Sound View Camp and Retreat Center is getting a new life thanks to a new staff and renewed interest.
Sound View, located in Longbranch near the south end of the Peninsula, was originally owned by the Campfire Girls organization, which acquired it in 1952. The camp was sold to the Olympia Presbytery in the mid-1980s and has been owned by them up to the present.
The camp has experienced financial difficulties in the past, with the most recent occurring in the summer of 2016. “There was talk of closing the camp last summer,” said Site Manager James Goodman. “The staff was let go and some of the board was let go, and they revamped the board with people that are more pro-camp to get the camp moving again.”
The presbytery also decided to reinvest in the camp. “The camp has been thought to close three different times and each time they come back to the churches within the presbytery, and the presbytery says ‘No, whatever the financial troubles are, we’ll take care of it,’” Goodman said.
Goodman and new camp Director Kurt Sample were hired in early 2017 as the new primary staff. “I was a former YMCA camp director and I took about 15 years off to teach,” Sample said. “When I heard that Sound View was going through some staff changes, I said, ‘Maybe it’s a good time to get back into camping.’ The camp has such enormous potential.”
While the camp has extensive facilities and acreage, upkeep suffered during years of financial difficulty. Buildings and activity areas fell out of use and routine maintenance was left undone. Because of the current state of the camp, the new staff is focusing on repairing and revitalizing the facility. Angela Goodman, Site Manager Goodman’s wife, said the work so far is “just cleaning. Cleaning off shelves, cleaning out the kitchen. A lot of trail cleaning, leaf and branch pickup, organizing the maintenance shed. At this point, it’s just a lot of little things.”
Other groups, including Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, have pitched in to help. Churches in the presbytery have also sent work parties to the camp to assist with major projects.
One example of the ongoing renewal and repurposing is the former stable and corral area. The buildings used for the discontinued equine program are being converted into a miniature farm populated with rescued goats, chickens and llamas.
“We had this whole livestock area, we had all the farm stuff, but nothing to live in it,” said James Goodman. The farm will serve as an opportunity to teach sustainable living to campers, as well as providing a way for visitors to interact with animals and learn about their care. “If you live in the country, you kind of take that for granted, but if you don’t, you may have never known that (experience),” he said.
Both Goodman and Sample are relative newcomers to the Key Peninsula. Sample noted their warm welcome by community members who remember the camp fondly, as well as the new staff’s continuing efforts to connect with the community. “The most exciting thing so far is that I went out and jammed with the Longbranch Community Church, at their bluegrass night,” Sample said. “From there I met some people who used to work at camp. You establish these connections as you get into the community.”
Sound View will continue renting their facility to groups as well as running their own summer programs, open to the public. “You don’t have to be part of a certain church or a certain group; it’s open to everyone,” Angela Goodman said. Although plans for the future are mostly limited to repairs and minor projects for now, the camp staff is brainstorming ideas for new programs and ways to engage with the Key Peninsula. “We’re trying to think of things that wouldn’t just be Sound View, but can involve the community as a whole,” Angela Goodman said.
For more information, go to http://www.soundviewcamp.com.