"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.
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
· 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.
A group of 11 students and their teacher from a STEM school in Denver, Colorado, spent a cool evening around a campfire on the Camp Casey beach listening to Native American stories told by Lou LaBambard. A long-term resident of Whidbey Island, Lou has spent more than 50 years offering countless lessons in history, tradition, and culture as a Native American storyteller. If you've attended the Coupeville Water Festival anytime since its inception 25 years ago, you may have had an opportunity to hear his storytelling.
With a backdrop of the beach and a setting sun, LaBombard tells of how his Delaware mother, Seneca/Mohawk father, and his grandmother carried him in a cradle-board during Pow Wows, and how he listened to tribal elders and storytellers of many tribal nations. He shared how Native Americans use these oral traditions instead of the written language to document their history. But more than that, they use these stories to teach proper behaviors, norms, and values to their children.
The students had a chance to hear the story of two Pueblo children and a dragonfly that teach us the lessons of not wasting food or resources. They hear the story of a small mouse who made his way to the top of a mountain and along the way met a bison and a wolf, sacrificed his eyesight, and eventually morphed into a golden eagle. The lesson of the mouse is that the purpose of life is to be selfless and of service to others. He also speaks on the spiritual beliefs of several Native American nations. The Navajos believe in an evolution of the world from a cold mist that eventually gave form from water. The Iroquois and Algonquin’s beliefs are more similar to the book of Genesis.
Through storytelling, Native American tribes share, preserve, and pay tribute to their early beginnings, so future generations can continue their legacy. Camp Casey makes experiencing this rich tradition available to groups as part of their programming. Groups visiting Camp Casey can add Native American storytelling by Lou LaBambard to their outdoor education program or as part of their retreat agenda. Whatever your motivation, you are most likely to come away from this experience enriched and with a new appreciation of Native American culture.
Professor Lou LaBombard has taught at Skagit Valley College on the Whidbey campus for more than 21 years. His areas of expertise include anthropology, sociology, Native American studies, and ethnic studies. He has worked in archaeology and ethnology on Whidbey and elsewhere for more than 35 years. Lou has lectured for many groups as a professional, international teller of Native American oral traditions, and has been a head singer and traditional dancer, "whip man" and judge at pow wows around the country. Prior to joining Skagit Valley College, he was chair of the Social Sciences Department. of Navajo College, Tsaille, Arizona. His family has resided in this area for 22 years.
My 11-year-old grandson, Lars, has been visiting Camp Casey for a number of years. He’s experienced a s’mores campfire by the sea, hiked in the mystical woods in search of owls, cavorted among the historic Army bunkers, photographed the resident deer, flown kites, beachcombed, and swum in the Casey pool. But as wonderful as all these experiences are, they have met their equal in the Beach Seine adventure he experienced in April.
Casey Site Manager Darrell Jacobsen and his team were warm, friendly, and accommodating. They took a motorboat off the beach and played out a long net in a horseshoe pattern. Once the net was in place, those of us left on shore grabbed onto ropes attached to both ends of the net and pulled it in. Lars was invited to jump into the fray and hauled away with all his might.
Once the net was gathered back to shore, we scrambled among the contents and dropped crabs, sea stars, shrimp, tiny sculpins, and some kind of eel-looking animal into buckets of sea water. Lars’ yelps of delight at catching the energetic ocean creatures were wonderful to hear. He’s in a marine biologist frame of mind right now and when he’s old enough would like to study the environmental sciences at SPU and its Blakely Island Field Station.
The sea creatures we caught were quickly installed back at Camp Casey in gurgling touch tanks housed in the Sea Lab building. Lars and I were shown the resident sea life and were able to observe how the recently arrived “neighbors” assimilated into their new surroundings. Lots of questions from Lars, all of which were patiently answered with good humor and interesting facts from the knowledgeable staff. He was especially attracted to the wolf eel lurking in the kelp. It was a fun time of discovery (and family bonding) that reinforced Lars’ desire to one day work to preserve ocean habitat.
By Clint Kelly
A lot has changed in 25 years. Back then, camps were just summer diversions for kids. Today camps can drastically impact your player’s ability, provide a good opportunity for a child to stay fit while having fun, and teach values such as respect and commitment. Sport camps provide children with an opportunity to have fun and focus their energy while gaining many benefits from their experience by combining the traditional camp environment with a sporting atmosphere.
Everyone wants their child to be confident, happy, and successful. A competitive, athletic environment that allows children to receive individual focus and improved skills can be a great way to boost their confidence. Sports are also a great way to teach children values such as teamwork and respect for each other. The group atmosphere teaches children to work with others while feeling like a valued part of a large unit. The competitive atmosphere encourages children to work with others in order to achieve a common goal through collective effort. A team environment can also help children utilize their strengths more effectively and improve on their weaknesses.
One of the best things about attending a sport camp is that it provides a way for children to make friends. While the exercise and personal skills are obviously positive, providing a child with an opportunityto meet others with whom they can interact is valuable. To ensure a balanced program, groups like the SPU Falcon Running Camp include planned recreational and team-building activities. Doris Brown Heritage, a two-time Olympian, a five-time world champion, and a former Olympic Coach describes these as “activities with supervision that are fun and build a sense of team.”
Camp Casey Conference Center most popular package for public and private sport leagues is the Sports Team Weekend Package. The package offers 3 days and 2 nights of lodging and at least 5 meals. This affordable package gives athletes the opportunity to take advantage of our large, versatile and well-groomedfield space, as well as other recreational activities.They will also engage with nature and the fascinating history of the region while sleeping in Camp Casey’s historic barracks and exploring Fort Casey itself.
Touted as the world’s premier distance runner during the ‘60s, Doris Heritage continues her long tradition of coaching and mentoring young runners by being a Falcon Running Camp coach. This two-time Olympian, five-time world champion, former Olympic coach and longtime member of the SPU cross country coaching staff, gives her time freely at the Falcon Running Camp. In addition to the usual coaching tasks, she sat for an hour-long interview where she discussed what it was like growing up on Gig Harbor and how she developed her passion for running. As she tells it, it wasn’t until participating in a running camp in the early 60’s that she learned about training and running drills. She explained that her participation in running programs taught her much more than just the fundamentals of the sport. In a time when racial segregation was the norm and women were excluded from many activities we take for granted today, she joined a very few who stood by their principles and led by example. When participating in a running camp in Texas in the early 60s, she and a group of her running mates would site at the back of the bus in defiance of the prevailing rules stating ‘blacks to the back’. Rather than dining in ‘Whites Only’ restaurants, she and her team mates would ‘brown bag’ it. She says that she wanted to go to a Christian school, so attending Seattle Pacific University was the obvious choice for her.
Attending SPU turned out to be a great choice for Doris. SPU’s head coach at the time, Ken Foreman, founded the Falcon Track Club in 1955, the forerunner to today’s women’s varsity. Under Foreman’s direction, Doris set two American records before graduating in 1964. Her career as a runner did not end with graduation. She was named to the U.S. Olympic team in 1968 and 1972. She won the silver medal (800m) at the Pan American Games in 1967 and 1971. During her prime running years, she won 14 national titles, and set a world record in the 440m, 800m, 1 mile and 3000m. As if not to falter, she won the U.S. Masters cross country title in 1989.
Passing her knowledge and passion on to the next generation, she continued to coach at the national level, including the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Games, as well as the ’87 and ’90 World Championships. Her achievements on and off the track are many: First female to be elected to the prestigious IAAF Cross country and Road Race Committee, head coach of the U.S Ekiden Cup contingent in Japan and Chief of Mission for the U.S. cross country team at the world championships in South Africa.
As if all this isn’t enough, this co-founder of the Falcon Running Camp is still out there today coaching and mentoring young runners attending the 2015 Falcon Running Camp at Camp Casey. Whether it’s during the formal talk she gave to the attendees, leading drills, or simply giving some one-on-one advice, Doris’s mark is evident. It’s the kind of presence that comes from a long unwavering passion.
What makes the Falcon Running Camp so special? It’s the people like Doris who share their experience and expertise so freely. This article focused on Doris Brown Heritage, but she is one of many accomplished coaches and trainers involved in this, the longest running camp in the country.