Locally grown, and proud of it

Margaret Svilar

In approximately 19 days, I will be moving my youngest offspring to college. He is a locally grown and sustainable product of the Camas area. Even though my oldest has been in college for three years and also a product of Camas, the last little birdie to leave the nest always has a lingering significance.

My mind repeats visuals of the picture of him getting smaller in my rearview mirror as tears fall, to arriving home and jumping for joy with my husband giving high fives all around, playing the rock and roll cranked up to 11.

Still, it is foremost in my mind how these products from the Camas area will continue to grow and thrive in this competitive world. Will they stay locally grown?

This ritual is nothing new to many of you. I’m no expert, but my oldest has already been in college for three years. To others, moving your children to college may seem so far away as you prepare getting them on the bus for the very first time. Been there, done that, and sometimes feeling like I’m still doing that. Actually, I think if most teens were to get on a school bus today, they would probably miss the door as they are in “text neck” position lamenting to all their friends, embarrassment of riding a bus.

This is not a lecture of, “When I was your age…”, but rather raising the thoughts: “How will you use these wonderful tools available to you”? These locally grown tools that are available here.

These are both products of local public schools. All their teachers were instrumental along the way, showing them the intelligence and ability within themselves. Then, opening the door to learning and igniting a fire that may never be extinguished. That fire to learn and the tools to apply yourself are truly priceless.

In grades K-5, parents volunteering in the classroom is always welcome and allowed me to learn what my child was learning. (Although, I still have not become comfortable with the new math and showing my work). To be a successful locally grown product, a parent needs to be aware and somewhat involved. It has made me a better parent.

There have been pressures, mistakes, and big (but really not so big) problems along this growth.

Competition is a big factor that can cause growth or stagnation. In the classroom or on the soccer field, the running course or the baseball field. I have gotten myself so wrapped up in competition that I was hoping there would be a small earphone device for me to tell my child in center field: “Hey buddy, quit looking at that butterfly and keep your eyes on the ball!” or “Stop biting your nails before your speech!” Would that of made him a better athlete or student? Probably not.

As parents we think we are the best coach ever. After all, we coached them through the potty training and riding that bike. The coaches my children have had really did know best their abilities and talents. Imagine that. Placing too much expectation on your child to be the smartest, fastest, strongest, the best ever – I can comfortably say they may fail miserably.

I don’t have to explain the fact which is all encompassing: they truly have to want it themselves. Competition has been and will always be there, but having healthy attitudes will help them in future situations. Being realistic sometimes is painful, but the life after K-12 is very real.

Both my offspring are very proud of their roots in Camas. From their shows in elementary school, their squeaky band performances in middle school, soccer games, races, Mock Trials, and to the marching band in high school. All have given them exponential growth and experiences that will last with them forever.

Yes, they aren’t the smartest or the best or the fastest. But I have to think the opportunity to be locally grown has helped them develop into the respectful, intelligent, courteous, and helpful young adults they have become. Perhaps a combination of many things and this community.

For the last 16 years attending almost every performance, event, game, race, banquet, and science fair, has been truly been a labor of pride, joy, and love. Complete with all the squeaks.

The Camas-Washougal area has many tools available to become locally grown and successful products. The schools, athletic programs, and community education are places to start. I’m learning it has to be what you make it. Because of the swiftly growing population, many are commenting on how hard it is to handle the change with school classroom size, the bump in crime rates, and the traffic congestion, just to say a few. But these tools are still here waiting for the taking. It’s not perfect, there are faults and issues causing frustration. But then again, so are my offspring. Always room for improvement, but yet awesome in their personalities and ambition.

So as they go out into this world, they carry pride from being locally grown from our community. Their label may not say “locally grown in Camas,” but they know it in their hearts and that’s good enough for me.

My youngest recently commented: “Yeah, I’m happy and proud to be from Camas. My schooling has been an awesome experience. I love the nature and community that has helped me appreciate this world around us. And even the smell from the mill isn’t so bad.” Locally grown. Maybe not totally organic, but naturally good.

Margaret Svilar transplanted to Camas from Minnesota more than 20 years ago. She was previously employed by Northwest/Delta Airlines, has worked for Camas High School, and presently working on what she wants to be when she grows up.