Monday, September 28, 2015

A visit to Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp, part 1

Welcome to fall term, everyone!  Many of you completed your capstone (or some elective credits) at Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp last summer, and we would love to hear about your experience.  Please feel free to tell us about your time at camp here in the comments, or on our Facebook page. 

For those of you who haven't been to camp, however, we wanted to give you some more information about what the location is actually like.  Our Social Media Manager made a trip out to camp last summer to explore the site, take photos, and chat with some of the staff and counselors.  A write-up of the experience appears below.  (If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in a comment here or on Facebook; we'll be checking the comments frequently this week, and will try to answer any questions.  Also, let us know if you like this post, and if you want us to publish Part 2.)

A Visit to the Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp Capstone
Last August, on an unseasonably warm summer day, I made the hour-and-a-half long drive from the Portland State University campus to Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp.  Carolyn Bradley, a faculty member at camp, would be meeting me at Fanning Hall, which I'd been told was "the large brown building with the green roof."

A photo of the outside around the Fanning Hall building at Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp.  The building appears in the background, low and long, with a sloping green roof.  Many large wooden picnic tables are in front of the building, with several campers and counselor seated at each.  Several other people are gathered between the picnic tables and Fanning Hall.  Most wear pick or light-colored shirts, some dark purple, and a few bright green.
Fanning Hall, the main dining hall and administrative building, during a time when outdoor activities were scheduled.  (Image courtesy of Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp.)  

The campers and counselors were out for activities when I arrived, so I had a few moments to myself before Carolyn could meet me.  The campsite itself is lovely, nestled deep within the trees, and there was a kind of innate peacefulness that made me feel not simply like a visitor among the forest, but a part of the forest itself.  I headed up the dusty path to Fanning Hall.

A photo of the path at Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp.  The path arcs around in a circular formation, forming a kind of large island in the center of the photo; on the right of this island are several large picnic tables.  Various buildings can be seen around the outside of the path.  Layers of green fir trees can be seen in the background and surrounding the path, and above them a blue sky and a low, wispy white cloud.
The path that runs throughout most of the camp.  Fanning Hall is just to the left of where this picture was taken, and the same tables shown in the photo above can be seen on the right.

The dining hall, too, was empty when I arrived, so I asked the nurses who work in an immediately adjacent room to use the walkie-talkie and let Carolyn know I was there.  All of the staff here seem to have a walkie-talkie.  It's the easiest way to talk to someone who's not nearby; cell phone coverage is spotty at best.

A photo of the interior of a large room at Fanning Hall.  The room is empty of people, and chairs have been placed upside-down on the long tables running across the length of the room, the chairs’s metal legs pointing up in the air.  A few paper lanterns hang suspended on wires above.  High on the walls of the room, yellow and purple flags hang.  The ceiling is wooden and angled, coming to a point in an inverted “V” shape, and it is supported by several wooden beams.
Interior of Fanning Hall.  Nurses are on hand for the duration of the capstone, and their office is also in this building (it's just visible on the right side of this photo).

Carolyn arrived soon after, introducing herself to me in a professional tone.  She gave me a primer on the capstone's origins (which you can learn more about on Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp's website here), and then we were off to tour the camp.
Our first stop was the pool, which was specially made to be accessible.  A long ramp runs the pool's length, and a special water-safe wheelchair is provided.

A photo of the swimming pool at Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp.  A white tent is visible in the foreground of the photo, and behind it, the pool and several campers, counselors, and staff wearing swimsuits and playing with inflatable pool toys.  A wheelchair ramp descends down the long side of the pool.
A wheelchair-accessible ramp into the water can be seen at the far side of the pool (a water-safe wheelchair is provided).

A woman in a wheelchair came up to us before we left, and she and Carolyn chatted and exchanged pleasantries for a moment before we moved on.  Carolyn explained to me as we walked that some of the campers here need only physical assistance, some only assistance with mental tasks, and some with both.  All are welcome at Kiwanis.

A photo of Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp attendees smiling into the camera.  The person on the left has long wavy blond hair braided close to their head and is wearing a purple Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp t-shirt; the person in the center has short hair and glasses; the person on the right also has short hair and glasses.
All people with different abilities are welcome at Kiwanis Camp.  (Image courtesy of Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp.)

We passed a campsite and some single-person tents as we continued on, which prompted a discussion of the living arrangements at camp.  There are several different spots that counselors stay in during the summer, some of them indoor but most of them outdoor, with many students opting to bring their own tents from home.  Sleeping locations are preassigned, but Carolyn tells me that needs can be accommodated—one year, a pregnant counselor needed to be near the restroom, and the camp was happy to provide such an arrangement.

A photo of a selection of small different color tents nestled between tree trunks.
A small selection of counselor's tents, some brought from home, at one of the campsites.

We moved on to see other activities, and even met a tiny horse, but that's another story.  Please let us know in the comments or on Facebook if you'd like us to continue this series!

Have a happy and healthy fall term, everyone.

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