PORT ANGELES — If you want to see what joy looks like, watch the people Sharron Sherfick works with.
At Camp Beausite Northwest near Chimacum every summer, Sherfick sees young people basking in delight and diving into all-new experiences.
“Watching the smiles on the kids’ faces when they get to swim for the first time or ride a horse for the first time — that’s the most rewarding thing,” said the camp administrator.
“Administrator” doesn’t fully cover Sherfick’s role in this camp.
She also is an ardent advocate for the program that brings disabled children and adults out to Beausite Lake for a week of summer-camp frolic: outdoor art projects, fishing, horseback riding, swimming, cookouts.
“Our focus is for children with disabilities. I feel they’re the ones who need the most support,” Sherfick said.
“The camp provides much-needed respite care for the families” who can use a break from caring for a son, daughter, brother or sister with a disability.
Camp Beausite, formerly known as the Northwest Kiwanis Camp, has struggled with getting funding in recent years.
“In this economy, a lot of the grants have gone away; donations have gone away,” said Dave Murphy, a Kiwanian and Camp Beausite board member from Port Angeles.
Murphy and Sherfick are inviting would-be supporters to the Peninsula Golf Club for a benefit dinner and silent auction on Saturday.
Tickets to the five-course dinner, which also will feature live music by the band Back by Request, are $50 and must be purchased by Tuesday afternoon.
For details and reservations, phone Murphy at 360-457-4022 or visit Albertsons, 114 E. Lauridsen Blvd., where the Kiwanis Club will have a table set up from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday and Tuesday.
Like Sherfick, Murphy finds the camp experience a rewarding one. He and fellow Kiwanians go out to Beausite Lake to barbecue every week of the camp, which runs from June 28 through July 30.
“The thank-yous you get from the kids, they are genuine,” Murphy said.
The hugs are heartfelt, too, and he’s not the only guy who’s been moved to tears when given one of those.
Murphy invited Port Angeles sculptor Bob Stokes out to the lake some years ago, and the seasoned artist helped the campers learn to paint.
For three summers, Stokes worked on art projects alongside children and adults with cerebral palsy, autism and Down syndrome.
Stokes, touched by the joyful way the campers get into their art, has been organizing fundraising auctions at his downtown Port Angeles art gallery, Studio Bob, ever since.
Together with the Port Angeles Arts Council, Stokes presented the camp board with a check for $1,044.22 from 2011’s auction.
When Murphy tried to thank him, Stokes said no, the gratitude should go to the Kiwanians for inviting him out in the first place.
At Saturday’s dinner — a feast of roasted basil chicken, roasted asparagus, scalloped potatoes or rice pilaf, spring greens salad and bread pudding with warm bourbon sauce — a silent auction will offer gifts from many other local business people.
Port Angeles portrait photographer Ernst-Ulrich Schafer has donated a $200 package.
Blake Sand & Gravel gave a truckload of driveway gravel.
Native American art and a handmade garden bench also are among the silent auction items, as is a round of golf for four players at the Peninsula Golf Club.
Murphy thanked the donors for their gifts, given despite the current less-than-flush economic conditions.
“The dinner will be fantastic,” he added, “and the ambience is great” when people get together to support a summer camp for kids and adults who otherwise couldn’t take part in such a thing.
To learn more about the summer 2012 camp, visit www.kiwaniscamp.com, phone 360-732-7222 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
________Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3550 or at email@example.com.