Kids will be dry and warm at Camp Killoqua’s day camp this summer, protected from the weather by a pavilion shelter with a huge fireplace.
“It’s like a longhouse with no walls,” said Tribal Chair Sean Yanity describing the pavilion that the Stillaguamish Tribal Council has agreed to pay for, over the next 10 years.
The $250,000 pledge has earned the Tribe naming rights for the pavilion, a 110-foot by 40-foot shelter that will serve 900 kids in day camp and an additional 90 kids daily in after school programs, said Toby Brown, Capital Campaign Coordinator.
The donation is part of the Camp Fire USA Snohomish County Council Capital Campaign to raise $2.7 million. Donors of $100,000, The Boeing Company will receive naming rights for a barbecue, and the Norcliffe Foundation name will be attached with the fireplace.
All former Camp Fire kids will understand the significance of the Tribe’s contribution.
“We share a lot of common values,” Yanity told a group of supporters during a ground breaking ceremony earlier this spring.
Established in 1917, Camp Fire USA has long been inspired by the cultures of Native Americans. Originally for girls only, the organization still rewards members with beads and patches for each service project or activity. The reward tokens are attached on ceremonial gowns, vests and outfits inspired by Native American costumes — buckhide leather with fringes, for example.
In the early days, Camp Fire girls learned the Native American art of bead work to make beaded headbands with symbols that they chose to represent themselves.
Indeed, an avid supporter of the organization, a member of the board, and a teacher for 43 years currently in Everett, Janet Thompson posed for the campaign brochures wearing her headband.
“You can see it meant a lot to me, because 50 years later I still have my [Camp Fire] book and beaded headband,” Thompson said.
Camp Fire district meetings traditionally mimic Native American gatherings, with groups of children dressed in gowns and vests gathered in big circles, singing the Camp Fire song, WoHeLo, which speaks of the duties of a citizen: work, health, love.
Today, Camp Fire club members can choose their own ceremonial garb.
A young man who has been involved with Camp Fire since he was in kindergarten and is now a student representative on the board of directors, Tony Deal, of Marysville, said he chose a trapper-style tunic and pants as his costume.
“I’m just a camper sort of guy,” said Deal, 16, who plays football with Marysville-Pilchuck High School and will be attending the Ocean Research College Academy, a program of Everett Community College, through the Running Start program, starting this fall.
For Yanity, it’s Camp Fire’s concern for the environment and the diversity of kids they serve that is important.
“We are working today so our children will not have to fight for the survival of salmon,” Yanity said.
“Look at this beautiful forest, this is our church,” he said.
Indeed, Camp Killoqua is known among the Snohomish County Council of Camp Fire USA as the “Crown Jewel of Snohomish County” and yet many north Snohomish County residents are not even aware that it exists. Supporters of the capital campaign now underway are largely of Everett, who value the opportunity to go camping in the woods.
One avid Camp Fire supporter, however, has family living in the area and recognizes the contributions of Camp Fire. Stan McNaughton is president and CEO of PEMCO Mutual Insurance Companies, a donor to the capital campaign.
“Because my family lives close to Camp Kiloqua, we have been able to watch the camp’s planned growth. We are pleased to contribute both personally and through PEMCO,” McNaughton said.
Though if the 185-acre forest disappeared, then the neighbors would notice.
While structures vary as volunteers designed shelters and cabins and lodges through the years, since the first 60 acres were acquired in 1941, the style of Camp Killoqua is uniquely northwest. Rustic, round, cedar-shaked shelters stand amid the trees. Large natural wood lodges along the banks of Lake Crabapple provide housing and gathering spaces for campers of all ages. The camp could be be a fancy resort in British Columbia.
The campers don’t see it that way, though. The boys, particularly, are excited about a simple new restroom facility.
“I’m dying to see the new bathrooms,” said Jake Benton while visiting the camp this spring. “The old one was so gross,” he said.
The adults, however, are more concerned about the bigger picture.
“We are meeting with our elders to find the proper name for the pavilion,” Yanity said.
“It’s not that long ago that our own children needed help,” Yanity said. “Now thanks to the casino, we are able to help others.”
In addition to the pavilion, the capital campaign has contributed by providing the new boys shower house, a covered welcome center, an upgrade to the main lodge kitchen, electrical upgrades, new roofs on several buildings and other necessary projects.
Now at $2,170,000 of the $2.7 million goal, the capital campaign has reached more than 70 percent of its goal.
When not in summer camping season, Camp Killoqua provideds meeting and gathering facilities for other community groups. For information call 425-258-5437.