The 11 members of AmeriCorps team known as Gold 2 arrived at Sound View Camp Nov. 7 and went to work on projects to strengthen the Outdoor Environmental Education (OEE) programs at the facility.
Camp Director Kurt Sample explained that the camp, owned and operated by the Presbytery of Olympia, adopted a long-range plan for enhancing the grounds and developing the site as an environmental learning center. Recognizing that Sound View Camp’s staff of four could not make inroads into the initial phase without additional help, he applied for support from AmeriCorps.
Nancyrose Houston joined the Sound View staff as OEE director in April 2018. Houston had spent the previous two years coordinating the environmental education program at Parque-Omora, a conservation project in Puerto Williams, Chile. She worked closely with the first AmeriCorps team and was eager to increase community awareness of the camp and to promote the OEE camping options. Houston joined the Key Peninsula Farm Council and through her efforts the facility was opened for public visits during the 2018 farm tour. The farm tour survey recorded positive comments from visitors to the camp about its activities and trail system.
The first AmeriCorps team made significant progress last spring: trails were reclaimed, several cabins were restored, and a small field was cleared for a garden. The second team will be on-site until Dec. 16.
While on the Key Peninsula, the day-to-day work is coordinated by Houston and James Goodman, aka “Goody,” the resident site manager. Houston and Goodman prioritized the short-term projects that will have the greatest impact on the OEE programs.
On day five of the residency, AmeriCorps team member Alexandra Wilson, along with recruiter Mary Coyl, who is also the team’s media representative, enumerated the progress made and outlined projects that were planned.
Their work focused on expansion of the garden area, building raised beds and installing deer fencing. The corral, home to several rescue animals, is to be enlarged and fenced. The first stages of the project required extensive brush clearing—particularly blackberry removal. The Gold 2 team hopes there will be time for them to begin construction of a greenhouse before their scheduled departure date.
On the waterfront, the team has worked on improvements to the instructional area for the tidal zone classes. They have emptied out a building used for storage to make room for new drywall and a mural in the revamped instructional space. The Gold 2 team health and wellness coordinator, Madi Child is assigned to painting and mounting signage for the trails “to take advantage of her artistic talent,” Coyl said.
Another area of the camp that is getting much needed attention is a proposed natural playground. “The first task was to dismantle and remove an old, unsafe cabin,” Coyl said. “Next we are removing the brush to open up the area. The new playground will incorporate elements found in the environment, so that it will fit in with the outdoor education focus of the camp.”
Houston said, “The Gold 2 team is worth its weight in gold! We are scrambling to stay ahead of them.”