Pouring rain and whistling wind didn’t stop more than 100 people who attended an open house hosted by Creating Memories at their home base at the old Boy Scout camp above the head of Wallowa Lake on Oct. 15. Creating Memories is a local nonprofit dedicated to helping special-needs children get access to nature through a variety of outdoor pursuits.

Among the open house activities, which included short hikes around the camp, several items were raffled off, including a muzzle-loading rifle and a hand-made Native American flute. Despite of the bad weather, the outside barbecue sizzled with hamburgers and hot dogs while other guests snacked on pastries provided by Cabin Fever restaurant of Joseph.

The event celebrated the acquisition of a new Smoker Craft pontoon boat along with the weatherization of the camp’s crown jewel, the “Raven House,” asplit-level log cabin on the 90-acre property.

Much of the money for the 24-foot boat came from a Joseph Charter School project in teacher Marla Dotson’s Future Career and Community Leaders of America class. Students Renee Seal, Tori Suto and foreign-exchange student Poonamfa Teekayupan of Thailand raised nearly $3,700 toward the purchase of the boat through various fundraisers that included such diverse activities as root beer float sales, Christmas tree collection and collection of elk horns on Zumwalt Prairie.

The boat will be available for taking the camp’s clients fishing as well as relaxing excursions out on Wallowa Lake, where it will have a summer slip at the marina.

Vicki Searles, executive director of the Wallowa County Chamber of Commerce, has been on board with Creating Memories nearly since its inception. She also serves on its board. Searles said she got involved through the chamber because it seemed like a good fit.

“I knew mine was going to be a supportive role to help with things where they lacked experience — like creating policy,” Searles said. “It’s been pretty rewarding. It’s turned into something that’s a very good deal for the county, and it’s a good personal project.”

She added that she’d like to see more citizens get involved with the group.

Creating Memories director Ken Coreson thought the open house was a great success.

“I was absolutely delighted with the people that came — the amount of people that came was astounding to me. That’s pretty good for as wet as it was. People got to see what we were doing, and they seemed real happy with what we’re doing.”

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