Rarely does one find such a large gathering of nationally acclaimed educators and practitioners in the field of herbal medicine as was seen at“Botanicals at the Beach”, the 2016 Northwest Herb Symposium. The following are names you might expect to see individually as guest lecturers of integrative health programs at your local college or university, but not collectively at one event: Michael & Lesley Tierra, Amanda McQuade Crawford, Jillian Stansbury, Ryan Drum, EagleSong Evans Gardener, Katolen Yardley, Netta Zeberoff Fominoff, Elaine Sheff, Denise Joy, Julie Charette Nunn, and Leslie Lekos.
Bringing these highly recognized individuals to one location for a four-day (two half-days and two full-day) provides for an extensive schedule of talks and workshops. There was a general track with workshops for all levels, a track for practitioners (aimed at physicians and other health care professionals), and a track for beginners, including herbalists and kids. What makes this symposium so special is that everyone was taking lodging and meals together at the same location, with mornings and evenings filled with activities that promote community and discovery. Imagine starting your day off at daybreak with yoga led by Leslie Lekos, voted Best Yoga in Bellingham for eight years in a row; or doing a marine walk with Ryan Drum, one of the most respected and experienced herbalists and wild crafters in North America today. To wrap up the symposium, the keynote address was given by Joseph Pizzorno, founding president, now president emeritus, of Bastyr University. Bastyr is the first fully accredited, multidisciplinary university of natural medicine in the United States. And finally, before participants left Camp Casey, they all joined in a closing circle led by EagleSong, a fourth generation gardener and community herbalist.
Generally, symposiums are stacked with back-to-back lectures and classes. Not the case here. Yes, the days were filled with talks and workshops, but the entire experience included lots of connections happening outdoors, and community bonding indoors during the catered meals and movie night. The event organizer and SPU alumnus, Jay Johnson said: “Camp Casey was the ideal choice for the event. Its natural setting and energy, as well as being able to have lodging, dining, and meeting facilities all in one location is what sets Camp Casey apart from all other locations.”
Pastor David Gerzsenye is no stranger to Whidbey Island or Camp Casey. He spent some of his youth growing up on the south end of the island and still has family here. Each of his five daughters came to Camp Casey with their 5th grade class, so years ago when he needed a venue for his church group retreat, Camp Casey was the obvious choice.
Over time, Pastor David’s Redmond-based Washington Cathedral started using Camp Casey for several of their groups and retreats - both winter and summer church retreats, men’s retreat, and leadership retreats. “When we arrive at Camp Casey, it’s like a family visit.” says Pastor David, “The staff are very friendly and supportive. They are like our brothers and sisters.”
This August, Pastor David brought his singles group for their annual summer retreat with the theme: "Words can heal: How we talk to God, each other, and ourselves.” He points out that most of his group is middle aged and almost ¾ of the group are divorcees. “Washington Cathedral is a recovery oriented church, so it is natural that the singles group has a strong presence in the church.” He goes on to explain that the Church focuses on the Gospel as it is written and strives to create an atmosphere of love and tolerance.
The agenda for the four days at Camp Casey was divided into gatherings for breakfast, energy and praise music sessions, and breakout sessions. Afternoons were open to what was billed as “free time and/or adventures”. Pastor David listed several local favorites as suggestions:
· Explore Lavender Wind Farm on North Beach Road
· Hike the north beach at Deception Pass
· Picnic or walk the beach at Camp Casey
· Visit historic, downtown Coupeville
· Take the ferry to visit historic Port Townsend
After dinner, the group gathered for singing before going on a sunset walk where they are asked to use the time for silent reflection. After the walk, they once again break into small groups for themed discussions, hallelujahs, and praise! Saturday night featured a Lip-Sync/Talent Contest.
Staying in the BOQ offers lodging, kitchen and dining, as well as meeting rooms. Groups like Washington Cathedral Singles find the facilities and surrounding area to be conducive to building community and relationships, while being able to cook their own meals adds to the bonding and social interaction between members.
It was Evette Hackman’s turn to plan and host the 24th biennial family reunion and it was no surprise that she chose Camp Casey for the big event. Evette, a former associate professor for Family and Consumer Sciences at SPU for 13 years, has had lots of experience visiting Camp Casey. Whether it was for the annual faculty retreat, department workshops, or simply a long weekend away with the family, Evette always enjoyed being able to get away and unplug in a historic setting surrounded by vast natural beauty.
Like most modern families, the Hackman family, originally from Nebraska, has branched out to numerous states. What’s unique about them however is their commitment to get the family together every two years for a family reunion. This year, 72 members of the Hackman family, ages 7 to 95 years old, gathered at Camp Casey for four days of getting reacquainted, bonding, and fellowship. Family members traveled from 13 different states to participate in this year’s reunion. The farthest family member drove in from Erie, Pennsylvania.
What did they as a group find the best attribute of having the reunion at Camp Casey? “Being able to provide activities and things to do for such an age diverse group of people has always been the challenge,” said Evette, “Camp Casey’s surroundings are so diverse, however, that everyone was able to get outside and enjoy nature. The children and younger groups spent most of their time on the beach, while some of the older groups enjoyed the hiking paths through the forest. Everyone enjoyed visiting nearby Fort Casey and the Admiralty Head Lighthouse”, explained Evette. “There was even plenty of accessible walking paths for the ‘over 90s’ group to enjoy.”
People who have brought their groups to Camp Casey for retreats, reunions, workshops, or camps all share similar stories. Camp Casey boasts broad open fields in a historic location surrounded by diverse natural beauty. Whether you prefer beaches, forests, or wetlands, we have it all. Interested in history? Fort Casey and the Admiralty Head Lighthouse are just a short walk away.
Welcome Barbara and Fred Bennett, owners of ShoNuff Foods. What a treat to have Barb and Fred on the Camp Casey team. What can you expect when you take meals from our newest food service provider? They make meals from scratch and are determined to welcome you to a new "home" at Camp Casey. When asked about their style of cooking, Barb is quick to point out that even though their roots are in southern style cooking, they have been exposed to cuisine from all over the country and even the world. Originally from Florida, they have lived in several states across the country and Japan. So back to the original question: What can you expect? Homemade – with passion and love.
What makes ShoNuff foods so special? The answer can be summed up in three comments Barb and Fred made recently:
Camp Casey is a special place. Steeped in history and surrounded by incredible natural beauty, it’s very important to us that our staff appreciate and exude all that Camp Casey has to offer. Barb and Fred were high school sweethearts before getting married 18 years ago. They moved back to Oak Harbor along with their two children in 2006. Barb, a 12-year Navy veteran, learned her culinary craft from her grandmother at an early age. Fred, who has a degree in culinary arts from The Art Institute of Seattle, has worked in the restaurant business most of his adult life but credits his mother for his passion for cooking.
It doesn’t take long to get the feeling that ShoNuff Foods is deeply rooted in family tradition. What better presence to have when you are being served a homemade meal at camp? You'll experience the difference when you try their home made scones or fresh from the oven chocolate chip cookies. Do Barb and Fred appreciate and exude all that Camp Casey has to offer? You bet they do!
Book your next retreat or sports camp at Camp Casey and experience it for yourself.