Camp Casey pool remains closed for summer
— Created June 23, 2021 by Kacie Jo Voeller
By Kacie Jo Voeller
The pool at Camp Casey Conference Center has long been the site for swimming lessons and summer fun for a number of Whidbey Island residents.
Robin Myers, conference services manager at Camp Casey, said the pool will not be reopening this year.
“The pool was closed in 2019 due to age-related damages,” she said. “After much assessment it was determined that in order to re-open the pool, it, as well as all surrounding support buildings, must be completely replaced at a cost of over a half million dollars. Due to budget constraints, there is not currently a plan to replace the pool.”
Myers said the pool has left a legacy in the area, with many residents able to share memories of learning to swim at the facility. She said the local Lions Club was an instrumental piece in bringing swim lessons to Camp Casey, as well as starting some of the island’s first organized swimming lessons at Admiral’s Cove.
“Doug Kroon, with the Knead and Feed – (he was) the last owner, (and) he was with the Lions Club – he learned to swim at Camp Casey,” she said. “There are a lot of people that have a rich history (with Camp Casey).”
While there are no plans in place to reopen the pool at this time, Camp Casey has started welcoming back visitors to its other facilities, with a number of safety measures in place. Myers said the team at the conference center will be opening conscientiously, with guidelines from the state for group activities being closely followed.
“We are opening our dorm-style lodging but we are doing it very cautiously so that one person is allowed in a bedroom, and the governor has directed that any indoor activities are prohibited with the exception of sleeping,” she said.
Myers said the team at the center plans to conduct most activities outdoors and will work to accommodate current safety regulations in regard to COVID-19.
“If you are coming to soccer camp, you are going to be inside to sleep and that is it, everything else is going to be outside, including dining,” she said. “We are planning to set up tables and chairs and here at Fort Casey we are really embracing the Pacific Northwest in an outside retreat sort of environment.”
Myers said COVID-19 brought a number of challenges to the operation of the conference center, but the team looks forward to providing services in the coming summer. With travel restricted and discouraged during the pandemic, the camp’s usual operations were limited in order to comply with safety measures.
“People come to Camp Casey Conference Center to lodge and meet and dine with us,” she said. “We do not generally have a retreat from Oak Harbor High School come just because we are so close. We have a bunch of off-island people. And when people cannot travel around and group travel cannot happen, it is a bit more challenging.”
Myers said Camp Casey often hosts patrons who come on school trips or for sports camps.
“Especially with the demographic, the majority of our visitors are 22 and under which are not in the vaccinated arena,” she said. “Twelve and up is starting to get some traction which is awesome, but it still takes a bit longer for that to open up.”
Myers said for those looking to enroll their children in swim lessons, or those interested in pool swimming this summer, there are a number of alternative options around the island.
South Whidbey Learn to Swim lessons, offered through the South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District, will be located at Useless Bay Golf and Country Club. At the time of publication, a limited number of upper-level lesson spots were still available (swparks.org/event/swim-lessons). On the northern side of the island, swim lessons and swimming will be available through North Whidbey Pool, Park, and Recreation District at John Vanderzicht Memorial Pool. Swim lessons begin June 28, and more information can be found by visiting nwpprd.org. Each location has its own COVID-19 precautions, which are listed on their respective websites.
Myers said the staff at Camp Casey Conference Center values their connections with the community and are disappointed to not be able to offer swim lessons and use of the pool to both residents and visitors to the island. However, she shared the team at the center looks forward to serving the community and visitors with safety in mind in other capacities for the upcoming season.
“[Operating the pool] has been a wonderful opportunity and we are equally sad that we are not fully operational this summer,” she said.
For more information on Camp Casey Conference Center and reservations, visit casey.spu.edu.