Camp Indianola is my Happy Place
What do you get when you combine a passion for positive media, a thriving beach on the Puget Sound, and a bottle of whiskey? The YES! staff retreat, of course! I spent this Tuesday and Wednesday at Camp Indianola with the rest of the YES! staff. We had many great and thought-provoking conversations about the limitations of strictly positive viewpoints, the ethics of SEO, and the pros and cons of telecommuting. We also had many great and thought-provoking beers, created a YES! version of Apples to Apples (with cards like pubic hair, gentrification, Kim Kardashian becoming a dedicated friend), and built a bonfire on a very windy beach at 2 a.m. In short, I’m glad I chose to intern here.
From the moment of our arrival I was floored by the amazing sights. The main room of our cabin looked over the beach and across the Puget Sound, offering a brief glimpse of Seattle from an angle I had never seen it from before. I felt proud to recognize the tiny buildings far in the distance and nervous to be so far away.
As we sat in the main room in a circle, trying to get our conversations going, kite surfers teased us and tempted our attention away. I had never seen or heard of kitesurfing before, and once we had the chance to break for lunch I decided to run down the beach and talk to these extreme sportsman instead of eating.
Kitesurfing is when attach yourself to a giant, wind-catching kite and use its energy to propel yourself along the water on a surfboard. You can also kite surf in the snow on a snowboard or on land on a skateboard! I really popped over to chat in the hopes that I would be offered a turn, but sadly I was not so lucky.
After that brief chat, I started exploring the beach in the other direction. The surfers occupied the cusp between Camp Indianola land and Suquamish territory and I didn’t want to cross the boundary and be disrespectful.
I was quickly rewarded with a sighting of a river otter! It was the size of a house cat with stubby legs and short, sleek, black fur. It raced in front of me into the water and then rolled, dipped, and played, allowing the tide to take it further and further down the shore. I tried to follow it and keep it in my sights, but it soon disappeared from view.
The beach continued stunning me with all the resources it had to offer. I have been to many beaches in my life–on Long Island, in LA, in Mexico, all around the Caribbean–and all of these beaches could be broken down into the standard units of sand, rock, and waves. Not so at Camp Indianola! This beach was a vibrant, living thing. The sand even spat up water when you stepped the wrong way.
The rocks were covered with a coral-like substance; inside of each opening lived a tiny crab. Flip over a small rock and a handful of crabs would scuttle away. I found a larger purple one out in the open, dead. Even at low tide the sand was over-saturated; my sneakers sunk, the sea grasses waved, and I tried to hop from rock to rock, guiltily crushing living things. It was impossible not to. Everything was alive!
Find a large rock and there was a starfish hanging on somewhere. The beach was littered with butter clams and clam shells, usually empty and full of sand.
That night I had a few shots of whiskey and then was surprise-asked to tell all about my college experience and past internships from the executive director of the magazine. Never before have I sobered up so fast. But what I will remember most about this staff retreat was the beauty of Camp Indianola.