My family stumbled on Columbia Springs one Sunday morning years ago when our boys were very small. What caught our attention was the Vancouver Trout Hatchery, which Columbia Springs shares with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. My little sons were eager to feed the fish in the viewing pond. They were mesmerized watching the fish swim in circles and tussle for food. Walking around the hatchery and then out to Heron Loop Trail we discovered a hidden jewel right in Vancouver city limits.
It’s been over a decade since our first visit and my family has become even more connected to Columbia Springs as time goes on. This organization and its site are parts of my family’s narrative and the sources of many happy memories.
After the Sunday morning visits became a habit, my family started attending Kids Fishing Fest. Going online to get tickets before they sold out was a critical task each spring. One year I didn’t get them in time and there was much unhappiness about it. Now that I work at Columbia Springs, Kids Fishing Fest is very much a part of our family culture still, as my sons volunteer to help.
When my sons were in the fifth grade, they visited Columbia Springs on the field trip program. It was such a popular program with the parents that it was hard to get a chaperone spot on it, but I was able to visit with my older son’s class. On a cold November day, in the pouring rain, I walked these trails and helped at the learning stations as a parent chaperone. It was special to share this memory with my older son, since this was right before he finished grade school and moved on to middle school.
Now that I work at Columbia Springs there are hundreds more memories I have of this place. My sons and husband have planted trees here. We have worked the Registration table at Family Nature Fest. We have sponsored Hooked on Nature, attended Guided Walks, and greeted guests at the Visitor Center. I even took the yearly family photo of my sons and nephews at West Biddle Lake viewing deck.
Columbia Springs is open to you, too. Come visit the site, enjoy the events, and get more involved through volunteerism and charitable giving. Columbia Springs is a welcoming community. It’s a place worth visiting again and again- a space to create memories that last a lifetime.
Finn catching a trout at Kids Fishing Fest, 2016