Great American Eclipse of 2017

  • By Richard
  • 14 Feb, 2017

Astronomy Outdoor Ed at Camp Casey 

One of this decade’s most memorable astronomy events will occur on August 21, 2017, when the Moon's shadow will pass over all North America. The path of the umbra, where the eclipse is total, stretches from Salem, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. This will be the first total solar eclipse visible in the contiguous United States in 38 years. From our location at Camp Casey, the eclipse will start at 9:06 a.m. PDT, reach its maximum at 10:19 p.m PDT., and end at 11:41 p.m PDT. Even though we are not on the direct path, the obscuration or point of the Moon being hidden by darkness, will be nearly 90%. This eclipse is being called the Great American Eclipse of 2017.

Observing the night sky is something humans have been doing with great excitement since the beginning of our existence. Today, aided by years of scientific discovery and technological advancements, we can view objects in deep space and gather data, at a level which eludes comprehension for most of us. Yet, the inspiration and awe of viewing the night sky with one’s own eyes or a simple telescope is still the subject of many stories we bring back home with us from camp.

Astronomy, or viewing the night sky, is one of the outdoor education programs available to campers at Casey. You don’t need to be here during one of the notable celestial events to take advantage of learning about the night sky. We have a working relationship with the Island Country Astronomical Society of Washington, who with prior scheduling, are available to provide knowledgeable instructors and facilitators to present astronomy programs. Campers can either request talks and programs on specific subjects or have the facilitator prepare a program of general interest.

Several time a year, Dr. Douglas Downing, an associate professor of economics in the School of Business, Government, and Economics at SPU, is on site viewing the sky with his 25” Obsession telescope. The telescope is housed year-round at Camp Casey, so it’s always ready for Professor Downing and other SPU faculty or qualified persons to roll out and use during their visit. Can you imagine how different the experience is between viewing images on a laptop to looking directly through this powerful telescope? Check out some of the celestial events happening in 2017. Why not add astronomy to your outdoor education program?

Go Camp Casey

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 .

By Richard 01 Aug, 2017

Are you ready to experience a natural phenomenon no human action can disrupt? You’ll get your chance August 21, 2017. If you are in Western Washington, you’ll be able to see a partial solar eclipse starting about 9:08 a.m. and ending about 11:38 a.m. The maximum coverage will occur at 10:20 a.m. Times are local for the Seattle area. It’s important to note that the only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as “eclipse glasses,” or handheld solar viewers. NASA has the authoritative information on safety on their Eclipse 101 – Safety web page at https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/safety .

Apart from the excitement of viewing an eclipse of the sun, the event presents scientists with opportunities to study and collect data. What happens in the atmosphere and on the earth’s surface when the light is blocked, even temporarily? How are radio wave transmissions affected by the temporary loss of solar energy? How does losing sunlight, out of the natural rhythm affect animal behavior? These are the kind of questions around which scientists, both professional and amateur, are building research projects.

The total solar eclipse has been coined the Great American Solar Eclipse because totality will sweep the nation from the Pacific to the Atlantic oceans. Nearly everyone in the U.S. can reach a place to view this total solar eclipse within one day’s drive. NASA is using this event to rekindle excitement over celestial events and the science behind them. If you are interested in getting more information about the eclipse, including links to watching live streaming video of the eclipse as it starts its path across the nation in Oregon visit https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov .

By Richard 25 Jul, 2017

"Whidbey Island is one of the very best places in the U.S. to see glacial sediments exposed," says Julia Wellner, assistant professor of stratigraphy, sedimentology, and glacial processes at the University of Houston. As a scientist and educator who specializes in glacial deposits, she makes a powerful statement, but not what we expected to hear when we asked her why she chose to bring 18 of her students and research assistants to Casey earlier this year. She did add that they needed a place where they could comfortably fit, not spend too much money, and have a beautiful place to relax in the evenings. 

"Casey was a great option for us," she explained. "The students enjoyed making a fire and sitting around the fire pit at the end of the day." Most of the talk at the fire pit was about how spectacular the thick stack of geologic strata was at Blowers Bluff and how the colorful and intricately stratified sediment from interglacial times was in plain view right above the beach. 

This particular group used Casey as a staging area for various day trips to the glacial sediments around Whidbey Island. They started their days off with breakfast in the mess hall. Some students also used the gym in the mornings, and everyone enjoyed walking around the grounds. Several commented that it was an excellent way to start the day. 

We often hear our campers comment on how beautiful Whidbey Island is; however, the excitement around the local geology is something a bit rare. Now we know, Whidbey Island is a fantastic place to see glacial deposits while enjoying some seascapes. The lesson learned from chatting with Professor Wellner about her experience at Casey is that the number of reasons to come for a stay has no limits and will sometimes surprise.

By Richard 17 Jul, 2017

 Fort Casey State Park, just a short walk from Casey, provides additional history and outdoor education opportunities. With some prior coordination, groups can prearrange activities including:

1.      Fort Tour

· History of the fort
· The disappearing guns and how they work
· How the ammunition was loaded
· Fire control station
· Battery commanders station
· Mortar pits

2.      Lighthouse Tour
· Navigation
· The two lighthouses at Admiralty Inlet
· The two 4th order Fresnel lenses
· Traveling library box
· Wickie box
· History of the lighthouse
· Day in the life of a lighthouse keeper
· The keeper's log

3.      Forest Scavenger Hunt (Grades K-5)
Students will walk through the forest exploring the native and non-native plants. They will have a sheet of plant photos and names to match up. Students will discover how plants and animals of the forest make up the cycle of life.

4.      Food Waste, Worms, and Forest (Grades K-8)
Students will discover the amazing world of worms that eat our food waste in a worm bin at the compost demo site at Fort Casey State Park. They will explore how feeding the worms food waste can decrease our garbage and benefit our garden soils.

When planning your group’s retreat or camp, give some thought to taking short excursions to neighboring Fort Casey State Park. Our area is rich with nature and history, as well as knowledgeable staff and volunteers who are eager to help enrich your visit.

By Richard 05 Jul, 2017

Camp Casey’s rich history as a former military installation is well documented. However, some of the more vibrant history lies in the personal stories people tell from their experiences. Doug Kroon, SPU Class of ’71, was a child when his family moved to Casey as part of his father’s employment with Seattle Pacific University. At that time, there was some consideration given to closing Casey due to the conditions of the buildings. Mel Kroon, Doug’s dad, was hired to bring the buildings up to code and maintain the facilities so that they once again became usable.

Doug recounts stories about major projects his father and his crew undertook to rehabilitate the facilities so that the University could start using Casey as a satellite SPU property. A new high capacity well had to be installed to support fire suppression requirements. The electrical and plumbing in the buildings had to be repaired or replaced. The building heating and hot water were converted from coal-fired furnace to electric appliances.

Once the facilities were up to code, and the buildings became habitable, SPU allowed groups to use Casey for sports camps and off-campus educational programs. Even back then, SPU was on the forefront of environmentalism. The Sea Lab was built to host six-week environmental classes as part of a national foundation grant. Summer classes became a staple at Casey for SPU education students, and included revolutionary programs like cross-modality teaching and teaching to students with dyslexia. So popular were these programs that what is now the campground was built as a trailer park to house students who traveled in camper vehicle from all over the country.

The exposure to teachers and students at Casey shaped Doug's first career choice. He went on to attend SPU and after graduation returned to Whidbey Island to teach elementary school in Oak Harbor, Washington.  Doug worked in the Casey mess hall and learned to bake. As it turned out, his passion for baking took him to what he does today.  His work is now on full display at the Knead & Feed Bakery and Restaurant in Coupeville. When you visit his bakery, and admire the cinnamon rolls on the counter, remember that they were a staple he learned to bake at Casey.

By Richard 18 Jun, 2017
Did you know that just a few miles off the western shore of Whidbey Island near Oak Harbor are the Smith and Minor Islands? The US Fish and Wildlife Service designated these 36,300 acres of tidelands and seafloor habitat as an aquatic reserve. An aquatic reserve is a State-owned land considered containing exceptional biodiversity. The Smith and Minor Islands have the largest kelp bed in the Puget Sound and provide a pristine ecosystem that attracts multitudes of migrating, nesting and foraging birds, fish and marine mammals.

The Reserve’s boundary includes the western coast of Whidbey Island from Joseph Whidbey State Park to just south of Fort Ebey State Park and provides several opportunities to access. Specifically, there are five access points. The first at Joseph Whidbey State Park, just northwest of Oak Harbor. West Beach Road, just south of the park. From here a public beach provides shoreline access as well as a view of the Olympic Mountains, the Reserve and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. A third entry point where you gain access from the water to the reserve is at the Hastie Lake Road Boat Launch. West of Coupeville and north of Ft Ebey State Park, there is a small county park called Libbey Beach County Park (Partridge Point) which provides shoreline access to the Reserve. Lastly, Ebey’s Landing, located south of Ft. Ebey State Park offers shoreline access, as well as spectacular views of the Reserve.

Apart from Reserve serving as a nesting and foraging habitat for seabirds, it’s also part of the National Wildlife Refuge that offers a breeding ground and winter sanctuary for birds. Whales, such as orca, gray and minke can frequently be seen from the Reserve; and harbor seals, elephant seals, and stellar sea lions use the islands for water, rest, and pup-rearing.

The large kelp beds function as a rearing and foraging habitat for juvenile salmon, crab, and other fish. Lastly, many invertebrates – part of the Reserve’s food chain - such as snails, clams, crabs, shrimp and other critters are found around the waters and shorelines.
From Casey, these points of access to the Reserve are just minutes away. If you’d like a presentation made to your group, contact Robin Clark at Robin@whidbeywatersheds.org or (206) 235-3321.

Find more information at http://www.aquaticreserves.org/wp-content/uploads/Smith-and-Minor-Panel.pdf
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