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From the mess halls to the auditoriums and the fire pit to the campground, the Seattle Pacific University faculty makes use of nearly every Camp Casey facility during their annual faculty retreat each September. While most of the faculty enjoy the inns and newly renovated dorm-style barracks, some of them even opt to stay in the Camp Casey Campground in their own RVs and tents.
“We use all of the inns, a number of the barracks buildings, Auditorium A and Mess Halls A and B. We really use a lot of the campus,” Michelle McFarland, Executive Assistant to the Provost at Seattle Pacific University said. She has been involved in planning of the faculty retreat for the past three years and has seen some exciting renovations take place at the conference center. The renovated mess hall, dorm-style barracks and bathrooms particularly impressed her.
“This year with all of the improvements it was just wonderful. It kind of knocked our socks off, actually. Everyone commented over and over how great that was. It is so nice to have that new facility,” she said. “I also feel like the staff is outstanding. I mean they’ll do anything to accommodate the needs of our group.”
The group makes use of both mess halls, taking major meals in Mess Hall A and using Mess Hall B for coffee, snacks and small breakout group sessions.
“We have a lunch out at the BBQ pit. We take advantage of the fire pit in the evenings. People enjoy the open field when it’s nice weather and a lot of people go over to the fort,” McFarland said.
Though Camp Casey is an affordable solution for housing and feeding 250 faculty members, there is something more meaningful that compels the group to choose this facility each year.
“The natural beauty is, in my mind, first and foremost. I also think it’s really special to be in a place with such a rich history. It’s just kind of neat to see that it’s still so alive,” McFarland said. “There is something about being able to hop on a ferry and have that half an hour of travel time to get people to open up.”
The wide variety of spaces available to the group allows them to plan just about anything they can imagine. Team building and entertainment are almost always part of the retreat. This year the group hosted an improv comedy group in Auditorium A, which was a huge hit.
“I think that the facilities have so much flexibility as to how you could use them. The auditorium can be anything from an open dance hall to dining facilities to open space for kids to run around. I just think that there’s so much flexibility and the equipment they have that they can accommodate just about anybody,” McFarland said.
McFarland plays a part in the planning of a few smaller retreats throughout the year at Camp Casey. She believes Camp Casey offers enough indoor space to make for a successful event no matter what time of year or weather. “I love the stormy sort of cozy kind of thing. You just stock up on your hot chocolate and hunker down,” she said.