By Frances Howell
Day one of camp is the most eagerly awaited event each year for a hundred children and adults with special needs who attend Camp Beausite Northwest in Chimacum. Their anticipation surpasses even waiting for Christmas!
Earlier this month three campers from Forks had medical checkups so they’re certified as ready for their summer adventures to begin. Now all they need is patience to wait as the calendar ticks down. And that’s not easy.
Thirty-one year old Alex Muck, 60-year-old Jim Lundberg and 61-year-old Carl Rogers grab sleeping bags and luggage as they head for the door at just the mention of camp. They’re set to go. The three are residents of a Concerned Citizens Adult Family Home, and have attended Camp Beausite NW for many years.
To help fund camp scholarships and programs, the Third Annual Kiwanis Dinner Auction was held on May 5, at C’est Si Bon Restaurant in Port Angeles. Supporting this camp is a passion for the Olympic Kiwanis group.
Camp Beausite NW offers week-long overnight sessions for individuals who are often unable to attend other camps due to the extent of their special needs. With a one-to-one camper/counselor ratio, campers can participate in activities others take for granted.
Alex loves arts and crafts and brought home a necklace made of beads that spelled out her name. She also has fun blowing bubbles with a huge bubble wand. Jim’s favorite thing at camp is horseback riding. He won an award one year as the camp’s Best Cowboy.
Meanwhile, Carl is known as the Joker because he’s a born entertainer and something of a class clown, who tells jokes and stories to all who’ll listen, and he always has an audience at camp.
Other camp activities include swimming, picnics, nature walks, campfires, a talent show and fishing, another passion of Jim’s. He once caught a fish that was “this” big (arms outstretched), although when truth be told, it wasn’t quite that large. Camp staff packed the fish so he could bring it home where it was cooked and thoroughly enjoyed.
Camp Beausite Northwest’s vision is growing and now includes services for disabled veterans, too. Apart from summer camp, the facility provides equine therapy programs for vets, with plans for expanding it into a full adaptive sports program.
“Kiwanis has long supported the great work done at camp,” says Auction Co-Chair David Sue. “This year’s event is at a gourmet restaurant, C’est Si Bon, and we’re bringing in a professional auctioneer from Seattle to keep things lively. A special emphasis was put on collecting auction items that provide experiences rather than simply things.” They include a whale watching tour, trips to Branson, Missouri, Maui, and Victoria, a sailing experience on a 29-footer, a sailing excursion on a historic schooner, pottery-making classes and a basic estate-planning package. Silent auction items are varied, too. Bids will be taken on wine and chocolate baskets, a lovely handmade ceramic plate, a handmade salad bowl from Bigleaf Maple, and numerous local gift certificates. A wine pull and dessert raffle round out the evening.
While Alex, Jim and Carl will definitely attend Camp Beausite NW this summer. They grew visibly anxious and agitated when asked to imagine how they’d feel if they weren’t able to go. The three couldn’t comprehend that and were relieved when reassured their spots are secure. But they didn’t like hearing about other special needs individuals who could benefit from time at camp but can’t afford to attend. Olympic Kiwanis members hosted the May 5 fundraising dinner auction because they feel the same way.