A RURAL RESPITE

Camp Beausite cares for campers and caregivers alike

Laura Jean Schneider
ljschneider@ptleader.com
Posted 11/25/21

 

Raina Baker hasn’t missed a stay at summer camp for 36 years.

Since she was 6, the new executive director of Chimacum’s Camp Beausite Northwest has been either a camper or an …

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A RURAL RESPITE

Camp Beausite cares for campers and caregivers alike

Posted

 

Raina Baker hasn’t missed a stay at summer camp for 36 years.

Since she was 6, the new executive director of Chimacum’s Camp Beausite Northwest has been either a camper or an employee at a campground.

“I grew up going to camp,” she said during a recent interview.

Upon her high school graduation in 1996, she’d decided to make a career in the camping industry.

From Maryland to California to Michigan, and finally, to Washington, Baker brings a range of experience to her position that has already proved positive for Camp Beausite.

“The paint was drying on the build as I took over,” Baker said.

The campus sits on 55 acres in rural Chimacum, and was under construction from 2012 to 2019.

Baker is currently the only full-time employee, and she and her husband live just 4 miles away. To say she’s dedicated would be an understatement.

Beausite is perhaps best known for offering activities to campers with special needs.

But Baker sees the site as offering so much more to the greater community, too.

“We’re a full-fledged winterized facility,” she said, adding that weddings, family reunions, or church groups would be great fits for their facilities.

“We were just about to start shouting from the rooftops, then COVID hit,” she said.

Her optimism returned quickly.

“The silver lining is that because we were at such a transitional place when I took over, [the] board and myself were able to build platforms that take a significant amount of time,” she said.

With the campus shut down, Baker went to work. The registration system went from a manual system to online. She sought out grants for marketing and technology to bring Beausite up to speed. Her mother designed and built a new website to showcase a fresh new look.

“We get friends and family involved when we can,” she said, fine-tooth combing through best practices to maximize the camp’s impact to campers and the community.

“The goal is to be always improving,” she said.

For the first time in the history of the camp, Baker said there’s a list of repeat guests, who started coming back the first week of October when Beausite was cleared to reopen after being closed for more than a year during the pandemic.

“It takes five to 10 years to build a retreat list,” she said, a trajectory she’s committed to.

Looking ahead to 2022, eight weekend programs and seven weeks of summer camp are on the books; programs that will serve up to 60 differently-abled campers of all ages each week.

“We get these incredible humans who come in and teach us all of the time,” she said.

Some campers live alone, but are ineligible for outside assistance. Some collect recycling and cash it in, supplementing their monthly disability income of $750 to afford camp.

“There’s a great deal of intention about everything we do,” Baker said.

“We subsidize our programs at 35 percent at a minimum,” she added.

Baker is proud to organize a highly skilled team to help campers with diverse needs, and she’s equally thrilled to give caregivers the gift of respite. She explained how many parents, siblings, and aides don’t get a break from looking out for their loved ones.

That’s where Beausite can step in, Baker said, providing safe, responsible, educational activities for a wide range of ages and skill levels.

“Everything that we do here is so that our campers can come to camp, and their families can find respite,” she said.

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