As told by Chicoan Jan Burnham:
Growing up in Chico, my family took many trips to lower Bidwell Park to swim at our favorite creek side holes, including the One and Five Mile swimming areas. Many a summer afternoon was spent along the creek with picnic lunches, Kool-aid to drink, and play in the creek. Caper Acres was not opened until I was in high school, so my playground memories are of the One Mile play area, especially the tall slide, and the merry-go-round at the Hooker Oak area.
Once Caper Acres opened, it was a favorite place to take my younger sister and her friends and she celebrated at least one of her birthdays there. How I wished that it had been there when I was younger, because I knew it would have been my favorite play area.
I was fortunate to be able to remain in Chico as a young adult and once our son Blake was old enough, we began taking him to Caper Acres a couple of times most weeks. He often met up with his cousin Jason and they had many adventures at Caper Acres. The “Cheese” was their favorite from the beginning and they loved crawling through the tunnels and hoisting themselves to the top as they grew taller and stronger. There was a little dirt hill in the middle of Caper Acres and Blake loved walking up the ‘big” hill and running down the other side. He would say up-up-up (sounding more like pup-pup-pup) as he trekked up the steep side and shriek down-down-down as he bounded down the other side. Other favorites such as the raised walkway and tunnels are no longer there. A younger brother, Trent, arrived 4 years later and we continued our trips to Caper Acres. A typical family outing most weekends would include breakfast at a local restaurant followed by a visit to Caper Acres.
Time passed and we had few opportunities to visit Caper Acres, but once we were blessed with our first grandchild, Finnley, it was just natural that our trips to Caper Acres resumed. Eight-year-old Finnley spent many a morning at Caper Acres with Grandma and Grandpa as well as his parents. He, too, loved the cheese. The crooked house was another favorite. Once our three-year-old twin granddaughters, Madelyn and Audrey were big enough to visit Caper Acres, they just assume a trip to Chico includes a trip to Caper Acres. It is fun to watch our grandchildren enjoy Caper Acres and conquer skills and confidence on its various features, just as we watched our children develop. Blake says that Caper Acres was a part of his childhood and he loves that he can now share it with his girls.
We were sad when we heard the Crooked House had been destroyed by a falling tree and this initiated a family discussion as to what we could do to help Caper Acres. In our dreams we would have liked to make it whole again, but instead shifted our focus to something more financially feasible and a feature that holds special memories for our family. Thus, we have become the “Cheese Family” helping with the first phase of its renovation and hoping to help through the final project.
Our family appreciates all that Chico has to offer and feel its important to help as we can to give back.