The family of John Hudson, Sr., founder of Ridgefield Cispus Outdoor School, came together with long-time staff and volunteers to honor the 50th anniversary.

The Ridgefield City Council and the Ridgefield School Board both took time late last month to honor the 50th anniversary of the Cispus Outdoor School.

The school board celebrated with a resolution while the city council marked the occasion by proclaiming Cispus Outdoor School Week.

There were also some special guests in attendance. Allene Wodaege, who helped found Cispus with Union Ridge Elementary School in 1969 along with John Hudson Sr., was one of them. Wodaege served as director of Ridgefield Cispus Outdoor School for 25 years.


Allene Wodaege (seated), director of Cispus Outdoor School for 25 years, with former Cispus attendee Sgt. Cathy Doriot and long-time Cispus volunteer, Tevis Laspa.

She spoke at the city council meeting on the importance of Cispus in instilling a real love of nature and learning in our students, according to a press release. Wodaege said she knew four students whose experiences as counselors inspired them to become teachers, including four who now teach in the Ridgefield School District.

Wodaege’s daughter, Carla Bonebrake, was in the very first class of fifth-graders at Cispus. She later served as camp counselor, then worked for 13 years on camp staff. Ridgefield Police Sgt. Cathy Doriot was at Cispus camp as a camper in Bonebrake’s cabin. She still has her wood cookies from camp, she said.

While John Hudson, Sr. has died, Hudson’s brother, son, granddaughters and great-granddaughters all attended the meetings. One of Hudson’s great-granddaughters will be attending Cispus this year during the 50th anniversary.

During the meetings, Superintendent Nathan McCann and Mayor Don Stose recognized the impact Cispus has had on the Ridgefield community, with students, counselors, teachers, administrators, volunteers and others all coming together to build a once-in-a-lifetime event for fifth-grade students each year.

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