Camp Currie gives youth the chance to explore nature close to home

Making lifelong memories

Junior Scouts create dreamcatchers at Currie Twilight Camp last week. The J.D. Currie Youth Camp is located on 300 acres just outside of Camas and is home to several different youth events during the summer.

photo

Campers carry their own water from a well pump in order to cook and wash dishes.

photo

Olivia Martinez and Teagan Lafors, both 7, make a "Fairy House" from leaves, twigs and moss.

Did you know?

The name J.D. Currie Youth Camp honors the Camas attorney who conducted an outdoor program for young boys in the Camas area called Boy Rangers in the first part of the 20th century. The 300 acre camp site was leased from Crown Zellerbach, former owners of the now-Georgia Pacific paper mill in Camas, for $1 per year. Materials for the lodge, kitchen, fireplace and outside cooking facilities were donated by the mill and several individuals over the years. Crown Zellerbach also donated the cable for the fences, wood and lumber for fuel, and a large cedar log, which was hauled out to make shakes to cover the lodge and kitchen.

A World War II bell hung at one time in the tower over the lodge. During the war in Grand Island, Neb., a large bell was found in an old school house at a location where a munitions plant was being built. It was given to Meyer Avedovech, who was involved in the munitions project, and he in turn donated it to his friend J.D. Currie for the youth camp in 1947.

The site is currently owned by the Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation department, and is used only as a youth camp.

Buildings include the lodge, a separate toilet building, a covered outdoor cooking hall with fireplace, the caretaker’s cottage, amphitheater, and a chapel.

Sources: Donna Osgood and www.campcurrie.or...

Nestled amid a canopy of towering Douglas firs, with a rustic lodge and cabins, Camp Currie feels like it is a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.In reality, the 300-acre site is located just five minutes from downtown Camas and has been home to summer youth camps since 1943. The semi-wilderness setting includes a woodland chapel, large natural amphitheater, winding forest trails, covered outdoor eating area, and is home to a variety of wildlife.

Last week, the Girl Scouts of Oregon and Washington hosted Currie Twilight Camp, which gave attendees the opportunity to learn outdoor cooking, fire safety, crafts and more. Although the camp is 300 acres, youth organizations only use about 30 of those, with the rest being kept in its natural state.

Donna Osgood of Washougal has been a volunteer at the camp since 1992, when her children were involved in Scouting. She and daughter Beth Osgood started the Twilight Camp 11 years ago. Currently, Beth is in charge of organizing the day camps and Donna is a member of the Camp Currie board of directors.

“We do this for the kids,” she said, gesturing over to girls immersed in a craft project. “We want to help them make special memories. A lot of adults who came here as kids still have those fond memories.”

At Currie Twilight Camp, the girls appear to be doing just that.

Caitlyn Leake of Vancouver has been involved in Scouting for three years. She enjoys the craft projects that campers get the opportunity to create.

“I just really love doing arts and crafts all the time,” she said.

During her time in Girl Scouts, she has enjoyed attending the troop meetings.

“I like going to those and getting to hang out with all the other Scouts,” she said.

Jamie Salyards, 9, also enjoys the crafts.

“I like making the dream catchers,” she said. “But I also love horse camp because I get to ride horses.”

Bella Reyes, 9, is at Twilight Camp for the first time.

“I love the hikes,” she said. “And I like that we get to cook my favorite meal, spaghetti. I make it at home a lot.”

She also likes the camaraderie with her troop members.

“It’s nice to have fun and make new friends, and try new things,” Reyes said.

This statement elicits a smile from first-time camp director, Christie Salyards.

“Seeing the excitement on the girls’ faces when they accomplish something on their own or when they are just excited to be here is the best part,” she said. “I am happy to be here and be a mentor.”

She stepped forward to lead the camp with fellow mom Mandy Reyes, when they discovered that it would be cancelled because there was no longer a director.

“I didn’t want to see it end,” she said. “My daughter and the other girls are learning to get along with new people and how to plan and be prepared in the outdoors.”

Volunteers include 13 adults and six older Girl Scouts, including Mackenzie Weiler of Camas.

Weiler, 16, has been volunteering at Camp Currie since she was 12.

“I just like the fact you get to know so many people from all over,” she said. “I was a camper for two years here before I became an assistant, and I wanted to give back and help others make memories. I love being around the girls. They have so much energy and are so fun.”

Donna Martinson of Vancouver has been a troop leader for 12 years and a volunteer at Camp Currie for the past seven of those.

“My kids wanted to be in Girl Scouts, and there was no troop, so I started one,” she said.

When volunteers were needed at camp, she stepped up to do that as well.

“I enjoy being with the kids, and teaching them new things and how to work as a team,” Martinson said. “By the end of camp, they are doing all the food preparation and working well together.”

Like many, her favorite aspect of camp is the crafts.

“I love watching how creative the girls are,” she said. “Just because you make a model of something doesn’t mean the girls will go with your idea. They are really individual about it.”

Being able to experience Scouting and camps with her daughters, ages 15 and 17, has been a huge reward, Martinson added.

“Just watching them grow, the relationships they’ve formed and what they learn is really meaningful,” she said. “They also transfer it to other things in their lives. They are not shy about stepping up and helping out. They are not afraid to try new things.”