General News

Star Talk for June

June 2023

As in May, Venus continues as the dominant bright light in the evening sky this month (other than the moon). Just look to the
west at sunset and it’s easy to see! Venus will be about 50% illuminated early in the month. By the end of June, Venus will be
in a crescent phase about 25% illuminated, but because it’s then closer to the earth, it’s diameter will appear to increase and
it’s brightness won’t diminish! You’ll need a pair of strong binoculars to see the phases of Venus, but you can do so by
stabilizing your binos on a post or on a car.

Here are some other June sights. All are at night except for the event on June 14.

Early in June: Venus will be seen near the Beehive star cluster (M44) and reddish Mars will be nearby. Both the star cluster
and Mars are considerably dimmer than Venus!

June 12 & 13: Venus passes just north of M44. It will be a great sight in binoculars; strong magnification would be helpful.

June 14: The waning crescent moon and Jupiter rise together in the very early morning, before sunrise. There are only two
degrees that separate the two. Both will be easily seen together in a pair of binoculars.

June 21: The lunar crescent will form a nice right triangle with Venus and Mars after sunset.

June 22: The moon “visits” the constellation of Leo the Lion. The moon will be about 5 degrees (the width of your fist at
arm’s length) to the right (east) of Regulus, the brightest star in Leo.
The constellation of Bootes is fun to find in the night sky all month long. It will be high in the sky. The last three stars in the
handle of the big dipper “arc” toward the bright star Arcturus, the brightest star in Bootes. Arcturus is also the fourth
brightest star in our entire sky and the brightest one visible right now. Arcturus in one of the large stars in the night sky, but
it’s diameter is much smaller than that of Antares, that is also visible in tonight’s sky.

Antares is a Giant Red star in Scorpius, with a diameter that is considerably bigger than the orbit of Mars. See the pictorial
below to compare the sizes of our sun, Arcturus, and Antares. Antares has a definite reddish hue and will be low in the
southern sky.

The constellation of Bootes, with it’s bright star Arcturus is shown below. Arcturus was known as the “Guardian of the bear”
in Greek mythology.

General News

A Message from Our Founder

May 31, 2023

Dear Friends of Camp Blue Spruce:

With gratitude, I want to share some exciting news. At the end of this summer’s overnight camp, and after a long career working for mission-driven organizations, I have decided it is time to step back, relax, and find new adventures. This is the right time to retire both for me personally and for the organization.

As we look for my successor, with the goal of ensuring a seamless transition, the Board of Directors has formed a search committee and retained a consultant this summer to navigate these next steps.  I will collaborate with our team as they begin a robust search and organizational assessment. I look forward to seeing Camp Blue Spruce continue to thrive and grow with the support of our staff, volunteers, community partners, and contributors like yourself.

After more than ten years, we have accomplished so much together. Camp Blue Spruce has transformed to be more than a “fun place for canoeing, games and arts & crafts where kids with food allergies can eat.” It is also a safe space, where kids who are often excluded, can be their true selves, gain independence, and belong. I will always carry the stories of the families we’ve touched and the children whose lives we’ve changed in my heart.

Many thanks to all of you for your devotion, inspiration, and compassion. Your commitment to our community, Camp Blue Spruce, and to me, both professionally and personally, has meant so much. I am especially grateful to my family for their hard work, support and love.

What started with 27 campers for just one week has turned into two weeks of overnight camp, welcoming more than 150 kids. It has been thrilling to witness shy, 9-year-old campers mature and become young adult camp counselors who provide the same support and mentorship that they once received as children. Additionally, the reach of our organization has expanded to connect youth living with food allergies from all over the United States and Canada.

As a parting wish, I ask that you consider contributing to Camp Blue Spruce in celebration of the important work that our community has performed during my tenure, as well as supporting children and families in the future. Please donate to the Rudy Fund and help change children’s lives. We are busy preparing to make this summer’s camp the best camp ever. This fund will help children to enjoy the best camp ever for many more years to come.

Leading this organization has been an honor and the highlight of my career. It has been fulfilling to give my child and so many others the camp experience that meant so much to me. I’m privileged to have worked alongside you and am leaving at a time when Camp Blue Spruce is positioned for a bright future. I appreciate your many kindnesses, enthusiastic generosity and friendship and I hope you’ll continue – as I will – to be an active supporter and contributor.

See you around the campfire!

With great appreciation,

Louise Tippens

“Rudy Rutabaga Riversong”

Founder & Executive Director


General News


May, 2023

by Astronomer Jim

Star chart from Orion Telescopes website

Bright Venus is the dominant bright light in the evening sky this month (other than the moon). Just look to the west at sunset and it’s easy to see! Venus will be about 60% illuminated throughout the month (60% of it is visible) as it goes various phases, just like the moon. As the planets inside Earth from the sun, we only see Mercury and Venus go through moon-like phases. However, strong binoculars are needed to see Venus’s phases and a telescope is needed to see the phases of Mercury.

Bright Venus is the dominant bright light in the evening sky this month (other than the moon). Just look to the west at sunset and it’s easy to see! Venus will be about 60% illuminated throughout the month (60% of it is visible) as it goes various phases, just like the moon. As the planets inside Earth from the sun, we only see Mercury and Venus go through moon-like phases. However, strong binoculars are needed to see Venus’s phases and a telescope is needed to see the phases of Mercury.

Here are some other celestial events this month:

May 6: In the early morning hours, before daylight, the Aquariid meteor shower will occur. The moon being bright in the sky, the meteors will be hard to see, but some should be visible! Possibly some can be seen before midnight on May 5th. Remember, meteors are chunks of rock that are orbiting around the sun and when the earth smashes into one, the meteor becomes visible and plummets down through our atmosphere. When there are lots of chunks all in a small area (likely left by a comet), then we have a meteor shower.

 May 15: Mars is far dimmer than Venus, but visible in the early evening, low on the western horizon. On May 15th, during evening twilight, Mar will be visible close Pollux and Castor, the two brightest stars in Gemini (see the star chart). The three will form a “straight line” that will make all three easier to see; all three will be of similar brightness.

On May 24th: The moon’s crescent will be near the Beehive star cluster (discussed last month) and the moon. Binoculars will easily see the stars in the “Beehive.”

Star depictions from Sky and Telescope Magazine
Star depictions are from Sky and Telescope magazine

Mary 17th: A fun highlight is an “occultation” of Jupiter by the moon. Just before sunrise, at about 4:52 am PDT (but I suggest that you start looking at least 5 minutes in advance of that time), Jupiter will disappear behind the moon! Sunrise will occur at 5:27 am and Jupiter will reappear on the other side of the moon at 5:28 am. With binoculars, you can see Jupiter appearing to approach the side of the moon. Of course, they are never close at all because the moon is circling the earth the entire time and both are over 400 million miles from Jupiter!

On May 23rd: There will be a very interesting configuration that will include two planets, the moon, and two bright stars. Mars will still be aligned almost straight across from Pollux and Castor, but now in between Mars and Pollux will be a crescent moon, and below the moon will be a very bright Venus. This will be a very grand sight in binoculars!

General News

Star Talk for April 2023

April is another good month to see bright stars in bright constellations. Leo the Lion is now front and center, due south after dusk is over. Orion and Gemini are still visible, but first Orion and then Gemini will be setting early in the night in the west.

A favorite sight that is easily visible in binoculars is the “Beehive Star Cluster” in the constellation of Cancer. Find the head of Leo and then move your binocs a few degrees to the west—you’ll see the Beehive! (see below photo). The Beehive contains 1,000 stars and is about 500 light years distant from us (each light year is 6 trillion miles!). In 1609, Galileo used his small “first telescope” to look at the Beehive and was able to identify 40 stars. A fun fact: We always call Galileo by his first name, although most famous people are called by their last names (except for Galileo, Elvis, and a few others!).

The head of Hydra, the monster, is located in the sky below the torso of Leo the Lion . Use the below star chart to find Leo and then you can find Hydra’s head below Leo. Hydra is the very largest constellation (we have 88 constellations in total), although from our latitude, it’s hard to see much of it except for the top part. Plus, it’s stars are dim—it’s brightest is only 2nd magnitude, the same brightness as Polaris, the North Star. Hydra is a mythological figure comprised of a snake, a lion, and a bird—but it looks mostly like a snake! 

beehive cluster
They Hydra “monster”
Hydra and other dim constellations
  • Late evening of April 9th: If you look hard you will see that the moon is only ½-degree away from Antares, the brightest star in the constellation of Scorpius. Antares is a “red giant,” with a diameter the size of the orbit of Mars!
  • April 10th & 11th: Venus is positioned very close the Pleiades star cluster.
  • Late night of 22nd and early morning of the 23rd: The Lyrid meteor shower can put on a display of lots of meteors, but typically they are faint and require a dark site. As always with meteor observing, it’s best to do so as late in the night as possible. And the very best is about 4:00 AM when it’s still dark outside, because at that time, your position on earth is rotating into the arriving meteors!
Star Chart, April 2023

Camp Q & A

These questions were asked the Camp Info Session held on 3/6/23. Please contact Jake at or call 503-726-8886 if you have any questions!

How many kids are in each cabin?

  • Each cabin has 5-7 campers and there are bunk beds in each cabin. Each cabin building also has its own bathroom.

Can we send our camper mail?

  • Mail is great and loved by campers. It can be dropped off along with your camper at camp

What age do they have to be a counselor? My kid is 17 and a Teen Mentor with the Allergy Pals.

  • 18

Can you talk about the Counselor in Training program? What age do you have to be?

  • Counselors In Training is an amazing course. It is for teens entering their senior year or who are 17 and are ready to take on more of a leadership role. Each morning they gather as a group for learning sessions and follow a curriculum covering things like group facilitation, conflict management, etc. In the afternoons, they put their training into action. In the evening they have reflection time to consider what they’ve learned.

How old do you have to be to be in TXC?

  • The Teen eXplorer Camp is for teens entering 9th grade in September 2023.

Are you able to serve picky eaters?

  • Meals are served buffet style so campers can choose what they would like to eat from the offerings. Counselors will also keep an eye on campers, especially at the beginning of the week to make sure all campers and especially picky eaters are getting enough to eat

How are campers supervised?

  • Every cabin has at least one counselor within the cabin and campers are never left unattended

Is there any sort of hand washing protocol after meals/snacks in place?

  • Hands are to be washed or wiped before and after meals

What do you do about bugs and mosquitos?

  • we recommed campers bring bug wipes for mosquitos in the evening, but thankfully they have never been an issue (I personally don’t even wear bug spray). There have been bees, but we talk about safe practices around bees and Brad (one of the campsite owners) will hang bee traps immediately where we see bees. The new dining hall should also alleviate the bee issue since we will no longer being outside where the bees smell the food

Do campers sleep co-ed?

  • No – they will stay in gender-segragated cabins and will be placed with the gender in which they identify.

Do the counselors have food allergies?

  • Many of our counselors have allergies and became involved as campers!

Will there be photos for the parents?

  • yes! we do out best to capture all the best moments and photos. There are also photos shared on the facebook group throughout the camp week

Dates we should arrive in Portland

  • If you are in for week 1, arrival at camp will be early afternoon on August 7th and departure will be morning of August 12th. If you are in week 2, arrival at camp will be early afternoon on August 14th, and pickup will be the morning of August 19th. If you are flying, many families like to come into Portland the Sunday night before check-in and depart after 3:00 PM on Saturday to allow for plenty of time to get to the airport.

Is there a packing list?

  • Yes, you will get a packing list from me this summer via email! probably late June/early July

Do you know the percentage of campers have celiac?

  • Roughly 20%!

If we have siblings in the same camp can we stay in the same cabin?

  • If they are in the same age group, yes. If not, they will be in different cabins but can see each other during program block and meals

Is there air conditioning in the cabins?

  • There is not air conditioning in the cabins, but the Oregon mountains are lovely and it really cools down at night.

Is there a place to change clothes privately?

  • Shared bathrooms with single showers and bathroom stalls, so you do have some privacy.

How many kids will be at camp?

  • We have around 90 for our first week and looking to have at least 60 for our second week!

Does staff remind campers about drinking water, using sunscreen, etc?

  • Absolutely!

Do campers sleep on bunk beds or twin beds?

  • Bunks

I’ve applied to volunteer- when do we find out if needed?  If selected, where do we stay?

  • Stay on site – you will find out in the next couple of months!

Sheets provided or do they need to bring sheets/sleeping bags?

  • no sheets or blankets provided so we recommend campers bring a sleeping bag or blankets and a sheet to cover the mattress.

What are the safety measures around swimming?

  • The kids are required to wear life vests at the pond at all times and have to pass a swim test for the pool, but don’t have to wear a life vest at the pool. Camp Tapawingo lifeguards are at the waterfront at all times.

Are there formal background checks of all staff?

  • Yes!