Camp Jeep 2002 – Branson, MO

First Day | The Trails | Last Day

After missing it the past 3 years, I finally made it back to Camp Jeep! Of course, having it in Branson, MO made it a bit closer to get to than Colorado or Virginia, even if the scenery in Missouri wasn’t quite as beautiful as it was in Colorado. Having grown up in Northwest Arkansas though, it was good to get back to the hills of the Ozarks.

We planned out the trip so that thursday we’d see all the sights and sit in on an engineering round table, friday we’d hit the trails, and saturday we’d be back on-site for more sight-seeing and events.

As you approached main event area itself (dubbed “Tent City”), you were greeted by a huge American flag waving over the fields from a crane. You could actually see the flag from the highway from a mile or two away, it was definitely quite a sight!

Just like back in ’98, the Camp Jeep parking lot was huge and full of hundreds of Jeeps. We actually got to park up close by the entrance the first day, just a few Jeeps down from the Liberty that Mike from Rockcrawler.com had taken to Camp. Then as we walked up to the main entrance, we were greeted by a pair of immaculate WWII vintage Jeeps, which I of course had to drool over for a while, but they were only a taste of what was to come…

Camp Jeep 2002
Old Glory waving proud.
Camp Jeep 2002
There we are on the far left with the front sticking out.

The first thing on our agenda was a Wrangler engineering round table. As it was in ’98, it was more of a marketing round table than an engineering round table, but it was fun none the less, and the Jeep reps did ask some interesting questions regarding the possibility of a V8 option…

Next we spent some time cooling off in the ever-popular (and ever crowded!) engineering tent. This is where the OEM vendors had all their displays. The bodyless Rubicon chassis was a popular attraction. Just out the other side of the engineering tent on the way to the Jeep Cafe’ were the concepts vehicles (one of my favorite areas). On display was the Icon, Jeepster, Varsity, Grand Cherokee Journey, the original Liberty Renegade, and the Commander2. Then over in the Jeep Museum tent was the Dakar (my personal favorite concept), Currie’s FireAnt competition TJ, Tomken’s red n’ yellow XJ, a 104″ LWB TJ from AEV, and a whole slew of vintage Jeeps. Come to think of it, Jeep had almost all their image and concept vehicles there…

Camp Jeep 2002
Cooling off in the engineering tent.
Camp Jeep 2002
My dream Jeep, the Dakar!

Some other interesting Jeeps on display were a pair of long-wheelbase TJ-based concepts, one an open-top rig like the standard TJ, the other was a Scrambler-type pickup. Jeep had them on display to gauge the attendants’ opinions, hopefully they’re previews of vehicles to come!

The Rubicon Challenge course proved to be the most popular activity, so popular in fact we never got a chance to drive one (I wasn’t willing to stand in line in the heat that long). I was a bit disappointed because that was the only thing I’d wanted to do at Camp that I didn’t get to, but there’s some folks in our club that have Rubicons on order, so I figure I’ll get to play with one eventually. I’m still not sold on that Inca Gold color though…

Camp Jeep 2002
Rubicon TJ’s strutting their stuff.
Camp Jeep 2002
TJ Scrambler, complete with wooden bedrails.

The day finally wore to an end and it was time to head back to the hotel… Then it was time to hit the trails!

First Day | The Trails | Last Day

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