Camp St. Mary’s: 19 years and going strong

July 9, 2011


Camp St. Mary’s brought nearly 100 people together for three nights and four days of fun, adventure and learning. The camp, in its 19th year, is held on Pat and Becki Rawson’s 10-acre property off of Barrett Drive.

Loud cheers, squeals of laughter and infectious camp songs ring out nightly amidst the towering cottonwoods and alders along the picturesque mid-waters of Indian Creek.

When the shouted calls of "Fire, Fire, Fire" resound, one might think this is a firefighter's training center. But no - it is just the happy voices of 62 campers, 20 teen counselors and 10 or more adults joining together in the ever-popular and maddening camp song that haunts every summer camp from here to Portland, Maine.

Camp St. Mary's is now in its 19th year of existence, started and run annually in the backyard of its founders, Pat and Becki Rawson, whose 10 acres of land serve as the annual host site.

"To those whom much has been given, much will be expected."

This quote has been a guiding principle behind the Rawsons' efforts to provide a summer camp experience for youth who might not otherwise be able to afford one, provide leadership opportunities for youth and to promote positive relationships between Anglo and Hispanic community members.

"We charge $10 per camper for the three-night and four-day camp," said Becki Rawson. "That includes 10 meals and all the activities and crafts; and tents are provided."

That cost has not changed in 19 years - primarily due to the many, many community members, both Catholic and non-Catholic alike, who donate funds and volunteer time to make the camp affordable.

The other vital reason the camp endures and fills up within an hour of registration opening, is the Rawson's ability to inspire their own children, Danny, Sean, Katie and Claire, plus their many extended family members, into active leadership roles.

This year's camp directors are Katie Rawson, and her cousin Michael Hasken - who has flown in from Louisville, Ky., for the last few years to volunteer.

Hasken's father, Michael Sr., and mother, Ann Oldfather (Becki's sister), along with Hasken's sister Ellie, have been stalwart camp supervisors for many years, as well. The entire family spends its summer vacation serving campers year after year. This year Hasken also brought his childhood friend, Scott Swartzwelder, to lend a hand too.

Becki Rawson's mother, Joan Barrett, remains an integral part of food preparation and arts and crafts sessions. Close family friend Mary Anchieta is the official kitchen-master.

That strange tendril-like expanding call to service is a hallmark of the Rawsons' success. Pat Rawson now serves as camp director emeritus - otherwise known as the "camp grandfather," and has provided the inclusive philosophy and faith in human goodness that underlies the camp's inspiring relationships.

Several of this year's helpers have been here from the founding year of the camp. Parents, community members, church groups and teen volunteers from HRVHS and other high schools regularly fill out the ranks and return for several years in a row.

The fun comes in many forms for both campers and teen counselors and adult supervisors so it is no wonder everyone keeps coming back.

The full days include swimming, archery, group water relays, hiking, a mucky-yucky creek crawl, roller-skating, bowling, arts and crafts, wilderness skills, skits, soccer, games, field trips to Lost Lake, the ice caves and Beacon Rock and the ever-popular nightly campfire sing and closing prayer.

Meals are provided and served by multiple community groups and there is always plenty to eat. Not surprisingly, s'mores remain the all-time hit.

Campers range in age from 7-13. At 14, former campers take on leadership roles as counselors-in-training. Many of this year's teen counselors were once small campers themselves.

Not dependent on church funding, the camp has always managed to find willing hands and generous benefactors to keep the dream of "summer camp for everyone" alive.

For anyone interested in helping with this or next year's camp costs or service options, contact Becki or Pat Rawson at 541-386-2510.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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