Potlucks, Mouse Traps and More
By Bill Kenney, Eastern Washington Regional Director
Volunteers celebrate elk country at annual Washington State Rendezvous
As RMEF continues to celebrate 32 years of mission work, Washington State volunteers and members came together for the annual summer rendezvous at White Pass, Washington over August 19-21. The event added to the theme of “Growing the RMEF Family” through activities, food and friends, drawing members from all over the state. About 100 people attended, and the exciting part was that many attendees were youth. Bob Munson and Charlie Decker, two of our founding fathers, were also there enjoying the friendship and adding to the comradery.
Washington volunteers rendezvous each year at White Pass Ski Area, 50 miles west of Yakima and just south of Mt. Rainer National Park. Paradise exists at the summit of White Pass. Epic vistas, amazing terrain, and the friendly atmosphere make it the ideal location for RMEF members to gather.
On Friday, dedicated volunteers, led by western state chair Rick Barlin, headed down the mountain to the Oak Creek Wildlife Area. The crew spent the day improving wildlife habitat by thinning trees.
That night an overwhelming majority brought in their favorite dish for the potluck dinner. Awards were given to one dessert and one dinner dish voted upon by participants. Elk stroganoff and raspberry cheesecake were runaway winners. Their recipes will be included in the on-going Washington Rendezvous Recipe Book. Some attendees stayed at the White Pass Village Inn, while others took advantage of the summer weather by camping nearby. The lodge was open for a few hours Friday night for friendly conversation that continued on across the highway to the wee hours at RMEF RV & Camper City.
The feed continued Saturday morning with a second-to-none breakfast served by the White Pass lodge staff. To start the day off, Sherrie Crisp made an informative presentation on the National Archery in the Schools (NASP) program. Elk biologist David Vales then shared his knowledge and experiences from his 30-plus years collaring game animals and restoring elk herds in Yellowstone and Washington. Seminars, demonstrations and other activities gave attendees many choices as to how to spend their day. Geocaching, NASP archery shooting, laser shooting, and a jerky and sausage preparation demonstration provided something for all. Terri Atkinson’s unique blends of spices and rubs tamed the roughest cuts of meats to a delectable treat, and Dr. Bob Margulies’ multiple wilderness survival classes were well worth participants’ time and heavily attended. Attendees of his classes earlier in the day enjoyed seeing a customized survival blanket created during his presentation raise dollars for wildlife. All during the day, attendees also had the chance to purchases raffle tickets for various firearms.
To start the evening festivities, it was time to play games and bid on silent auction items. Items for both the silent and live auction were donated by the RMEF Washington chapters led by eastern state chair Paul Estep. Dinner held true, once again being so good that no one left hungry.
The live auction followed, with many budding auctioneers given their time in the limelight. You could nominate your fellow RMEF member to be an auctioneer, and each nominee had the opportunity to make a donation if they chose not to participate. Charlie Decker stole the show auctioneering off a case of mouse traps. To double the experience, Charlie was allowed to sell the traps a second time. The hot item for the night was several RMEF caps autographed by both RMEF founders Bob Munson and Charlie Decker.
Jesse Taylor’s country music closed the evening with dancing and pure enjoyment. Jesse was quite supportive of RMEF members and thrilled to be back at rendezvous a second time. Attendees danced until the wee hours of the morning.
Sunday morning was time for RMEF news and updates. Marci Stokke gave an update presentation on what’s happening in Missoula. Both Washington state chairs and regional directors updated attendees on RMEF activities. One of the final notes of business was to set August 18-20, 2017 as rendezvous for next year. See you then!