During the past five years, members of the Friends as well as a variety of other community-based constituents and stakeholders have been actively engaged in dialogue about the possibility and the viability of a new community center.
The Friends, along with volunteers, local business leaders, representatives from the City of Camas, and the Camas and Washougal school districts, have participated in open monthly public meetings to explore this exciting joint project.
The Community Center Short Range Planning Committee (SRPC) met together with local architects, engineers and other community organizers to determine the viability of a joint Camas Washougal Community Center. While original discussions focused on the possibility of a center being built on the Washougal River greenway in between the two communities, Washougal leadership decided last winter to concentrate their resources on Washougal -based economic concerns.
Citizens in Camas, as well as the other community stakeholders recognized that a considerable amount of interest was still vibrant in the community and that substantial volunteer energy had been expended to explore a new community center. These community constituents encouraged the Friends to hold firm to the dream of a new community center by exploring viable ways to raise money for the project. Increasingly, while there were many voices in the public interested in a new community center, some of those voices had never been to a community center meeting and were now questioning the practicality of the project.
The SRPC recommended to the Friends that a Community Center Development Committee be formed to continue exploring the many viable ways a community center could be built with both private and public funds.
Camas Community Center History
Our current community center began life as a school house called Oak Park School. The Camas Public School District built the structure in 1916, and it housed the first kindergarten in the city as well as classes for grades 1-5. Newer schools were built in the district and Oak Park School was decommissioned in 1962. The Camas-based Tidland Corporation bought the building in the mid ‘60s and used the upper floor as office space for their entire sales force. The facility was sold to the City of Camas in 1985.
The 93 year-old community center has been renovated and upgraded several times over the years, and offers meeting rooms, a large multipurpose room and administrative offices for the Camas Parks and Recreation Department. Historically and presently, the center is used by an east county population consisting of both Washougal and Camas Residents. Whether utilized for music programs or wedding celebrations the Camas Community Center has been consistently busy, and considered a vital hub for social, recreational and health-related programming for seniors, pre-schoolers, adults and high school students.
Whether utilized for music programs or wedding celebrtions, the Camas Community Center has been consistently busy, but cannot accommodate the increased interest in local community-based activities and the need for affordable community meeting space for local organizations and Camas families.
Mission and Vision
Our Mission is to foster pride and promote the use of the Community Center through active partnerships with civic organizations, businesses, neighborhoods, schools and government.
In so doing we:
- Maintain an association of persons interested in the concept and the benefits of a local Community Center.
- Focus public attention and support of our local Community Center as a viable resource for healthy recreational and social activities which cultivate a sense of individual well-being and community inclusion.
- Promote the use of the Community Center’s spaces and services by all members of the local community
- Improve and increase the facilities and service capabilities and access to Community Center programs.
- Support the community center through fundraising activities and by seeking and receiving gifts, endowments, bequests, and memorials specifically designated for the Community Center.
- Enrich the educational, cultural, and social service opportunities available to the citizens of Camas and surrounding communities.
- Encourage community interaction by sponsoring programs and opportunities for residents of all ages, abilities, and cultural backgrounds.