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The minute a camper arrives at Special Friends Day Camp, they are celebrated — the way we all wish we were — with unabashed enthusiasm and acceptance. Lines of campers and “buddies” form on either side and cheer the arrival of every camper. Every day starts off with a celebration.
Summer can’t come soon enough for these Special Friends day campers. Special Friends Day Camp is for special needs adults ages 15 and up. Our campers never age out of the program, and many come back for multiple weeks year after year to see their friends and to have a great time.
Special Friends Camp is all about “fun without limits.” We always try to say “Yes, you can!” and help campers do all the things they want to do at camp.
But we can’t do it without volunteers. We need 45-50 volunteers each week. Would you consider being a “Buddy” (volunteer counselor) for a special needs camper this summer? You can sign up for a single week or for multiple weeks, depending on your schedule. Training takes place on Sunday and Monday each week, and then you spend Tuesday through Friday with your camper.
You are welcome to stay overnight at camp for the week you are volunteering. Accommodations are rustic, but lots of fun! You can even volunteer as a family, or as a group. Counselors need to be at least 15 years old, but we have some support positions for younger volunteers accompanied by an adult.Add a comment
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The year was 1997 and a brand new event opened for the first time at Warm Beach Camp — The Lights of Christmas.
As December arrived, no one quite knew what to expect. The Camp had never done an event like this before. Would anyone come? The idea of a Christmas event at Warm Beach Camp was brand new to people. What was this “lights thing” that the Camp was doing? Boasting a half-million lights and open just 12 nights, the event drew 20,000 people that first year!
Now, 20 years later, the question isn’t will anyone come. The question always is, “How many people will attend?” Since The Lights of Christmas began, nearly one million people have attended! Today, this is the largest Christmas festival in the Pacific Northwest. And, for the fourth time, The Lights has been selected as one of the Top 100 Events (see page 38) in all of North America by the American Bus Association, the association of tour bus operators!
There are a few special features this year to help celebrate the 20th year. A new entrance archway with computer-controlled lighting animation will welcome guests. A new gift shop is opening this year in the Starry Night Coffee House to replace Harbor Lights Gifts. There is a new Gingerbread House that is a great backdrop for a photo of your family and friends. The décor is being updated in several locations, and don’t miss the 10-foot-tall elk standing on a hill!
This December, I hope you have an opportunity to come help us celebrate the birth of the Christ Child, and the 20th birthday of The Lights of Christmas.Add a comment
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By Jenny Howell
It was three weeks ago that our family of seven arrived at Warm Beach Camp. With our future ministry unknown as we search for God’s direction, we have found a place of refuge, purpose, and encouragement. Our hearts are filled to the brim with a place to live, community who understands our pastoral season of transition, and an opportunity to serve the Camp and staff. Only God orchestrates this kind of goodness.
The seasons when we feel like all is spinning out of control, He really is doing His best work in us, isn’t He?
The sadness I felt about being alone for the holidays and without a home to celebrate in with family has been softened. Warm Beach welcomed us in with understanding, excitement and lots of work! Not only are we not alone for the holidays, but God saw fit to land us in a spot that celebrates with millions of lights and thousands of visitors. I’m so thankful He goes before us and gives us more than we could ever plan.
We had no idea The Lights of Christmas lit up Washington State until we arrived. What a beautiful blessing to the community. We love the anticipation that is growing around the Camp as the teams of light hangers work long days in the rain. Volunteers are setting the scenes in place and making all things beautiful for the guests.
It really is magical and hopeful just being here waiting for not only our next ministry assignment to come, but especially as we await the celebration of the birth of the Messiah. The God who sent our family here to fill our lives with hope this season is the same God who sees you and finds joy in meeting you where your deepest need is.Add a comment
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During The Lights of Christmas, which opens December 1st, more than 100 volunteers are needed each of the 19 nights the event is open. We especially need more volunteers for the nights of December 20 through 23 and 26 through 28.
It takes people serving as parking attendants, costumed characters, greeters, ticket sellers, toy shop “elves,” hosts, security help, and more. The volunteers provide the smiles and warm hospitality that the event is best known for. Plus, the volunteers get to be a part of an amazing event. What better way to experience The Lights than being on the team that puts it on!
We also need about 150 volunteers to come to Thanksgiving Working Weekend on November 24 to 27 and help put on all the finishing touches. Then, after The Lights ends for the year, we need another 150 volunteers to help with Event Take-Down, to undecorate and put the stuff away. Take Down is December 29 and 30.
As a volunteer, you can share the hope and joy of the Christmas season with the thousands of people attending The Lights. What better gift could you give? We have a volunteer task that will work for you!
If you are interested in helping before, during, or after the event, you can get more information or sign-up at The Lights of Christmas website. Or, e-mail Jessica Wilson, Volunteer Coordinator. She can answer your questions, and help you get signed up. For the best chance of getting the volunteer assignment you want, sign up as soon as possible!Add a comment
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The 17th annual Kids 2 Camp Benefit Auction was held on Saturday, August 27. The bidding was brisk with more than 300 items going to the highest bidders. When the dust settled, more than $141,000 was raised for the Kids 2 Camp Fund!
By the end of this year, we are projecting that over $202,000 will have been given out in scholarships, helping bring more than 1,700 campers to Warm Beach Camo. We are committed to not turning any child away from camp, but this requires funds for scholarships to make that possible. Each year, many people help provide the financial resources so this can happen.
We are extremely grateful to each of our auction donors who gave items to be placed in the auctions. We also want to thank all of the very generous bidders who came to the event.
More than the money raised, the success of this event is measured in the lives of the kids who will get to go to camp. Mark your calendar now for the next Kids 2 Camp Benefit Auction on Saturday, August 26, 2017!Add a comment
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Little did Aidan Espinosa, age 15, realize that his life was about to change when he stepped into the Special Friends volunteer training session this past summer to help with the camps for adults with special needs. Originally, Aidan had signed on in order to fulfill his volunteer hours requirement for high school graduation. In the process of becoming a buddy for a Special Friends camper, he not only found a safe place to belong himself, but his world perspective was expanded.
Even though Aidan was a bit nervous at first, he realized it would be an awesome week when he saw the first special friend get out of the car and run through the “welcome tunnel” of cheering staff. Aidan, better known as “T-Shirt” to the campers, shared, “Part way through, it wasn’t about getting volunteer hours anymore; it was about the experience with the Special Friends. By day three, I knew I needed to come back!”
He went on to expound, “I was accepted by the staff the minute I walked through that door for training. When in life can you be that vulnerable and transparent with others?”
Aidan’s mom, Terra, was a bit nervous as well. After a phone call midway through camp from her son, she was really glad that he was having this experience at such a young age. As a matter of fact, together they decided to cancel Aidan’s own week as a camper at W-Bar-B Ranch so he could return a second week to volunteer at Special Friends Camp.
“All in all,” Terra exclaimed, “I was totally inspired, and I may go and volunteer myself!”
This handsome young man is Vice President of his Sophomore Class at Arlington High School and on the varsity football team. In between football workouts and the latest musical production practices, Aidan is challenging others to return with him to volunteer at Special Friends Camp next summer.
And there’s already life-changing ripple effects from being a buddy. Aidan claims, “I will be more engaging with the special needs students at my school.”Add a comment
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This year, The Lights of Christmas is celebrating its 20th year! There will be lots of celebration and plenty of fun. While the event doesn’t open till December 1st, the crew that hangs all those lights is already hard at work. It takes about three months to get the Christmas lights in place! An event like this doesn’t just happen by itself. It takes lots of planning and a lot of help to make it all come together!
During October and November, all the effort is in the preparations. Decorations will be cleaned up and painted, light displays will be assembled, and the volunteers needed to staff the event will be recruited. If you are interested in helping make The Lights of Christmas happen, there are lots of ways you can pitch in.
During Thanksgiving Working Weekend over 100 volunteers come together for one final push to get ready for The Lights. This event will take place November 24th to 27th. Join the crew of volunteers for an extreme makeover weekend as we transform the grounds into a Christmas wonderland.
During The Lights of Christmas, there is no lack of things to do on the 19 nights we are open. More than 100 volunteers per night power the event. As you can imagine, there are a wide variety of jobs: indoor hosting, parking attendants, pony ride attendants, train attendants, and much more. Volunteering during The Lights gives you the opportunity to get a glimpse behind the scenes to see how this event happens.
The final, critical need for help happens after the event, when it is time to take things down and put them away. Take Down happens on December 29th and 30th. If enough people get involved in this process, everything gets done over a couple of days. If there are not enough volunteers for Take Down, it will take much longer to get the decorations put away.
Are you interested in helping with any part of The Lights this year? To register, or for more information about the above mentioned events, you can visit our volunteer webpage or call Jessica Wilson at either (360) 312-3417 or 1-800-228-6724, ext. 2276.Add a comment
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Volunteerism has been an important part of Warm Beach Camp since its inception. In the early years, there was only one paid staff couple. The kitchen, program and hospitality staff were comprised solely of volunteers. Many of the original buildings were constructed using mostly volunteer labor.
As WBC has grown, so has its volunteer family. There has been a slow but steady increase in participation from 30,150 hours in 2008 to 50,916 hours in 2015. Today’s volunteers participate in nearly every area of ministry just like their predecessors did in 1959.
A major portion of the Camp’s current volunteer base is made up of RV Volunteers who live and travel in RV’s. They stay and volunteer at WBC for anywhere from one month to several years, providing stability and consistency in many of our programs and projects. This added workforce accomplishes work that would not get done otherwise.
The Camp currently has 20 RV sites dedicated to RV Volunteers. In our peak seasons, summer and The Lights of Christmas, often every site is filled. This summer, for the first time, WBC has had to turn away volunteer help for lack of space. Additional long term Volunteer RV sites are needed in order to accommodate the numbers of volunteers that want to stay and serve for an extended period of time.
The Camp is looking to develop five additional long term RV sites and improve three to five existing sites at a total cost of $30,000. Each site will produce an additional 500-2,000 volunteer hours per year depending on the length of stay of the volunteers, providing a significant return on investment for years to come.
We praise the Lord for drawing volunteers to the ministry of Warm Beach Camp and trust that He will continue to give us the means to provide for them.Add a comment
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Saturday, August 27, 2016
The seventeenth annual Kids 2 Camp Benefit Auction is just a few weeks away! This fun and important event raises funds for the Kids 2 Camp Scholarship Fund, helping make it possible for kids to go to camp. Last year, the auction raised more than $111,000!
This year, you will find some incredible items in the auctions, including lots of great gift items, some real “finds,” and even some nice get-away experiences. There’s something for everyone in every price range!
The auction preview opens at 10:00 a.m., and the first auction begins at 10:45 a.m. The auctions run until approximately 3:00 p.m. The two live auctions and a silent auction will feature hundreds of items, including things for the yard and garden, dining opportunities, gift certificates, craft items, tools, gift items for kids, vacation packages, sports memorabilia, home furnishings, and one-of-a-kind experiences. The event also has activities for the kids and food concessions on site, this year featuring a lunch buffet with choice of entrée, soups, salads, and delicious dessert.
This is the largest fundraiser we hold each year for the Kids 2 Camp Fund, and is important in providing the needed funding that allows any child who wants to come to camp the means to attend. Besides, it is just plain fun for everyone! Mark your calendar for Saturday, August 27, and plan on being there.
For more information, or to see a list of the auction items, go to the Kids 2 Camp Benefit Auction webpage.Add a comment
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August 27, 2016
Warm Beach Camp helped more than 1,600 campers attend camp last year who would otherwise have been left out. This is possible only because of the generous financial help from many people. This year, the Camp is offering a new way to come alongside and help raise funds for Kids 2 Camp. It is the Kids 2 Camp Benefit Run scheduled for August 27 at WBC.
The Benefit Run Schedule:
7:00 am - Packet pick-up
7:30 am - Late registration
8:00 am - 10k race starts
8:15 am - 5k race starts
9:30 am - 1 mile race starts
11:00 am - Lunch available for purchase
Camp is a place where kids can leave behind the cares, distractions, and problems of everyday life. It’s an opportunity for them to experience a breather — to catch a vision for the bigger picture of their lives where the love of God can become more real.
Join us for a fun run to benefit the Kids 2 Camp Scholarship fund at Warm Beach Camp. For more information, please visit the Benefit Run website, or call the Camp at 1-800-228-6724.Add a comment