WENAS CAMPOUT HISTORY

HOW DID THIS ALL COME TO PASS? In 1963, Bea Buzzetti, Ruth Anderson and Hazel Wolf wandered serendipitously into the Wenas Creek area on a Memorial Day camping trip. They were so impressed with the variety of wildlife that they convinced owners Boise Cascade to make the campground available to Audubon campers on Memorial Day. This was the beginning of an annual, state-wide (now regional) Audubon tradition that is the largest such event in the country. With the good will and cooperation of the Audubon community, it will continue indefinitely.


Hazel Wolf

As soon as you set up camp, locate the Larrison Tree, a large pine near the creek. It is named in honor of the late Earl J. Larrison, a gifted and dedicated teacher, author, natural historian and conservationist who gave generously of his time and energy each year to make the Wenas Campout a memorable experience. The Larrison Tree is the headquarters and focal point for many Wenas activities. There you will find a sign-in sheet, bulletin board, trip sign up sheets, programs, maps, bird lists and wildflower display boards. The Larrison Tree is also the rallying point for field trips and workshops.

Evening campfire programs are held at the Hazel Wolf Campfire Circle in the meadow across the road from the headquarters area. The Hazel Wolf Campfire Circle was named for Hazel Wolf on the 30th anniversary (1993) of the Wenas Creek Campout in the year of Hazel's 95th birthday. The naming of the circle in her honor recognized her many years of organizing the campout, her dedicated service in helping the event run smoothly and her bright and witty presence at campfire programs. Hazel realized her goal of living in three different centuries on New Year’s Day 2000. She passed away January 19, 2000.

2008 WENAS REPORT

The gathering was smaller than usual -- we think some were worried about the weather, and we all gulped at what we spent for gas to come to Wenas.

Fewer birds were seen and we blame that on the colder spring, the Memorial Day weekend being a whole week earlier than usual, and of course fewer birders looking!

The weather was good birding weather... rain occurred during the night.

The road in to the campground was the best ever, thanks to a DNR road crew which graded, reworked the low place and leveled a long stretch with heavy gravel. We thanked them for the nice job.

We like the new PA System. All attending were able to hear the speakers.  Burt and I will store the PA system, the bulletin board and the songbooks

The gas-fired Firepit was a success with several people staying around the fire for some time after the programs. On Sunday families with kids brought their chairs to the fire and the kids roasted marshmallows. Wilson Cady is storing the firepit and the propane tank.  

Richard Repp gave an entertaining report on the Bluebird Trail and asked for more volunteers to monitor the trail for the weekend.  By Saturday p.m. all the sections were taken. He reported that since this trail was begun over 10,000 bluebirds have fledged.

Memorial Moments for Patrick Sullivan, one of our best Wenas birders who is no longer with us, were led by Kathy Andrich and Wilson Cady.

Gene Hunn, UW Anthropology Prof. Emeritus, gave an interesting program on how First Nations used the Wenas and surrounding area.  He seemed unfazed by the rain. Plus he also lead two field trips. The one that Burt and I took part in was fabulous as he knew the birds by ear, identified plants and told of the Indian uses of them as we went along. Perhaps he could be persuaded to attend next year also and do the field trips again.

Michelle Noe’s bat presentation was well done and many gathered on Sunday evening after dark to watch bats zooming through the air above the creek and to listen to the bat sounds on her electronic device.

Rose Wakeman’s wonderfully readable schedule/agenda was excellent, PLUS she did a good job finding leaders.

Wilson came early and set things up, kept the bird list and gave directions to find places - all while only 4 days up and about after the serious leg infection.

Helen Engle coordinated campfire program speakers and regrets the Audubon-WA Science Coordinator Don McIvor was a no-show.  He’s preparing a big map of the Wenas  Important Bird Area.

Don Knoke’s wonderfully-labeled flower boards were ready for first arriving campers, and there’s talk of maybe a display of insects next year.

Helen Engle, hengle@iinet.com, May 29, 2008