Environmental stewardship takes on a whole new feel from inside a kayak navigating the Squaxin Passage on Puget Sound.
The overnight camp on Hope Island Marine State Park in Mason County and the nearly half-mile kayak trip from Carlyon Beach, near the entrance to Totten Inlet, to the park is just one of the camps being offered to South Sound teens this summer by the nonprofit Mount2Sound Adventures.
Fifteen-year-old Trinity Dolinski, a sophomore at Olympia High School, said she was excited to participate in the camp, which included lessons in plant identification and star gazing, as well as drumming and Native American stories.
“I came because I love the outdoors,” Trinity said.
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Formerly known as Natural Resources Youth Camp of Western Washington, Mount2Sound Adventures was created to introduce teens to environmental stewardship, said Kahle Jennings, one of the organization’s board members.
“You get it a little in school, but there’s nothing like getting out here, smelling the saltwater, hearing the seals snort,” Jennings said. “Our focus is learning by doing.”
The organization was founded in 1983, and ran weeklong camps at Pack Forest near Eatonville for many years, camp director Sadie Gilliom said.
At the height of its popularity, nearly 90 youths participated in the summer programs, but about 15 years ago the camp’s participation levels began to drop, Jennings said.
The nonprofit recently adopted a new name, retooled its programming and partnered with the Thurston Conservation District and AmeriCorps members.
“They’ve just brought a lot of youth and vigor to the program, so it’s great to have them involved,” Jennings said of the conservation district and AmeriCorps members.
Instead of a traditional weeklong camp, this year’s offerings include several small events including the kayak and camping trip, as well as a backpacking trip Aug. 2-4 and a farm-to-table day camp on Aug. 14.
Spots are available for both of the upcoming events, Gilliom said. The three-day backpacking trip will be along the Seven Lakes Basin High Divide Loop in the Olympic National Park. The cost is $200.
“We do have scholarships available,” Gilliom said. “We try to make the camp as accessible as possible.”
The Experience Local Food day camp, which costs $30, will include a session on water quality and shellfish, a work party at Garden Raised Bounty (GRuB), and a meal.
“A chef actually volunteers to come and cook a meal with all of the things they harvest,” Gilliom said.
All of the programs are designed to connect teens with ideas about how they can make the world a better place.
“It’s an effort to do some hands-on environmental education and experiential learning,” Gilliom said.
For more information on the camps, go to thurstoncd.com/mount2sound.