The moment may be temporary,

but the memory is forever!

History of TCODS

Outdoor School began in Tillamook County in approximately 1966 - 1967. It was started as a pilot project of Oregon State University under the direction of Joan Ross. Camp was held at Camp Magruder in Rockaway, Oregon, for sixth grade students, their teachers, and counselors.

In the 1977 - 1978 school year Outdoor School was moved to Camp Meriwether, a Boy Scout camp just south of Cape Lookout on the Oregon coast. Camp was held in the late spring which meant that every year the trails would be incredibly muddy before camp ever started since there wasn't time for them to dry out after the winter and spring rains. Also, each year there was the inevitable powerful storm usually with winds of at least seventy miles an hour. Even though the camp experience was powerful, it came at the end of the year meaning there was little time in the classroom with the students after the camp experience.

After four or five years of spring Outdoor School at Camp Meriwether, it was decided by the three directors, head director Bill Bentley, Sandra Archerd, and Dean Bones, all sixth grade teachers, to move camp to the fall. It was hoped that a fall Outdoor School on the Oregon coast would experience much better weather. Also, it seemed a much better idea to present information and activities at camp that teachers could build on the entire year. Camp was being held at that time for three one-week sessions of about 100 sixth graders each.

Sandra Archerd, SeaBreeze, took a teaching job on the southern Oregon coast leaving Bill and Dean as directors of Outdoor School. After several years, Bill Bentley, Thunder, the head director, who had been taking administration courses, left the Tillamook County area to take an administrative job.

Tillamook County Educational Service District was the provider of Outdoor School. In the early 80's, the ESD made the decision to not provide Outdoor School as one of its services to the local school districts. Individual school districts provided their own Outdoor schools for a year. Dean continued to plan and direct Outdoor School for the Tillamook School District, and after several years all of the school districts were once again having Outdoor School together.

Campfire in the old campfire bowl . . .
a typical campfire scene in the old campfire bowl

During this time, all of the money collection was handled through East Elementary as this was the school Dean, Moses, was teaching in at the time. However, during the summer of 1988 it was pointed out that it probably wasn't legal to process other districts' money through one district's school. So, a little over a month before the 1988 Outdoor School on August 19th, Moses and his wife, Laurie, Zippy, formed a company soley established to provide Outdoor School. Our Articles of Incorporation were filed by then attorney David W. Hantke who donated his services. The name chosen was Memory Makers Co. During camp that fall, it was learned that the name Memory Makers Co. was already taken by another business. So the business was renamed Special Memories Co. Once again, it was discovered that this name was taken. So, the name was changed once again to Creative Memories Co. (Bill Baertlein and Marilyn Phegley of Baertlein and Phegley CPA's have donated their services to Outdoor School since 1988!) Creative Memories Co. was formed as a "for-profit" company because that was the only way to form the company quickly in time for the 1988 fall session of camp.

In 1990, Creative Memories Co. was disolved as a "for-profit" company and was reformed as a "not-for-profit" company. In 1992 the company was given tax exempt status. Then in 1997, a law firm representing The Antioch Company of Ohio "insisted" that the name be changed from Creative Memories Co. because they had a Creative Memories divsion. To avoid any legal costs, the name was legally changed to Tillamook County Outdoor School.

In the late 1990s Oops!, DeAnna Walker Upton, along with many helpers began fundraising efforts to wipe out the debt Moses & Zippy had incurred in producing Outdoor School and trying to keep the price per student as low as possible. Not only was the debt taken care of, but TCODS was able to lower the cost per student from about $98.00 to $90.00. There were many rummage sales, sales of local savings cards, dunk tank operations at the county fair, set up & clean up of the annual OHA - Oregon Hunters Association dinner along with serving etc. at the dinner and producing what has now become the annual TCODS Steak Dinner & Auction.

The numbers of students per year varied some with an average of approximately 280 sixth graders attending Outdoor School yearly with their teachers, approximately 70 high school students, and quite a number of volunteers and hired staff. Neah-Kah-Nie School District, Tillamook School District, Nestucca Valley School District and Santiam Canyon School District sent their sixth graders to camp for a week each fall in the last years that TCODS provided yearly camps.

ODS fall 2013 marked the 47th year of Outdoor School in Tillamook County and the 37th year at Camp Meriwether! And the fall of 2013 marked the last year that Moses and TCODS would plan and direct ODS moving into a supportive role housing online resources for camps and serving as an archive of past Outdoor Schools in Tillamook County.

Do you have information about the early history of Outdoor School in Tillamook County? If so, please CONTACT TCODS with your information! Thank you!

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