Wood smoke scented the cool evening air. Around multiple campfires, students, families, and community members talked and roasted marshmallows. Camp counselors from the high school gathered to lead the crowd in Cispus songs and showcase skits from camp. It was a little taste of Cispus Outdoor School right here in Ridgefield.
Every year for the last 49 years, Ridgefield School District fifth graders have spent a week attending all of their classes in the Gifford Pinchot forest, sleeping in cabins and learning outdoor skills. The campfires are an important part of the camp’s community building.
Sunset Ridge Intermediate School planned the campfire events as a way to share Cispus with family and friends. “It brings back great memories of Cispus for people who have been there,” teacher Annie Pintler explained, “And lets us share some of the best parts of Cispus with people who haven’t been to camp.”
“It smells like camp,” one student said happily, leading her parents to a campfire and telling them about the campfires she remembered at Cispus. Students bundled up against the cold huddled closer to the fire to warm their mittened hands. Families waited in line to get s’mores supplies—long skewers and packages of chocolate, marshmallows, and graham crackers—from the Ridge, the parent-teacher organization.
As the camp counselors started leading a sing-along of Cispus songs, one of the fifth-grade students said, “Hey! I know this song!” He left his friends and went back to his family to get them singing along. Soon everyone joined in, and it felt like everyone was there at camp together.
There are two more Cispus campfire events planned for this year. Dates will be announced on the school website, https://www.ridgefieldsd.org/o/intermediate-school