Miss America" contest in Atlantic City.