Outdoor Education for All

Outdoor Education for All

Spring is outdoor education season at Camp Casey. School districts from all across Washington State bring their fourth, fifth, and sixth graders to Whidbey Island to learn about the outdoors, gain practical life skills, and immerse themselves in the natural beauty at Camp Casey. In 2024 alone, Camp Casey is hosting 10 school districts and over 1,500 students from Seattle to Spokane.

One of those schools is just a 35-minute drive away! Fourth graders from South Whidbey Elementary School trekked to Camp Casey in late April for an overnight adventure.

More than 80 students and three teachers learned about the history of Camp Casey and Fort Casey as well as the unique ecology of central Whidbey Island.

“We hope we bring up another generation who care about conserving and stewarding our natural resources,” said Susie Richards, Principal at South Whidbey Elementary. The visit to Camp Casey is consistent with the school’s theme for the year of farm, forest, and sea.

“It really creates new connections and relationships with the kids. For a lot of them, it’s the first time they have slept away from home,” Richards said.   

Staying at Camp Casey provided easy access to Fort Casey State Park, which is home to former gun emplacements and other remnants of its previous life as a military installation constructed in the early 20th Century. The students enjoyed a historic scavenger hunt as they explored the state park.

They also explored the beach at Camp Casey where they learned the field techniques students in South Whidbey’s alternative learning experience are using to learn about invasive species of clams.

“They were noticing a lot of invasive varnish clams. We want to know how it affects native bivalves,” said Andi Kopit, a biologist with the Island County Marine Resources Committee, who was working with the students.

Members from the Whidbey Camano Land Trust led fourth graders on a prairie walk where they learned about native plants — including Golden Paintbrush, which was at one time on the federal list of threatened and endangered plants.

Students also spent time printing images on cloth pouches, which will be sold and the proceeds will fund a community group that the students will choose, Richards said. Last year the student art project raised money for the Whidbey Camano Land Trust.

The excursion also helps the school strengthen partnerships with local organizations. “Schools can’t do it alone,” Richards said.

Last year marked the return of South Whidbey Elementary’s tradition of outdoor education. The program was funded through parent contributions and Outdoor Learning grant funds through the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. Many schools can now receive funding for their outdoor education programs through Washington State Legislature’s “Outdoor Education for All” program. The funding is managed by Outdoor Schools WA, and Camp Casey is recognized as a certified outdoor education school site. This means that schools from all over Washington State can bring their students to Camp Casey for their outdoor education programming and receive full or partial funding through the program.

Camp Casey Conference Center is the perfect location for an inspiring group getaway to Whidbey Island, Washington. Ideal for sports campschurch groupsoutdoor education camps, summer camps, and other nonprofit endeavors. Camp Casey provides overnight accommodations and food service for groups large and small. Discounts are available for Seattle Pacific University faculty, staff, and alumni. Fill out our inquiry form today to get the conversation started on rates, dates, and your next adventure at Camp Casey.