"To be a child again for just a bit of time," is how festival-goer Cheri Mattson described how she felt at the third annual Camp Hope Fundraising Festival which was held on September 30 and sponsored by EM-3 Concrete. Anchored Creative Arts joined forces by providing bands to play live music throughout the day. In addition, a striking handcrafted sign was hung at the camp entrance, created and donated by Chris Heer. There was a lot going on and so much to see. Vendors sold wares and children rushed to the next attraction. Mattson continues, "The camp seemed so peaceful and serene, but festive at the same time." She admits to enjoying the attractions and looking at it through the eyes of her grandchildren.
"Despite the pesky threat of rain, the skies ended up blue and the sun shone like the faces of the children who kept coming back to buy more tickets," said ticket-seller Caitlin Drachen. She continues, "Quite a bit of our sales were repeats because even the adults wanted to try the activities after seeing how much the children enjoyed them!" Profits were made by credit cards run through a Square and by pennies from piggy banks. Drachen explains, "One pair of little girls came back four times and by the last time, they were down to their saved change from piggy banks. So we counted pennies for about ten minutes to get them even a few more tickets." They ran off in search of their next adventure—possibly in the bounce house, at face painting or at the candy store.
Attendees such as Mattson and her entourage gobbled savory grilled chicken and corn on the cob dripped down their chins. She was quite enthusiastic about the time she spent at the festival; she said it was grand and it felt like old times. "We walked around and took part in so many delightful things—a hay ride, a pumpkin patch and even a place to paint a face on our pumpkins! Homemade bakery, Starbucks coffee and a cannon ball shot by the real deal!" The booming canon was compliments of the First Oregon Infantry Cavalry who attended the festival in full regalia—to the approval of many pleased children—who rode horses, fired guns, and admired antique gear.
Treasures were found in the country store amidst bales and buckets. Flying arrows found targets of balloons, to the squeals and smiles of small children—under the expert guidance of skilled helpers. Teens and young adults showed up to help with many tasks—face painting, serving food, selling tickets, and running booths. Watching these young people take ownership and gain mastery over tasks such as making cotton candy and propelling produce in a massive slingshot was very rewarding. The young adults who volunteer at Camp Hope events are appreciated very much; it is fun to watch their growth as individuals, and as they invest in the lives of others.
The day ended with music weaving through the fir trees. Candles sparkled on tables and the last guests left with treasures and smiles. Weary and satisfied, helpers went home one by one until just a small fire was left crackling in the firepit.
Smoke spiraled around the stage where hours before BJ the Clown had young and young-at-heart rocking benches with laughter.
The annual Camp Hope Festival is over, but the laughter and beautiful memories remain. At the end of an event, it is always rewarding to look back and remember all the hands and hearts that helped make it a reality—, and this time is no different. Camp Hope is so grateful for the many many happy helpers who made this event possible—whose hearts are touched by the Camp Hope stories—where lives are changed and hope is restored.