“It’s a refuge.”

Vicki Lund Anderson, a classmate of my mom, graduated from Stanwood High School (SHS) in 1964 and her husband in 1962. They met in high school when Vicki was fourteen and John sixteen. They married in 1967 and their first daughter Cindy was born in 1972 and graduated from SHS in 1990, three years after I did. Their other daughter, Kirsten, was born in 1974 and graduated from SHS in 1992. John and Vicki have been married for 49 years and have lived in the same house for over 40 years in the same area where they both grew up

They are charter members of the original group who purchased Camp Grande and have helped preserve it for future generations. Here is there story.

In 1974, a group of friends from this area pooled their resources and purchased a ten acre piece of property near Granite Falls with the vision of developing  the tract of land into a place of retreat for their families. However, at about the same time, the opportunity to purchase the closed Camp Grande resort arose, and the decision was made to sell the Granite Falls property to a group of airline pilots interested in investing in land. When Camp Grande came up for sale it brought back many happy memories to both John and Vicki. Both of their families had enjoyed stays in the little cabins when they were kids and had enjoyed fishing, crabbing, and smelting at that popular Camano resort.

Vicki remembers Edna Mellum’s Camp Fire group she belonged to was able to spend many fun times at the resort. Sherman and Ingrid Bast’s daughter Andrena was also a member of the troupe. The Bast’s hospitality enabled the girls to enjoy scavenger hunts on the beach, shell collecting, and overnight camp outs and sing-a-longs around the fire pit.

I tell some of Andrena’s story in an earlier article on Camp Grande:

https://sunnyshorestudio.com/2016/08/24/the-beaches-of-camano-camp-grand-i/

The original group of 40 shareholders, Pilchuck Association, was excited to look at Camp Grande as a possible investment. It was offered for sale at $213,000 in 1976, and though it seemed like a lot of money forty years ago, it has proven to be a great decision. But, first look at the resort it was evident it had fallen prey to vandalism and destruction while vacant. Vicki recalls that cabin sinks had been stolen as well as bathroom fixtures, and there wasn’t one piece of glass which had not been broken. Everyone had a vision of what it could become again if restored to its original state. Each of the families “adopted” a cabin to restore and repair. So the daunting task of restoration began.

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John picked out cabin 11 on the bluff for our family to work on and enjoy. Island County allowed them to return the resort to its original state. This included not only the cabins, but also the boat house and the long dock which had suffered many storms and were showing their age. Original pilings of the dock were the only recognizable features. Restore they did, all 24 little white cabins (and 24 RV spaces). Where the old house and store had been, they built a little community center which the families use for parties and gatherings. Many Stanwood high school reunions have been held there as well.

Pilchuck Association is a privately owned timeshare. Allotted usage time is determined by the number of shares owned. The more shares each family owns, the more use they have of the property. While the property as a whole is owned by all members, many of the families have enough shares to fill one particular cabin all year round. John and Vicki’s parents both owned shares, as did and aunt and uncle, brother, and close family friends enable them to have use of cabin 11 all year around. Yearly dues are determined by the cost of taxes, insurance and maintaining the property. Permanent caretakers, Doug and Debbie Dowd, work tirelessly on keeping everything ship-shape through the year.

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Vicki recalls how many years ago she stepped out of the little white cabin and heard a group of kids singing around a bonfire the same camp song, “Kum bi ya” that she had sung with her Camp Fire friends when she was young. All those old warm memories and feelings came flooding back.

So for forty years and four generations the Anderson family has enjoyed get-a-ways in cabin 11, from the time Cindy was a toddler and Kirsten was learning to walk. When I asked Vicki what it meant to their family she said this: “It’s like going on vacation even though it’s only twenty minutes away. It’s a place of refuge. For me, everything becomes clearer, the stresses of the day subside while gazing at the boats and water, and I relax. It’s a wonderful respite. I’m so happy that our daughters and our grandkids, Jonny age fourteen and Grace, age twelve, continue to enjoy Camp Grande. This beach property has many wonderful memories for us and I hope that will be the case for more generations to come.”

I’m sure they will!

PS. I want to thank who Vicki who came to Camp Grande and gave my wife Jenny, and son Julian, a tour of the grounds. Julian took these great photographs of the restored Camp Grande.

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