Hometown

Local residents can find costume contests, games, crafts and more

Fall is in the air, and with that comes Halloween — the spookiest of holidays. Special events and activities are happening throughout the month, most geared toward kids, but at least one has some adult fun in mind.

Spook-tacular Halloween fun

The sounds of delighted children intermixed with the aroma of Dutch oven crisp and the smell of fresh air at Camas Camp-n-Ranch Saturday. For the fifth year in a row, the ranch offered hayrides, horse rides, pumpkin bowling, crafts, a forest walk, homemade apple cider, dutch oven apple crisp and other events to celebrate the Halloween season. “I love looking over the crowd and seeing happy faces,” said owner Tina Goodnight. “It is a place for families, and kids of all ages.”

Camas woman offers costumes free-of-charge to kids and adults

Raina Kennedy has always loved Halloween.Since she was a little girl, growing up in Staten Island, New Jersey, with eight brothers and sisters, she has eagerly anticipated this time of the year. Her favorite costume was a mermaid that she made at the age of 11. “I remember most the fun we had getting ready to go out: Finding the costume and pulling it together with my brothers and sisters,” Kennedy said. “The late nights of trick-or-treating with a pillow case cover was another highlight.” Now, she helps other families find just the right costume for their child. “It is so much fun to dress up and create,” said the 37-year-old Camas mom of three. “My kids and I love playing with costumes.”

The ‘joy and art’ of cooking

You could say that cooking is a career for Heidi O’Connor, but that might be selling it short.O’Connor, of Vancouver, lives and breathes the culinary arts at The Kids Cooking Corner, a school that teaches children, “the art and joy of cooking.” The 45-year-old mother of three opened the school three years ago, when she realized her son didn’t know how to make a box meal because he didn’t understand how to measure ingredients. “The schools don’t have the budgets for home ec anymore, and with parents having full-time careers, it is challenging to find time to teach kids in the kitchen,” she said. O’Connor speaks from personal experience. She balanced a full-time career in the restaurant industry and then in sales while raising her family. She was searching for a new business to start when the idea for a cooking school came about. “A light bulb went on,” she said. “Why not teach other people’s children how to cook? You get to a point in life where you start wondering, ‘What am I really here for?’ This was the answer.”

Increasing international understanding

When asked what he enjoyed most about Camas, Michael Wagener, mayor of Wissen, Germany, said “the people.”“It’s the contact with the people that is most rewarding,” he said. “When you come to another country, you can learn a lot of things by listening. We can learn how a city gets a vision, and comes up with ways to make it happen.” Wagener needed no translator to communicate his statement. He speaks fluent English. He was part of a Partner Cities delegation visiting Camas. The group arrived on Sept. 13, and included professionals from the cities of Krapkowice, Morawica and Zabierzow in Poland; Lipova Lazne in the Czech Republic and Wissen, Germany. The official partnership between Poland and Camas has been in existence since May 2004, when then-Mayor Paul Dennis signed a declaration of cooperation with the intent to: “Seek to establish and develop effective cooperation between the towns’ communities, institutions and trade. We are aware that this cooperation is a major factor in popularizing and promoting our town and that it opens up new perspectives for European and transatlantic integration.”

Students explore future careers in CHS internship program

While some teens were spending their summer kicking back with friends, others were working up to 40 hours per week in professional internships. These students, from the CHS Math, Science and Technology Magnet program, worked at internships ranging from designing a program at Underwriters Laboratories to spending time in the operating room of a plastic surgeon’s office, to measuring the health of local waterways. The internship program was spearheaded by CHS Magnet teacher Ron Wright and community volunteer/business organization developer Chad Stewart four years ago, as a way for students to gain real-world experience in potential future careers before going to college. Students are paired with businesses or experts in various fields and also had mentors.

Broadening their perspectives

It has been said that if one wants to broaden their perspective on life, volunteering is the way to begin. Several local teens are doing just that by making a difference in the lives of homeless animals. Eric Hou, Malini Naidu and Julia Bedont, all of Camas, participate in the Humane Society for Southwest Washington’s teen volunteer program. With only 30 spots available each term, and approximately 80 applicants, it’s a highly competitive process. Hou, 16, was motivated to apply because of his love for animals. “I have a dog of my own, so it really made me want to help animals who don’t have a home,” he said. “They really need love and attention.”

Sharing a love of color

Two artists who share a passion for color and form will fuse their interests with a September art show at the Second Story Gallery. Will Ray of Vancouver is a dedicated watercolorist, while friend Luane Penarosa of Washougal is branching out into oils. Their show, “Kaleidoscope,” will feature their different mix of artistic styles, but also similarities in their love of color, and dedication to their craft. “It takes me a long time to paint,” Ray said. “We’re both planners, we paint a little, then look at it, then decide what to do next.” Penarosa, 68, said she gets a lot of composition advice from Ray, 66, who has been painting for 25 years and has an art history degree. “I visualize what I want, then I go for it,” she said. “Both of us really like color and form, and that’s why we named our show ‘Kaleidoscope.’ It is all coming together.”

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.