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History of Camp Stix
 
 Camp STIX Camp Photo 2001
 
History of Camp STIX The story of diabetes camps in the Inland NW began with several years of special camps at Pinelow Camp on Deer Lake during the late 1970’s.  They were supported by the Diabetes Health and Education Center (DHEC), which was formed by Dr. Charles Olson in 1974.  In the early 1980’s the YMCA’s Camp Reed had been dedicating a week each summer to which kids with diabetes were invited; but a new vision was evolving to recreate a camp more solely oriented and directed to serve campers with Diabetes Mellitus (DM). In 1984 a meeting of families with kids with DM was called at the Nursing Hall at 5th and Wall in Spokane.  Diabetes specialty doctors Mike Donlan and Charles Olson met with Merlin Jespersen (then president of the Inland Empire Diabetes Association), kids, parents, and others to begin creating and developing the specifics of this new dream. The new camp was created, and opened in 1985.  After a couple of years, the name was officially adopted: “Camp Fun in the Sun” (FITS). Spokane teacher and former Camp Reed Director, “Jockey” Jim Uhlenkott, served as the Camp Director for the first several years.  The next camp director was “Boisen” Jerry Ray who was also a teacher in Spokane.  The financing of this camp was largely provided by DHEC but fundraising was also done through a raffle in which the campers sold tickets for chances to win large prizes.  Magical remembers that one camper once sold 750 tickets earning $1,500 for the camp! In 1986, a young “Jungle” JimHill was asked to spend a week volunteering his vacation time at camp. Although not directly affected by diabetes himself, Jungle was motivated to volunteer.  Whatever his expectations, during that summer and in the many summers to come,Jungle went on to forge lifetime friendships and to mentor hundreds of summer campers with diabetes.  He was a junior counselor and counselor during those two-week sessions for 6 more consecutive summers and, at the age of 20, he accepted the position of Camp Director.  FITS grew from small beginnings in 1985 to a peak attendance in 1994-5 of approximately 150 campers during the two weeks.  It originally was located at Camp Larson, on Lake Coeur d’Alene but, because of that camp’s deteriorating buildings, it moved next to Shoshone Base Camp on the Coeur d’Alene River in 1998.  This camp was small with meals served in shifts in the small dining room and with a need to cross the highway in order to play on their biggest field.  In about 1997, DHEC was reorganized into Community Health Education and Resource (CHER), moving its headquarters to St. Luke's Rehab Institute from Deaconess, and changing its leadership.  “Aardvark” Arlene Applegate was no longer its director, and CHER’s leadership was assumed by Cindy Ulbrecht, who also took over responsibility for FITS. The Education Center had been intimately involved in staffing, financing and participating in Camp FITS, and CHER proceeded to actually run the camp hiring personnel to direct and staff the program. At that time the three directors in camp were Jungle (Program), Aardvark (Medical) and “Leftover” Laurie Payne (Kitchen). Jungle, Aardvark and Vicki Brown soon detached themselves from FITS because they felt it was moving away from their vision of an all-volunteer, community-based organization.  Jungle attended a DECA conference and was inspired to begin moving toward forming a separate new camp, adapting Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation from those of Camp Seale Harris, in Alabama. Once the decision was made to begin a new camp program, a Board of Directors was formed in the Fall of 2000 to organize and fund the camp.  The initial Board was made up of Jungle (Pres), “Lollipop” Lori Benson (VP), “Magical” Merlin Jespersen (Treas), Sarae Northcutt (Sec), “Milkdud” Mark Wellsandt, “Novolin” Nancy Minten, Aardvark, “Mighty” Mike Ferguson, “Pepper” Polly Carlson and Judi Hanna.  These individuals donated their own money for an initial mailing to solicit volunteers to help with the many projects. They voted to approve the Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation, to file appropriate paperwork with WA State and the IRS, to choose the bank connection (WA Trust), to adopt the name of Camp STIX, and to contract with Bear Paw Camp for its first sessions (two weeks in July, 2001). The name Camp STIX was chosen from the “Sticks Ceremony” which provided a traditional final campfire program at Camp Reed and FITS. This idea and the meanings of the letters of the acronym were initially developed by Jungle and Mighty as they rode home from a Board meeting in the Valley Mall Conference Room; they were approved by the Board as a part of a brainstorming session at one of the early meetings. Bear Paw Camp, on the Pend Oreille River, north of Newport, WA, was the location chosen by Jungle, Aardvark, Mighty and Lollipop, as they searched around during the early months of organizing.  It continued to be the site for camp until 2012, when we relocated to our current Riverview Bible Camp (RBC), about 10 miles downstream from Bear Paw.  The change was made because of the larger capacity and more extensive activities available there. Camp STIX’s first camp was held in two sessions -- for older and younger age groups.  The volunteers (about 15 in each session) outnumbered the campers (about 9 and 12 for the two sessions) during that first year; and the numbers grew quickly and steadily throughout the next decade.  Subsequent camps were all held for a single week in July.  At Bear Paw Camp, we hit a maximum attendance of 104 campers and 90 volunteers in 2011.  The numbers grew considerably in 2012 at RBC, totaling 143 campers and 170 volunteers.  In 2013 Camp FITS closed its program, leaving Camp STIX as the only diabetes camp in the vicinity. Many of their staff and campers were welcomed into the Camp STIX family and we expect more to join us in future years. The Diabetes Education and Camping Association (Originally DCA, now DECA) has been a valuable resource for Camp STIX-- influencing our programs and policies over the years. We joined that organization in 2006 (the first year they offered camp memberships). Many of the camp’s leaders have attended its annual leadership conferences to share ideas and contacts and to be inspired by the energy generated in that community.  Jungle was a part of the DECA Board of Directors between the years 2007 and 2010.  One of the ideas initiated by Jungle and pursued in various years was exchanging counselors with other camps.  “Phearless” Phil Collicut (from Nova Scotia) and “Loko” Lucas (an EWU student from Spain) were the first examples of this exchange, and there have been 4 counselors from Ecuador’s Campo Amigo, arranged by AYUDA, who have attended in the past 5 years – “Suave” Shandry (2008), “Guapo” Guillermo (2009), “Amigo” Ariel (2011) and “Nuevo” Nicholas (2012). In 2013 we welcomed "Ave" Ana and "Anbesol" Ana from the Dominican Republic. Other details which might interest you: The cost of first camp was $225 first week and $250, second week.  Soon thereafter the price was dropped to $150, and it has risen since, over time. Each year Camp STIX volunteers organize fundraising activities, arrange donations, and seek scholarships to defray costs to camper families. At the end of camp each year, a STICK was created, with the signatures of all of that year's campers and staff who desired to sign.  These special sticks are stored, and occasionally brought out to admire.  At the present time, an archive has not been created for storing and displaying such items, as well as special pictures and video clips.  The Board is certainly interested in having a volunteer step forward to create such an archive. The Camp STIX website was opened in 2001 (www.campstix.org). “Magical” Merlin Jespersen, diagnosed with diabetes in early adulthood, also had a son and a grandson diagnosed during childhood. He has provided support to both diabetes camps since their inception.  He served on the Board of Camp STIX as Treasurer for several years.  He sponsored campers to camp for many years and he has helped to raise funds, provide products and lend enthusiasm to camp projects throughout every year. “Aardvark” Arlene Applegate arrived in Spokane near the beginning of FITS, and she served as the director of the Diabetes Education Center at Deaconess until it was brought under the direction of the Community Health Education Resources.  She served as the leader of the Med Team until Novolin assumed that title then continued to provide organization and leadership within that team for many years thereafter. “Pokey” Patrick Reed first joined the staff at FITS in 1993, as a 14-year-old JC.  “Munchkin” Mike Lynch joined at roughly the same time and the two of them became counselors together.  After attending the 2001 DECA conference, Pokey chose to work for a couple of years at Camp Joslin, where he served as the JC coordinator for a year. Pokey was a counselor at STIX for many years, and he has served as STIX’s Program Co-Director (with Lunatic, in 2008) and on the Med Team in later years.  He was elected to the Board for two separate terms. “Munchkin” Mike Lynch was a key participant in Camp FITS, and he was invited (along with Pokey and Mighty) to move over to a counseling position at Camp STIX.  He and Pokey had a skit for which they were famous (“Hans and Franz”), and this has been performed at a DECA conference, as well as at many of the Camp STIX functions over the years.  Munchkin has served on the Board, and has fulfilled the roles of assistant Camp Director (along with Lifesaver), website manager, and DISH Director, where he introduced the Whole Grain Hero tradition (rewarding healthy menu choices with a special T-shirt) to camp. “Lunatic” Larue Drager has served on Camp STIX’s Board for many years, and she has helped in camp as photographer and Program Co-Director (2008).  For many years she and her good friend, Cinnamon, were in charge of the main fundraiser, the “Bear the Burden” auction, held each spring. “Cinnamon” Casie Bush was for many years the Board Treasurer of Camp STIX.  She also helped out at camp for multiple sessions in the kitchen and for a couple of years as its Crafts Director. “Bronco” Bill Martin joined the leadership team at Camp STIX in 2005. He served as its Board President for two years, and as Med Team Co-Director and now Medical Director.  Since he is the one who provides primary diabetes care to most of the campers, his knowledge of their individual circumstances and his contacts with the various organizations which manufacture and distribute diabetes supplies have been vital to the medical successes of camp. Judy Hannah, a good friend of Aardvark, served on our initial Board. “Milkshake” Marilyn Moore is Jungle’s mother; she served in the Kitchen and on the Board.  She was Board Secretary in 2006-7. “Bonanza” Bill Davis has supported Camp STIX as its Board VP and President, a major donor of products (as President of Kimmel Athletic) and a major purchaser of auction items. “Novolin” Nancy Minten first joined the diabetes camping movement at FITS, and she was invited by Aardvark to become the Medical Director at Camp STIX essentially from the beginning. STIX’s initial Med Team was made up of Aardvark, Novolin, “Rigatoni” Rita Nauer and “Laughin” Leslie Merklin-Barber.  She and Aardvark were essentially co-leaders of the Medical Team for several years and eventually Novolin took over the whole responsibility.  She was an advocate for maintaining and teaching ideal diabetes practices at camp while supporting all the fun of its many activities.  She has also served as Board President, a volunteer in DISH, and  a huge fundraiser for many camp auctions. “Lifesaver” Laura Wintersteen-Arleth (nursing professor at WSU) served on Camp STIX’s Board for the years she was Camp Director (2009 and part of 2010).  She had been Camp Director at FITS, after it moved to Twinlow Camp in 2003.  Her interest in teaching was instrumental in bringing students from the WSU Nursing School program who have continued to attend since their first year locating their primary pediatric course (including a faculty supervisor) at Camp STIX in 2010.  Through her Lion’s Club leadership positions she has helped secure much volunteer help and lots of monetary donations for our organization. “Delirious” Dawn Swanson served on STIX’s Board for several years and also helped in many ways at camp. “Kalculator” Kris Seppa served on the Board as STIX’s Treasurer for several years and also was on the Med Team at camp. “Target” Tim Seppa served Camp STIX as its Medical Director for three years, and as Camp Director in 2010 and 2011.  He organized the rewriting of the Bylaws which helped to reflect the ways our organization had evolved and provided rules regarding the leadership structure and policies at camp.  He currently helps with website management. “Levemir” Lynn Sander has served on the Board and on the Med Team for several years, and she has been Camp STIX’s Education Director since 2009. She was instrumental in the design and development of the first ever Camp STIX Bead. “Milkdud” Mark Wellsandt was a vital part of the Board for many years, and served as the Kitchen Director until 2009.  He donated his Frequent Flyer miles to enable Phearless to come to camp from Nova Scotia. “Contagious” Chris (Heinlein) Couch was Board Secretary for several years and Education Director at camp for a few years, as well.  She was very helpful in volunteering at AYUDA camps, and she hosted several of our exchange counselors from Ecuador. “Kickin’” Kelly Lewis served on the Board, and was Secretary in 2002-2005.  He helped his aunt, Novolin, on the Med Team at camp, as well.  He was the first editor of the Newsletter, which was called the “Camp STIX Times Tribune”. “Capsule” Cris DuVall is our current Camp Director. She has taken Camp to a new level in its new venue.  She served for several years on our Med Team, on our Board as our Secretary, and as our Program Director.  Her ongoing dedication to this cause has involved a huge amount of work and time, and we are grateful for her leadership. “Sonic” Stephanie Minten served as a counselor for a couple years, before helping out on the Med Team.  She was Education Director at one point (2005), and she helped by formatting the Newsletter for a while. “Jumanji” Jon Sipes-Dryer served on the Board in its early days. “Mighty” Mike Ferguson was on our initial Board, and was instrumental in the camp’s early organization.

“Clearly” Crystal Johnson was on the original Board, and served as STIX’s first Kitchen Director.