Public Lands Stewards: “Let’s measure smiles!”

Erynne van Zee

“Let’s measure smiles!” is by far my favorite camp quote from this summer. I am staffing MacGyver Camp this week, a design-build-tinkering camp where students use teamwork, creativity, and tools to design and build benches, water filtration systems, and ultimately an “elevated village” (we’re trying not to instill the idea that a treehouse is a must because a house on stilts would be just as cool!). As students built benches Tuesday morning and learned to use various tools, one camper practiced using a measuring tape by measuring everyone’s smiles. Just one of those moments where I stood back and smiled, soaking in the charm and playfulness of the gesture.

Photo 1

As a Public Lands Stewards Intern with Cascade Mountain School camps this summer, I’ve had the opportunity to fill almost too many roles to count: camp “logistics guru”, shuttle driver, overnight counselor, chef, Band-Aid dispenser, hiker, gardener, fundraiser, the list goes on. I’ve spoken Spanish with parents, mastered booster-seat-tetras in the van, and counted views of five different mountains (Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson, Mt. St. Helens, and Mt. Rainier) from the top of Steamboat Mountain. Each role brings new challenges, learning opportunities, and excitement, but most importantly, the diversity of roles I’m playing allows me to be involved in sharing the outdoors with students ages 6 to 18, making science fun, developing teamwork and outdoors skills, and encouraging students to be creative and curious.

There are many happy memories and stories to share from this summer, so here are my favorite photos from each camp I’ve worked at. Enjoy!

Photo 2

Black Butte School tours Mountain Laurel Jerseys raw milk dairy in Trout Lake.

Photo 3Mountain Camp 1 camps out the last night.

Photo 4

A student drinks from his rainwater catchment system at MacGyver Day camp.

Photo 5

Campers finish up each day at Farm Camp with raspberry picking at Broadfork Farm.

Photo 6

High School Mountain to Valley students gear up for their four day backpack through the Mt. Adams Wilderness.

Photo 7

The view from Stagman Ridge where Mountain to Valley students hiked out from backpacking.

Photo 8

Nature Art Camp students created a “wild-being” with natural materials they found around campus.

Photo 9

Students learn to sew bags from cloth they solar printed at Nature Art Camp

Photo 10

MacGyver Overnight campers come to a consensus about their “elevated village” design. They designed the entire structure themselves.

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