Welcome to our Blog

  • By Richard
  • 01 Aug, 2013
Camp Casey offers lodging, meals, and meeting spaces for non-profit group retreats, sports camp, outdoor education and community events.

We at Camp Casey Conference Center wish to use this inaugural Blog Post to welcome you.  We will be posting original articles featuring stories about groups who use the Camp Casey Conference Center, educational pieces about what you can expect to find here, and what we hope you will be able to take away after your Retreat, Training Camp, or Gathering.

Our commitment to you is that we will create a welcoming environment for your non-profit group to connect, learn and discover.  Our goal is for you to achieve your event objectives and that all participants leave with long-lasting memories of an enjoyable and beneficial experience.

Go Camp Casey

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
By Richard 30 May, 2017

Seattle Pacific University invites the public to visit the Camp Casey Conference Center on Whidbey Island, a historic military fort built at the turn of the 20th century, during their open house on Friday, June 16, 12-4 p.m.

The open house at Camp Casey will feature:

·        Guided tour of the Colonel’s House, which is used predominately as a retreat space for SPU leadership and special groups. The tour begins with a historical talk by SPU Professor of History Bill Woodward, and Fort Casey Volunteer Battalion member Steve Kobylk will lead the tour.  (Tours are at 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.)

·        Tour of the Fort Casey Inn, a row of cottages formerly used as officer’s housing just before World War I. Rooms at the inn are now available for rent.

·        Admission to the “Sea Lab,” a marine biology teaching facility.

·        Tours of the barracks and mess hall.

·        Free admission to the swimming pool during the open house.

The Fort Casey State Park, adjacent to Camp Casey, will offer guided tours of the fort at 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. The Admiralty Head Lighthouse located in the park will be open from 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Camp Casey, originally known as Fort Casey, opened in 1890 by the U.S. military. Fort Casey, along with Fort Worden in Port Townsend and Fort Flagler on Marrowstone Island, became part of the “triangle of fire” to protect the entrance to Puget Sound. Within 20 years, Fort Casey was the fourth largest military post in Washington state, housing ten officers and 428 enlisted men.

Fort Casey was decommissioned after World War II, and SPU purchased the property in 1956. The buildings have been updated and renovated to house school groups, churches, nonprofit organizations, and outdoor education classes.

By Richard 15 May, 2017

What will your high school-aged children be doing this summer? If they are looking for a summer experience that will change their lives, consider Immerse: Seattle Pacific University’s Youth Discipleship Academy. The program leaders challenge students to “invest in your faith and discover your identity as one of both knowledge and action.”

Students, currently in grades nine through 11, will gather at SPU’s Camp Casey Conference Center July 9-15. Students will participate in a program that Daniel Vanderwarker, Immerse program manager, says is for students who wish to think more intellectually about their faith and wish to learn how to put their faith into action. SPU School of Theology professors will provide in-depth teaching, while well-trained discipleship leaders lead activities to discover and expand spiritual principles and practices of thought, prayer, meditation, prayer walking, and Bible reading.

The Immerse program web page states, “Students will begin to form their identity around a God who is present, vital, missional, and powerful, and they will address particular interdependent and mutual faith characteristics: spirituality, narrative, vocation, and community as elements of their relationships with God and each other.” Classes are four hours in length, delivered in a pair of two-hour sessions. There are four courses, each held on a different day:

  • Story explores the basic meta-narrative of Scripture with introductory hermeneutical practices.
  • Creed explores the basic theological beliefs of the church with some Christian history that illustrates the emergence of those beliefs.
  • Mission explores the many ways that God’s mission is embodied in the global and local church in all its cultural diversity, with some understanding of the demography of global Christianity.
  • Connect explores the theology and practice of spiritual disciplines, sacraments, and symbols garnered from the rich well of Christian history.

There will be plenty of time for peer groups and mentors to explore the beaches, forests, lighthouse, and Fort Casey. Free time options are plentiful at Casey and include frisbee, kite flying, soccer games, scavenger hunts, volleyball, hiking, and tag football.

By Richard 25 Apr, 2017

Circadian rhythms – is not a group of musicians who will be spending a retreat at Camp Casey! We are talking about the human “body clock” that anticipates day and night and determines our sleeping habits. Sleeping habits, or the lack of good ones, can result in everything from morning sleepiness and accidents, reduced work productivity and school performance, substance abuse, mood disorders, diabetes, and obesity.

A 2013 study by the University of Colorado Boulder has found that sleeping in a tent can improve your health. How? If you abide by the sun’s schedule, you’re more likely to go to bed and wake up at a reasonable time. Just spending a weekend camping outside resets the human “body clock” and ultimately could help those who have difficulty getting up in the morning. 

Camping exposes your internal clock to more bright light in the day, and less at night. This can result in changes to your alertness levels, mood, physical strength, and time of sleep. Dr. Kenneth Wright of the University of Colorado study says, "Artificial lighting means we tend to stay up way past sunset.” Getting away from artificial lights, alarm clocks, and smartphones, just for a weekend, exposes us to a regular summer day/night cycle, roughly 14.5 hours of sunlight, followed by 9.5 hours of night. This exposure pushes our biological urge to sleep back a few hours, closer to sunset.

The outdoors, especially if you’re a city dweller, are crucial for your mental health. Researchers at the University of Michigan found that just a few minutes walking in nature can reduce depressive symptoms. Stanford University research shows that spending time outdoors can reduce obsessive, negative thinking that could potentially lead to mental health issues. We’ve written about the benefits of taking a break from technology - turning off your cell phone, leaving your tablet and laptop computer at home, and just disconnecting. And let’s not forget, camping is a great way to spend quality time together with friends and family.

Ready to start planning a camping trip this year? Our Casey campground has 25 campsites. Each campsite has water and electricity, as well as a picnic table and fire ring. Some sites accommodate RVs and tents. Men’s and women’s showers and restrooms are available to campers.

Come camp and sleep well!

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.
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