A community formation of spiritual growth

  • By Richard
  • 28 Oct, 2016

Not all classrooms have four corners. SPU students enrolled in the master of arts (MA) degree program or  master of divinity (MDIV) degree program find themselves at Camp Casey attending a core requirement class, THEO 6001. Most years Doug Strong, dean and professor of the history of Christianity, teaches this five-day, retreat-based, intensive course. This year however, the class was taught by Rick Steele, professor of moral and historical theology and associate dean, graduate studies. Together as a community, these students study and practice historic spiritual disciplines as a grounding for their seminary experience and a lifetime of ministry. 

Strong has been quoted saying, "The change that takes place over our five days together is remarkable. Twenty-five strangers become a close-knit group of Christian brothers and sisters; feelings of anticipation and nervousness about beginning a rigorous graduate program are transformed into the first insights of theological learning; and their unfamiliarity with ancient Christian patterns of spirituality is changed into a deep appreciation for the ways these patterns are able to assist them in being renewed more and more into the image of Christ."  When asked why the department chooses to use Camp Casey as the 'classroom' instead of holding the class at the SPU campus, Steele said, "it's a quiet, scenic place where all the basic needs are taken care of. It's free of all the activity and outside stimulus that tends to be a distraction." 

The requirements of the class over the five days can be emotionally draining. Another benefit of holding the class at Camp Casey is the numerous opportunities for the students to practice community together by playing games on the play field or sharing stories around the beach-side fire pit.  Quiet reflection comes easier for most when they can take a walk along the beach, listen to the soothing sounds of the waves, or take a stroll along any of the several walking paths through the surrounding forest. 

For this particular group, it was also important to have space where students could spend time meditating and studying in quiet private areas, as well as meeting spaces where the class could gather and openly share experiences. The class has found that staying in the Bachelors Officers Quarters (BOQ) was the best option for them.  The BOQ is well suited to groups of 30-50 people all year round.  It is an all-inclusive facility, where groups can sleep, dine, and hold large and small-group meetings in one location. The large meeting space is equipped with podium, wall-mounted whiteboard, digital projector, screen, DVD and VCR players, and cables for laptops. 

Groups who select Camp Casey Conference Center for their retreats almost always are looking for a venue that offers an environment that promotes community and discovery.  Camp Casey has a variety of lodging facilities, all with unique attributes. 

Go Camp Casey

By Richard 02 Jan, 2018

As January 1 rolls around, we begin the process of reinventing ourselves what habits to get rid of or pick up as new. Statistics show that 44 percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions. However, the most common problem is that we come up with an extensive list and then immediately fail. How do you tackle everything at once? What is on your list: Weight, smoking, alcohol, attending church more often, being kind to your neighbors? It’s not reasonable to expect that just creating the list is going to ensure that you follow through.

After years of personal research, let’s start with the basics. Pick just one resolution and focus on that. It’s much easier to make incremental changes (baby steps, if you will), and make another change after a month.   And if it makes you feel better, start the new year with a calendar you’ve populated - what changes you commit to for each of the 12 months. That way, if your goal is losing 40 pounds and running a marathon, lose the weight starting in January and start walking every day. Save the marathon until the end of 2018.

Start 2018 with what’s most important to you. What will make you happier? Be sure that it’s not an abstract thought (i.e. be more optimistic). Come up with a resolution that is easy to measure. Write it down. Record it on your daily calendar. Post it on your bathroom mirror. Tell your spouse/friends. If you fail one day, start back up the next. And speaking of starting, start small. If the goal is 40 pounds, make it two pounds in January. As your momentum builds and your confidence increases, those numbers will increase. If exercise is your goal, don’t expect you’ll be at the gym first thing before work every day. How about committing to a 10-minute walk every day? 1 Timothy 4:8 instructs us to keep exercise in perspective: “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”

Do you need help with ideas? How about being more mindful (put your smartphone down and be aware). Love your enemy. Give more to your church or your local charity. Commit to prayer each day (there are some good smartphone biblical or prayer apps that can help you with that). And lastly, get outside. Explore the world around you. If you are part of a group or organization, maybe consider a retreat at Casey. We offer a fantastic venue, complete with lodging, meals, and meeting spaces for groups of all sizes. Best of all, we have a beach, forest, and wide-open spaces for you and your group to get outside and practice serenity and mindfulness. Connect, learn, and discover at Casey.

By Robyn 28 Dec, 2017

Start the New Year off with a #meatlessmonday recipe from our Camp Casey Mess Hall. Many of our customers have special diet requests for medical and religious reasons. Sometimes the requests are  in support of a healthier lifestyle. Out of this growing need, Barb and Fred  have created a healthier alternative to the standard burger. We think it is no less delicious and can be a great way to use up some leftovers!

Barb normally cooks without recipes, but we cornered her to write this one down for us to share with our friends. She created this recipe after a busy day at Camp Casey and had leftover beans from black bean soup and potatoes from our chili bar. This is a popular veggie patty that causes many to ask for more.  


Black Bean Veggie Burger

16 oz (1 can) black beans, drained and rinsed

1 medium russet potato, boiled until fork tender (or you can use a leftover baked potato w/o skin)

½ green bell pepper, cut into large chunks

½ onion, cut into large chunks

3 garlic cloves, peeled

1 egg, beaten

½ tsp cumin

1 tbsp onion powder

½ tsp garlic powder

1 tbsp chili powder

1 tbsp hot sauce

½ cup garbanzo bean flour (plus more if needed). Red Mill is the kind we can easily find.

3 green onions, thinly sliced

Salt and pepper, to taste


1. In a medium bowl, add beans and coarsely mash up. Add cooked potatoes.

2. In a food processor, finely chop white onions, bell pepper, and garlic.

3. Add chopped veggies, egg, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, and hot sauce to the bean and potato mixture. Mix until incorporated evenly ; add salt and pepper, if needed. Tasting along the way is key, says Barb!

4. Add garbanzo bean flour and sliced green onions. Fold into bean and potato mixture. Form into patties. If dough is sticky, add more garbanzo bean flour.

5. Over medium heat in a frying pan, add a small amount of olive oil until pan is hot. Cook patties until browned on both sides (about 3 min per side). Place patties on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or spray pan with cooking oil. Bake at 350 approximately 10 minutes or until patties are heated thoroughly.

Makes about 4-8 patties, depending on their size.

If you are going to make it vegan, just remove the egg and add more garbanzo bean flour.

We tend to serve them with a lettuce spring mix, tomato, red onion, chipotle mayo, and cheese on a whole wheat bun.

By Richard 21 Dec, 2017

At Casey, we host dozens of sports camps throughout the year, and what we have learned from talking to the various coaches about their programs, is that those who have the most successful seasons are not those who focus on the fundamentals and core skills. Sounds counter-intuitive, doesn't it? Coach Mills, who brings his cross-country team to Casey every year for their pre-season camp, sets the example of inspiring the young runners to put the experience of participating in a sport with others ahead of the actual outcome of the race.

The Shorewood Cross Country pre-season camp places most of its emphasis on camp activities fostering bonding and team building. Their three-day schedule is well defined and packed with activities. Every block of time, from when they load their buses and depart their school Friday morning, until they leave Casey the next Sunday afternoon, has been outlined. One quick and simple way to gauge what the coaches find most useful is to count how many blocks are dedicated to honing fundamentals, core skills, and endurance training and how many center around teambuilding and bonding. Out of the 16 scheduled blocks (not counting meal breaks), 11 are teambuilding and bonding exercises. Music video filming, campfire meetings (think S'mores), talent show, field games, and filming at the lighthouse are just some activities that one wouldn't equate with cross-country training.

Sure, there is the occasional 'Oregon drill,' bluff run, and 'easy aerobic run,' but most of the days are filled with things one would typically associate with a fun summer camp. The kicker, according to Coach Mills, is that the pre-season camp is his best recruiting tool. Many of the first-time runners join the team because of how excited everyone is about going to pre-season camp at Casey.

By Richard 27 Nov, 2017

Casey isn't just a place for sports camps and group retreats; it's also an ideal venue for a multidisciplinary earth system science workshop.

That may sound odd since Casey isn't known to be a research facility.

The recent science workshop focused on the distinctive glaciological, geological, oceanographic, and climatic aspects of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. So why then did the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) initiative select Casey as the site of their 24th annual workshop?

The 2017 WAIS hosts were Knut Christianson of the University of Washington and Ted Scambos of the University of Colorado Boulder. Scambos says that Casey provided the necessary meeting room space for the more than 80 people attending the workshops, plus lodging and meal service. "Being able to provide lodging, meals, and meeting space all in one location is critical for our gathering. It's not just about conducting the workshops; equally important is being in an environment that fosters relationship building and community."

The researchers and scientists who gathered for the WAIS workshop traveled from more than 17 universities and research facilities, and seven different countries. What the organizers of the WAIS initiative have learned is that the advancement of the research and data collection becomes more efficient and effective when the teams collaborate and share techniques, technologies, findings, failures, and challenges. Collaboration and sharing are much more potent between colleagues who have developed a personal relationship and are part of a community. Casey fosters community.

Your group doesn't need to be made up of the world’s foremost Antarctic researchers to benefit from getting away from the daily distractions. Casey offers groups like yours the ideal place to reflect, excel, discover, and grow. Give us a call!

By Richard 20 Nov, 2017

“I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them. I ask all of you to do this unfailingly every day.” – Pope Francis

Silence. Stillness. Solitude. These qualities seem to be in short supply today. Author Thomas Merton wrote “All … need enough silence and solitude in their lives to enable the deep inner voice of their own true self to be heard." Retreats allow us to find that silence, stillness, and solitude and to reflect on and deepen our relationship with God. Jesus modeled this pattern of engagement and withdrawal, and it is instructive for contemporary disciples as well. Retreats strengthen our fellowship through shared experiences and help focus the group on issues and questions through reflection and meditation, discussion, and dialogue with others.

To retreat means leaving your usual location and activities and going to a place of quiet and seclusion. By going to a retreat, we physically remove ourselves from life’s distractions, the call of chores, and the demands of people. Computers and cell phones leave many of us tethered and continuously stimulated. Taking some time to unplug and walk along a beach or through a forest makes all the difference in the world. There is nothing like staring at the stars in the night sky to gain some perspective. Inspiration comes while sitting around a fire pit sharing stories or enjoying a quiet moment of reflection while listening to the rhythmic sound of the waves.

Where can you find these opportunities? Camp Casey’s Church Weekend Getaway Package is popular with youth groups, church groups, and prayer groups. The package offers lodging and meals. This affordable package provides the opportunity to connect with your faith in a beautiful and spiritually stimulating environment. Access to A/V equipment and resources allows for special programming and music. Guests can also engage with the fascinating history of the region while sleeping in Camp Casey’s historic barracks and exploring nearby Fort Casey and Admiralty Head Lighthouse.  

By Richard 05 Nov, 2017

Retreats are of value to any organization, not just to ministry or church groups. Are you new in your leadership role and believe you should get everyone together for a retreat? Retreats are a wonderful way to get away from the distractions of everyday life. Getting your group or organization out of their routine will help rejuvenate communication skills and build community. A team that improves their interactions and communication enhances their trust and appreciation for one another, and increases their productivity.

If problem-solving or improving effectiveness is your goal, then just about anything that goes on in your office is fair game. Retreats provide opportunities for brainstorming. They provide time away from routine assignments and foster thinking "outside the box" about issues or improvements. Asking teams from mixed departments to create a full marketing strategy during your retreat, as an example, encourages each department to think outside the box and understand the responsibilities and perceptions of other team members.

Challenging employees to collaborate on a project also provides an opportunity for team building. Especially something that builds relationships and lets your team focus on their interactions. Simple shared activities, such as tours, hiking, sports, or preparing meals have been proven to be very effective. Company retreats are perfect for getting to know your team members on a whole new level. Maybe a team member is an incredible chef or an accomplished musician. These are typically things you would never learn from someone in a business meeting, but in a retreat setting, bonding and community happen at a new level. Getting away gives you the chance to unwind and discover more about one another.

What does Camp Casey offer for retreats? We offer large meeting rooms and all the same technical capabilities of your office setting. Will your group be spending the night? We offer a wide array of accommodations from dorm style to a turn of the century Victorian House. Do you want your team to be able to share the cooking and cleanup of meals? We have lodging options with kitchen facilities. If cooking is not your thing, our mess hall provides classic or custom menu choices. And lastly, what about those opportunities for tours, hiking, or sports? Our options are many, and include miles of beaches and hiking trails. We have several sports fields, including basketball and tennis courts. Ft. Casey and the Admiralty Lighthouse are right next door, as well as the quaint town of Coupeville.

Retreat to Casey. You’ll be glad you did!

By Richard 18 Oct, 2017

Each summer, just as the training season begins, the SPU Volleyball team comes to Casey for a retreat. 2017 is the first year at Casey for Abbie Wright '10, head coach. Wright, the 2015 NAIA Assistant Coach of the Year at Biola University in Los Angeles, was named the head coach at Seattle Pacific on February 16, 2017.

Sports groups coming to Casey have various agendas. Some come to Casey to make use of the expansive playing fields. Conditioning and honing the player's fundamentals and play skills are typically their objectives. Getting the players away from their day-to-day distractions allows the coaches to focus the players’ attention to the lessons of the day. By having lodging, meals, and sports fields all in one location, players stay engaged in the planned activities 24/7. Others come for an entirely different reason.

Wright, when asked about her primary goal for this year’s retreat, stated simply, "bonding." "At the SPU campus, I structure everything for the team." She believes this time away is for the team members to be together without a schedule or task list, allowing them to be in control of the day's activities. "The only requirement I placed on them is that whatever they do, they do it together. Also, I encouraged them to set aside time for storytelling." She believes sharing life stories helps them learn and understand each other's personalities.

What Coach Wright said isn't foreign to us. Almost all coaches who bring their teams to Casey incorporate some measure of bonding and team building. When can we expect your team retreat at Casey?

By Richard 02 Oct, 2017

While visiting Casey in the fall, you'll find a healthy mix of fun outdoor activities, as well as local favorites that promise both excitement and entertainment.

1.   Go on a nature hike. Bring along a field guide to identify different kinds of trees. Look for wildlife collecting food for winter. Explain to kids how animals are starting to fatten up and grow thick, protective winter coats. Watch for migrating birds. Crockett Lake and Ebey’s Bluff are great spots for watching birds. Casey can also arrange for a forest/meadow walk, guided class, or an Audubon class and activity on local birding.

2.   Collect fall leaves. Press them into books or preserve them in glycerin. Paste them onto handmade paper to create greeting cards, or glue them between two pieces of wax paper to make an attractive sun catcher.

3.   Take a hayride. Many local farms offer hayrides during the fall, an excellent way to kick back and enjoy nature with smaller kids who may not be up for a long walk.   While not titled a hayride – Sherman Farms offers Trolley Rides through their fields, weekends only beginning in October. Visit their Facebook page for more information:  https://www.facebook.com/SPFProduce/

4.   Visit the pumpkin patch. Don’t buy your Halloween pumpkin from the grocery store. Go straight to the source. Kids will love wandering around the patch to pick out the perfect pumpkin. Choose a couple of big ones for jack-o-lanterns, and grab a few smaller ones for painting or general household decorations. Roast the seeds in your oven with a sprinkling of tasty spices, and grab a few to make pumpkin pies. Sherman Farms is the place to go. 

5.   Stuff a scarecrow. Dig out an old shirt and overalls and stuff it with leaves until firm. Add a pumpkin head (from your trip to the pumpkin patch), and you’ve got a great fall decoration.

6.   Fly a kite. The gusty, brisk air makes autumn a great time for flying kites. Buy one from our store, or make your own.  

7.   Visit a haunted fort – at Fort Casey State Park Friday and Saturday, October 20 and 21. This year, a Bounce House will be included, as well as games, lots of food vendors, and guided fort tours for kids 10 years and older.  https://www.gocampcasey.org/haunted-fort-casey

8.   Partake in color walks. Pinterest has tons of ideas on how to make your fall walks enjoyable. This one focuses on a color (all the yellow things, or green things, or whatever color you’ve chosen).   Or if that’s not exciting enough, let us help you arrange a forest scavenger hunt.

 More information on fall activities at http://minref.wixsite.com/coupeville-halloween/activities .

By Richard 22 Sep, 2017

We know it’s June when Serve Seattle comes to Casey for their annual camping trip. Serve Seattle is a Ministry of Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission. They are a discipleship program aimed at placing 18–25-year-olds in an urban environment through Seattle internships in social justice ministry.

This year, a staff of six accompanied 35 interns to Casey for an end of school year retreat. The purpose of the retreat is to provide a quiet environment to reflect on their experiences and to reinforce lessons learned in the past year. Participants are encouraged to take time out to journal and think about the transition ahead of them. The retreat includes workshops to wrap up the program for the interns and tools for continued self-discovery.

Who does Serve Seattle attract? Sam Hartman, the director of Serve Seattle, sums it up nicely when he says, “We attract young people who are not sure what to do after high school and are looking for a sense of purpose.” This past year was Serve Seattle’s 5th annual retreat. Hartman’s original connection with Casey was as a high school soccer camp counselor. Casey was Hartman’s first choice when searching for a venue, primarily because it was close by, far enough away to provide the stillness and serenity needed to facilitate quiet reflection and bonding. We suspect his wife, Jessica, SPU ’07, had something to do with the selection.

While at Casey, the group held its workshops in the classroom B building. The three classrooms have wall-mounted whiteboards and projection screens. Most of the discussion type workshops, however, took place outdoors around the fire pit. Participants spent more than half their time on the beach or along the bluff either in solitary journaling or sitting in quiet reflection.

Serve Seattle is training a generation of young men and women committed to service in the name of Christ. If you are interested in learning more about the program, you can call them directly at 206.432.8417 or visit their website at serveseattle.org .

By Richard 22 Aug, 2017

Many retreats at Casey are only possible because of the selfless actions of countless volunteers. Whether for large or small retreats, planning and organizing them can be quite time-consuming. Groups and organizations depend on those who take on the challenge. Often, participants are never aware of all the time and effort organizers put in to make retreats a success. For some groups, however, seeing the difference the retreat or camp makes in the campers’ lives is a reward that cannot be measured or quantified.

Every year when the Kiwanis Camp Casey group arrive at Casey for their annual summer camp, we are in awe of the 50 or more staff, nurses, and counselors who show up to make the difference in the lives of more than 90 amazing kids. Kiwanis Camp Casey is a free, week-long summer camp for children, ages 6-17, who have physical disabilities. The North Central Seattle Kiwanis Club has been organizing the annual camp since 1931.

Volunteers are crucial to the camp running smoothly. While counselors, ages 16 through college age, provide all direct camper care, Kiwanis Camp Casey relies on volunteers ages 18+ to setup, cleanup, help in the mess hall, keep campers and counselors safe, and assist with laundry, arts-and-crafts, and night-watch. Nurse volunteers provide nursing care for children with physical disabilities, including first-aid to campers and staff, staffing the nurse’s station, and administering medications and treatments.

What's striking is the number of volunteers who are veterans of Kiwanis Camp Casey. Many of the volunteers return year after year. In the kitchen, you'll find volunteers cooking and cleaning who have been volunteering for decades. One such volunteer named Bill started volunteering as a counselor more than 40 years ago. When he was old enough, he took over cooking duties from his father. If you think Bill's story is unique, you are wrong. Dozens of volunteers started as counselors, and then when they were of appropriate age, continued as adult volunteers. What keeps them committed to volunteering? They all say it a little differently, but the common theme is that volunteering is exciting, and provides personal growth and gratifying experience.

K5 Evening Magazine ran a Kiwanis Camp Casey segment; you can view here - http://tinyurl.com/caseykids .

For more information about Kiwanis Camp Casey, visit their website at https://campcasey.org .

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