Last week I wrote about summer camps in the valley being mostly full and I neglected to include the valley’s oldest summer camp, Methow River Camp, which turns 31 years old this year. You may not have been aware that the camp was even running, since it filled within an hour on Feb. 1, when it opened for registration.
Methow River Camp has long been popular, but that response was so compelling that the organizers, which include Dana Visalli, Rob Crandall, Anaka Mines and Katie Russell, added a second session (which is also full — sorry).
Methow River Camp teaches natural history and ecology, which are both relevant and timely. Dana says “I am excited this year to offer a hands-on feature of the human transition from hunter-gatherer to agriculturist. I have spring wheat ripening now and it will be ready to thresh by camp time.”
What should we think about the human transition to agriculture, Dana wonders, referencing Jared Diamond’s 1987 article, “Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race,” which suggests that agriculture was not a “decisive step to a better life” but was instead a pathway to “the curses of social and sexual inequality, disease, and despotism.”
Dana says that primitive living skills teacher Katie Russell plans to guide campers through the process of threshing wheat by hand (i.e., “beating it to death with sticks,” Dana says), grinding it, and then baking bread in Anaka’s new solar oven. The campers will also skin and cook an animal.
You’re probably going to want to hear more about Methow River Camp after it runs, so I’ll loop back around on this one later in July.
It’s always a good time to hear news of kindness and generosity, so here’s a story for you. Recently, volunteer firefighter Ken Malloch was the only person at the Okanogan County Fire District 6 station in Winthrop when in walked Jason Suter, pastor at Winthrop’s Friendship Alliance Church, and his daughter. Jason had in his hand what turned out to be 52 envelopes, which he handed to Ken, saying “These are for the firefighters, with the gratitude of our congregation.”
Inside each envelope was a gift certificate to a Methow Valley restaurant, as a show of appreciation not only for the firefighters, but also as support for local businesses. The Friendship Alliance Church has spearheaded other giving efforts like this one, starting with its gifts to school staff during Teacher Appreciation Week in May of 2020 and continuing throughout the pandemic with gifts to first responders. Ken says, “It’s yet another incredible reflection of what an amazing community this is.”