On a sunny afternoon at Camp Killoqua, there weren’t any excited kids lugging sleeping bags or jumping into Crabapple Lake. Cars filled the parking lot, but not a single parent was giving a child a goodbye hug.
Those scenes begin this week as the Stanwood-area camp — described Thursday by local Camp Fire CEO Jim Stephanson as “a jewel in Snohomish County” — starts welcoming children and teens for summer sessions.
Thursday’s event at Camp Killoqua was a thank-you party. With pledges large and small, donors to a nearly three-year capital campaign raised more than $2.1 million.
That money is paying for a long list of projects and purchases at Camp Killoqua. More important than those items are the additional children who’ll be served by Camp Fire Snohomish County.
Money raised during the campaign is expected to boost the number of kids participating annually at Camp Killoqua or in Camp Fire programs from 8,000 to 12,000, Stephanson said. “As we grow, we can offer more kids that opportunity,” he said.
The camp, 185 acres of forest, wetlands and lakefront 20 miles northwest of Everett, was established in 1941. That’s when Camp Fire bought a farm on Crabapple Lake.
Among contributions for major items are: nearly $105,000 donated for a beach house by the late Mary Brannon and her family; a $67,000 camp bus given by the family of the late Kim and Sharon Blunt; a $46,000 high-ropes course donated by the Nysether family; and $25,000 for a pavilion kitchen donated in honor of Barbara Friend.
Dave Surface, capital campaign executive and former Camp Fire CEO, said not all the donations are paying for “sexy, kid-impact” projects. It’s no beach house or high-ropes course, but the new $87,000 drain field for the camp’s lodge brings Killoqua into compliance with local septic-system requirements, he said.
Other infrastructure investments are being funded by the campaign, which had Rich Boyden and Hank Robinett as co-chairmen.
New flooring for the lodge, security monitoring and new bleachers are among the expenditures. Construction of a new duplex building, including a large meeting space, is also underway at the camp. Paid for by a $230,000 gift from Boyden, Robinett & Associates, L.P., the duplex will be called Lincoln Lodge.
Members of families involved in Camp Fire for generations were recognized Thursday. They came forward as signs were presented which will be displayed at Killoqua.
Cheri Ryan, trustee for the Elizabeth Ruth Wallace Trust, held up a sign for Mud’s Shed. It’s a storage building funded with $100,000 from the trust left by Wallace, Ryan’s late aunt. Wallace, an Edmonds-area native who died in 2016, left millions of dollars to nonprofits.
Barbara Sweeney and Mebie Thompson, Brannon’s daughters, were shown the sign that says “Beach House sponsored by the Mary Brannon Family.”
Brannon, who died in May at age 99, was a Camp Fire leader when her daughters were girls, and later became a Camp Fire Snohomish County board member. She also served on the organization’s national board and received the Wohelo Award, Camp Fire’s highest honor.
The family of Dottie Piasecki, a longtime Camp Fire board member who died last year, honored her memory with a $25,000 gift.
Snohomish County Councilman Brian Sullivan attended the event, as did County Clerk Sonya Kraski, who is on the Camp Fire board. The county donated $30,000 through its Historic Preservation Program for work on the lodge.
Some donors have glowing memories of Camp Fire.
“I’ve been a Camp Fire kid my whole life,” Lanette Rugis said. The Lakewood-area woman made a $5,000 pledge to the campaign that was matched by the Boeing Co., her employer. Growing up in Arizona, Rugis went to a Camp Fire camp every summer — once staying all summer. “Camp Fire has my heart,” said Rugis, who as an adult became a Blue Bird group leader.
Camp Fire was just for girls when I was part of it in the 1960s. Boys joined by the mid-1970s. My wonderful memories are of Camp Sweyolaken on Idaho’s Lake Coeur d’Alene, where we slept in tree houses and paddled vintage wooden canoes.
Major donors at Thursday’s event, which included camp tours, received framed prints of Camp Killoqua scenes created by Everett artist Elizabeth Person.
Young Killoqua staff, who’ll soon welcome crowds of kids, treated donors with their take on “Hello Mudda, Hello Fadda,” the 1960s letter-from-Camp Grenada song.
“Hello donors and board members,” they sang in a verse that ended with “Camp is looking pretty spiffy, And that’s all thanks to you, now ain’t that nifty.”
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; firstname.lastname@example.org.