50 Years of Independence and Adventure at Camp Stand By Me

Black and white image of Dorothy Kellogg writing at a desk.

Thanks to two sisters, Camp Stand By Me has changed the lives of thousands of children and adults with disabilities since 1974. 

Dorothy and Mildred McDermott were raised along the Columbia River in Washington state. In 1904, at just two years old, Dorothy was struck with polio and became paralyzed. 

It would have been easy for Dorothy to feel dispirited - as public-school facilities were not accessible to children with physical limitations - yet, she found joy in many things, including her family, animals and the outdoors.  


From a young age, she spent her time caring for all varieties of farm and domestic animals. Her sister Mildred shared that Dorothy would be seen working and playing in the fields and vegetable gardens, despite her heavy braces and crutches.  


Dorothy moved to Seattle, enrolled in business college and secured part-time secretarial work in 1922. Mildred speaks of what it might have been like for Dorothy to make such a venture in a culture that was not yet as accepting of her challenges, “Adversities merely revealed courage, determination and amazing resiliency… she saw and expressed humor in every situation. What a magnetic quality that is!” 

Dorothy Kellogg in 1933

Dorothy Kellogg in 1933

Dorothy married Harvey Kellogg, a candy maker. Together they opened Dorette Candy Factory in Tacoma. Dorothy’s life was fulfilling. She and Harvey enjoyed the outdoors, their pet dogs and birds, and Dorothy gained more independence as she learned to drive a car and boat with the help of assistive equipment.  


In 1940, The Kellogg's bought 17 acres on Vaughn Bay as a vacation home. They enjoyed the charming old house, farm buildings, and the beautiful bay and views. And at last, Dorothy had room to care for horses –something she always dreamed of.  

The Kellogg vacation home in Vaughn, Washington.

The Kellogg vacation home.

In an old letter, she remarked, "...when walking is difficult and painful, riding a horse is wonderful! Even the slowest walk along the trails gives me a feeling of movement and freedom never known before..."  


Dorothy spent her time in Tacoma and at her Vaughn Bay home until she passed away in 1972. Her sister Mildred inherited the beloved Vaughn Bay property.  


Mildred admired Dorothy’s passion, stating, “Describing my sister’s personality and life is impossible. Shame on me for that admission! ‘Impossible’ is a word she refused to accept in her vocabulary.” Mildred thought the only appropriate and acceptable use of this property was to donate it to Easterseals Washington to be used as a camp facility so that others could have the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors as much as Dorothy once did. Camp Stand By Me opened its doors in 1974. 


Camp Stand By Me has gone on to host thousands of children and adults of all abilities — making memories and changing lives — all because of two sisters’ compassion, and a shared love for one another. 

Black and white image of campers swimming in Vaughn Bay

Girls swimming in Vaughn Bay during one of the first camp sessions.


Two girls smiling, one is holding up a peace sign. The text reads "50 Years of independence and adventure, continue the legacy" There is a "Donate" button on the left.

This year, we're celebrating 50 years of joy and empowerment at Camp Stand By Me. If you're interested in volunteering at camp, making a donation, or creating a team or peer-peer fundraiser, explore how you can help continue the legacy of Camp Stand By Me today! 

Cheers for 50 Years
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