Sunday, April 26, 2009


Last week was a spring highlight as I spent it as one of several instructors at a Christian Outdoor School which takes place at Camp Yamhill. This really fine facility is about fifteen miles west of Newburg, Oregon. It was given in 1954 by a family of loggers for the purpose of a church camp and retreat site and is run by a board which is responsibile for its operations, maintenance, and development. The original gift has been increased by recent additions to about 200 acres and is a splendid location for the educational weeks each spring that are devoted to studying the "great outdoors".

The students last week were all sixth graders from Christian schools in Oregon and Washington. It is to their credit and the quality of their own teachers who came along to participate too, that there was nary a spot of trouble or even disagreement of which I was aware. The kids were eager to learn out in the environment and soon became quite involved in their individual studies, and willingly did their various camp chores to help out. As complex as is the scheduling of the individual lessons and finding their locations, all went well and no one was misplaced.

The curriculum is Bible based and the teachers are all expert in their areas of instruction. God and His creation is the focus of all the lessons. My assignments this year included a portion of the soils studies, the forest ecology sections, and the water studies which related to pond health, habitat, and management.

In the soil centered sessions students examined the qualities of various soil types and permeability and also examined the layers of earth in an exposed bank along a creek. My portion concerned the layers of the forest floor. This includes the surface litter layer and plants growing in it, the layer of duff just below that including any kind of animal life in it we could discover, and the humus layer just below the duff. There is a wonderful lesson here of how former forests are being recycled into future forests,

My opportunity to introduce all the seventy-some students to forest ecology on one or another of four hikes almost did me in this year as my feet went into severe protest halfway through the day. Students were shown how to identify the major tree species present, to see the features and zones of the forest, including nurse logs and several specific characteristics of the forest which was logged off some eighty years ago, long before the present forest replaced it. Students also met up close a number of common plants of the forest floor which they learned to identify.

The portion of water studies I taught this year showed how the health of a well managed pond can be verified by observation and a few basic testing procedures. Students measured the pH of the water, the level of dissolved O2 present, the temperature, and the turbidity of the water as basic tests and compared thir results to normal ranges and to other prior results to check for changes. Then they were pointed to the variety and observed wellness of the animal life present: fish, salamanders, insects, birds and reptiles, all of which were represented around the pond.

A week with neat kids eager to learn, a grand and inspiring staff and director, and good food by the camp cooks and crew made this a wonderful experience once again.

[Sorry there is no picture to share. My camera, which I thought I had left at home, actually spent the week in the glove box of my van. Ooops!]


At 8:52 PM, Blogger Linda said...

Oh yes! Camp Yamhill. Dan was on the board for a number of years, and our boys thought camp was their second home.

A funny story . . . Chris, now an adult, was talking with the father of one of his friends. They all live down in the Houston area. The subject of church camps came up, and Chris began to rave about having gone to the "most beautiful, wonderful . . . " (and many more superlatives) "church camp anywhere," speaking of Yamhill. His friend's father disagreed. He was sure that no camp could compare to the one he had known in earlier years. They both bragged about this and that for awhile, each one topping the other's brag. Finally, Chris asked him, "Where was that camp?" You guessed it . . . they were both talking about Camp Yamhill. Both were transplanted Oregonians!

At 8:02 AM, Blogger Patty said...

Yes, Yamhill is worming its way into our hearts as we build memories there at summer camps, outdoor school, church retreats and - this year - Faith Quest. I still yearn for the days of Midnight Sun Bible Camp, but I'd probably be too much of a wimp to go back!


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