By Mati Bishop
Not in 100 years, did anyone think they’d see a cow in the cafeteria of Libby Care Center. Last year, however, activities director Liz Guerra-Camignani brought a cow, chickens, turkeys, goats, and bunnies to the Care Center’s Farm Day and it was just the start of her vision for engaging activities for Care Center Residents.
“We’re gonna do Farm Day again,” says Guerra-Camignani. “Because it was so successful.”
“I have to make sure that I plan with housekeeping this time, because the cow pooped,” she continued.
“The cow pooped, there was goat poop and I was cleaning it up but at the same time I was asking ‘are you guys enjoying yourself’ it was so much fun.”
Word about Farm Day at the Care Center has gotten out and the Libby and Troy 4H clubs have asked to be part of this year’s event. Guerra-Camignani’s goal is to keep getting the word out in our community about fun new things happening at the Care Center, because community involvement is key to her being able to plan new activities for the residents.
“We have a teacher who volunteers to teach Spanish lessons for the residents on Tuesdays,” she said.
“We didn’t know if there would be any interest in Spanish, but now there are three students working with her. The best part is they get to practice with me.”
“We’re also looking for members of the community to volunteer to teach music, cooking, arts and crafts and this summer we are going to open up our courtyard for the residents so we can have gardening.”
The crown jewel of community involvement would be for help providing transportation for the residents so that she can schedule off-campus events.
“Last year we had a fishing day planned but had to cancel because we couldn’t get the transportation,” she lamented.
“I wish there was a way that I could just get a bus that can move the residents. Maybe there is someone in the community who can help with that.”
Guerra-Camignani has not let transportation challenges stop her from experimenting with off-campus adventures.
“We have an outing to Rosauers planned,” she said.
“But our van can only hold one wheel-chair, so we will have to work through that.”
Working through challenges is paramount to a job like activities coordinator at a Care Center. It’s a task that Guerra-Camignani’s Puerto Rican descent and New York City upbringing have helped prepare her for. She describes herself as conservative and she carries herself with a reserved and serious air, until she starts talking about the Care Center residents, then she lights up.
“I love our residents,” she said. “Working with them and our staff is my favorite part of the job. Our main goal as a staff is to be better for our residents. That’s what motivates us.”
As the activities director, her job is essential to creating a community for the residents. It’s community that has made all the difference to her since she met her husband and moved to the area almost eight years ago.
“I wanted to move to the west. I met my husband, came to visit and loved it,” she said. “I loved the mountains and the community is really good here in Troy and Libby.”
Her involvement in the local community has helped her plan activities for the Care Center.
“I know this is a small community, but they have a lot to offer,” she said. “I’m trying to bring the community into Libby Care Center with events like the Baby Snow Angel Contest. In March, we are thinking about doing a pet costume contest.”
“The residents love babies and animals, so why not bring them in here?”
For the past few months Lady, a large golden retriever, has been a regular visitor and become a popular attraction for the residents.
When asked about her accomplishments in her time as activities director, instead of talking about successful events or the addition of a computer for the residents to use, her mind quickly goes to things that have not yet been done.
“There are a lot of things that still need to be worked on,” she says about the Care Center.
“You have to do it a little spoonful at a time. We need more community involvement. Especially young people. We’re working with a couple churches who want to serve their community and that is a good fit for us to find volunteers,” she said.
If you would like to get involved with activities at Libby Care Center please email Liz at lcarmignani@cascadia hc.com.
Top of page: Bertha Fanning shows her surprise during Farm Day at the Care Center here in Libby. Right: Sara Whitehouse and Liz Guerra-Camignani smile for the camera. Photos courtesy of Liz Guerra-Camignani.
Kootenai Nordic and Cross Country Ski Club’s annual Wolf Chase
By Brian Baxter
On Saturday, Feb. 15, our local Kootenai Nordic and Cross Country Ski Club held their third annual Wolf Chase event. Ski and biathlon competitions took place at the Flower Creek Nordic Trails system located at the base of the East Cabinet Mountains and Wilderness area.
A cool, stiff breeze from the southwest lifted the Old Man’s Beard lichen to horizontal positions on tree branches. In the background, to the southwest, the peak of Treasure Mountain at 7,694 feet was socked in by clouds and snow. Down here at South Flower Creek, dads and daughters, moms and sons, dressed in brilliantly colored ski attire, and quietly skied up to the biathlon range about a quarter mile up from the entrance to the ski trails.
It was obvious that the recent wind storms had dropped many trees in the roads leading up to the trails, as well as on the trails themselves. But the club has many dedicated volunteers who help in so many ways.
Event co-organizer Steve Watson said, “A lot of good people help out with this event.” And that was evident from the number of sawed and bucked trees that were cleared off of the trails.
The club seems to have come a long way in the last few years. The mini-lodge and warming hut, along with the out houses seem relatively new and well kept. Volunteer operators run modern style groomers preparing for the events.
When asked about the rifles and shooting coaches, Watson said, “The club owns the .22 long rifle caliber rifles, and the shooting coaches are all volunteers. We also have teams here from Fernie, B.C. and Sandpoint, Idaho.”
Basically, cross country skis are meant for travel across relatively level ground, whereas telemark and alpine touring skis allow for vertical travel. Traditions of Nordic and cross country skiing date back thousands of years. In the northern hinterlands of Scandinavia, early skis have been discovered by researchers. Investigations show that general use of skis were for overall transport and hunting. At Boksta in Balingsta, Uppsala County, Sweden there is an ancient drawing on rock of Ullr, Norse God of Winter and Archery carrying a bow and on skis. The inscribed art is estimated to date back 4,500 years.
In 1924, in Chamonix, France, an older form of military patrol biathlon made its Olympic debut and continued in demonstration in successive Olympic games. The biathlon appeared in its current form in the 1960 Olympics in Squaw Valley, Calif.
The Flower Creek events combine cross country classic technique with sprints and Kings Court formats, free style Nordic skiing, and the biathlon event.
There is always a mandatory safety meeting prior to the event. Guns are provided and there is no experience necessary. Ben Scott, Race Director and former collegiate biathlete, told The Montanian about how the event was named. He said, “Myself and many other Kootenai Nordic Club members have been hearing wolves howl near our courses up Flower Creek at the base of the Cabinet Mountains for several seasons now, so we thought it a good fit.”
The kids from10 to 17 years old had a great time, and every one of them was smiling. The rifle stocks were surprisingly heavy. Some participants had never even fired a rifle before this day. Sharpshooters, beginners, shooting coaches, parents, and onlookers all enjoyed the experience in the beautiful snow covered hills below the Cabinet Mountains.
For more information on Flower Creek Nordic Trails and the club, see their new, modern website at: https://koot enainordic.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interested folks can also call Ben Scott on his cell at 291-8091.
Curiosity led one snowshoe clad individual up into the hills beyond the course after the event and sure enough, there they were. The large canid tracks of what appeared to be a smaller wolf pack. That quiet evening, after all had gone home, they likely were howling to the wild winds.
top: Ben Scott, wearing red and standing in the center, directs shooters on the firing line. Right: Participant Jacinta Howard takes aim. Photos by Brian Baxter, The Montanian