Throughout history, stories are passed down by word of mouth from generation to generation. In every family, hidden behind the get-togethers, the Christmas presents, and the problems present in all families, there lies a unique story about the foundation of the family, and how it became what it is today. Two generations ago, starting with my grandparents, something happened to my family that has affected even me, and the way I grew up. This is the story of a father, a grandfather and a builder; a builder that not only constructs buildings, but also lifetimes to come.
When my mother was a child, she grew up on one hundred acres of farmland in Dover, Pennsylvania, with her parents, Floyd and Delores Shoemaker. She grew up with three brothers and one sister. As a young man, my grandfather built many of the local houses in York County. My grandmother was a housewife, and stayed home most of the time raising my mother and her four siblings. My grandfather has a love for building and carpentry, which is why he carried out his next achievement
In 1966, my grandfather bought a plot of land between two branches of the Conewago Creek. The piece of land was obviously an island and was only accessible by a set of bridges that met on the end of the island. He also purchased a nearby two-story house, and an old, run-down feed mill, which would become the office for his business. With the newly purchased land, and a new place to call home, Floyd built a campground called “Flo-De-On,” the first campground in York County. Since I wasn’t sure how it was named, I asked him myself. My grandfather is 73 years old, and is a slow walker, but a humorous and powerful speaker who served in the Korean War. He told me that the “Flo” stood for Floyd and that “De” stood for Delores, the first few letters in each of their names. I said my grandpa was humorous and will sometimes crack a joke, but I thought it was strange when he told me that the “On” stood for his “ornery” kids. I’ve heard the term used before so I asked my mom, and she said that’s what the name stood for, so I guess I can’t argue with that!
Flo-De-On flourished and became a nice source of income for my grandfather and his family, but for wintertime, when the campground was closed, they needed a second source of income. My grandfather turned the old feed mill into an office for the campground and the upstairs into five single apartments, which he rented out during the winter months.
In 1972 and 1975 they experienced some hardships with the beauty of an island camping. Hurricane Agnes, in 1972, and another small hurricane, in 1975, caused flooding, which destroyed many of the campers’ equipment along with a lot of my grandpa’s equipment that he had worked hard for. He didn’t have insurance on anything because no one offered insurance for natural disasters. Despite these problems, he continued onward.
Flo-De-On, despite its problems, was actually so big of a success that my grandfather needed more room for camping sites. There wasn’t much room on an island for trailers after all. Down the road, not far from his new home and business, he acquired yet another small plot of land in 1975. This land was on top of a hill in a forest of pine trees on Pine Hill Road. Respectively, he named the plot Pine Hill Campground. With some new land and a cleared section of the woods, my grandfather set up and operated yet another area for camping.
Quickly and surely, Pine Hill Campground filled with campers in the small area that he owned. With Flo-De-On’s future at a constant risk of flooding, and the small but secure Pine Hill Campground, my grandfather still desired to maintain a safe and well managed campground. Instead of having plots of campgrounds here and there, my grandpa decided to make a final attempt with a large and stable area of land. In 1982, my grandfather reverted to his 100-acre farmland that he still owned. Though he sold the house on the property, the land was still his. With this much land, he designed by hand, with the help of his children, a campground that would surpass all of his previously built campgrounds.
Construction started in 1983 and lasted for three years until completion and opening. During these three years of construction my mother and father, who were married for 3 year, began building their home. My grandfather built a total of ten houses on this 100-acre plot of land. He built one house for each of his children, and he also helped build houses for his future grandchildren and nephews. He also built a house for himself and his wife. To make this campground the best of the best, he wanted a lake built in the central core of the campground. By hand, my grandfather, his sons, my father (his son-in-law), and many other helpers, dug out a single lake that was a sight to see when it was complete. The lake took about 2 years to be completed. Later, another lake was dug out in the same manner, but of a smaller magnitude for draining purposed, into the same Conewago Creek that Flo-De-On had rested on. With Cedar trees everywhere and a lake in the center, the campground was named “Cedar Lake Campground,” which was very appropriate.
While many of my grandpa’s children had careers and other jobs they were taking up at the time, my mother continued to work with my grandmother at home and began to show and interest in the campground management business. In 1987 my mother and father leased the campground from my grandparents taking partial ownership in the business. My grandfather proceeded to sell Pine Hill Campground and Flo-De-On in hopes that Cedar Lake would flourish.
In 1992, Cedar Lake Campground was officially sold to my parents when my grandparents retired from the business. My parents became the sole operators of the campground and are continuing to pay off the purchased plot. My two brothers and I grew up in the campground, working for my parents and helping out when necessary. My parents are quite extraordinary when notice everything that they do and have done for the campground. Every month, my father spends two weeks straight mowing the large campground with my older brother and his one assistant. Along with that, he must operate, maintain and fix problems that arise in the campground my mother manages the office and the store where most of the transactions take place. Since its opening, a gift shop has been built, called Baskets-And-More, and the store became a snack bar, which is hopping with campers on the weekends. My parents were forced to hire many more employees to maintain the rigorous work. Today, things continue to go well for the campground. My grandparents still live in the house that my grandpa built in the campground by himself.
The campground has become a huge part of my life. Because my parents were rarely ever home during the summer months, I met a lot of my friends in the campground and hung out with them on the weekends. When considering a historical story in my family, my grandpa’s many achievements popped into my mind right away. To know the history, what my grandpa has done, and how the campground came to be is far more of an accomplishment than completing this paper. Future generations will have something to look back at their great-grandparents for, because I researched this story and can now pass it along for generations to build upon.
The above story was written by Cedar Lake’s original creator’s grandson, Joshua Starner, for a term paper when he was in high school. Cedar Lake Campground remained in his family until September 2014, when Greg and LeAnn Starner made the challenging decision to lease their business to Travel Resorts of America. While the park is under new operations, the previous manager and son of previous owners, Jaron Starner, still manages the resort. Jaron’s passion for the cherished business his grandfather started over 30 years ago shows as many of the original practices of Cedar Lake remain the same. Travel Resorts of America has brought Cedar Lake Campground a new opportunity to grow and innovate in the camping industry.
We invite you to join in this amazing story and help us write the next chapter of Cedar Lake History. Park Manager Jaron Starner Stated: “When you camp with Cedar Lake Campground, you camp with family!”, and plans to continue the work his family started many years ago.