Group Retreats

Go Camp Casey

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 .

By Richard 18 Apr, 2017
Anam Chara refers to the Celtic spiritual belief of souls connecting and bonding. The Seattle Pacific University Anam Chara Women's Ministry "seeks to provide space and opportunity for refreshment and restoration for the women of SPU, as they strive to discern Christ's calling on their lives." One of the desires of the ministry is to provide contemplative retreats. Deb Nondorf, minister of discipleship, leads an annual retreat at Casey.

"Jesus would withdraw to deserted places for prayer (Luke 5:16, CEB)." Nondorf attributes this verse as one of the reasons for selecting a destination like Casey. During this retreat, the participants were asked to be in silence for at least three hours. Students chose to be in silence for four hours, and to a person, they stated that it wasn't long enough. "Casey stretches time," says Nondorf, "the students reported that just as they started to settle into the quiet, their time was up."

Nondorf explained that being in silence for several hours is quite an accomplishment for young college students who are accustomed to the daily pressures of university life in an urban environment. But then again, the purpose of choosing Casey for the retreat was to get away from the energy of the city and into the quiet of nature. To retreat means to leave our occupied positions and go to a place of safety, quiet, and seclusion. By going on retreat, we physically remove ourselves from life's distractions, the call of chores, and the demands of people to make space for God. Even Jesus recognized the value and needed to get away.

Churches and faith-based organizations know that Casey is the right place for their members of all ages to worship, rest, and enjoy fellowship. Groups can worship on the beach, hear speakers in comfortable meeting rooms, take nature walks in nearby Fort Casey State Park, play outdoor games on the former parade ground, and much more. Call us for more information or help in organizing your next retreat.
By Richard 22 Jul, 2016
When you think of quilting, perhaps most of us envision images of Amish quilts. The fact is that forms of quilting can be traced back to 100 BC and patchwork quilting in America dates to the 1770s. These late-eighteenth- and nineteenth-century patchwork quilts often mixed wool, silk, linen, and cotton in the same piece, as well as mixing large-scale and small-scale patterns. A perfect analogy for a group of 35 enthusiastic quilters who banded together in 2012 to form the Everett Quilt Guild. The guild is a group of men, women, young, old, some retirees, some on fixed incomes, those new to quilting and those who have been practicing the art for years. Once a month this diverse group meets to practice their art as a community. They quilt, work on projects, and listen to one of their own present on a topic such as quilting tips and tricks.

Aside from their bond over quilting, they provide community service to Everett and the surrounding Snohomish County. Just after the Oso tragedy, more than 15 quilts were donated to affected families. Last December, they donated scarves and hats, and 63 quilts to Christmas House to be distributed to low-income families. Their sense of community carries through in all their activities.

On a warm weekend in April, they joined together at Camp Casey’s BOQ for their 3rd annual retreat. Why Camp Casey? Sue says “the price is right,” and it’s an easy drive from Everett. There are also two quilting shops on the island – one in Freeland and the other in Oak Harbor - for them to visit when they find themselves in need of more supplies. The BOQ also has a large kitchen, allowing the group to serve up planned meals throughout the weekend.

The weekend retreat wouldn’t be complete without a few games. One of their activities involves each member contributing squares and “fat” quarters. These contributions end up in giveaway bags as prizes in their raffles. Showcasing one’s work is a large part of the community spirit. Boards are laid out with a sampling of members’ designs and patterns. Shared appreciation of each other’s work is quickly realized as they show off quilts in progress and those completed.

It’s no coincidence that the Everett Quilt Guild chooses Camp Casey as its annual retreat location. Being able to set up workstations for all their members in the large hall, while dining and lodging under the same roof, provides the ingredients for community and bonding.
By Richard 15 Dec, 2015

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!

By Richard 29 Sep, 2015

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

By Richard 30 Sep, 2014

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 .

By Richard 15 Sep, 2014

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 .

By Richard 02 Sep, 2014

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: .

By Richard 16 Aug, 2014

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 .

By Richard 30 Jun, 2014

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 .

More Posts
Share by: