I love camping and one of my favorite places to camp is Knoebels Amusement Park in Elysburg, Pennsylvania. Their motto is to make memories the old-fashioned way. We meet up with my Aunt Sally and her family for camping fun. It is one of my favorite places in the world, it is right up there with Disney World. I love our trips because it's a time to hear Aunt Sally cackle with laughter, eat smores and enjoy each other. It feels like we are in the middle of nowhere, without a care in the world but yet we are somewhere very special. Knoebels is America's largest free-admission amusement park where you only pay for the rides, there is no admission fee to walk around. The park is disability-friendly and pet friendly. The campground that we stay at is right next to it and within walking distance. Once we park our van, we walk everywhere we need or want to go.
When we first started going to Knoebels twenty years ago, we had a tent. It was this small four-man red dome tent. When it rained as it often did when we went, my mom and I would have to retreat to the van crammed with all our stuff to keep it dry. I would watch movies while everyone else was huddled under the awning of my Aunts camper.
The pool is on fire
One rainstorm was quite scary. Thankfully, we no longer used a tent, we had a camper by then. It had been raining all day but that night the rain was so intense that the park flooded. At two o'clock in the morning, staff came through the campground yelling on a loudspeaker that the pool was on fire and the campground needed to be evacuated.
The video shows a pool on fire.
Wait, what? The pool is on fire? Mom quickly got me out of my bed, dressed, in my wheelchair, and into the van ready to be whisked away at 2 am. Keep in mind that the wheelchair was stored in the van and had to be retrieved from the van then me out of the camper and then back into the van-- No quick feat. Twenty minutes later, the staff came back to the campgrounds and said we need to stay put because the road was flooded. Back to the camper, I go. The next morning as we ventured out of our camper and looked around us, we saw nothing but destruction. Tents and tarps were demolished. The people who had been staying in them were gone. When we went to the park to survey the damage there, all we saw was water. The flood line had risen to over 10 feet. The park was closed due to flooding. Unbelievably so, the park was reopened two days later. All the damage caused by the flood was gone. It was amazing.
The video shows the flood of 2006 and the water creating rapids within the park
It turns out the pool fire was because the chemicals had floated out of the storeroom and were indeed on fire floating on top of the pool water. Most of the time though the sun would be shining and we would all trek to the park. My favorite rides were the log flume, Paratroopers, Skloosh, and the Flyers. My mom even snuck me onto the Twister, the largest wooden rollercoaster in the park. That was the first and last time I ever went on the rollercoaster. Somewhere I have a picture to prove it. I used to ride the log flume, over and over and over again, now though I am not allowed on it. The park changed its rules and can no longer stop the ride for me to get safely off and on.
I have a new favorite ride, the Whipper. This ride has an open carriage for a seat and is attached to a cable. You get “Whipped” around the curve and slide into whoever is riding with you. The best way to ride this ride is just before you hit the curve, raise your arms over your head and say “Whooo”. After you are whipped around the curve place your hands tightly on the safety bar. Repeat at the next curve.
Not only do they have the best rides, but the food has also been voted the best Carnival food in the nation. They have even been featured on the Food Network. Every time we go, we beeline it to the tater triangles and ice cream sandwiches. It is hard to describe how tasty these tater triangles are, they are like little triangles of love and hashbrowns, rolled into one. Then it is off to the ice cream sandwiches. They used to be better, but now they are okay. I remember the fresh hot waffle surrounding a slab of Neapolitan ice cream. It was heaven. The best part by far is Cesari’s Hawaiian Pizza (Sadly they changed the pizza company after COVID) followed up by a 6-scoop banana split. Every time we go to the park we order the pizza, wait a good 30 minutes for it, and devour it in seconds. The same holds true for the banana split. That’s what I love about Knoebels, the feeling of home and tradition. Some things never change.
We have graduated from tent camping to an 18-foot camper I call Melody. Every year we race to the park before my Aunt, to try to get there first so that we can easily pull into the best spot. We reserve the same spots every year and talk about how we should reserve the spots around the corner. We never do, I love the tradition of it, though. I used to look forward to the mornings at the campground. This was when my dad and uncle would go golfing and we girls and Kyle would, play games. Now we go to the pool with my second cousin, Matix, he’s 11.
I love the pool. It is beautiful and I can be rolled right into the pool and float around. They have a special access ramp that I roll a manual wheelchair down and then transfer to my float, just like I did at summer camp. I thought I would miss playing games, but the pool is wonderful and so relaxing. I could float forever. It's also a bargain at $7 a day, you pay your money and get your hand stamped. You can come back and forth to the pool until sunset. Whatever you do, though, don't forget your sunscreen.
The most relaxing time is sitting around the campfire, telling stories, and roasting marshmallows. Camping would not be complete without s'mores. Every year we either try a different kind of marshmallow, the caramel ones are gross, or add something like peanut butter, which is delicious. No matter how you look at it laughing with your family and creating lasting memories is priceless.
I have so many memories, the good and the bad of our annual camping trip to Knoebels. They do deliver on their motto of making memories the old-fashioned way. Some of the best stories are about when we were camping, there is not enough room to share them all. One thing is for sure, though, we start planning our next year's trip the day we leave. I enjoy the simple things in life, family, fun, and making memories the old fashion way. So if you haven’t been to Knoebel's, it's worth the trip. Have no fear, if it rains and the pool catches fire, it will only be a momentary delay to your fun.
Thank you for reading until the end!
This is the view from my wheelchair, where miracles can make a difference. Always Strive for the Impossible. Come back next week to see the double meaning of A and hear more about my experiences and The View From My Wheelchair.