We caught up with Donna Thomas, current President of the Camp Wa-Ri-Ki Board of Directors, this week to ask her about where she sees the Camp going in the future. The good news is there’s a perfect synergy brewing as local leaders and groups pull together to back the Camp and the educational opportunities it provides.
“A partnership with a college,” is one of several ideas Ms. Thomas has for the Camp. For example the Kiwanis Mt. Hood Camp enjoys a partnership with Portland State University, and Donna envisions possible programs where students “could earn credit hours as a counselor.”
Thomas is Vice President of Sales for iQ Credit Union which was founded by teachers in 1940. The iQ Credit Union of today stands for financial intelligence and demonstrates our continued commitment to the educational community — a commitment that shows in everything we do. In an age of belt tightening and budget cuts, it’s tough just covering the basics. By continuing — and even expanding — our partnerships with local schools, we work to create a positive and enriching educational environment. Then there’s the history of Camp Wa-Ri-Ki, Kiwanis holds a 50 year lease agreement with Skamania County. Kiwanis highly values the stewardship entrusted to them by operating the Camp also with a focus on developing growth experiences for youth. Add Leadership Clark County (LCC) to this mix and you have a picture of some recent key organizations that have brought together energetic leaders with a vision of success for the Camp.
“…Camp WaRiKi is a vital resource in our own backyard, located on acres of beautiful land along the Washougal River.”
Donna, herself a graduate of LCC’s program while a Branch Manager for the Credit Union, met a number of other movers and shakers through that group which led her to being invited to be Treasurer for the Camp by last year’s Board President, Adam Wishard of First Pacific Associates, a Vancouver Financial Advisory firm. And just recently the LCC completed a communication project for the Camp including setting up an electronic newsletter and producing promotional materials.
Now, Donna and the Camp board want to “build and expand awareness of the Camp as a valuable community resource.” She explains that “with the cutbacks in the schools, there are not as many outdoor camps scheduled, and kids miss out on ‘experiential learning'” — where they unplug from electronic devices and encounter nature first hand.
There are also lots of things the Camp needs, and Donna credits Camp Director, Phyllis Goldhammer, for obtaining funding from the Firstenburg Foundation. “Phyllis worked diligently on the Firstenburg grants that helped us start work on new roofing projects. We received funding for two phases — right now the majority of the dorms have received new roofing,” explains Donna. The Camp Director position is another new initiative the Board has taken in the last couple of years.
There are continuing opportunities for sponsors and backers who wish to support community youth through the camp. One possibility would be to update the interiors of the dorms, caretaker facility , craft room and kitchen area. “We look for a way to match what resonates for an organization with the needs of the Camp.” For example the Today Foundation recently helped with updates to the gym and baseball diamond.
Education Opportunity at Kiwanis Camp Wa-Ri-Ki
The possibilities for learning at Camp Wa-Ri-Ki are endless. Science, Ecology, Biology Camps all on location in the field, with streams and the Washougal River near by would be another good match. And, as Donna notes, “although we advocate unplugging, the camp experience could extend online. For example, a child could snap a picture of the natural ecology in the area on an iPad, then upload and research online to learn more about ecology.”
All it takes is some imagination, then initiative from leaders like Donna Thomas, and Camp Director Goldhammer, with support from community groups. You can read a longer wish list for the Camp here, and please do contact us for sponsorship opportunities to involve your own organization to help the Camp, or book a week for a session in the beautiful natural area we call Camp Wa-Ri-Ki.