Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines camping as “a place usually away from urban areas where tents or simple buildings (as cabins) are erected for shelter or for temporary residence.” Everyone's idea of camping is a little different. At SPU’s Camp Casey Conference Center, we offer a varied camping experience that offers the Fire Hall, Alumni House, BOQ, semi-private Company Quarters, Barracks, and 25 campsites. Each campsite comes with water, electricity, picnic table, and fire ring.
When the leadership team from Seattle’s own Canlis Restaurant was looking for a location for their retreat, they had something specific in mind. Their criteria was that the venue be a short drive away, surrounded by forest, and conducive to building community. They also wanted to be able to take meals together and have lots of open space to play their favorite outdoor activity, laser tag. It was no surprise to us that they selected our sister property, Fort Casey Inn. The Inn is the former non-commissioned officers’ quarters, circa 1909 - part of the original Fort Casey. The 20 key managers of the Canlis team, including fourth generation owners Mark and Brian Canlis, rented six of the two-bedroom houses. Each house has a living area, upstairs bath, and farm kitchen accommodations - perfect for their evening meal preparations.
Mark officially joined Canlis in 2003 after he had graduated from Cornell University, served as a captain in Air Force Special Operations, and worked in nearly a dozen restaurants across the country. Brian says he and his brother were on a mountain-biking trip when Mark approached him about coming back to Seattle to join the business. He returned in 2005 after 12 years of studying and working abroad. Brian also attended Cornell University and was a commissioned Air Force officer.
What we’re they looking for when they selected the Fort Casey Inn for their retreat? An adventure. The retreat also provided for the power of building intimacy and sharing personal stories. A big fan of the book, Speed of Trust by Stephen Covey, he believes the more trust and intimacy is established, the higher the performance. So what exactly did that look like for their retreat? Playing games in the forest. The team loves laser tag. They used Garrison Hall for their meetings and in the afternoon donned their face paint and played 10-on-10 at the fort. This was followed by more meetings. Evenings were spent cooking and grilling, camp fires, eating s’mores, and time on the beach.
So if your definition of camping doesn’t involve a tent, perhaps the Inn is the perfect solution and is located next door to Fort Casey State Park with its bunkers, lighthouse, 10-inch disappearing guns, public beaches, and trails. Spectacular views of the Straits of Juan de Fuca, Olympic Mountains, Cascade Mountains, and the San Juan Islands are within walking distance. As far as laser tag conditions – we’ll let you decide!
Every year the Bellevue College Student Leadership Institute kicks off its program with a retreat at Camp Casey. This year, more than 140 student leaders converged on Camp Casey for a four day retreat which featured interactive leadership seminars, an off-site ropes course, games, camp fire huddles, and opportunities for reflection. The activities were facilitated by 22 mentors and 14 staff members. “This retreat kicks off our summer leadership training and includes activities that are designed to empower and educate future leaders”, says Faisal Jaswal, associate dean for student programs. He also is the adviser for the Jewish Cultural Club at Bellevue College. “Camp Casey is iconic”, continues Faisal, “and was intentionally chosen as the retreat site.”
Faisal lived just a bit south of Camp Casey for 28 years and still has family in the area. Having lived near Camp Casey gives him great appreciation for the natural beauty, history and collective convenience of having vast open spaces, lodging, meeting spaces and meal service, all in one location. The calm and quiet of the location make it a natural setting to unplug and focus on the here and now.
Faisal, who started the institute with just 10 people, says he was inspired because he recognized that students needed to prepare to become the leaders of tomorrow. Having participated in a Student leadership Institute himself, he has personally experienced the benefits. Bellevue College Student Leadership Institute has since grown from its humble beginnings into the largest of such programs in Washington State. It has also grown past being a state, regional, and national presence. Each year guests from other institutions attend to experience the retreat and to gather information needed to start their own programs. This year was no different. Glenia Allen-Schmid , program coordinator for student engagement at Flathead Valley Community College in Montana, attends the retreat. She is learning the ins and outs of the program with plans to launch a similar program at her institution.
The annual retreat kicks off every year with a welcome address by Faisal. On this 15th annual retreat, the diversity of the group was evident as the 14 staff joined Faisal standing in front of the group of 140-plus students for the welcome address. Diversity was not limited to gender, race, and religion. These young leaders of tomorrow are diverse in their views of the world as well. The Leadership Institute’s core values include: civic responsibility, ethical conduct, empowerment of others, as well as diversity and pluralism.
Faisal’s welcome speech wasn’t one-sided as he requested the students voice affirmatio
Every summer, the Puget Sound Folk Harp Society brings together harp enthusiasts from across the state for a musical weekend retreat. This year, the group was thrown a last minute curve ball when their usual retreat location became unavailable with little notice. Retreat organizer, Diane Moss, decided that Camp Casey Conference Center might make an ideal home for the annual event. “This was our very first year, and a wonderful find it was! With our old retreat venue unavailable, we had just a month or so to try to find somewhere else. We had no hope of being able to get a place for this year, especially with the wish-list we had,” Diane Moss, Board Member, Secretary and Retreat Organizer for the Puget Sound Folk Harp Society said. “The most difficult of these: a meeting room big enough to accommodate 25 harps and players, a fairly level entry, close parking so harps could be moved in and out easily, and a kitchen so we could do our own cooking.”
In a lucky twist of fate, the Camp Casey BOQ happened to be available the very weekend that the group was hoping to hold the retreat. “I told Robyn we'd be there the next day to check it out in person, and she gave us a good tour. It was perfect for us, and we booked it on the spot,” Moss said. In addition to the music, attendees enjoyed activities in the BOQ, free time on the beach and grounds and hiking in the Heritage Forest. “We used the BOQ kitchen for our own meal preparation. So many of our participants have special diets that this works well for us, and everyone gets exactly the type and amount of food necessary,” Moss said. Moss reports that members of the society unanimously liked the new location and amenities at Camp Casey Conference Center. “Being in the middle of such natural beauty, and yet so close to a town and services, was a big plus,” she said. “We had beautiful weather for our weekend, and the views were simply amazing everywhere we looked.” One of the best things about Camp Casey is its central location for Puget Sound residents. Although it is on an island, the center can be easily accessed from the peninsula by way of Port Townsend, from the north near Bellingham and the Eastside, by the I-405 to Mukilteo route.
“The layout of the BOQ allows us to set up our harps for the entire weekend and still have a separate dining area and kitchen for meals and socializing. It was the deciding factor,” Moss said. “We absolutely plan to return next year; we've already asked to have ‘our’ weekend on the 2015 calendar.” The Puget Sound Folk Harp Society is a registered Washington State non-profit. They work to promote awareness and appreciation of folk harp music throughout the state and beyond.
For more information on the Puget Sound Folk Harp Society, visit www.pugetsoundfolkharpsociety.org .
What keeps you coming back? That’s one of the questions we posed to the Program Director of the Cascadia Irish Music Week. Randal Bays’ answered with: “Camp Casey is ideal in that the location is self-contained. We are able to house our students and instructors all in one location, take meals together, and have ample breakout spaces for 10 teachers and 80 students to conduct various classes and lectures.” It keeps the focus on learning and recreates the “community” atmosphere that Bay has felt when traveling to Ireland.
This August was the 2nd year that Ceol Cascadia brought their Cascadia Irish Music Week to Camp Casey. Ceol is Gaelic for ‘music’. Their mission is to preserve the heritage of Irish traditional music in the Pacific Northwest, and the musicians that travel to the camp are all accomplished teachers. They feel that music is best learned in a relaxed atmosphere of mutual respect between teachers and students, and the non-class experiences at the camp - sessions, concerts, informal chats - are an important part of absorbing the music. When you review the 2014 Faculty, you immediately grasp their dedication. Seven of the 10 teachers traveled from Ireland specifically for this event. The instructors are some to the top players in their field with awards such as All-Ireland Senior Champion , Young Traditional Musician of the Year , and Best Traditional Album of the Year . Students travel from all over the US and Canada to attend the music week.
Students are treated to a comprehensive schedule. The daily schedule includes three 75-minute class sessions focusing on particular instruments and technique. There is ample time remaining to take in various other classes such as Basic Ear Training for Folk Musicians or to find a quiet area and practice lessons learned. When walking around Camp Casey during Cascadia Irish Music Week, you can often see and hear musicians under a tree or down by the beach playing a tune. Music flows from what seems like every building. The evening schedule includes sessions, concerts and dancing. The idea behind the evening schedule is for everyone to get to play in sessions, as much as possible.
Camp Casey is ideally suited for a group looking for a venue that could provide for multiple meeting spaces that allows for 10 or more simultaneous sessions in a self-contained location. We have over 18 buildings that combined, provide for all your housing, dining and meeting needs. Flexibility is key. We can handle large groups of up to 500 persons , and small intimate groups of six persons. Groups at Camp Casey enjoy meals provided by our onsite Dining Services team. You’ll have a tasty range of options and plans based on the needs of your group. Meal times can be adjusted to your group’s programming needs. Vegetarian options are available at every meal.
If you are interested in learning more about Ceol Cascadia, Irish Music Association of the Pacific Northwest, please visit their website at http://ceolcascadia.org .
Looking for a venue that offers lots of activities for your members and their families? You don’t need to look any further than Camp Casey Conference Center. At least that’s the message from Katie Sims, SPU Director, Advancement Services. Katie commented: “At our spring President’s Circle event on Seattle Pacific University’s campus, we received feedback from our President’s Circle donors that they wanted more opportunities to gather together and celebrate SPU’s mission and vision. When we approached the conference center staff, they were excited to host an event like this. We made a site visit, met our colleagues at Casey and started making plans to pull off the best BBQ ever for our President’s Circle members.” The Manager of Conferences Services pointed out that a site visit isn’t always necessary and most events can easily be organized and coordinated via email and telephone.
What makes Camp Casey Conference Center so unique is the location. The renovated buildings and facilities date back to 1890, when the U.S. Army started building ‘Fort Casey.' This historic venue is set on the west side of Whidbey Island overlooking the Puget Sound. Nature surrounds it: Admiralty Inlet, Heritage Forest, Crockett Lake. When it came to planning the event, a summer family BBQ was the obvious way to go. The day was filled with great food and lots of activities for all ages. Adults were treated to a tour of the historic Colonel’s House, Fort Casey and the Admiralty Head Lighthouse. All just a short walk away and those needing extra attention were driven there. Children enjoyed lawn games on the vast playfield and the heated summing pool.
“The staff rolled up their sleeves,” says Katie. “I was blown away by their support throughout the planning, setup and operation of the event. They made us feel like Family!” Staff was available for coordinating tents, tables, chairs and all the other items needed. The Dining Services Team and his staff handled all food preparation and catering service. Staff was even on hand to setup and teardown. Camp Casey Conference Center provides full service for all their events, if needed.
SPU's President's Circle membership is open to those who contribute $1,000 or more to Seattle Pacific University. Gifts to the President's Circle are quickly deployed to support critical University priorities, such as student scholarships, programs, and initiatives. President Circle gifts help SPU graduate men and women of competence and character who will bring positive change to their communities, and to our world. For more information on the SPU Presidents Circle visit: http://advance.spu.edu/presidents-circle .
One of the most unique and interesting groups to visit Camp Casey Conference Center is surely The Cabiri. The Cabiri is a group of theatrical performers and apprentices who stage performances of dance, aerial arts, fire, stilts and puppetry. The Cabiri aims to preserve the mythology of past cultures through performative mythology - the act of depicting myth and folklore through the performative arts.
Each year, the Cabiri troupe adheres to a rigorous performance schedule, along with a minimum of 20 hours per week of in-studio practice. Fortunately, every year the Cabiri also make time to spend a relaxing weekend at Camp Casey Conference Center.
Like many of the mythologies the troupe personifies through performance, the activities they partake in at the retreat remain mysterious. However, Charly McCreary, Managing Director of the Cabiri has disclosed a few things she loves about her time at Camp Casey Conference Center.
“We do a lot of outdoor activities while we are there,” McCreary said. “It’s really the perfect place for us - that mixture of natural beauty and the facility being nice. It just gives us a relatively quiet space to talk about our art.”
The Alumni House provides a comfortable space for the group of 10-15 people. It’s not too big or too small, McCreary said. Everyone can have a bed, a place to cook and there are areas to meet and talk. The troupe also enjoys long walks through Fort Casey, the forest and on the beach.
One of McCreary’s favorite things about the weekend is that everyone really checks out of reality for a little while. They commit to spend the entire weekend together, turn off their cell phones and just relax, she said.
“It's not far away, it’s a quick trip over there, but it really feels secluded,” McCreary said. “It’s beautiful out there.”
The Cabiri is a non-profit organization that is supported by 4Culture, Seattle Office of Arts and Culture, Youngstown Cultural Arts Center as well as volunteers and individual donations. For more information on the Cabiri, log on to www.cabiri.org .
Affordable, beautiful and fun, Camp Casey is the perfect location for team members to become acquainted and form friendships. That’s why the Seattle Pacific University Crew Team retreats to Camp Casey every winter to play games, relax, unwind and build bonds that last all season long.
“As nearly two thirds of the team are new each year, we have found this retreat to be the most important thing we do, other than actual training,” Keith Jefferson, Seattle Pacific University Crew Coach, said. “Winter training is very demanding, and the team members’ relationships are pivotal to perseverance and success.”
The SPU crew teams include 25-30 men and women who stay in the Camp Casey Bachelor Officer Quarters (BOQ). The BOQ is an all-inclusive space where groups can sleep, eat and hold group meetings. There is a commercial kitchen, dining hall and meeting rooms with AV capabilities in the building or adjacent. The Crew team enjoys using the BOQ as space to play games or watch movies. The gymnasium and field serve as perfect locations for energy burning activities and Fort Casey is the ideal setting for a game of Sardines (a hide and seek game).
“We would have significantly less unification, or achieve it more difficultly, without the Casey experience each year,” Jefferson said. “Casey is invaluable to us, and the only affordable way for us to do this really. The staff are great and the facilities are perfect for what we need.”
Camp Casey hosts many other sports teams throughout the year, who use the facilities for training and team bonding. The Camp offers a gymnasium and expansive high-quality play fields with the option to rent sports equipment (goals etc.). Guests are also able to take advantage of Camp Casey’s outdoor education programs, beachside fire pits and swimming pool (summer only).
National champion rower David Covey founded the Seattle Pacific University Crew team in 1973. The crew race season runs from March through June when the SPU crew competes in approximately ten race events around the Western U.S. For more information on the SPU Crew team, log on to http://www.spu.edu/depts/crew/ .
For each of the past six years the Northwest Scottish Fiddlers have spent a weekend filling the halls of Camp Casey Conference Center with their beautiful, traditional Scottish fiddle tunes. The focus of the Seattle-based group’s retreat is to bring together its members to learn, perform and share Scottish music. The musicians include fiddlers, cellists, guitar players and bass players.
“There are several goals to this retreat, but the primary focus is to learn Scottish fiddle music,” Marcia Thumma, President of Northwest Scottish Fiddlers said. “People also enjoy making new friends at this camp and socializing through music, as well as good conversation or a walk in the park nearby.”
Camp Casey’s exceptional dining services and staff make it easy for the group to meet over a meal and make new friends. “Very few people ever feel it's necessary to go somewhere else to grab what they would call a good meal anymore. We like to linger around a good meal and talk for quite a while,” she said.
The Northwest Scottish Fiddlers use a wide variety of facilities at Camp Casey including the auditorium, dining hall and gymnasium. Guests stay in the Company Quarters. The group is considering expanding to use more housing and classroom space at Camp Casey next year.
“We got very positive feedback from the workshop attendees about the retreat! Things started improving two years ago when we saw our workshop attendance jump from 71 people in April 2013 to 95 people just nine months later, in January 2014,” Thumma said. “We know people are happy and the word is getting out! I believe people also find our workshop attractive because we try very hard to keep the price down.”
Camp Casey’s reasonable pricing is a big draw for the group. The low cost makes it easier for the Northwest Scottish Fiddlers to be sure that almost everyone can afford to join the fun.
“Personally, I think one of the things that makes Camp Casey so unique is the fact that it is an old Army facility. It gives the event so much more character versus staying in a modern cookie cutter hotel,” Thumma said. “I like the fact that they've tried to maintain that feel, too. It's really interesting to step back into history just a little bit, and sense what these military men experienced!”
Thumma also says she appreciates the friendly staff and abundant wildlife at Camp Casey. “It's nice to know that Coupeville isn't far away, if you really need something, but for the most part, we're all too busy having fun to miss anything that much,” she said
Be sure and visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/nwscottishfi