Camano Islan, and Cama Beach
May 19, 2015 by Megan
Camano Island… what a paradise to wake up in. Getting in as late as we did, we didn’t truly appreciate it until the morning light and the realization that – whoa, there’s a lot of activity going on…. Oh, and we accidently parked in a tent camp spot. Oops.
Turns out we lucked out with our adjusted schedule in two ways: First, we learned this was the last night Camano Island was hosting camping before a hiatus to replace their water system. And second, it happened to be one of only two days out of the year that the area’s 2nd Graders were invited out for a massive fieldtrip to learn about the natural wonders of the park. Which explained the 30 or so volunteers and the two busloads of school children. One of the rangers was kind enough to give me and the cameras a ride to the beach, while Rob raced down on foot with Dane in the running stroller.
Camano Island, we learned, is a “Community Initiated and Supported Park.” Community volunteers have donated countless hours in physical labor, special projects, and educational programming, and from the sound of it were heavily involved in forming the park itself. One ranger proudly told me that the volunteered work of the community (mostly retirees) equated to over $400,000 in material donations, and the labor equivalent of having two full-time employees for 20 years. I can’t personally vouch for his math, but even if he got close, that is absolutely amazing.
The volunteers we met on Day 5 were leading the area’s second graders through hands-on educational stations about tidal area organisms, including barnacles. The kids got such a kick out of pretending to be barnacles, reaching up out of their “shells” for “food” (bubbles) as volunteers signified the tide level with a rope held high. This activity was framed to foster empathy for the barnacles, that for example if you throw a rock out of the reach of the tide, those barnacles will be unable to eat and will eventually die. You could just see the stewardship and sense of responsibility glowing in these kids as they were empowered to care for these creatures on the beach.
As we wrapped up at Camano Island, shooting at some of the camping sites, I saw a large flying thing zip through my peripheral vision. I spun around to see two bald eagles gliding around the sky! I am not a wildlife photographer by trade, but this trip is making me want to invest in a much longer lens! Here is the best one I was able to grab on my 200mm. Not that great… but proof they were there.
From Camano Island State Park, we cruised around the corner to neighboring Cama Beach, where its history as a family fishing resort runs back to 1934. The cute cabins all lined up in a row offer a real sense of community, and The Center for Wooden Boats continues to restore and rent out boats to visitors to this day.
The Center isn’t open for rentals on Mondays, but I met two incredibly knowledgeable and friendly volunteers, Dave and Max, who shared a bit of the history of the area with me, and allowed me to photograph them at work.
Again, it was emphasized how community partnership and collaboration are what keep this place going. Gratitude seemed to be a mutual feeling between State Parks and the partnering organizations and volunteers. Cama Beach is another find that I certainly want to come back to visit. Feeling the history, the community, the timeless treat of “getting away” and experiencing something new as a family… heartfelt thanks to the amazing people that work to preserve this place and these experiences.