May - August 2001
Cheney Park is about 30 miles west of Wichita, Ks. on US54. You exit to Ks.251 north for 5.5 miles. The park has two sections, one on each side of the lake. We are located at the M&M Point campground. The park contains 2,495 acres. There are more than 200 camping sites with water and electric in four campgrounds.
There are five additional campgrounds with no utilities. There are four dump stations, 25 boat launching lanes, ten restrooms with showers, four swimming areas, two shelter-houses, two marinas, and a park office and maintenance facility.
The most popular activities at Cheney Park center around water. The lake is especially favored by the windsurfers and sailboat owners. As you might surmise, that is partly because the wind blows at least lightly, nearly all of the time. The lake is also very popular with fisherman. It is currently rated as the top walleye lake in the state of Kansas, and it also produces excellent channel catfish and white bass, as well as some good crappie fishing. There is also a large usage of personal watercraft as well as boating and water skiing.
The most remarkable thing about Cheney Park is the management and staff. Jerry Schmidt, Park Manager, is the person in charge. With the able assistance of Jody Schwartz, Park Manager, he has put together an outstanding team. The year around staff has ten people with an additional seasonal staff of sixteen more, including six seasonal rangers. There are also ten volunteer couples that serve as Camp Hosts in the summer months. After years of visiting our public parks in many parts of the country, we believe that this is one of the best-managed parks we have visited. This park is definitely worth considering for either a visit, or as a place to spend some time as a volunteer.
At this park there are ten positions for camp hosts. Each camp host is expected to be in his area most of the time from Friday evening through Sunday afternoon. They try and have each position filled by May 1 each year and it lasts through Labor Day. Camp hosts sell camping and entry permits, remind visitors of the rules, and act as eyes for the park staff. Each host couple is issued a portable radio to stay in touch with the staff and to reach a ranger if one should be needed. Each host is given an expense allowance for the use of his own vehicle, depending upon the number of sites in his campground. For M&M point, we received $150 per month. Additionally, if desired the host can do minor maintenance and mowing around the park for a small hourly wage, but it is not required. We believe that a good camp host keeps litter picked up in his campground, however it is not required to be done at this park. We also replaced the supplies in the restrooms in our campground and notified the cleaning crew when needed. We were not asked to do any of the cleaning. All host sites do have access to a phone line, if you wish to pay the bill and a washer and dryer are available. Even after three years of experience as live-on volunteers, we would rate Cheney Park as the best managed facility that we have spent time in.
For information about Kansas state parks, visit the Kansas Parks web site.