I Feel Connected to Camp Gray Because…

Around the Region

This summer, OMSI Camp Gray collaborated with the Lincoln County Historical Society to design and install a mural at the Pacific Marine Heritage Center in Newport, Oregon.

Why do you feel connected to a place? Is it because of the people? The land? The experiences? How does this feeling of connection transform into a sense of belonging?

Campers attending OMSI’s Camp Gray are there for a week, the days full of running and digging at the beach, watching birds and seals, following the trails in the dunes and forests, and playing games with cabin mates.

Within each of those activities are needs for acceptance, inclusion, and compassion. When we address these needs intentionally every day with every person, we build a community where everyone belongs.

The Camp Gray whale mural at the Pacific Maritime Heritage Center started as a flat image but grew throughout the summer, gaining texture and complexity with the contribution of every individual that attended Camp Gray. That texture embodies our reflections on this phrase: “I feel connected to Camp Gray because…”

After writing their response on a sheet of origami paper, the campers and staff folded the paper into a barnacle and glued it to the week’s section of our whale. Each barnacle is a connection back to the camp communities we built with each week’s participants. Altogether, nine segments hold 349 campers’ barnacles and the section with the eye is all of the OMSI staff and the guest instructors from partner organizations.

So what are some of the ways our campers feel connected to Camp Gray? A few examples:

“I feel connected because we work together like a team or a big family.”

“I feel connected because Camp Gray is connected to the wild and it feels like home.”

“I feel connected because of all the adventurous things I have done while I was here.”

Want to read inside the barnacles?

Explore the students’ words and read inside each barnacle.

See the barnacle party for yourself!

Visit the Pacific Maritime Heritage Center and ask explore for yourself, how do you feel when you belong?

View our mural with the exhibit The Curious World of Seaweed through October 1, 2023

Thanks to Our Partners

This mural and all the memories these barnacles hold would not be possible without Camp Gray’s connections to the community. Unseen in this mural are partnerships and friends at:

  • Ossies Surf Shop
  • Pacific Northwest College of Art
  • South Beach State Park
  • Yaquina Head Natural Outstanding Area

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