Introducing The Rover: Our 1967 Bethany Chief Pop-Up Camper

Two weeks ago, we purchased a 1967 Bethany Chief Pop-Up Camper. Meet The Rover!

Bethany Chief Pop-Up Camper

History of our Bethany Chief Pop-Up Camper

Minnesota Bethany Fellowship, now known as Bethany International, manufactured pop-up campers from 1958 until 1980 as a business venture designed to support their missionaries.  Only 1174 Chief pop-up campers were made and sold in 1967. Which means ours is unique, one in a million! Or more accurately, 1 in 1174!

Bethany Chief Pop-Up Camper

Naming our Bethany Chief Pop-Up Camper

We decided to name our camper The Rover after listening to The Martian by Andy Weir on Audible. In the book, Astronaut Mark Watney modifies and tricks out his space rover to make a journey. We hope to fix up and trick out our camper to help us take journeys and adventures!

Bethany Chief Pop-Up Camper

The Plan for Our Bethany Chief Pop-Up Camper

What the what? Why did you buy a super old camper? I’ve been sort of dreaming about a camper or a trailer for awhile. At first, I wanted to remodel a vintage “canned ham” trailer. We even drove out to see one last summer. But it fell through and I stopped searching for awhile. It seemed like a pretty big job to remodel one and probably kind of pricey, too.  Then I started thinking that pop-up campers might be a better entry point. Less features going on with a pop-up means less to go wrong.

Our big family motto for this year is Shake it Up. As part of that, we’d like to get away and explore and travel more and have more adventures! But with small kids, that’s hard. I think pop-up camping will let us shake it up and have adventures in a kid friendly way.

We will be taking our camper on its maiden voyage soon. I hope to get some cleaning and updates done before then, but it’s mostly cosmetic. Our little camper is technically ready to camp now! But when I’m done she will be beautiful, fabulously relaxing and ready to camp.

inside bethany chief pop-up camper

Inside our Bethany Chief Pop-Up Camper

Inside our camper, there are two slide out bed sections. The above pictures is taken from the right bed section looking across the camper. Each side bed is made up of two foam mattresses, which were airing out in the sun when I was taking these pictures.
inside bethany chief pop-up camper

In the middle, there are two long benches and a dining room table. The table can fold down to be the same level as the benches, then the bench cushions would slide across and turn into a 3rd bed.

inside bethany chief pop-up camper

The benches have cubbies underneath for storage! They have cushions that were mustard yellow originally, but I’m planning to recover them, of course.

And that concludes the inside tour of the Rover. Short and sweet and simple! What do you think? Do you like her? Any ideas as we start a bit of a remodel? Do you have any fun memories of camping as a child?


  1. Im finishing the restoration of my 1969 Chief.
    How is the axle raised?

  2. Chief decals are now avail at nate click it and stick it.

  3. Hi Jill,

    Congrats on the new toy! After a two year search, holding out for the right price, I purchased a ’68 Chief two weeks ago. The previous owner patched and replaced zippers as needed on the original canvas. I’m hoping to get another 5 years out of it before ordering a replacement. It has the original coral pink color, new tires and the lift system still allows me to raise the roof by myself. I don’t plan on any major remodel but I would love to get new stickers and baby moon hubcaps. Thought I’d make you aware of a user group on Yahoo dedicated to Bethany campers. Tons of pictures and great advice from the members.

  4. AMELIA K DOLL says:

    Our family just got one of these too!! We are going to remodel ours as well. I am excited to see how your restore your camper!

  5. Elizabeth Alexandrovich says:

    Where is the VIN# located on your chief? I cant find one on the one I’m buying.

  6. I have a 1969 Chief that is almost fully restored. You can see it at the Yahoo Bethany Popup site.

  7. Jill Stefansen says:

    We had a ’66 Bethany Chief since 2015 — there really is a LOT of room inside. We were looking for a camper under 1000 lbs, and this is one of the few that fit the bill, had long enough beds for my husband to fit in, and was affordable. Yes, it does take a few gymnastics to set up, but once it’s up, it’s up! We’ve been happy with it. We keep a list of what we have stored in each compartment so if we’re getting ready for a trip we don’t have to ask “is that already in the camper”? The original coral color of the box had been painted white, but still survives inside — I have dreams of painting it back to the original color. Someone added a rain fly of sorts to ours; the original canvas is actually still in really good condition. It will be interesting to see what progress you make! Happy Trails! Jill & Greg in Minneapolis