We had the opportunity to speak with Rod Kampman about the Riverview Conference Center in Cedar Falls. Not only does he have a great name (Camp-Man) he also knows a thing or two about camping in Northern Iowa – and the “Barn Happy”. Listen to our full interview here:
Riverview Conference Center
Camp Iowa: We’re talking to Rod Kampman. He is the Executive Director at the Riverview Conference Center there, in Cedar Falls, Iowa. How’s it going this morning, Rod?
Rod Kampman: Good. Beautiful day.
Camp Iowa: Oh, and we all can’t complain up here either. We’re up in Minneapolis, Minnesota and it’s gorgeous here.
Rod Kampman: Yeah.
Camp Iowa: So, let’s talk a little bit about how this Riverview Conference Center got its start and when you guys got started.
Rod Kampman: Well, it actually started back in 1921 by the Methodist Church. And they built some cabins out here, mostly for the pastors of the churches and they started having bible conferences. And I believe it was in ’86 or ’87, things weren’t going real well, so a group of guys got together and formed a Board of Directors and purchased the 27 acres from the Methodist Church for a dollar, and here we are today and we’ve got a large auditorium actually. It seats about thirteen to fourteen hundred people.
Camp Iowa: Wow.
Rod Kampman: And then we have what we call a Retreat Center. It sleeps about 50 people with the kitchen and shower. And then we have Fellowship Hall that seats about 250 people, where we can have meetings or serve dinners. So, it’s taken a couple years.
Camp Iowa: Yeah, it looks like you guys have grown a lot since maybe the initial couple cottages that they built, because on the website here it says that you now have over 50.
Rod Kampman: Yes, I believe an accurate number would be closer to 70.
Camp Iowa: Wow!
Rod Kampman: And as we speak, we have some new ones being built.
Camp Iowa: Okay, and what are the most popular activities? When you have guests come there, I imagine that they attend services, and what other kinds of things do they do on the grounds?
Rod Kampman: We have a playground for kids. We have what we call The Hill. There’s a cross up on the bluff that overlooks the Cedar River, and we have picnic tables and seating up there with a campfire. And we do some campfire singing and just all kinds of outdoor things. We have potlucks twice a year for the cabin owners. So, we try to have functions that involve everybody, but still invite the public.
Camp Iowa: Okay. Now, if I was staying there for the weekend and I wanted to venture out a bit, maybe into Cedar Falls and the surrounding area, what are some other attractions that are worth checking out?
Camp Iowa: What’s your favorite thing to do when you have a little bit of downtime?
Rod Kampman: Well, we usually find some friends to go out to eat and sometimes we travel for the weekend, but as far as the Cedar Falls area, our campground is about half a mile from the Unidome. University of Northern Iowa, and so we like to attend the football games, volleyball games, and basketball games.
Camp Iowa: Okay. And if I was just coming to spend just one night in the Riverview Conference Center, where would you send me specifically? What do you think the best spot is to be there?
Rod Kampman: Well, we have two brand new cabins, but since they’re brand new, they’re not really cabins. They’re more like a house. But they’re very nice. But we have a couple of nice cabins that are modern, have bathrooms and everything, but they’re really good cabins and there’s lots of trees here. So, we’d put you in a cabin where you felt like you were really out camping.
Camp Iowa: Sure. Sure.
Rod Kampman: With all the benefits.
Camp Iowa: All right. Well, that’s all I have for you today. Thanks for taking some time out of your morning to chat with us about Cedar Falls and the area, and also the Riverview Conference Center and what you guys have to offer there.
Rod Kampman: Well, you’re welcome. I appreciate the call.