Camp Taloali is a magic world of challenge and excitement where campers learn new skills, set goals, care for the earth and share new experiences with both old and new friends. Taloali campers develop confidence in their abilities as they discover hidden strengths and learn from mistakes. Most of all, campers learn the magic of FUN, EXCITEMENT, ADVENTURE, CHALLENGE, FRIENDSHIP, MEMORIES, and much more.
Our Mission
The Mission of Camp Taloali, Inc. is “To promote camping skills through an outdoor camp environment with emphasis on communication, leadership and social development of deaf and hard of hearing youth and with other community groups.”

Our Purpose
To build and provide leadership, fellowship, educational, social and recreational experiences to the Deaf, Hard of Hearing and other disabled youth/adults of the Pacific Northwest. During times the camp is not used for Deaf, Hard of Hearing youth or youth with disabilities, camp may be rented by other youth groups or adults. To associate itself and work with any other agency or organization having the same or similar objectives and, further, to associate itself and work with any and all other community and service groups and organizations of a charitable, benevolent, and educational nature for the purpose of advancing the general or community welfare.

Who We Are
The Board of Directors consists of Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Deaf-Blind and members from other community organizations including Lions Club, Elks and others.

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THE BEGINNING OF CAMP TALOALI

By Jean Teets

               At a family reunion in the summer of 1972, Roma Rae Cline (Royal Teet’s sister) and Mary Anne Koch (daughter of Betty and Tony Koch) were talking about Mary Anne’s work in the area of recreation. Roma Rae told Mary Anne that there was a great need to have a leadership and nature camp for *Hearing Impaired children in the Pacific Northwest because at that time the only other camp for hearing impaired children was at Swan Lake in Minnesota. Royal was brought into the conversation and the three of them agreed that they would start meeting regularly to develop some ideas, and see if they could get the camp off the ground by using land that belonged to the Koch family. Mary Anne did a lot of writing and organizing on her own.

In February or March, 1973, a meeting of interested people was held at the Oregon School for the Deaf to show some slides and drawings of the camp plan and to rally needed support. About this time, Buddy Singleton began to put together the first camp brochure for the first camp session. The camp site was named Camp Taloali which means “Bird Singing” in Indian language.

A problem of interest came up when the group faced the fact that the State of Oregon had a new access ordinance that would not allow access to the camp off the highway. A delegation of several people went to then Governor Tom McCall to explain the situation. He advised them to consult the Highway Department, and this resulted in the access being granted.

A Board of Directors was formed and incorporation as a non-profit organization was received. Shortly after this, the 48- acre campsite was purchased from the Kochs. In 1978, an additional 63 acres adjacent to the campsite were purchased, bringing the total acreage to 111.

Tony Koch and Jack Campbell, using their own equipment (backhoe, grader, tractor, etc.) at their own expense dug and laid the underground electrical lines. A large utility building was erected and the sanitation facility forms were dug and poured with concrete. Arrangements were made with the National Guard to help with some of the land leveling and various other projects. Many volunteers helped with small projects, clearing brush, trimming trees, etc.

Royal Teets took care of getting all the permits for building, wiring, plumbing and the sewer system. He has acted as foreman on all of the projects to see that everything has been done properly.

Julian Singleton helped move  mountains and became the first camp director. The first session was a huge success. At that time, there were no cabins, so the campers roughed it out in the tents and showered in a makeshift shower out in the open, under a water tower.

Since that first session, a number of changes have taken place on the campsite. Cabins stand under majestic trees. A new pavilion with a complete kitchen has been built. (Bernice Singleton, who was the first camp cook and mother to the campers, and a “Jill of all trades” probably, wishes she had the same equipment those long ago years.) A wonderful swimming pool has also been erected to the delight of the campers—thanks to donations from Pax Riddle and the Lions.

Anita Ficklin devoted much of her time towards fund raising. Her dinners and auctions were very memorable affairs. Lou Campbell was active in a variety of ways. Royal’s parents, Rusty and Hazel Teets were also involved. Bob Jones, a devout member of the mighty Lions, set out to recruit helpers and funds. Through his efforts, key people in the Lions came on the scene. Walt Trandum made heroic moves to get the Lions involved, and these special people have poured thousands of dollars and equipment into this project. He has continued to move around the State talking to members of Lions Clubs and various organizations telling them about the camp and what a wonderful place it is. His hard work has paid off the property payments and bought needed supplies for all of the buildings. His wife, Yvonne, has continued to help in whatever ways she can usually ending up doing some of the dirtiest jobs.

Ron Neffendorf continues to go around seeking thousands of dollars from businesses for plumbing, wiring and buildings. His wife, Betty, has been instrumental in securing camperships. Her accomplishments are too numerous to mention.

Last, but not least, are the World Deaf Timberfest Committee members who have spent hours and hours of their own time to prepare for this celebration, These hardworking people have *hearing impaired children close to their hearts, and have donated proceeds to the Camp since they began the Timberfest in 1982. Our hats go off to them, also!

There are so many people who should be applauded for their work!!! Kudos go to these numerous people who continue to give unselfishly of their time and money to make the camp what it is today and will be tomorrow. These people are the Lions; the Lionesses, the Timberfest Committee; the Street Rod Club members; donors; volunteers from associations, athletic clubs, churches; staff from Oregon and Washington Schools for the Deaf, and people from off the streets.

(Note: Tony and Betty Koch (Betty is Royal’s cousin) who owned the land originally has this to say: “The reason we considered the camp was Royal Teets. We knew him for his traits of unselfish, hardworking, level-headedness. He is a good-natured, caring person.”)


The Story of Chief Taloali

A long time ago, before there was ever a Camp Taloali, there was a tribe of Santiam Indians living around here. In this tribe, there was a young boy who was somewhat different from the other boys; he was deaf. He had the same problems many deaf people do today. It was difficult to talk to the villagers, and the children didn’t want to play with him because he couldn’t hear, or talk very well.

He liked to go out in the woods every day, and explore new places and watch fish, animals and insects. One day, he found a baby bird that had fallen out of a nest, and since he couldn’t find the nest, he took it home to raise. It was probably a swallow like the many swallows we have swooping over the meadows here. The Indian boy took such good care of the bird that it grew to be able to fly and go with him on his daily trips in the woods.


This boy couldn’t hear, but he learned to watch animals and birds closely enough so that he could understand messages that they sent through their body movements. He even discovered that he could see birds singing by the way they flew. In watching their swoops, fast flights and circling, he could see the music in their movement. Because of this discovery, he named his bird “Taloali” which means “singing bird.” This ability to understand animal communication helped the boy later when he had many animal friends.

One day, the whole village was surrounded by fire. The deaf boy watched the animals to find a way out to safety for everyone. The whole tribe followed him and were all saved.

Many years later, when this deaf Indian boy was an adult, the tribe recognized his wisdom and sensitivity which had developed from his many years of observation and meditation. They gave him the title “Chief”, and since he had gotten his start from the first bird, they changed his name to “Chief Taloali, which means “Chief Singing Bird”.


Chief Taloali is dead, but his spirit lingers on in the
campers at Camp Taloali. Through them, he is still sharing his wisdom.



 

Story by Tony Papalia

Illustrations by Eanger Irving Couse.

His partner and best friend was a deaf artist, John Henry Sharp.

They communicated with the Indians with hand signals and sketches.