Kipa, Head Ranger at Camp Bennington

Kipa—from the Hawaiian word “ho’okipa” meaning hospitality, friendliness, generosity, and taking care of others—has been an integral part of the Bennington team since 2014. He brought with him his love of kids and the plants and animals that surround the Sunriver area. Kipa was born and raised in the Deschutes National Forest, and eventually adopted by the Bennington family in 2015.

“The biggest moment in my life was when I finally dropped from my birth branch. My life has been nothing but an adventure since that day.”

After graduating from Conifer State University with a degree in ethnobotany and a double minor in hospitality and outdoor recreation, Kipa decided to travel the world. A couple months of life on the road lead him to settle with a family of Cook Pine Trees in the Hawaiian islands, where he first met the Bennington family. While in Hawaii, Kipa worked for the Na Pali-Kona Forest Reserve on the island of Kauai for a few years and as an Environmental Educator for the Hawai'i Nature Center.

After getting the travel bug out of his system, Kipa wanted to return home to Central Oregon. After reaching out to the Bennington family to see if they had any job openings at Bennington Properties, Kipa landed the job of Camp Bennington Head Ranger. To his delight, the Benningtons not only hired him, but welcomed Kipa into their family. He loves having three human brothers, three human sisters, and one canine sister to play with all day.

Kipa is passionate about hospitality, entrepreneurship, and art. When not working at Bennington Properties, he loves to combine two passions by selling humane pine cone bird feeders and pine needle baskets on Etsy. To Kipa, Sunriver is home, complete with constant reminders of growing up here alongside his family. While traveling, Kipa missed Sunriver’s four seasons and endless sunshine.

Kipa likes to show visitors Sunriver’s Aspen Lake, as most people don’t even know it exists. It’s near the Sunriver Nature Center and is one of the best places for wildlife viewing in Sunriver, if not the world! He likes to go early in the morning or late in the evening to see the greatest variety of birds and animals. Kipa wants to remind people to bring their nature journals to capture all the amazing creatures.

“The kids I work with are so much fun, so full of joy, crave adventure, and get so excited about learning. Every time I lead them on a new adventure exploring the history and science of Sunriver, I learn something new myself.”

Most people don’t know that Kipa’s people were originally called “pineapples" before his friends from Hawaii decided they wanted to be called pineapples, too. Kipa and his people needed a new name to differentiate themselves from their tropical friends, so they became “pinecones.”

Kipa's Top Things to Do with Kids

1. Float the Deschutes with his friends at the Sunriver Marina.

2. Visit the Sunriver Nature Center and Oregon Observatory.

3. Explore a Lava Cave with his friends from Wanderlust Tours.

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