Outdoor Ed Programs & The Orca Network

  • By Richard
  • 30 Apr, 2014
Orca Network on Whidbey Island.

In 1995 Howard Garrett and Susan Berta started a campaign to return Lolita, a captive orca in Miami, to her native waters in Puget Sound. By 2001, their efforts transformed into the Orca Network, an organization dedicated to educating the public about habitat restoration for Orcas.

Today, the Orca Network has members that include everyone from recreational whale-watchers to journalists, scientists, conservationists, public officials, students and teachers. The Orca Network provides unique educational opportunities to Camp Casey Conference Center guests.

“We send out regular compilations of whale sightings and photos to our email list, and we use social media to bring current news, personal stories and important issues to their attention, all to enhance awareness about the orcas, grays and other whales in the waters around Whidbey Island,”  Garrett said. “We also send out press releases about current events, and are known by many local, state, and national media, so when news happens we are often called for comments.”

The Orca Network is dedicated to reaching out to everyone, young and old, to teach them about the importance of habitat protection and conservation of Orcas. Garrett feels especially passionate about educating children. In 2001 he wrote “Orcas In Our Midst”, a booklet targeted at educating middle-school students about Orcas. The second volume of the booklet was released in 2005.

“Camp Casey is a great set of facilities for large groups in a beautiful location that happens to have fantastic views of Admiralty Inlet, which is the entrance to Puget Sound for orcas and gray whales, plus occasional humpbacks, minke whales, and the ever-present porpoises, seals and sea lions, and a great variety of seabirds,” Anderson said.

Co-founder of the Orca Network, Susan Berta, is also coordinator and administrator for the Central Puget Sound Marine Mammal Stranding Network, overseeing volunteer training, stranding response, necropsy and sampling of stranded marine mammals in three counties. Many Puget Sound organizations and voters have recognized Berta and Garrett for their numerous contributions and activism roles on behalf of Orcas.

Guests at Camp Casey now have the opportunity to incorporate Orca education into outdoor education programs at Camp. To learn more about the Orca Network, visit   www.orcanetwork.org   or you can view the sightings list by visiting the Facebook page   www.facebook.com/orcanetwork .

Go Camp 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 .

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.

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