Creating Memories, the local charity dedicated to helping both disabled children and adults to connect with nature, recently welcomed the first guests to its newly refurbished cabin at the old Boy Scout camp just south of Wallowa Lake.
The program signed a 50-year lease of the camp with the Boy Scouts last year. The lease also includes an additional 50-year option.
The cabin is an A-frame with a knotty pine interior and set up with all of the amenities for people with disabilities. CM founder, Ken Coreson, and a number of volunteers, including Boy Scouts, refurbished the cabin in their spare time.
The Benson family were the lucky guests who stayed at the cabin. The family includes parents Eric and Triann Benson and their children, Emily and Daniel, of Vancouver, Wash. The family arrived on the night of Aug. 11.
The family connected with CM when Eric Benson played the OK Theatre as bass player for singer Jessie Leigh, who was doing a benefit performance for the program in May of 2014.
Emily Benson, 13, is fighting the good fight against spina bifida, a birth defect that features incomplete closing of the backbone and membranes around the spinal cord. Though she occupies a wheelchair, her good cheer and eagerness to throw herself into the Creating Memories experience can make you forget that.
The Benson family traveled here to enjoy a fishing trip on Wallowa Lake, courtesy of CM. The filming of the Oregon Public Broadcasting television program “Oregon Travel Guide” segment was also included, but canceled at the last minute because of a family emergency in the OTG ranks.
Emily Benson also received a Nature Conservancy deer tag through CM, which she will put to good use this October, with the assistance of CM members.
“We really appreciate getting to stay here and spend time here. It’s so beautiful,” Triann Benson said. The rest of the family echoed similar sentiments.
The fishing trip took place on Aug. 13 on Wallowa Lake, courtesy of a boat provided by CM participant Gene Sutton. The family and several other people spent most of the day on the lake. No one caught fish, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t fun for the participants.
“It was great. We really enjoyed the time out of town, the hospitality and everything. Emily really enjoyed the trip. It was her first time on a boat where she could be comfortable in her own (wheel) chair and enjoy herself,” Eric Benson said.
Emily Benson shared her father’s enthusiasm about the trip.
“I’ve stayed in cabins before, but not like this one, it was awesome. The fishing trip was fun, and I’m looking forward to coming back in October — a lot,” she said.
Coreson said he enjoyed the Benson family adventure as much as they did. He noted the program’s success outside this area, saying that word has spread about CM, which is getting calls from as far away as Massachusetts.
“It’s all free and the Shriners Hospital wants to open it up to all the Pacific Northwest,” Coreson said. He added the program is also developing 2000 acres with four cabins on the John Day River and also possibly developing a site in Wenatchee, Wash.
“Someday, when people speak of Wallowa County, they’ll say, ‘That’s the place that has Creating Memories,” Coreson said.