Locals show off vintage campers during annual glamping show

Every vintage camper has a story.

Janet Hamblen came home from work one day and told her husband, Rob, a co-worker was going to bring a 1969 Yellowstone for them to fix up.

“This is the first time I’ve heard the word camper,” Rob said. “I said, ‘What did you do?’ She said, ‘Fix it up.’ I was like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ He pulled it in, and I was like, ‘Oh mercy.'”

They wound up going from a gray tone to the popular turquoise and white on the outside, replacing the gas furnace with an air conditioner, redoing the bathroom and naming the camper Toots after Janet’s mother’s nickname.

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Kevin Greene’s friend’s brother was getting rid of a camper he had used for hunting but no longer needed.

“When I got it, I probably could have taken it out right then. It just wasn’t nice,” he said.

In about three months, the paint went from primer gray to yellow and white, it was rewired, a new refrigerator and a new floor were put in and Ol’ Yeller was painted on the outside near the door.

“Oh, it’s 100 percent different definitely,” Greene said of the before and after.

Jenny and Brian Stuckwisch didn’t have to look far for their 1961 Bee Line Weekender. They saw it advertised for sale on Facebook and realized it was a mile and a half down the road from their home, so they bought it for $200.

With the help of Jenny’s brother-in-law, they got the camper, known as Tillie, restored. The rusty door and some of the interior were painted yellow, and the outside was painted navy blue and white.

“The first year we came to the camper show, she was a mess,” Jenny said. “Then last spring, we redid her, so she got an updo.”

Going from before to after, Jenny used one word to describe the camper.

“Livable,” she said, laughing.

On April 28 and 29, the Seymour residents’ campers were among nearly 20 on display in the Robertson Mill and Walnut Street parking lots in downtown Seymour during Seymour Main Street’s third annual Happy Glamper Show.

The public was invited to check out all of the campers and hear the owners’ stories about the restoration projects and their glamping adventures.

“It’s neat to hear like, ‘Oh, this glamper was sitting in the back of somebody’s field, and nobody had touched it for 20 years, and then we got ahold of it, and here’s what we did,'” said Becky Schepman, executive director of Seymour Main Street.

She said she also likes that it’s a family-friendly event.

“You can come with your kids and stroll through all of the campers,” she said. “It’s just fun, and it’s a free event, so it’s a really nice community event.”

The Hamblens like sharing their restoration story because they did all of the work together.

“It’s satisfying because the inside was totally messed up, the back end was all rotted out,” Rob said. “We did everything from the back all the way to the front door, redid it all, painted everything. The blood, sweat and tears you put into it, you kind of enjoy it more.”

After nine months, the work was completed in April 2018.

“I can’t believe what it looked like before and what it looks like now,” Janet said. “We really did enjoy working on it. We are proud of everything that we have done to it.”

Since then, they have gone camping with their granddaughters at Ceraland three times.

They had been to the Happy Glamper Show before, but this was their first time participating.

“We really enjoyed coming to the show last year and walking through and seeing them all, and she said, ‘Hey, we’ve got one. Why don’t we just do it ourselves?’ so we did,” Rob said.

Greene said he was familiar with friends completely restoring campers and the attention that they got, so he decided to give it a try for himself.

“My sister bought one that she never really finished, and so I just always was on the lookout for one, and the opportunity came up to get it, and I jumped on it,” he said.

Wanting the camper to stand out, Greene chose to paint the outside yellow and white.

“My first thought was orange and yellow because I like fall, but I tried the orange on the back side and was like, ‘That’s not going to work,'” he said. “I like the look of the yellow, though, so I went with yellow.”

Ol’ Yeller’s first show was in August 2018 at Spring Mill State Park in Mitchell, and the Happy Glamper Show was its second appearance.

“I’ve been to this show every year and enjoyed seeing the campers. It’s inspiring, really,” Greene said. “It’s really cool, especially since I’m downtown all of the time and my business is right there.”

Greene said he plans to take the camper back to Spring Mill again this year.

“I plan on taking it camping at least once a month, even if it’s not a show, because I just like camping,” he said.

Jenny Stuckwisch chose a similar tone of yellow for the door and interior of her camper.

“I just like the classic, that clean look,” she said.

She proudly shows people a book full of pictures of what the camper used to look like and what it looks like now.

“They love it. They are like, ‘Oh, it’s so cute,'” she said, smiling. “It’s something nostalgic. They are not common, something that’s unusual and they usually are looking forward to buying one.”

Being a part of a show where she lives is fun, too.

“I like the community involvement and then meeting all of these different people and just how much fun it is to get out here and just be a part of something fun, something different, something that’s not usually around,” she said.