Camp Taloali Annual Report
March 1st, 2021 - February 28th, 2022
DEAR CAMP TALOALI FAMILY AND SUPPORTERS,
For the past two years, the Board of Directors has seen many challenges at Camp Taloali and in the community. These challenges profoundly affected our community and the Board of Directors decided to take action. It was not easy for everyone but we worked hard to overcome hurdles. It is my heartfelt pleasure as the chairperson to share our story during this annual board meeting and with the community.
Our camp and community saw the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Not only that, we saw the devastating impact of other multiple catastrophes in 2020 and 2021. The 2020 Labor Day windstorm and wildfires, the February 2021 ice storm, and the unusually high and dangerous temperatures in June 2021 were challenges for us at the camp because it meant the camp’s main source of income was significantly affected. Utilities, upkeep costs, replacing things, paying our staff, and funding our annual summer camp program are essential expenses. However, the good news is that Camp Taloali was able to overcome these challenges and then some more.
I want to say that we are humbled and grateful that Camp Taloali survived with the help of our Board of Directors, our staff, community, and allies. We would not have survived without the support of the Alliance of Oregon Camps and all the generous donations we have received from the many donors listed here:
Canby Excavating Inc, Friends of OSD, Freres Lumber Co Inc, Hewlett-Packard , Lions of Oregon, Lowe's, Knife River Gravel, North Santiam Watershed Council, Oregon Business Grant, Oregon Elks Lodges, Oregon Festivals & Events Association, Oregon School for the Deaf Foundation, Quota Clubs International of Central Oregon, Salem Leadership Foundation, Santiam Sports Center, Sorenson, Stayton Sublimity Chamber of Commerce, Target Plastics, Woodrings and Reclaimed Things, and many kind, generous individuals.
Image description: Camp nurses Christina Matthews and Emmalie Reese screen for symptoms with interpreter Brandon Harms.
Our summer camp program was not active in summer 2020 due to COVID restrictions. However, we opened the camp for the summer of 2021 with a limit of 40 campers. We provided a full schedule of overnight and day camp sessions for one week. A full-time nurse was available to provide a COVID test with rapid testing upon arrival at camp allowed us to have a successful summer with no community transmission for COVID at camp.
We have a very busy summer planned this year for 2022 at Camp Taloali. These events are scheduled:
Deaf and Hard of Hearing Campers Returned to Camp Taloali!
We were delighted to see our Deaf and Hard of Hearing campers come back to Camp Taloali last summer! 38 kids from the Pacific Northwest got full camperships for a fun-filled week of summer camp activities which included swimming and games in the pool, swinging in the tall trees, bouncing in the new Gaga Ball Pit, biking on the trails, shooting arrows at the Archery Range, fishing on the banks of the North Santiam River, painting birdhouses for our
many swallows, and best of all, seeing old friends and making new friends. The Oregon Camps Grant and many Lions Clubs and individuals made it possible for us to hold camp (COVID-19 restrictions and all) for Deaf and Hard of Hearing kids who had spent much of the pandemic in social and language isolation. Thank you, supporters, for helping us create a safe and fun place for these kids last summer.
Camp Taloali Summer Camp Program
This year 38 campers who are deaf and hard of hearing, children of Deaf parents, and others all gathered to learn and have a great time in the outdoors. Campers came from all over Washington, Oregon, Missouri, and Utah. Our theme last year was all about being outdoors to bring campers together to enjoy the natural beauty at Camp Taloali after spending a year in spent much of the pandemic in social and language isolation. All of the campers were divided into cabins by age into cohorts.
Image description: Camper scaling on the climbing tower
Randall Smith and interpreter Ashley Paul talk with a family from Seattle, WA.
Camp Taloali has been blessed with donations for camperships by individuals and many Lions Clubs around the state of Oregon and Washington. We have always offered some camperships. This year, The Oregon Alliance of Camps helped the State of Oregon understand how important summer camp is to the health and well-being of children after the isolation they endured because of COVID. A grant from the state was made available last year to ensure that summer camps were able to reopen. The Camp Taloali Board of Directors decided to use the grant to supplement other donations for a campership to make Camp Taloali Summer Camp Program 2021 free to all. All children attending camp last year received a campership covering the full cost of camp last year. This year, camperships will be again distributed based on need. Donations for this coming year's camperships are always welcome.
COVID-19 Precautions: Camp Taloali rigorously followed the Oregon Health Authority’s Summer and Youth Programs Reopening Public Health Recommendations and Requirements for our summer camp program. Every staff member was required to be vaccinated and to show a valid COVID-19 vaccination card before staff orientation. Camper registration was conducted drive-thru style, during which they checked in with the Camp Administrator at the canopy outside, then drove toward the nurse's station outside the infirmary. Our registered nurses conducted screening for symptoms of each camper and administered voluntary testing to campers in their vehicles. During the summer camp program, campers were divided into two cohorts that were based on their ages and housed on opposite sides of the camp. Additional outside portable handwashing stations were placed by each cabin area, the pavilion, and the pool. Two weeks after the summer camp program ended, Camp Taloali received no report of COVID-19 cases based on contact tracking reports.
After a two-year hiatus caused by the coronavirus pandemic, counselors, program specialists, and other support staff returned to Camp Taloali. They went through orientation the week before campers arrived and prepared the camp for our summer program. They brought a wealth of experience and passion for Camp Taloali to our staff and campers and program. Candace Davis (Camp Director) and Camille Peterson (Program Manager) led their team and ran the summer camp program.
Support from our community partnerships for the summer camp program was immeasurable. We are truly grateful for those organizations and individuals who make a difference in our summer camp program. Previous summer camp program evaluations showed a popular demand for a Gaga Ball Pit. One of the board members, Stan Teets, stepped up and donated the material to build the Gaga Ball Pit in the playground area. Campers loved it and played day and night!
This summer Sonya Wilson, a Deaf rock climber and mountaineer, partnered up with Osprey to donate 40 backpacks to our summer campers. The backpacks came complete with a water bladder and hose for day hikes or overnight adventures. She is also an advocate for accessibility. We are grateful to Sonya Wilson and Osprey!
Northwest Hub donated a total of thirteen bicycles for our Deaf and Hard of Hearing campers to bike on the trails to explore nature. We are grateful to Northwest Hub for this act of generosity.
Santiam Canyon Wildfires Disaster Support Lodging
September 7, 2020 will be a night long remembered in the Santiam Canyon of Oregon. Firestorms erupted and blew down the canyon. Hundreds of families lost their homes or were displaced. The wildfires came within 4 miles of Camp Taloali and our staff was evacuated, but our losses were limited to nearly 100 trees that fell in the windstorm before the fires and a lost pool cover. To support our canyon neighbors, the Camp Taloali Board of Directors opened the entire camp to the disaster recovery effort. The camp became a temporary emergency shelter offering long-term and short-term housing options at no cost to the survivors for over 10 months. We worked with many community partners in canyon recovery efforts to assist our lodgers. By the time the wildfire disaster lodging program was closed in mid-July 2022 so we could re-open the camp for our regular camp program for Deaf and Hard of Hearing children and youth, Camp Taloali had provided 2,338 lodging units over 10 months to wildfire survivors.
Willamette Workforce Partnership
Camp Taloali partnered with the Willamette Workforce Partnership for 6 months to collaborate on a federal grant program that provided employment to many wildfire survivors, our lodgers, and others in the canyon who were displaced by the wildfires. The central aim of this employment program was to provide humanitarian support to wildfire survivors. They also worked on the grounds of Camp Taloali to keep the camp operational while the wildfire survivors were lodged there.
With deep gratitude for those who have supported us, Aumsville Market, Bea’s Baked Goods, Canby Excavating, Community Services Consortiumm, Furniture Share, Knights of Columbus – Anthony Hall, Marion Polk Food Share, Santiam Service Integration Team, Salvation Army of Marion and Polk Counties, Marion County Board of Commissioners Office, Mehama Community Church, Mid-Willamette Valley - Community Action Agency, Mill City Market Place, Oregon Office of Emergency Management, Salem Leadership Foundation, Scranton Products – Shower Stalls, SEDCOR (Strategic Economic Development Corp.), Silverton Elks and Silverton Lions, Stayton and Aumsville Food Pantries, Stayton-Sublimity Chamber of Commerce, United Way of the Mid-Willamette Valley, Woodrings and Reclaimed Things, and many kind, generous individuals.
Camp Taloali Wildfire Benefit
Camp Taloali held its first Camp Taloali Wildfire Benefit, which raised funds to support the Santiam Canyon Wildfire Relief Fund and Upward Bound Camp.
The wildfires on September 7, 2020 affected our Santiam Canyon community profoundly. Hundreds of families lost their homes or were displaced. Life since the wildfires has been extremely traumatic and difficult for many people. In addition to hosting the wildfire survivors lodging program, the Camp Taloali Board of Directors decided to hold this benefit to raise money on the behalf of the wildfire survivors and to honor and celebrate the people and organizations playing an important role in the recovery process. Doug Stenerodden, passionate Santiam Canyon supporter and volunteer, led the Board of Directors in designing and executing this benefit which featured blues and country music (on a new riverside stage he had built) and family entertainment, designed to give survivors and the community an opportunity to come together again, recreate, enjoy good music and food, and relax. The benefit raised $8,000 for Upward Bound Camp and the Santiam Canyon Wildfire Relief Fund. Big shoutout to our wonderful sponsors, A-Z Rentals, AmRamp, Epping Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, King Valley Lions Club, Peterson Cat, Smith Gardens, Stayton Ace hardware, Stayton Roth's Stores, Stayton Safeway, Canby Excavating, Home Depot, Pioneer Trust, Stayton Fire Department, and many more kind and generous individuals!
Image Description: Wildfire Benefit at Camp Taloali
Image description: From left to right: Randall Smith, Diane Prairie, Jeffery Howard, Margi Morgan, Richard Wright, Brian Czarnik, Robert Morgan, Diane Turnbull (Upward Bound Camp) , Shelly Barber, Nancy Jankowski (Santiam Canyon Wildfire Relief Fund), Meaghan Vehlies, Janet Johanson, Stan Teets, Doug Stenerodden (major Wildfire Benefit sponsor and volunteer), and Doug Fiala.
In Memoriam: Ronald Neffendorf, long-time Portland Bentham Lions member, past president, and active member, was instrumental in getting much of the infrastructure for Camp Taloali in place, along with Royal Teets and Walt Trandum. His wife, Betty Neffendorf, served as volunteer business manager for Camp Taloali for 30 summers, registering campers and hiring staff, while Ron mustered up various service groups and construction teams and the donation of materials to build numerous facilities at Camp Taloali, including the Neffendorf Pavilion and cabins. Ron was a hands-on guy, spending many weekends at Camp Taloali in his RV, working along with volunteers from both the Deaf Community and the larger community. As Betty Neffendorf said in an interview with the Lions of Oregon's magazine, "There was a big need and we enjoyed helping out. We all made many close friendships with people who were also helping." Ron became proficient in conversational ASL with his Deaf friends and was respected by many. R.I.P, Lion Ron Neffendorf, and our deepest gratitude to you and Betty.
Written by Janet Johanson, Camp Taloali Board of Directors
Image description: Ron and Betty Neffendorf at Camp Taloali 2015 Spring Clean-Up
Darwin Wallstrum, Former Camp Taloali Board member
Changes for the Challenge Course
Our Challenge Course went through exciting changes, triggered in response to acute climate changes over the past few years. The course with the climbing tower moved to a different part of the campground under the recommendations made by Synergo, an accredited full-service organization and member of the Association for Challenge Course Technology (ACCT). ACCT is a nationally recognized standards-setting organization for the challenge course industry. The Giant Swing and Gravity Zip Line System are new elements added to the course with the help of the Alliance of Oregon Camps and an anonymous donor.
We created a new area in the forest by the west cabins area to relocate the rock climbing tower and low rope elements to integrate with existing high rope elements from 2018. We are grateful to the Alliance of Oregon Camps for making the Giant Swing possible. Campers enjoyed a combination of challenges that required teamwork to accomplish goals through a series of fun and unusual activities. They learned something new about themselves, each other, and the group as a unit.
The new Gravity Zip Line System will be installed in March 2022, made possible by an anonymous donor. We are excited to have the AmeriCorps NCCC Pacific Region’s Blue Team helping clear more low and high element pads and decks to prepare the future site for the Gravity Zip Line System!
Image description: Climbing tower in the newly relocated Challenge Course in the forest.
The Maintenance Team was led by Robert Morgan. Jeffrey Howard and Braden Ballard (previous Property Manager) also contributed a great deal toward the maintenance of the camp. The goal last year was to catch up on deferred maintenance caused by the pandemic shutdown. The maintenance team now can check these off their list! The Willamette Workforce Partnership’s work crew made it possible to complete these projects.
-Cleared out old logged tree toppers that were stacked next to the Pole Barn, spending a month sawing logs and using the log splitter to cut and stack firewood next to the woodshed.
--Poured cement flooring in the Pole Barn (on our wish list since 1999!).
Remodeled and restored our restrooms, paint shed, infirmary, cabins, learning center, and grounds (trails and campsites).
Image description: Exterior of the cabin
Image description: Interior of the cabin
Health Center Renovations
With donations made to the Walt Trandum Memorial Fund, we were able to replace the 40-year-old cabinets in the infirmary. We also revamped the bathrooms, replaced all flooring materials, and furniture. The WWP work crew painted the interior, with S3 Deaf Ministry installing the floor moldings. The three-cabin units at the infirmary have been named Klamath, Modoc, and Umpqua. Our profound gratitude to all those who worked hard on restoring the infirmary and making these our top-notch rental lodging units!
With funding from the Alliance of Oregon Camps and an anonymous donor, Camp Taloali was able to replace and increase the size of the walk-in cooler and upgraded the oven to a double deck full size gas convection oven. Our special gratitude is given to Shane Johnson with the Mountain Top Concrete & Construction for the concrete pad for the new walk-in cooler!
Image description: New double deck gas convection oven
Learning Center Renovations
The Learning Center was used as a temporary Camp Kitchen during the wildfire survivors’ lodging program. Protocols were established to practice COVID-19 safety procedures as survivors prepared meals. United Way’s Good360 Gifts-In-Kind Program and Furniture Share in Albany provided refrigerators, small appliances, dishes and glasses, utensils, paper goods, and water. Various Marion/Polk County Food Share pantries and generous individuals kept the on-site food bank well stocked. The Salvation Army also brought hot meals daily for 8 months.
As Camp Taloali pivoted back to its regular summer camp programs and rentals, we had the opportunity to replace the cabinets and make changes to improve its functionality. The Hewlett Packard technology grant also made it possible to add a large screen TV so that groups using the Learning Center for various activities can join on-line meetings, share visual instructional media, and develop and share video material.
When the pandemic started, we prioritized keeping the restrooms sanitized and safe. We needed new shower stalls to replace old shower curtains. A GoFundMe fundraiser helped provide the funds to upgrade the restrooms with sealed floors and new paint. Scranton Products donated shower stalls. The laundry room was also upgraded. Remaining funds will be used to install a ventilation system.
The Nature and Fitness Trails were cleaned up by volunteers from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Bushes were cut back and fresh wood chips laid down, making these trails safe, enjoyable, and usable again. Campers enjoyed being able to use these features again for nature walks and exercise.
Image description: Our local community member, Ira Burgess, headed up the project to upgrade the Hole 16 tee pad.
Disc Golf Course Enhancements
2021 has been a thrilling year for the Camp Taloali Disc Golf Course hosting over 18 disc golf tournaments and many other league meets at Camp Taloali! According to Steve Moore, member of the Camp Taloali Board of Directors and course manager, numerous players traveled all the way from Portland, Eugene, and Bend to play the course because of the quality and maintenance. This year, various projects have enhanced the quality of the course; the kiosk at the front entrance of the disc golf course was reinstalled and expanded, preserving the original panels with signatures from players commemorating holes they’ve aced. Hole 16’s bridge deck was replaced with red cedar plankings (see the photo on UDisc’s social media platform).
An Iron Ranger fee box was installed and a gathering area cleared for a future shelter and picnic tables for recreation and tournaments. The highlight of this year was the Board’s decision to purchase 18 Mach X permanent disc golf baskets from the Disc Golf Association, which takes our course to the professional level. Each hole now has 2 baskets (the new baskets and our 13 years old disc golf baskets). Thank you, Steve, the disc golf team, the Willamette Workforce Partnership work crew, and the community, for taking the quality of the course to the next level.
Retiring Board Members
Our gratitude goes to Robert Morgan (board member since 2007) He retired this month after giving a total of 15 years of service on the Camp Taloali Board of Directors. He will join the ranks of our Camp Taloali Emeriti.
Image description: Bird eye’s view of Camp Taloali