Camp-A-Float Hinch 1979 Theresa Becky on deck

Trip Planning


Theresa Leppert shares her memories of converting an RV into a boat and camping along the river with her family in the 1970s.

I have been camping as long as I can remember. My dad sold RVs in the 1970s and 1980s, so we were always in and around the camping lifestyle.  

I remember spending a lot of time at RV shows.  The excitement of those shows was tangible. In the 70s, there was always a mainliner act of some sort.  The one I remember best was the year The Flying Wallendas performed their trapeze act over our heads as we explored the Expo Center while my dad worked.  If you’ve never heard of them, here’s the link to the documentary made in 1998 about their incredible family. I have an autographed sweaty towel from one of them somewhere! I was so proud of that autograph and having my picture taken with such a famous person.

We didn’t own our own RV, but I remember going camping in different units that my father brought home from work. Dad would spend a lot of time showing folks at the campground the latest model off the lot.  

The absolute best trip ever happened around 1979. For our family vacation that year, we took off in a mini-home, as it was called back then. Nowadays, it’s called a Class C Motorhome.  The bed over the cab was where my sister and I slept. We headed south to Arkansas – Lake Ouachita, to be exact! My parents had booked us a multi-day trip on a Camp-A-Float!  

You’re probably wondering what on earth is a Camp-A-Float?  Well, they lifted our RV onto a barge/pontoon boat and strapped it down – and we drove that boat all over Lake Ouachita!

We would cruise all day, exploring little islands, wooded shorelines, remote beaches, and sandbars. Then tie up to a different island each night camping in our own RV. This pic of my mom, my sister, and I was taken on this little beach on an island we had all to ourselves. Campfire, hot dogs, s’mores – we were living the dream.

That night, though, that dream turned into a bit of a nightmare. Some racoons (or Raccurians, as I still call them to this day) found their way onto our boat and got into the catfish bait. There was stinky bait smeared EVERYWHERE. On the RV, on the railings, on the chairs, on the deck. Oh Lord, did that stink to high heaven! I learned how to clean an RV really well that summer.

As an adult, I wanted to take my own family on an adventure like that and tried to find that company. I was disappointed to find that they went out of business. But there were plenty of adventures to take and memories to be made with my own daughter in our own RV. I can’t wait to take my future grandchildren on similar adventures. RVing is in our blood, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Theresa Leppert

Girl Camper

Theresa "Resa" Leppert is the Girl Camper Chapter Guide for Iowa. More about Resa and Girl Camper can be found here