Bob Stayton has been a member of the YMCA family ever since he was a child. With some of his fondest memories in life involving the experiences he’s had at YMCA Camps over the years. Today, Bob serves as the Board Chair for YMCA Camp Collins and works to ensure that children at the Y are still given the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive in healthy and supportive outdoor environments.
Bob first started attending Y Camps when he was six years old. He participated in the Indian Guides program—now known as the Adventure Guides—with his father each winter, where they learned wilderness skills, tracking and formed deep relationships. He attended YMCA Camp Collins with his friends each summer. And he was even a member at his local neighborhood Y growing up, where he spent most of his free-time participating in craft classes and learning to swim.
“The Y was such a fun place to hang out as a kid. I liked it a lot.”
When he was older, during his teenage years, Bob began spending his summers at YMCA Camp Meehan, located near Spirit Lake in Washington.
“Camp Meehan was a really life changing experience for me. In those days it was a wilderness camp and it was like going to a whole new world each summer.”
At YMCA Camp Meehan Bob hiked through the forest with friends, learned important lessons from “larger than life” camp counselors, went sailing on the lake, relaxed on the dock and ultimately learned to become a self-sustaining and self-reliant individual.
“It was a beautiful place to be, and you developed a comradery with everyone there. We would go for two-weeks at a time in those days and the outdoor experience really got into my blood. I was at Camp Meehan for three-years as a camper. And I ended up coming back and working as a counselor there when I was in college.”
Though Bob moved away from Oregon after graduating from college, he eventually returned to the area and joined the YMCA Camps Board in 1971. However, by this time, YMCA Camp Meehan had been severely damaged by the Columbus Day Storm of 1962.
“We tried rehabilitating Camp Meehan, and spent most of the 1970s trying to rebuild it. We eventually got it back into pretty good shape and we were using it successfully for a while, but it was a tough place to run fiscally. And when Mount St. Helens erupted in 1980, it erased the whole thing.”
Though YMCA Camp Meehan is now gone, Bob still has fond memories of the camp, and enjoys reflecting on the life-long friendships and relationships forged there.
Bob hopes the Y continues its tradition and legacy of camping in the future and looks forward to further developing YMCA Camp Duncan’s Woods, a new high-adventure overnight camp for at-risk youth.
“We still have that basic outlook about inclusion and about non-judgmental relationships at the Y, and I think we can still do an awful lot to make the world a better place by continuing these legacies at YMCA Camp Collins and YMCA Camp Duncan’s Woods.”
Thank you Bob for your dedication to YMCA Camps over the years and for your work in continuing to make YMCA Camps a healthy and transformative experience for all children.