Deep in the heart of Vaughn Bay lies a little piece of paradise called Camp Stand By Me. It is there to enjoy for the Key Peninsula community when it is not filled with Easter Seals summer campers.
The property was originally the farm of Dorothy Kellogg. At her passing, in 1971, her sister, Mildred McDermott, a long-time schoolteacher from Edmonds, donated the land, farmhouse, stable, orchard and marine facilities to Easter Seals Washington. Mildred said the donation was to honor her sister’s handicap. It was Mildred’s wish to transfer her sister’s inspiration to the lives of others.
Key Peninsula residents can share her inspiration during the camp’s off-season. In the fall and winter months, the swimming pool is available for adult open swim and aquatic aerobics, as well as party rental, family reunions, off-season sports celebrations…you name it and the facility is yours to rent.
The pool is remarkably inviting. The 90-degree temperature is especially welcome to those who have issues with movement and cold. The pool serves individuals of all abilities and disabilities. There is a wheelchair that can float swimmers into the pool if they are unable to walk down the ramp. For some campers, this is the only time in a pool all year long. It is hard to get transportation, to dress, undress and get into a pool. This much-appreciated indoor-pool was achieved through efforts and donations of supporters like the Angel Guild, the Boeing Employee Good Neighbor Fund, the Glaser Foundation, Youth for Easter Seals and numerous individuals.
In the summer, Camp Stand By Me fills with campers who come to participate in swimming, boating, beach combing, horseback riding, sports and games, evening dances and campfires. Many campers are regulars, and some have come every year since the opening. They range in age from 7 to 70.
The staff come from all across the United States and many other countries. Several are striving for professions associated with this work: physical therapy, recreation, camping. Most are college age and they contribute “fabulous open hearts and lots of elbow grease,” according to Laurie Hall, currently the only off-season employee—though she is assisted by Molly, the Border Collie, who is the official greeter.
Hall has worked for the camp since high school, and has since held nearly every position including director. She is a Red Cross instructor, works full-time elsewhere and says the camp work is her heart job.
Hall was once a resident of the Key Peninsula and being a lifeguard for the adult swim sessions at the camp helps her catch up on the news.
“What’s really neat is their everyday life stories,” Hall says about the folks in a morning adult swim class. “…They talk of their children, their activities, Angel Guild and the upcoming auction.”
The community swim opportunities are a good deal for everyone involved. The neighbors can enjoy a great pool and the camp likes to have the pool open and utilized year-round. Exercise in this beautiful setting is no doubt good for the heart.