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Tuesday, May 26, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Then and Now: Camp Caro

Jim and Dorothy Caro settled in a little house on Sargent Road in Dishman, Washington, in 1927. Dorothy worked at City Hall, and the family supplemented her income by truck farming. They raised a son and a daughter.

Neighborhood children loved to explore the dusty Dishman Hills behind the Caro house. That may have inspired the Caro family to donate their acreage to the Girl Scouts in the 1940s. They named it Camp Caro. Dorothy was a Girl Scout leader and taught sewing.

Camp Four Echoes on Lake Coeur d’Alene was the Girl Scouts’ main summer camp, but the little camp at Dishman had a lodge building with a stone fireplace where scouts could hold meetings and go on outings to look at native plants and birds.

Jim Caro died in 1956 at age 61.

Camp Caro was shuttered in 1958 after it was repeatedly hit with vandalism and theft. Electric lines were cut away and stolen, the well pump was taken and dishes were smashed. But most disturbing was the random shooting in the surrounding natural area that occasionally made holes in the building. The Girl Scouts returned the gift to Dorothy Caro.

The East Spokane Kiwanis Club stepped up that year to refurbish the building, lease the land and manage its use by community and youth groups.

Dorothy Caro retired in 1960 after 40 years of working at City Hall and at Spokane’s Naval Supply Depot and Fairchild Air Force Base. In retirement, she drove to every state in the continental U.S. and traveled to Europe and the Middle East. She volunteered at her church and for 13 years at Holden Village, a Lutheran retreat center near Lake Chelan.

In 1971, Caro donated the camp land to Redeemer Lutheran Church, where she and her husband were founding members. The church donated the land to Spokane County.

In 1988, the county took down the old lodge and built a log building that can be rented for meetings and weddings. The parking lot was paved and gated. The Caro property is now part of the Dishman Hills Natural Area, a recreation area owned by Spokane County, the Department of Natural Resources and the Dishman Hills Conservancy.

The Rev. Philip Streufert, pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church, said of Dorothy Caro on her 90th birthday, “She’s got lots of energy and determination. She’s a marvelous servant who gives of herself.” She died in 1993 at the age of 94.

– Jesse Tinsley

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