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.
"What if your faith could grow deeper simply by opening yourself to God’s grace and listening to the voice of Love that is speaking at every moment?" With that simple question, Brian Gregory, associate for Youth Ministries, extended an invitationto a high school retreat to the members of St. Thomas Episcopal Church. .
Brian is an alum of Seattle Pacific University. He received his undergraduate in Theology/Educational Ministry in 2007 and his master of divinity degree in 2015. Like many of our alumni, he has a personal history with Camp Casey – spending three summers here during high school working with Kiwanis, on dorm retreats during his undergraduate years, and for a long weekend as part of his master's degree program. When asked if that was why he looked to Casey for this retreat, he answered quickly, "Not really." What made him choose our setting was the stillness and the beach. He wanted a venue that was far enough away to get the effect of getting away, but close enough to Medina that it would be an easy trip for his students.
On a Friday in early March, Brian, along with two other adults and eight high school students, arrived at Camp Casey. He instructed his students to take the first hour to rest. Unlike many of the youth groups that come to Camp Casey with agendas packed with activities, Brian cautioned his students, "You are here now. There are no expectations. No activities scheduled. Just use the time to rest."
One of the values identified for the youth ministry of St. Thomas Episcopal Church is for their students to be curious. Brian quotes Romans 12:2: "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind." Brian's weekend retreat is designed to do just that. Cell phones and iPods are left behind. Since prayer comes in many forms, he asks that the students be contemplative and imaginative. Using Scripture stories from the gospel and the practice of praying, he has them walk the beach to reflect. He encourages them to be intentional. He asks them to pay attention to what's around them and to find God's presence.
What will you find at Camp Casey? Are you looking for a quieter setting where you can spend more time looking inward or will you explore beautiful Whidbey Island and the areas that surround Camp Casey? Camp Casey is all about learning, connecting, and discovering. The ‘how’ is up to you.
Throughout the year, we host many faith-based group retreats. To retreat means to leave our normally occupied positions and go to a place of safety, 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 in order to make space for God. Even Jesus recognized the value and need to get away.
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” ( Mark 1:35 ).
Why retreat? We can name three very good reasons:
A retreat at Camp Casey allows for spiritual refreshment. It provides an opportunity and setting to get acquainted. Do you really know the members of your Bible study or fellowship group? Retreating allows for fun and community.
Churches and faith-based organizations know that Camp Casey Conference Center is the right place for all ages of their congregation’s members to worship, rest, and enjoy fellowship. Church groups can worship on the beach, hear speakers in the large auditorium or comfortable meeting rooms, take nature walks in the surrounding forest, play lively outdoor games on the former parade ground, and much more.
Call us for more information or help in organizing your next retreat.
Matthew Kieswether, youth director at LifeWay Church in Federal Way, is no stranger to Camp Casey. Camp Casey was the venue for a weekend retreat for students while he was enrolled in SPU’s Master of Arts Teaching (MAT) program, and has since taken his family to Camp Casey for family camping outings. It should come as no surprise that when his church was looking for a unique setting, something historic and surrounded by natural beauty, Camp Casey was the obvious choice.
Matthew and his 36 youth and adults knew as soon as they arrived at Camp Casey that they had made the right choice. “The barracks were awesome”, says Keiswether, “it was a good way to provide an environment where students and adults could connect to one another”. The group also used the South Commons Building for their craft room and group meetings. The mess hall provided meals for their retreat. What about price? Matthew said the price for the camp was good in comparison to other camps they considered for the retreat.
Apart from lip sync battles, sword fighting on the fields, playing basketball, spending time on the beach, climbing the batteries at Fort Casey, visiting Admiralty Head Lighthouse, and enjoying evening camp fires, there was plenty of time to create this entertaining YouTube video: fb.me/sCDursZa
The LifeWay Church is a non-denominational church in Federal Way involved in missions around the world and is devoted to “making disciples who make disciples”. The mission of LifeWay Youth Ministry is to be a community committed to Christ and to His work in the lives of middle and high school youth. “Everything we are and everything we do as a church begins with what we believe. The truths that God has revealed are what hold us together and dictate the life and future of the church”, says Keiswether. Keep a close watch on yourself and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right, and God will save you and those who hear you. – 1 Timothy 4:16
Churches and faith-based organizations have grown to know that Camp Casey Conference Center is the right place for all ages of their congregation to worship, rest, and enjoy fellowship. Church groups can worship on the beach, hear speakers in comfortable meeting rooms, take nature walks in the nearby Fort Casey State Park, play lively outdoor games on the former parade ground, and much more. Church groups can also choose from two auditoriums with capacity for 75 to 350 people. Other meeting spaces are available for smaller groups. The multipurpose buildings are perfect for chapel, seminars, or workshops. Auditorium A is equipped with a large movie screen, public address system, and stage. 4 If you are planning your next retreat, we would love to help you with your plans. YouTube videos are optional.
Several months ago a few men at the Trinity Lutheran Church noted that it had been years since they, as a group, had gathered to discuss and reflect on what’s really important to them in their lives and to learn from each other’s experiences. According to Tom Nielson, a small planning group was formed to organize a Spiritual Retreat. “None of us had any experience or history with organizing such a retreat, so we looked to something close by and convenient” said Tom. “What we did know is that we needed a location where lodging, meals and facilities for meetings and breakout sessions were co-located.”
Everyone knew of the presence of Camp Casey Conference Center north of Freeland, but they had no idea how well the location, lodging, meals and facilities where going to work out for them until they met with Robyn, the center’s Director. Tom credited Robyn as being instrumental in figuring out what facilities would be best suited for the retreat and getting everything organized and setup. The group of 34 ended up staying in Barracks H, where with the exception of meal service, they were totally self-contained. With lodging on the first floor, and meeting spaces on the second floor, they were able to hold their general meetings, breakout sessions and their lecture series all in the same location.
This year’s retreat theme was Faith, Friends and Fellowship. Tom’s comment was that the unique historic setting, combined with the scenic natural beauty of Camp Casey made for a great environment for community and reflection. All came away from the retreat renewed in their faith, and strengthened by the fellowship. They are looking forward to making this an ongoing event.
Trinity Lutheran Church in Freeland, WA is a church where all are welcome. About 60% of the members at Trinity Church do not have Lutheran roots – rather Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, and Roman Catholic backgrounds. Many have come to Trinity with little or no church background. Their backgrounds and beliefs are diverse. Their social commandment to the community is extraordinarily generous. In addition to providing scholarships to local students and supporting Helping Hands and the local Food Bank, they make their auxiliary building available to groups for meetings at no cost.
Ekklesia (ek-klay-see-ah) is a rebellious movement of people radically committed to following Jesus. That hardly seems like the typical definition of a group of young people who describe themselves as “being real, seeking truth, embodying justice and passionately worshiping Jesus.” Part of Christ the King Church in Bellingham, they outline their vision as seeing a generation worship Jesus and make disciples.
Kate Crain, current Administrator, has been involved in the community since 2011. When conducting research for the first Ekklesia retreat for college students last February 2014, she discovered Camp Casey. This is now their third retreat in the last 12 months. What keeps them coming back? “The location and its beautiful surroundings.” Kate says their favorite time during the retreats is when they are free to go and explore outside and take in the views. From the looks of their photos, exploring was just part of it.
This most recent visit included 135 members attending – they made use of several of our Staff and Company quarters, shared meals in our Mess Hall, and celebrated in the Auditorium. And just in case members didn’t want to go out and explore, they made use of the historic gym that has a three-quarter size basketball court upstairs and a game room with ping pong, foosball and pool tables downstairs.
Ekklesia says that there are no perfect people allowed (within their group). “Please don’t feel like you have to pretend to be something that you’re not. We are about loving God, loving others, and loving others to God.” We couldn’t say it better!
Ekklesia’s mission statement is “To create an authentic Christian community that effectively reaches out to un-churched people with love, acceptance, and forgiveness so that they may experience the joy of salvation and a purposeful life of discipleship.”
Camp Casey provides two meal options served in our newly remodeled Mess Hall A. Classic or Basic menu options are priced for hearty, healthy meals and can accommodate most dietary restrictions with appropriate notice. Menus are created for specific group’s onsite and are nutritionally balanced. Our Dining Services Staff is poised to assist clients in creating a positive dining experience while at Camp Casey.
Looking for more information on this group? Check out their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ekklesiabellingham
Camp Casey has many groups that return to visit each year; and some like Crossroads Bible Church even created a video to advertise their program. Their tag line for this year’s retreat was: “Military base? Barracks? Mess Hall? Oh my! This fall camp has become a great time to get away, build fellowship, make tons of fun memories, and learn about living like Jesus.”
Crossroads Bible Church Junior High’s retreat this past November 7th - 9th included 80 students and staff members. While Kellan Peterson, Junior High Director, was a first timer, she states that the students look forward to their time there every year and my predecessors at the church have always run camp there.
Describing their Junior High goals, Crossroad’s state: “a student’s life can be confusing, stressful, fun, dramatic … all wrapped up into one… So many students today are in need of someone to show them how to live life. They look at adults for examples of how to go about life. We have the wonderful opportunity to help them do that by letting them be a part of our lives.” Kellan said “the kids loved that they could run around and play hide-and-go-seek at the fort and the ability to play football and other games on the open field during both the night and the day.”
So while it is part of a former Military base (Fort Casey) and they did stay in barracks - Kellan said the rooms were clean. They ate in a Mess Hall – where we can provide two meal options served in our newly remodeled Mess Hall. We also offer auditoriums, the largest of which seats 350. Among its many features, it has a built-in PA system, DVD/VCR player, mounted digital projector, electrically- operated screen, and upright piano. Our gym offers a three-quarter size basketball court upstairs and a game room with ping pong, foosball and pool table downstairs. We have three outdoor volleyball courts, multiple soccer fields and four outdoor full-size basketball courts. Crossroads mentioned that they took advantage of all of these with the great weather they had during their stay.
When have you ever seen the words awesome and barracks in the same sentence? We think you’ll find a similar experience at Camp Casey.
The St Joseph's Women's Ministry Group, members of St. Joseph’s, a Jesuit Parish in Seattle, advertised their retreat as “Finding Time for God in My Life … Come to the Water.” Isaiah 55:1 says in part, "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters.” What an aptly named event to hold at Camp Casey in late September. This group of 21 had never been stayed here, but based on the recommendations of their Deacon Steve Wodzanowski, ventured to the island in search of “simplified accommodations” and a setting that would provide for their group size. Sheila Marie says that her group “share(s) their faith through sisterhood by unconditionally loving and helping one another and their community.” Something obvious from the multitude of services that are provided to women through this Seattle parish. Examples such as Jubilee Women’s Center, Habitat for Humanity and Westside Baby. October 1st marked the opening of St. Joseph’s Winter Shelter.
Finding even a brief refuge has always been a draw for groups that work so hard in their communities to help others. In the case of the Women’s Ministry they slept at our BOQ, shared their meals in our mess hall, and from the look of their group photos, seemed to have enjoyed the surroundings. Are you considering a retreat for your organization? Churches and faith-based organizations know that Camp Casey Conference Center is the right place for all ages of their congregation’s members to worship, rest, and enjoy fellowship. Church groups can worship on the beach, hear speakers in comfortable meeting rooms, take nature walks in the nearby Fort Casey State Park, play lively outdoor games on the former parade ground, and much more.
Camp Casey offers several Program Package s to enhance your stay. Whether you choose one of our packages or we work with you to create one that is unique to your group, our staff will strive to make your visit to Camp Casey memorable.
This year marks the 23rd visit that members of the Redmond based Church of the Holy Cross have spent at Camp Casey in what has been described as an "institution of parish life." Fr. Eichner describes his church as a "small congregation with a warm sense of community and commitment to serving our Lord Jesus and outreach". There is evidence of that in their newsletters, Facebook page and website. Not just in the food bank or Habitat for Humanity efforts, but in numerous pilgrimages across the globe. But what Fr. Eichner says he has loved about Holy Cross since first taking over as Rector in 2002 is that his congregation is "playful." There are a dozen examples that would attest to that playfulness - chief among them is their annual Camp Casey weekend.
What makes this group of 55 attendees stand out among our usual visitors is that they didn't take advantage of our housing or food service - instead they brought their community together in a different fashion. One that Fr. Eichner describes as "secluded, yet accessible, cushy yet rustic, a community hub for a host of nearby activities." For the last 23 years their members have been spending a weekend at the campgrounds of Camp Casey - while taking advantage of our pool, beach, bluff, trails and fields.
Camp Casey's campgrounds have 25 campsites with water, electricity, a picnic table and a fire ring at each one. Perhaps camping isn't your favored environment for a retreat, but Churches and faith-bases organizations know that Camp Casey Conference Center is the right place for all ages of their congregation’s members to worship, rest, and enjoy fellowship.
Fr. Eichner took the above photo of what he described as one of 3 amazing sunsets during their stay. His wife Kim captioned "view during church today."