August 24, 2010
Eleven students and three chaperones from Skyridge and Liberty middle schools recently returned from a trip to Poland. Pictured here are (back row, left to right), Zach Pfeifer, Elijah Wolfe and Liam Bradley. In the front row are (left to right) Liberty principal Marilyn Boerke, Danielle Przedwojewski, Rachel Rakoski, Lacy Harness, Emily Brusseau and Juli Bradley. Not pictured are Marcus Roberts, Bennett Lehner, Ella Dewars and Calla Mavros, and chaperone Carolee Dewars.

Broadening their horizons

It's difficult for anyone to be "out of their element," in a new culture with new customs, language and food. But try being only 12 or 13 and doing it. However, it's just what several local middle school students experienced this summer when they spent 14 days in Poland as a part of an exchange program with the city of Zabierzow. For years, Camas High School has sent students to Poland for an English language camp, but it's the first time a group of middle schoolers has gone. The trip came about after Camas Superintendent Mike Nerland recommended to Liberty Middle School Principal Marilyn Boerke that she set up a partnership with Zabierzow.

August 17, 2010
Geert Aerts checks the HVAC equipment at Washougal High School. He is helping the school district with an energy conservation project that includes retro-commissioning the heating and cooling systems.

Construction, energy savings projects abound

While students and parents may just now be thinking about school, both local districts have been busy this summer with a variety of projects. In Camas, construction on the Doc Harris Stadium, Camas High School and Dorothy Fox additions, as well as the completion of Hayes Freedom High School have been on the forefront. In Washougal, a variety of energy efficiency improvements, including retro-commissioning the heating and cooling systems at the high school, installing programmable thermostats in portable classrooms, and programming and monitoring heating/cooling control software so that unused spaces are not heated or air-conditioned unnecessarily.

August 10, 2010
Greg Laird poses in Key West, Fla., the starting point to the Hoka Key Challenge.  The 9,000 mile race, in extreme conditions, took 12 days for him to complete.

Pushing the limits

There is a quote that comes to mind when thinking about people who do any kind of extreme racing activity. "Even in the most crowded races, the point is reached when fatigue drives us back into ourselves, into those secluded parts of our souls that we discover only under times of such duress and from which we emerge with a clearer perspective of the people we truly are." Camas resident Greg Laird understands this quote all too well after finishing the Hoka Key Challenge, a 9,000 mile trek with people described as "some of the world's most fearless riders."

August 3, 2010
Campers and leaders inspect plants at Fern Hollow, part of Camas Camp-n-Ranch. Pictured clockwise, from left, is camper Raegan Brandy, counselors Tracy Frost and Sharon Barney, and camper Meagan Shellman. In the background are, left to right, Kathryn Sudbeck and Lexie Leyden.

Sharing a love of the farm life

At Camas Camp-n-Ranch, there are no strangers. "Come on in," director Tina Goodnight says. "Everyone is a friend here." Known as "Grandma Tina" to many, she is busy running a variety of local, farm-based summer camps, hoping to encourage a love of animals and the outdoors. The farm even has a mascot: Sugar, the one-legged rooster who greets everyone and loves to be held by children. "Everyone that comes here is looking for something," Goodnight said. "The parents are looking for quality programs for their kids, and the kids are looking for new experiences. Many of them have never even seen a chicken or a goat up close before."

July 27, 2010
After marching in the Kids Parade, members of Virtuosity Performing Arts Studio performed an interpretation of "Alice in Wonderland."

Locals enjoy Camas Days

People from all over the region flocked to downtown for the Camas Days festival. Everyone from tots to grandparents spent time sampling festival fare, perusing vendors booths and watching the various parades. The weather also cooperated, with temperatures in the 80s for most of the weekend. Children had their pick of activities to choose from at Kids Street, where ticket lines stretched around the block and young participants literally bounced from one activity to the other. Some of the choices included a bounce house, two bouncy slides, a rock wall and fast pitch area. Jennifer Harness came with her three young daughters. She has taken them to the festivities every year. "I love all the rides and especially the caterpillar (bounce ride)," 7-year-old Andie Harness said. "And I love the candy and horses in the parade." Her sister Alyssa, 5, enjoys the kids parade. "I love all the horses and the chicken," she said.

July 20, 2010
Local artist Elida Field helps third-grader Tony Kajino put the finishing touches on his painting.  She recently moved her business from her home studio in Washougal, to Northeast Cedar Street  in Camas, where Workshed Interactive was located. That business has moved into a smaller space. Field plans on using the space for a "working gallery," where the community will be able to take classes and have parties.

Making art accessible

Elida Field is definitely not what you'd call an uptight artist. "I have three kids," she said. "I'm used to seeing the spaghetti fly through the air and hit a painting. If you can't just wipe it off, then it's not something I'm likely to have in my home." Field, who lives in Washougal, is taking that free-spirited concept into her latest venture, opening a downtown Camas art gallery. "I don't really have a name for it yet," she said. "I'm usually good at coming up with catchy little titles, but this has been difficult."

July 13, 2010
This artwork is among several pieces displayed in the Second Story Gallery this month. It includes Barbara Queen's "Red Rhodies Crying in the Rain #1 and #2," Nathaniel Maszak's "View From Livingston Mountain," and Anamaria Campbell's "Bicyle By Fence," (shown above) which was also a contest winner.  Other photos at the show are "Ice Cream Outing at Top Burger," where Susan Maszak took three pictures of one of her sons, Alex, holding his 2-year-old brother Benjamin and helping him select a flavor. Later, they ate it outside during rare sunshine on Memorial Day, 15-year-old Kierney Fogg's "Fern Prairie Pioneers," a winning entry, Kathleen Doyle's "Daisy" and Campbell's "Iris."

What they love about Camas

From an ice cream outing at Top Burger to Lacamas Lake at dusk, local photographers captured what they love most about Camas, in a contest sponsored by the local library. "It's an idea we've been kicking around for a number of years," Library Director David Zavortink said. "It really fits in with our mission of enriching lives and enhancing people's creativity." Several local residents submitted photographs, which are being displayed in the Second Story Gallery in the library. "The goal of the Second Story Gallery is really to promote the arts, which they are doing through this contest," Zavortink said. "They manage everything for us. "We've had a lot of people come in to look at the pictures and ask if we are doing it again next year, so there is a lot of interest."

July 6, 2010
Molly Adamson holds a little girl at a small village called Rakai, where she and other volunteers built a two-room house for an widow who had previously been living in a thatched roof hut. For more information about the organization, visit

Empowering children

A film seen her freshman year of college prompted Molly Adamson to travel a road that eventually led her to live in Uganda for six weeks. Molly, 21, of Camas, wanted to volunteer in Africa for some time, but wasn't sure about the direction she should go. "I'd been praying about it for awhile, and then I saw the movie, 'Invisible Children,' about child soldiers in Northern Uganda. It was then that I knew where I wanted to travel." Molly saved her money for the next few years, and began researching different options. In the fall of 2009, during her junior year at Gonzaga University, she found an outreach program called Empower A Child. The goal of this non-profit Christian organization is to bring confidence and self-sustainability to orphaned and vulnerable children in east Africa by teaching them skills, giving them an opportunity for education and teaching them about God. "I really liked what I saw there," Molly said. "It seemed to fit with what I wanted to do."

June 29, 2010
Anthony Overacker and Kendra Upjohn decorate birdhouses during a recent craft day on the patio at Columbia Ridge assisted living. The facility sponsors these types of gatherings every month so residents and community members have a chance to mingle. Below, at left, Heidi Alandt, activities director, gets to work and at right, Ashima Ram, community outreach coordinator, puts a splash of color on her creation.

Building community

When most people think of assisted living, they probably flash to images of dark hallways and hospital type food served in a bland atmosphere. But that all has changed in the past several years. Nowadays, many assisted living centers resemble 5-star hotels in the quality of rooms and service. To emphasize that point, Columbia Ridge Senior Living in Washougal offers several opportunities for residents and local community members to interact with other through events such as ice cream socials, happy hours, spaghetti feeds and craft projects. Last week, residents, volunteers and community members decorated birdhouses on the patio outside, enjoying some much-needed sunshine.

June 22, 2010
Keith Stansbury, head of the Clark College CAD/Engineering Applications department, helps students launch rockets during SEMI High Tech U last week. The program targets 14- to 17-year-old students who have an interest in high-tech fields.

Launching high-tech careers

When Camas High School student Garrett Wilgus heard about a three-day opportunity to explore science and math careers, he was eager to learn. "I thought this would be a great opportunity to find out whether I'm really interested in the industry and see if it would be the right opportunity for me," he said. So, Wilgus, who will be a senior this fall, decided to apply for the SEMI High Tech U program, which is an industry-driven math and science-based career exploration event presented by the non-profit SEMI Foundation and local partners. These include the Southwest Washington Workforce Development Council, Clark College, Hewlett-Packard, WaferTech, Clark County High Tech Community Council, Columbia Machine, Employers Overload and Underwriters Laboratories. The program provides incoming sophomores, juniors and seniors with an opportunity to learn how math and science are used in the high-tech world by sending them to work with experts in the field at various businesses.