On September 21 2013 Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp held the 6th annual Walk Stroll Roll fundraiser. Rain or shine, the event features a 1k or 5k walk and is attended by campers, camp staff, donors, Kiwanians, and some Portland State students who became part of the community last summer, experiencing two weeks of education and eye openers.
Since 1972 the PSU Special Education Department has partnered with the camp whose entire clientele has physical and/or mental disabilities. Every summer Portland State sends 150-200 students to function as one-on-one assistants for campers.
The Walk Stroll Roll differs from similar events in that the majority of funds raised come directly from the camp community. Campers, their families, counselors and staff make up the lion’s share of participants.
Terri Hammond, the camps Communications Director and coordinator of the event explains the fundraiser and this tight knit organization.
“We raise around 40k a year,” Hammond said. “There is also an annual auction, which has a higher price point.”
Hammond points out that campers and students typically can’t afford the auction portion of the event, but the walk is open to everyone and is completely free.
“It’s a great reunion for campers, and families, and staff and counselor[s] to get together. It is the rare instance all these people are at the same place [at] the same time,” Hammond said. “Everyone can hang out, parents can meet each other. It’s accessible to everybody, the whole Kiwanis community.”
Money mustered from the Walk Stroll Roll goes towards the many operating costs of camp. There is a near $1300 shortfall between the cost for a week of camp and what each camper is actually charged.
The overhead of managing a large residential camp is also significant. The 22 acres where camp is located is U.S. Forest Service land in the Mt. Hood National Forest. It has been leased from the Forest Service since the camp’s inception in 1933.
C.J. Smith is one PSU student who continues to advocate for the disabled community after his Kiwanis experience. The senior majoring in social work attended camp this summer for his capstone. MHKC has the largest enrollment numbers of all PSU capstone classes offered.
Describing the experience Smith said, “It was exhausting and wonderful. Transformative.”
Smith stayed in touch with fellow counselors after returning home, and when he heard about the Walk Stroll Roll he wanted to help. Starting a PSU team named “Ebeneezers Sneezers” is Smith’s way of continued involvement.
After the walk there was a barbeque lunch and performance by camp favorite, Staff Infection — a band made up of former counselors and staff members who have played at every Walk Stroll Roll and some of the auctions.
Band member Paul Barkett — a PSU graduate from 1990 — went to Camp Kiwanis during his tenure as a student. He is currently a special education teacher — a field he has been in for 16 years and has been paved by his time at MHKC.
He recalls bringing his guitar to camp and using it to entertain campers. More musicians soon joined him and by the late 90’s the group was a fixture and was jokingly dubbed ”Staff Infection.”
Barkett and his band-mates’ experiences at camp keep them coming back year after year. They receive no payment for their services, but for Barkett the pay comes from the response they get from the campers.
“Love it. Nothing like it,” Barkett said. “When I see the people who have been going to camp for 20 years, they see me and say ‘Paul! Are you going to do Lime in the Coconut?’ That is going to stick with you.”
On the morning of the event, over 200 people gathered at Willamette Park. $31,000 was raised and Smith’s “Ebeneezers Sneezers” had four walkers who contributed $50.
Looking to the future, the annual fundraiser faces one large challenge — Willamette Park on SW Macadam and Nebraska, the event’s home for six straight years is going under construction for three years. A new location has not been decided, and MHKC continues to explore possibilities.
More about Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp can be found at their website www.mhkc.org/ and info about the fundraiser at www.mhkcwalk.com/