The Stow Parks & Recreation Department has spent the entire summer celebrating the 40th anniversary of Silver Springs Campground. When thinking of an event to best wrap up the celebration, the idea of a pancake breakfast seemed to be right on target.

"I wanted a social event for the campers," says Parks & Rec employee Ken Barnhart, "but I also wanted to be able to recap the year's-worth of activities and events, plus give a little something extra to all the campers who have so faithfully supported the campground this year and through the years."

It was one of the campers who came up with the name for the event. "The campground has had three record-breaking years in a row, and we were hoping for a fourth in 2016," Barnhart continues. "Juan Villarreal, one of our frequent campers, came up with 'The Record-Breaker's Breakfast'. I liked the optimism, so we went with it."

The Record-Breaker's Breakfast took place at Heritage Barn (the large rental facility adjacent to Silver Springs Campground) on Oct. 23, from 9 a.m. to noon. The breakfast featured pancakes, bacon, sausage, orange juice and coffee. It was catered by Robert J., Events & Catering, owned and operated by Jeff Kline of Stow (another active camper at Silver Springs).

One of the activities at the event was giving campers a chance to guess how many total campsite rentals the 2016 camping season would generate. "I had a large chart showing what Silver Springs Campground has done over the years," Barnhart explains. "This gave the campers a little bit of guidance while making their guess. They just needed to figure out if we were going to go up from last year, down, or remain about the same."

The guesses ran in all directions. "We won't know the answer until the 2016 camping season ends. But the camper who guesses closest without going over will win a free five-night stay at the campground during the 2017 camping season."

Barnhart also created some stand-up displays depicting the local newspaper articles, fliers and photos that represented the 40th anniversary events of this year. "I wanted to give the campers a chance to review all of the activities that took place this year. A lot of folks enjoyed looking through the visual record, and it was a nice way to re-visit some of those fun events."

Barnhart adds, "There was a lot of chit-chat between the campers during the breakfast, some of whom were acquainted, but many of whom were strangers to each other. In addition to some regulars, we also had some folks who don't camp at Silver Springs Campground quite as often. We even had some first-time visitors from Michigan, here to visit the national park, who joined us for the breakfast and had fun meeting everyone."

There were some free camping weekends given away, as well. "We had three drawings during the course of the event," Barnhart continues, "so three families from the Record-Breaker's Breakfast will enjoy some free camping next year."

But there was one other activity that Barnhart wanted to be sure was included at the breakfast. "I made a large sign saying 'Happy 40th Anniversary, Silver Springs Campground' and placed it above a roll of poster paper that covered an 8-foot table. It was like an over-sized greeting card, and I asked the campers to sign it and include their thoughts about the campground, what they enjoy most and what the campground means to them. The campers were great, and expressed some wonderful sentiments about the campground and about camping in general. It was perfect."

So the breakfast turned out to be a great way to finish off the milestone season. "It's been awesome celebrating the 40th anniversary this summer," Barnhart summarizes. "And it looks like it'll be another record-breaker, so the name of the breakfast proved to be very fortuitous."