In 2009, in the face of a challenging budget situation, the Olympia School Board cut funding to the overnight outdoor education program for fifth-graders known as “Cispus,” which provides hands-on learning, team building, outdoor skills, and so much more in a natural environment in Randall, WA.

 In our community, Olympia School District students first began enjoying this rite of passage in the 1970s.

A group of OSD parents assembled to save this beloved program, a rite of passage OSD students first began to enjoy in the 1970s. Through grassroots efforts, these passionate parents raised $59,000 in three months – enough to save the program temporarily. The Board invited several of these parents to join the Board so that the program could be saved for perpetuity. Today, Cispus is funded through OSDEF-run wreath sales, district allocated funding, and a fee for each child. If a family cannot provide the fee, it is waived with no questions asked. 

“As I was driving the long, winding road back from Cispus Outdoor Camp tonight, I realized how grateful I am that people enact their passions in life at different times. A few years ago, I was sitting at the school board meeting when Cispus was on the chopping block and I didn’t get it. I really didn’t. There were SO many other things to fund, I thought. At that time, it just wasn’t a passion for me.

Well, after spending a day there with our amazing Boston Harbor 5th graders and their amazing teachers and a myriad of other wonderful teachers and students from three other elementary schools, I get it. I really get it. And I am so grateful for parents and teachers for whom it WAS passion and who advocated for this gem. I sincerely hope that someday the passions I advocate for will pay dividends for you as well.”

– Jennifer West Brotherton
Boston Harbor Principal