The Chief Joseph Summer Camp for kids, which has been held now for 51 years, remains as popular as ever. Attendance this year was maxed-out with 144 students.
The camp was held at the Buhler Ranch, nestled below Chief Joseph Mountain. Landscaped rolling hills, log cabins with outbuildings and big beautiful pine trees create quite the atmosphere for youngsters to learn about rural living.
Camp coordinator and counselor Jeni Greenshields, of Alder Slope, said the camp originated as the Wallowa County Educational School where a few professors from Eastern Oregon University gathered and started teaching classes.
The camp continues today mostly for the children, but surely the 22 counselors, all but one of whom are teenagers, learn as much themselves.
Camp counselor Michelle Bedard, of Enterprise, explained this years theme for the summer camp was I can do hard things. Bedard said, We take a child through the steps of doing something that makes them anxious or scared and over time they accomplish what might be considered to them a great feat.
Bedard also explained how participants were split up into 12 groups. With this years students we were honoring the Summer Olympics, so each group of kids was assigned a country to belong to. Japan, Italy, Sweden, Australia and many more countries were represented.
The workshop schedule included drama classes, archery lessons, geocaching, and the science of cooking with dough. Other classes studied water bugs, water filters, and predators and prey.
A new activity this year was for the kids to open a candy store. The kids purchased the candy and figured out how to make a profit selling the sweets, Greenshields said. The Chief Joseph Summer Camp newspaper took advantage of this opportunity and sold the Candy Store an ad in the paper.
Chief Joseph Summer Camp is a day camp and most of the 144 participating students rode provided buses from Wallowa, Enterprise and Joseph. Bedard said a lot of the kids come to Wallowa County to visit their grandparents and they choose to be here the week of the summer camp.