Betsy Robblee, Outreach & Policy Manager
Last month, I had the opportunity to attend the 2019 Northwest Land Camp in Walla Walla. What’s Land Camp, you ask? Having attended many summer camps as a kid, I had visions of campfire sing-a-longs, s’mores, and capture the flag. It turns out that Land Camp is the biannual conference for Northwest land trusts, but as the organizers Washington Association of Land Trusts and Coalition of Oregon Land Trusts said, “this is not your ordinary conference.”
Land Camp is a networking and training event for Northwest land trust leaders and partners (like the Coalition). Bringing together 270 passionate conservation leaders, the three day event featured workshops, speakers, and networking opportunities.
Just like summer camp, escaping the pressures of daily life fostered an environment of possibility and learning. I attended workshops on topics such as equity, tribal engagement, and advocacy that challenged me to view the Coalition’s work on behalf of conservation and recreation with a new lens. These takeaways will stay with me for a long time and help inform how we build relationships and engage with communities to protect our great outdoors.
While there were no campfires this year, conversations positively crackled with new insights, budding friendships, and creative ideas. Land trust folks are some of the best ever—full of passion for protecting land and creating outdoor experiences, always willing to share a beer or a volleyball game, and ready to tackle hard issues with positivity and enthusiasm. I welcomed the opportunity to spend time with Coalition members like the Whidbey-Camano Land Trust and the Inland Northwest Land Conservancy, and meet new folks at the Columbia Land Trust and Jefferson Land Trust.
Although I’m still absorbing all the knowledge and resources from this year’s Land Camp, I’m already excited for the next one. In the meantime, I look forward to seeing camp friends in my travels around the state and collaborating on several WWRP project tours this summer.