Rising above the obstacles

At first glace, Dakota Watson looks like any other 11-year-old boy. He banters with his sister, loves basketball and is growing out of clothes faster than his mom can buy them.But the fact that Dakota is even alive is a miracle in itself. The Camas resident was born with serious medical complications, including a cross-fused ectopic kidney. By the time Dakota was two days old, he had been through two surgeries. “He wasn’t expected to even survive,” recalled his mom, Samantha. But Dakota was a fighter and still is, she added. “The doctors thought he would have to get a kidney transplant by the time he was 2,” Samantha said. “Every time it sounds really bad, he just finds a way to pull through it.”

Camas' Woodburn Elementary design incorporates nature into the school

After three years in the making, the Camas School District’s newest building will open its doors to eager students and teachers. Woodburn Elementary, which can accommodate up to 600 students, is located off of Southeast Crown Road and surrounded by nature. “People ask which classroom has the best view, and I can’t really give them an answer,” said Jan Strohmaier, principal. “There are fantastic views everywhere.” The 12-acre site is adjacent to the Lacamas Creek trail system. To keep with the natural setting, outdoor elements were incorporated into the design.

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

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.

Sheep dog trials return to Johnston Dairy

The Lacamas Valley Sheep Dog Trial will return to the Johnston Dairy in Camas, for its ninth year, from Aug. 15 to 18. This unique competition features handlers working in partnership with their dogs, sometimes at long distances, to move a small flock of sheep across a field through a series of gates, into a shedding ring and ultimately into a pen. According to organizers, the Lacamas Valley Sheep Dog Trial has grown into one of the largest and most popular events of its kind on the West Coast. Its reach is regional, drawing 115 handlers traveling from six states and British Columbia and featuring nearly 180 dogs competing in a variety of skill levels.

Taking care of Camp Melacoma

Stepping onto the grounds at Camp Melacoma is a lot like stepping back in time.The 142-acre heavily wooded site is tucked away in the hills of Skamania County, 13 miles up Washougal River Road. It has been a kids’ camp since 1948, when Robert Wineberg deeded the first chunk of the property to the Camp Fire Cascade Council. Over the years, it’s been a place where literally thousands of kids of all ages and backgrounds have converged to explore nature first hand, and get the quintessential summer camp experience. Dodi Jensen, a longtime Washougal resident, became the camp’s on-site caretaker in 2008. Jensen was looking for a change of pace and was familiar with the property, having volunteered at the site before. “I had fallen in love with the camp long before I ever came to work here,” she said.

Camas Days spectacular

Whether it was the Grand Parade, the Kids Parade or all the activities in between, Camas Days was once again a crowd pleaser. The fun kicked off Friday with the annual Kids Parade. Children dressed in all matter of things “Outta This World” flooded the streets with smiles and tossed candy to eager onlookers. The Camas Days theme gave young ones full use for their imaginations. It was organized by Camas Parks and Recreation, which gave each participant a pair of unique sunglasses and a ribbon. Parade participants ranged from community groups to the Camas Public Library to families out enjoying the day. Erin Waller of Camas came with her three children, who dressed as martians in green body paint and eyeball sunglasses. “This is our first year in the Kids Parade and we’re excited,” she said. “We just love the big parade.”

Washougal's Hathaway Elementary School program includes free lunches, summer camps, academics and activities

Sometimes it takes just a small idea to create a ripple of change.That is what is happening in the Washougal School District this summer. At Hathaway Elementary School, students from pre-kindergarten through high school level are receiving extra academic help, along with free, nutritious lunches; and they are participating in enrichment activities. This is the result of a collaboration between district administrators, teachers, staff, health centers and local volunteers. “Even just at the beginning of this program, the level of conversation, the amount of attention each of these kids are able to receive, is so beneficial,” said David Tudor, curriculum director.

Washougal couple is committed to sustainable practices at their Lyle vineyard

“Experience wine the way nature makes it.”This is the philosophy behind Washougal couple Robin Dobson and Kathleen Perillo’s business, Klickitat Canyon Winery. From the soil in which the grapes grow to when the wine is sold, everything is as natural as possible. Their vineyard is one of only three in the state of Washington that makes certified organic wines. There are no sulfites, yeasts, clarifiers or chemicals. These days, “clean eating” is becoming a common practice in many households, but Dobson said he was making wine without additives long before that. “I’ve always done it this way,” he said. “It’s the traditional way of making wine in Europe. I want the grapes to speak for themselves.”

Camas and Washougal offer a variety of different options to keep your cool

Most of us in the Northwest welcome the summer weather with open arms. It can be a pleasant respite after seemingly endless gray skies and showers.However, when the temperatures get into the high 80s and 90s, it can become rather uncomfortable for those without air conditioning.

Work of Camas Camera Club members will be featured in 'The Call of the Open Road' exhibit

A buggy on a misty country road. A skateboarder weaving his way down the street. A desert highway that seems to stretch forever.These are a few of the images Camas Camera Club members will share during their photography exhibit this month. "The Call of the Open Road," will be featured at the Camas Public Library's Second Story Gallery. The official unveiling and reception are on Friday from 5 to 8 p.m. The opening will coincide with a popular classic car show, which is a part of Camas First Friday. Club members participated in the exhibit last year and enjoyed it so much, they came back for a second round, said Kirsten Muskat, club founder.