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:
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.
Admiralty Inlet Reserve, Crockett Lake, Admiralty Head Lighthouse, and Fort Casey, neighbor Camp Casey. As if having a vast play field, long beaches, an outdoor pool, and historic buildings aren't enough, we are surrounded by other natural features and historic structures that offer additional opportunity to connect, learn, and discover.
Just a short five-minute walk along a wooded trail you will find the Admiralty Head Lighthouse and Fort Casey. The 1903 vintage lighthouse has its own interpretive center and gift shop. Visitors are welcome to climb the narrow stairway to the lantern room. Just beyond the lighthouse sits Fort Casey. The fort, constructed in the late 1800s, was equipped to defend the entrance to the Puget Sound up to the turn of the 20th Century and was used as a training facility until the mid-1940s. You can explore rare 10-inch disappearing and other mounting guns, which are on display in their original emplacements. Interpretive opportunities are available at both locations, as well as guided tours.
After connecting with the past, and learning more about the historical role our region played in maritime safety and national defense, move on to discover the abundance of plant and wildlife neighboring Crockett Lake and the Admiralty Inlet Reserve.
Crockett Lake is an open, shallow, estuarine lake, surrounded by marsh and grassland. This area is "one of the most productive birding areas in the Puget Sound Lowland" per the Seattle Audubon Society. Every year, groups like the Wild Youth service project come to Casey to learn about migratory birds. The Whidbey Island Audubon Society is always open to providing a volunteer as a guide to your groups birding adventure.
Another birding opportunity is hiking the 2.3 miles of maintained trails in the Admiralty Inlet Reserve. The 79 acres includes old-growth forest, a rare remnant prairie, and shoreline, as well the breathtaking views of Mount Baker, the Olympic Range, and the surrounding beaches and bluffs. Interpretive signs can be found all along the trail, identifying species and adding to the educational value of the hike. Groups staying at Casey can add a guided forest walk to their activities.
Whether it's outdoor education or adding an educational activity to enhance your team building program, Casey's unique location offers proximity to history and nature, as well as the instructional resources to guide your learning and discovery experience.
It’s not your parents' camp anymore. There are no lessons in pitching a tent at this “camp,” just pitch-perfect practice. Although it’s thought that to become a proficient musician, one must spend countless hours practicing and rehearsing, students of music often attribute their success to teachers and mentors who are demanding and exacting. Successful directors like Brad Smith, music director at Eckstein Middle School, recognize the tremendous dedication required from students. Instruction and practice is essential to develop an orchestra worthy of recognition, but when directing a youth orchestra, much more is in play.
In addition to the standard hours of practice and rehearsals in the school’s classrooms, Eckstein Middle School’s music director takes his group to camp every year. Yes, while at camp the students take advantage of Casey’s numerous of meeting spaces to break out into smaller groups for instrument and skill level-specific instruction. The large meeting spaces also provide the benefit of bringing the entire orchestra together for rehearsals. But these are not the sole benefits of bringing the group to Casey. The special ingredients that are unique to the camp experience are the friendships built, sense of belonging developed, and community spirit fostered.
When Sandy Miller, parent of one of the students and one of this year’s camp chaperones, was asked what she has found most memorable about Camp Casey, she credited the large variety of meeting spaces for breakout sessions, collocated with lodging and meal service. She quickly added, “The Casey staff makes all the difference.” As an example, Barb, the food service provider, proactively sought out the chaperones to ask about any special considerations for managing the group during the meal service. This is a big help when chaperoning a large group of children.
There is no retreat or camp goal out of reach when combining the natural setting of Casey with the benefits of having a plenty of meeting facilities, group lodging, and healthy meal service. When you are looking to connect, learn, and discover, give Camp Casey a try.
"What if your faith could grow deeper simply by opening yourself to God’s grace and listening to the voice of Love that is speaking at every moment?" With that simple question, Brian Gregory, associate for Youth Ministries, extended an invitationto a high school retreat to the members of St. Thomas Episcopal Church. .
Brian is an alum of Seattle Pacific University. He received his undergraduate in Theology/Educational Ministry in 2007 and his master of divinity degree in 2015. Like many of our alumni, he has a personal history with Camp Casey – spending three summers here during high school working with Kiwanis, on dorm retreats during his undergraduate years, and for a long weekend as part of his master's degree program. When asked if that was why he looked to Casey for this retreat, he answered quickly, "Not really." What made him choose our setting was the stillness and the beach. He wanted a venue that was far enough away to get the effect of getting away, but close enough to Medina that it would be an easy trip for his students.
On a Friday in early March, Brian, along with two other adults and eight high school students, arrived at Camp Casey. He instructed his students to take the first hour to rest. Unlike many of the youth groups that come to Camp Casey with agendas packed with activities, Brian cautioned his students, "You are here now. There are no expectations. No activities scheduled. Just use the time to rest."
One of the values identified for the youth ministry of St. Thomas Episcopal Church is for their students to be curious. Brian quotes Romans 12:2: "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind." Brian's weekend retreat is designed to do just that. Cell phones and iPods are left behind. Since prayer comes in many forms, he asks that the students be contemplative and imaginative. Using Scripture stories from the gospel and the practice of praying, he has them walk the beach to reflect. He encourages them to be intentional. He asks them to pay attention to what's around them and to find God's presence.
What will you find at Camp Casey? Are you looking for a quieter setting where you can spend more time looking inward or will you explore beautiful Whidbey Island and the areas that surround Camp Casey? Camp Casey is all about learning, connecting, and discovering. The ‘how’ is up to you.
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.
If you were to define “heritage” you’d find: Something that is passed down from preceding generations; a tradition. One of the most common themes we hear from groups on why they choose to come to Camp Casey is to get away from the distractions of everyday life. How do you create a heritage for your children that involves something more than computer games or television? Well, our suggestion involves getting them outdoors.
There are many health benefits associated with why kids should play outside. Debi Huang, a writer from Go Explore Nature blog notices the benefits of playing outside in her own kids: "The difference I see is both of my children have a high attention span comparatively speaking, and … (they want to investigate things), where other kids might just sit back." Alyssa Ross from KaBOOM, says that outside activities promote social skills. She believes getting kids outside and having unstructured play promotes a wide range of skills. "On a playground not everyone gets to go down the slide first. Going to a playground with your kids is not just about running around and being active, but it's also about learning social skills … through play."
Getting your children outside can be pretty simple. This past month was the 17th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC). Aside from a pair of binoculars, not much else is needed for this activity.
Lastly, a Scavenger hunt is a great way to get kids interested in nature. A few ideas for your "hunt":
• Magnifying glasses
• Hand sanitizer
• Crayons and notepad
• Water and a snack
Lastly, a Scavenger hunt is a great way to get kids interested in a nature. A few ideas for your “hunt”:
• a feather
• a bird’s nest
• a maple seed whirligig
• a red leaf, a green leaf and a yellow leaf
• a pinecone
• a slug or snail
• a frog
• something a raccoon would like to eat
• a flying insect
• a crawling insect
• animal tracks
• a snake or a worm
• a squirrel
• a flower
• a mushroom
Just remember, including a deer on your list would be cheating!
Need help organizing your outing? Our Youth Outdoor Education Package is popular. This package offers 3 days and 2 nights of lodging and at least 7 meals. It gives young people the opportunity to connect with nature through a variety of planned outdoor education activities. They will also engage with the fascinating history of the region while sleeping in Camp Casey’s historic barracks and exploring Fort Casey.
Camp Casey has many groups that return to visit each year; and some like Crossroads Bible Church even created a video to advertise their program. Their tag line for this year’s retreat was: “Military base? Barracks? Mess Hall? Oh my! This fall camp has become a great time to get away, build fellowship, make tons of fun memories, and learn about living like Jesus.”
Crossroads Bible Church Junior High’s retreat this past November 7th - 9th included 80 students and staff members. While Kellan Peterson, Junior High Director, was a first timer, she states that the students look forward to their time there every year and my predecessors at the church have always run camp there.
Describing their Junior High goals, Crossroad’s state: “a student’s life can be confusing, stressful, fun, dramatic … all wrapped up into one… So many students today are in need of someone to show them how to live life. They look at adults for examples of how to go about life. We have the wonderful opportunity to help them do that by letting them be a part of our lives.” Kellan said “the kids loved that they could run around and play hide-and-go-seek at the fort and the ability to play football and other games on the open field during both the night and the day.”
So while it is part of a former Military base (Fort Casey) and they did stay in barracks - Kellan said the rooms were clean. They ate in a Mess Hall – where we can provide two meal options served in our newly remodeled Mess Hall. We also offer auditoriums, the largest of which seats 350. Among its many features, it has a built-in PA system, DVD/VCR player, mounted digital projector, electrically- operated screen, and upright piano. Our gym offers a three-quarter size basketball court upstairs and a game room with ping pong, foosball and pool table downstairs. We have three outdoor volleyball courts, multiple soccer fields and four outdoor full-size basketball courts. Crossroads mentioned that they took advantage of all of these with the great weather they had during their stay.
When have you ever seen the words awesome and barracks in the same sentence? We think you’ll find a similar experience at Camp Casey.
With its rambling network of woodland and prairie trails, idyllic waterfront views and easy, comfortable accommodations, it is no wonder that Camp Casey Conference Center makes the perfect runners retreat. Donna Jornlin, head cross-country coach for Roosevelt High School, has been coming to Camp Casey Conference Center for running retreats since the 1970s and continues to bring her team for two retreats every summer.
“I bring the top 10 Varsity girls in June for a leadership camp and more intense training,” Jornlin said. “We rent the Alumni House, cook together, train, play games, walk the beach and explore the fort. The entire group comes in late August for running and socializing as the season begins.”
The Roosevelt team uses the Alumni House and barracks for accommodations and takes advantage of the gym and pool for recreation. They also use Camp Casey food service and enjoy the recent improvements to the mess hall and food offerings.
“The setting is extraordinary. I've always loved the bluff run, and the wildlife,” Jornlin said. “Before I began coaching, we'd come for New Year's and stay in the Firehouse, when my daughters were young. Casey holds a lot of great memories for me and I saw it as a place to do the same for my athletes.”
After a long run, there are evening campfires (with S’mores of course), swimming and ice cream. The team makes a ferry trip to Port Townsend for a run at Fort Worden. Casey’s close location and variety of activities has made it an exciting place for the student athletes to return to over the years.
“Several girls have been a couple times and really look forward to being there. They even got up at 7 a.m. our last morning so we could run the fort loop one last time!” Jornlin said. “The moms who chaperone also ask to return each year because it's so peaceful. A bit of history, combined with such a unique setting and a great place to run, make Casey a real treasure,” Jornlin said. “I'm happy to promote it and hope it never changes.”
According to the Alliance for Childhood, a non-profit advocacy group, children today spend 50 percent less time playing outside than their parents did 30 years ago. The Alliance for Childhood also found that children ages 10 to 16 spend an average of 10.4 waking hours nearly motionless.
The repercussions of inactivity are well documented. Inactive children have higher rates of obesity, diabetes and poor health habits as they grow into adulthood. Encouraging children to play outside is a great way to encourage physical activity and help them learn about the world.
Camp Casey serves as a fun and affordable option for children, families, schools and clubs to experience nature in a safe and fun environment. Our outdoor education programs provide hands-on activities that evoke excitement from children and adults alike. At Camp Casey, guests can touch and explore sea life, enjoy the beauty of a forest ecosystem or find outdoor fun roasting marshmallows by a seaside fire.
Taking time to get away from the everyday distractions allows children and adults to form a different kind of bond – a bond built upon shared experiences and memories, along with a deeper connection to nature.
Our facilities are enjoyed by scouting groups, nature clubs, sports teams, school children, musicians and everyday regular families looking for a unique place to spend time together.
Consider Camp Casey as a jumping off point for your outdoor adventures, and help us build a new generation of active, nature-loving kids!