Four Winds Blog

Welcome to the Four Winds Blog. In the past, this blog has really only been active in the summer, when Paul Sheridan, Four Winds' Director, has posted weekly updates. Paul is going to continue to do that in this space, and for those that are interested, we're going to occasionally post things in the off-season. Enjoy!

An end to Junior Session, and the summer

Greetings from Hilltop. We’re all in a bit of a haze after a wonderful Junior Session. As I’ve said many times, camp tends to warp one’s sense of time, and the end of a session, and of the summer, definitely sneaks up on a person. But, we’re all thankful for a fantastic Junior Session. The campers did an excellent job of stepping off into a new adventure, making new friends, trying new things, navigating a new culture, and using different supports than the ones they do at home.

Last night, we had a beautiful Evening Fire. If I’m telling the truth, our programming in Junior Session tends to be a little more high energy and a little less on the contemplative side when compared to our four-week sessions. The reality of younger kids and a shorter session is that the best way to give them a good experience is to keep them moving. But it wouldn’t be a Four Winds experience without Evening Fire. It’s perhaps our oldest tradition, starting from the very beginning in 1927. In Camp’s early days, it was the only evening activity, done every night. For decades now, we’ve had Evening Fire on Sundays during our four-week sessions and on the last night of each session, including Junior Session. We gather in the Lodge, share music and poetry, and read boons (notes of thanks and appreciation that campers and staff write). Like many Four Winds traditions, when you explain the mechanics of the tradition, it seems very simple, but when you’re there to experience it, it’s quite powerful. Last night was no different. I was very impressed with the campers’ ability to both perform at Evening Fire and also be good members of the audience. At the end, we continued a special, Junior Session only tradition, floating boats made of driftwood in Four Winds Bay, with candles atop them, as the campers and counselors sang camp songs, and eventually the Good Night Song, in the Amphitheater. It was a lovely end to the evening, the session, and the summer.

As I write this, travel day is happening. The campers picked up at camp and in Anacortes are already with their families. For families picking campers up at Woodland Park in Seattle, or at Seatac Airport, our bus is running a bit late due to delayed ferries. Our current arrival time is estimated at 12:20 PM at Woodland Park and 1:15 PM at Seatac. Campers that we are putting on flights as Unaccompanied Minors are all on track to make their flights. Please call us at the office if you have questions or concerns.

I hope that your campers are already talking about returning to Four Winds next summer, either for Junior Session or one of our four-week sessions. Registration from 2019 is already open, log in to your parent account at fourwindscamp.org/login, click on “Registration Form,” select the 2019 season, and you’re on your way. Returning campers are guaranteed enrollment until November 30, so there’s no real rush, but some families like to take care of it while it’s at the top of mind. We’ll send our reminders and so forth in the fall, but please do pay attention to that November 30 deadline. For the last several years, all three of our sessions have filled immediately after that deadline, and we have no reason to expect that it will be different this year. Please also be aware that we have a two year limit on Junior Session because it is intended as an introduction for families considering one of our four-week sessions, as opposed to a stand-alone program. If you’d like to have detailed discussions about best choices for next year, we are available (though probably after catching our breath).

Thank you, once again, for sharing your children with us. They were so much fun to have at Camp this week and carried on the spirit of adventure and delight that we celebrate here at Four Winds. We hope to see them all back next summer!

Posted by Paul Sheridan on August 28, 2018 at 11:47 am.

Having a ball at Junior Session

Greetings from Hilltop. Midway through Junior Session, the campers are having a fantastic time. Campers are diving into this experience with gusto. As I predicted in my first blog post, these campers are naturally gravitating to the old-fashioned that’s our specialty here at Four Winds, and it’s a marvelous time.

As I write this, the campers are in the middle of Pirate Day. Pirate Day is the Junior Session sized version of Gypsy Day. While it’s shorter (a half day instead of a full one) and a bit simpler, the idea is the same. The campers were surprised at announcements, under the ruse of heading off to afternoon activities, when the Carlyn staff, dressed up as pirates, kidnapped me, our Assistant Director Danielle, and our Head Counselor Mairead. The campers are currently training up on their pirate skills: learning to dodge (cannon)balls, singing sea shanties, completing a piratey obstacle course, and coming up with pirate jokes. Later on this afternoon, hopefully, they’ll convince the Carlyn staff that piracy doesn’t have to involve kidnapping, and Danielle, Mairead and I will be freed. In the meantime, your humble camp director is taking the time to get the midweek blog post done. It’s a great afternoon, and these campers are always game to play.

For those of used to the rhythms of a four-week session, Junior Session goes quickly. We’re already at the halfway point. Tomorrow’s another full day of classes, and then Monday we only have a half day because we have to pack in the afternoon. It flies by. But for the campers themselves, this experience is beyond significant. For many, it’s their first time away from home, from the places and supports that they’re used to. They’re navigating this new place, with new supports, learning its customs, doing things that might make them a little nervous at first (riding a horse, jumping into cold water, performing in front of a group), and they have successes every day. No one has done the research to prove it, but I believe firmly that children that have such opportunities will seize others as they grow up. They’ll be more willing to step up to a new challenge, take a risk, or shoulder a responsibility. Particularly if they continue with one of our four-week sessions or other, bigger independent opportunities as they move through childhood, how much more ready will they be to navigate that first year of college, with its roommates, challenges, and independence?

I think you all know my answer, but for now, I’ll get off my high horse. These campers don’t love camp because Paul thinks it’s good for them. They love it because it’s fun. And fun has been had in droves. In addition to Pirate Day, each cabin has already been to each activity area at least once (they’ll go to each one two or three times total). About half have already had their sail on Carlyn. We’ve had Capture the Chicken (like capture the flag, but with a rubber chicken, and on the sports field instead of all over camp as do in our four-week sessions) and Sports Night for evening activities. Tonight, we’ll have Moonraker (silly songs and skits on Moonraker Point – always a Junior Session highlight).

I look forward to spending these remaining days with this wonderful, playful, enthusiastic kids. They’re just great. Thank you for sending them this week. I’ll post here one last time as the campers are on their way home on Tuesday. Until then, be sure to follow our daily updates on Twitter.

Posted by Paul Sheridan on August 25, 2018 at 4:07 pm.

Junior Session Has Begun!

Greetings from Hilltop. Junior Session has begun, and we’re off to a great start. All campers have arrived safely. About 4 hours ago, our chartered boat entered Four Winds Bay, to the cheers of the counselors and the campers who had been dropped off by their parents. The campers ran up Greenie Hill to meet their counselors and cabinmates, and another amazing Junior Session had begun. Once all campers were here, cabin groups went to their cabins for a bit to get to know each other and their space, play a few games and learn names. At flags, each cabin introduced themselves with a little skit. We had a lovely dinner of salad and pasta, and then met on the stairs for a few songs and announcements. After that, the campers went back to cabins to unpack, and as I write this, they’re moving towards bed.

Already, these campers are diving right into the spirit of camp. There are lots of questions, lots of exploring, lots of being silly, and lots of fast friendships being formed. In short, they’re kids being kids. It never ceases to amaze me that, in this modern age, with so many technological wonders available to entertain children, how attracted kids still are to playing with sticks, or climbing up into a treehouse, or imaginative play, or throwing stones into the water. The only explanation of that phenomenon that makes any sense to me for is that there is something deep in children’s inherent natures that is attracted to these timeless pastimes. Those simple pleasures will be on full offer this week.

Of course, we do have a few campers who are experiencing homesickness. We’ll help them through it. We’re not afraid of homesickness at Four Winds. I sort of wish change the name. It’s not a virus; it’s a perfectly natural feeling. Kids tend to feel things more intensely than adults, and of course, have less experience managing this particular emotion than adults do, so it’s a challenge for some of them, but an age appropriate and necessary one. There’s no better place to overcome that hurdle than camp. If you’re nervous about homesickness, I highly recommend the book Homesick and Happy, by Dr. Michael Thompson. It’s an excellent read for parents while your kids are at Camp, giving you a better sense of what they’re experiencing. And, if the ideas in the book appeal to you, it’s very likely that your ideas about what a camp experience should be are well in line with what we practice at Four Winds. If your child’s homesickness is persistent or severe, we’ll give you a call to check in, and you are welcome to call us as well to ask for an update. Our office staff will likely need to check in with your child’s counselor and call you back, but we’re happy to do it.

In addition to that, I will tweet once a day at twitter.com/fourwindscamp, updating you on what’s going on. You don’t need to join Twitter to get the updates; you can just go to the website. If you want to get notifications on your phone, you can text the phrase “follow fourwindscamp” to the number 40404, and you’ll get the updates by text message. I’ll also blog here on Saturday, and when the campers are on their way home on Tuesday.

We’re looking forward to a great week up here on Orcas. These campers will get a taste of what it’s like to be a Four Winds camper at our month-long sessions. They’ll try each of our activity areas (the Barn, the Dock, the Craft Courts, Land Sports, and the Garden) two or three times, they’ll get a half day sail on Carlyn, our 61′ yawl, they’ll try several of our well-loved evening activities, learn songs, make great friends, and play. We’re so excited to go on this journey with them.

Posted by Paul Sheridan on August 22, 2018 at 8:31 pm.

Second Session – one for the ages

Greetings from Hilltop. Second Session is over, and it was extraordinary. As I write this, many campers are already with their parents. For those that are still traveling, travel day is going smoothly. There are a few minor flight delays, but nothing out of the ordinary. The staff have been working since the campers left to get the place squared away for Junior Session for some parts of camp and winter for others. They’re just starting a very well earned evening off, to be followed by more cleaning and our staff banquet tomorrow. As is usual on this day, camp feels eerie. The missing energy of our two hundred or so campers, CTs, and Helping Hands is palpable. For four weeks, they filled this place with laughter, song, friendship, and joy. Even now, you half expect to hear them as you walk down towards the Lodge. Next year.

Last night, we had a wonderful Evening Fire. As is our custom on the last night, it was extra long, both to allow time for all those that wanted to share, and also for all of us, to allow for the feelings to build and develop. At the end, there were many tears. Despite my own admitted need for a short break before Junior Session and a long one after that, I was sad to see this session end as well. I told the campers something I believe firmly: That even if it were possible for Camp to be our lives year round, it wouldn’t be as good if it were. The whole thing works because we come together for this period, which is long when compared to other summer camps but short in the grand scheme of things, create something special, and then go back to our regular lives for the year. The fact that it’s temporary is part of what makes it great. The feelings of sadness at camp ending wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t something very special, and so while the sadness can be real, it can also be appreciated in its way.

That brings me to another camp phenomenon of which you should be aware. When campers go back to what we call the real world, there’s often a period of decompression of sorts. Camp is an intense, immersive experience, and getting back into the normal routines of life often takes a few days. Every camper will express it in different ways: Sleep, lots of time on devices talking to camp friends, either coming forth with lots of camp stories or withholding them a bit are all common. Rest assured, your camper will adjust quickly, except, perhaps, they might be a little more confident, show a bit more initiative, or even offer to clear the table after dinner (they’ve been doing it here for four weeks, after all).

I hope your camper is already talking about next summer, and you may be interested to know that registration for summer 2019 is already available. We reserve spots for returning campers until November 30, so there’s no real rush, but many families like to take care of it when Camp is at the front of mind. We will send out reminders and so forth, but we do encourage you to mind that November 30 deadline. For the last several years, all three of our sessions filled on December 1, and we have no reason to believe it will be different next year. You can find that registration form by logging into your parent account at fourwindscamp.org/login, clicking on “Registration Form,” selecting the 2019 season, and filling out the form.

Thank you for sharing your children with us this summer. I know that it’s a sacrifice in time, money, and stress of separation. I strongly believe that it’s worth it, and believe that you’ll see the benefits in your children both now and over the coming months. I hope to see as many of them as possible back next summer.

Posted by Paul Sheridan on August 19, 2018 at 5:29 pm.

Final Carlyn Blog Post of 2018

This past week has gone by incredibly fast! The saying is true, time flies by when you’re having fun! We had so many wonderful experiences and saw some incredible sights.

On the 10th, we went to Pulton Bay, which is the summer home for previous camp members, Tyndall and Ayja. Their property was incredible and we are so grateful to them for allowing us to visit. We spent time kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding, and swimming at the gorgeous lake that they had. The water was fresh and warm which we all loved. That night, we had a delicious pasta dinner and enjoyed a movie about a sailing adventure entitled Captain’s Courageous. The next day was rainy, so we spent the day playing games, watching movies, and enjoying hot drinks.

On the 12th, we left for Campbell River, our final stop before returning back to camp. We did our usual chores, cleaning the boat, doing laundry, and grocery shopping, before taking much needed showers. Then we had a lovely dinner at Moxie’s Classic Grill and dessert at A&W. We then returned to the boat to sleep before an eventful next day. On the 13th, we went into town for a few hours and returned to the boat for lunch and to discuss the rest of the day. We ended up visiting Campbell River Aquarium where we saw local sea life and afterwards, got ice cream. We then played a sailing review game and discussed our 24 hour watches.

The watches were divided into three different groups, each taking four hour shifts. We left Campbell River around 6:30 and the first watch started at eight and went until twelve. We were sailing in the most challenging condition of the trip, navigating in the dark with waves at 3 foot, which made some of us seasick. But we all powered through and anchored in a bay the next day around eight p.m.

On the 15th, we departed our anchorage for our final day of sailing. We sailed for about seven hours before arriving at Friday Harbor to check into customs. We then left for Deer Harbor to refuel and empty the tanks, and sailed for half an hour before arriving back at camp! We got back around eight, after Talent No Talent (the evening activity) had already begun, but we were planning to make our entrance by performing at Talent No Talent and surprise everyone since we arrived a day earlier than expected. When the lights were out, Africa by Toto started to play and we all came out slowly dancing during the introduction and the first verse. The lights came on during the chorus and we all sang while everybody cheered. We did, however, change the lyrics to “I bless the rains up in Canada”. We all counted it as a successful and iconic entrance.

We had such an amazing trip and I think I speak for all of us when I say that it was a once in a lifetime experience that we all are grateful to have been a part of. We had so much fun and made so many memories. We have so many jokes and have made new friends and while we are sad the trip is over, we are also excited to experience the last three days of the session with the rest of camp.

-Ingrid Gruber, Carlyn Crew 2018

Posted by Paul Sheridan on August 17, 2018 at 12:01 pm.

Could it really be only a week left?

Greetings from Hilltop. It’s another lovely Sunday on Orcas Island. It’s a bit gray today, and while we’ll be happy to see the sun when it comes back in due course, the overcast comes with a welcome dip in the temperature. As I’ve said before on this blog, Sundays are some of my favorite days at Camp. The time to slow down, change up the schedule, and have the space to pause, reflect, and serve are rejuvenating.

Today at Sunday Assembly, Drifter led us and chose the topic of forgiveness (along with its corollary, apologizing). It was an appropriate topic for the Sunday leading into our final week. It’s going to take a second, but I’d like to try to explain why that is.

I’m often in the position of explaining the difference between a four-week camp experience and a shorter, one or two-week experience. Of course it’s longer, but it’s not just longer. What I’m often trying to explain is the nature of that difference, beyond simple length. I’m often saying things like, “In camp, the difference between a one-week and four-week experience is a lot more than four times one,” which makes sense to me, but probably doesn’t convey the point. The best I’ve come up with is that in a four-week camp experience, there’s time to make a friend, have a fight, and make up again.

That’s why forgiveness and apology were such a great topic today. If that last step is going to happen, then forgiveness and apology need to happen. That’s usually not easy. Good apologies require vulnerability, and a willingness to let go of all the reasons you might think you’re justified. Forgiveness involves trust that one might not quite feel yet. For campers to be practicing those things, thinking about them, and talking about them here at camp is a truly extraordinary thing. And, if there’s something that these campers should apologize for or forgive, now is the time. There’s only a week left.

The last week has been remarkable. On Monday night, we had Craftapalooza, a night of creativity on the Craft Courts. Tuesday brought Gypsy Sisters and Swamp Chomp lunches and Capture the Chicken in the evening. Wednesday was a big day, with much preparation all day for the Seniors leaving on trips, and a Folk Dance in the evening. The Seniors departed on their trips on Thursday. That adventure is a fantastic opportunity for them, where some of the best camp memories are made. It also leaves a different vibe back here in camp for the Juniors and Intermediates, and we’ve taken advantage of it. We had Sports Night on Thursday. On Friday, we had Moonraker, followed by a sleepout on the sports field. Yesterday, we had Burger Bar, always a favorite for the Juniors and Intermediates during Senior Trips. The Heads team gave the kitchen staff the night off, dressed themselves and the lodge up in a theme (High School Musical, complete with choreography), and cooked burgers, fries and shakes for the camp. Each cabin and tent dressed up in their own theme, which they presented at flags. For evening activity, we have our one bit of technology for the session, a movie projected onto a sail in the Boat Barn. In this case, it was Moana, and very well received.

As we go into this last week, there is much in store. The Seniors will return, bringing renewed energy back into our community. We will all start to collectively realize that our time together is short, and so will all start to value that time a little more dearly. There will be adventures, gypsy jewelry ceremonies, celebrations, and long talks looking out over the water. All of that together adds up to why people say this place is magical. I can’t wait to be a part of it. Thank you, as always, for sharing your children with us.

Posted by Paul Sheridan on August 12, 2018 at 2:57 pm.

Carlyn update from Pulton Bay, Quadra Island, BC

These last few weeks have gone by so quickly, and it is absolutely shocking to say that we have been sailing on the Carlyn for over two weeks now! I have a good feeling I can speak for everyone by saying that this trip so far has been absolutely incredible- in so many different ways. Friendships have been rekindled, new friendships have been made, and so many incredible sights have been seen.

After Princess Louisa Inlet, we headed to Powell River. We arrived early that day (Friday, August 3), and docked next to this huge, 91-foot fishing boat called the Curve of Time. We started our chores, which consisted of cleaning the boat, doing laundry, and grocery shopping. Once our chores were over, we got to do what I think most of us were looking forward to- showers! When showers finished, we all went to dinner together and had our evening meeting, where we talked about how the next day would include heading into town in the morning, and then heading off to Galley Bay. Galley Bay, in my opinion, was absolutely gorgeous, with a beautiful sunset, view of the mountains, and tons of bioluminescence.

After our overnight stop at Galley Bay, we then headed off to Tenedous Bay. It was a short sail, and we arrived in nearly two hours. On an island in Tenedous Bay, about an eight minute walk inland leads you to a lake. The water was extremely warm, and everyone had so much fun swimming in the lake, that we decided to come back the next morning before leaving for Toba Inlet.

Toba Inlet was one of the highlights of the trip for me so far. We stayed the night at Wilderness Marina, where we were welcomed by the owner, her daughter, and her daughter’s friend. The two girls were near our age (one thirteen and one fifteen), and they were kind enough to show us the best swimming spot at the marina, and joined us for a swim as well. The water was so warm and so clear, and was simply amazing to be swimming in. The rest of the day at Wilderness included a short walk up to a waterfall. When we woke up the next morning, greeted by the clear water, we went for a short hike up to a viewpoint. It was high up, but you could see almost everything from there, and it was 100% worth the uphill hike.

After Toba Inlet, we headed off to Walsh Cove. We anchored in Walsh Cove and the next morning headed off to Octopus Islands. We spent the rest of the day hanging out with one another- reading, writing letters, and playing poker. We needed a good nights sleep, not knowing that the next day was Gypsy Day! The campers were woken up by song, and were welcomed into the Cockpit by many knots and Four Winds Westward Ho flags. Once breakfast was over, we played a game. We were split into four groups. Three of the groups were put on different islands, essentially “stranded,” and the fourth group had to come and rescue them. Once our game was over, we had the Carlyn version of Gypsy Court, and spent the rest of the day swimming , playing more games, writing letters, and of course, appreciating camp and all it does for us.

The rest of the trip has yet to happen, but everyone is having a great time, enjoying the experience and making the most of the time we have on the Carlyn.

-Molly Seneker, Carlyn Crew 2018

Posted by Paul Sheridan on August 10, 2018 at 9:55 pm.

In a time warp

Greetings from Hilltop. It’s another glorious Sunday afternoon here at Four Winds. The campers are all at the barn, enjoying our Sunday afternoon activity, Country Fair. They’re bobbing for apples, visiting the fortune teller, racing in sacks, and braiding horses’ tails. It’s another beautiful, sunny day. All is well on this little corner of Orcas Island.

About midway through the session, we’re in a bit of a time warp. On the one hand, it feels like we’ve always been here and will always be here. On the other, arrival day seems very recent, and as we look at the calendar ahead, we know the remainder of camp will fly by. Camp has that ability to warp one’s sense of time. I’ve heard camp people say before that the days here are slow, but the weeks are fast. I think it comes from the fact that at Camp, we tend to focus on the here and now. The worries of the outside world seem to fade away, and what we’re most concerned about is what’s going on with this group. We’re focused on planning a friend’s gypsy jewelry ceremony, on finishing a project in the craft courts, practicing for tonight’s Evening Fire, or on planning an upcoming trip. All the concerns of the outside world seem distant.

I’m always inclined to remind campers and staff that while they should enjoy that time warp, they shouldn’t allow themselves to forget that our time here together is precious. Having done this for a long time, and carrying around my boringly responsible adult mindset, I know that the rest of camp will go quickly. The markers are all there. On Thursday, the seniors will leave on their six-day trips. That will be a great adventure for them, and in camp, things will change up in terms of atmosphere for the juniors and intermediates. It will be over in the blink of an eye. When the seniors return, we’ll be into our final series of evening activities, the Carlyn will return, and before we know it, camp will be over.

My concerned hectoring of the campers to make the most of their experience is probably not necessary in any case. Even if they’re not doing so with checklists and planners, these campers know instinctively what to do. They’re enjoying every moment, deepening their friendships, having a ball in their activities, and fully living the spirit of Four Winds. This session so far has been wonderful, and I have no doubt that the second half will be just as great.

This past week, there’s been plenty to do. On Monday, we played Capture the Chicken. (Just like Capture the Flag, but with a rubber chicken. Sometimes it’s better not to ask.) On Tuesday night, we had Garbage Auction, in which cabins bid points won by picking up garbage on Sunday on prizes offered by staff. It’s a super fun evening activity, but even more so, it injects dozens of adventures into the community that will be enjoyed throughout the session. Wednesday was Gypsy Day, a tradition which began in Ruth Brown’s day. It’s a day that’s secret from the campers. The short version of it is that it’s an all-day scavenger hunt, done in character. Campers are separated into bands, and each band has a theme and goes on a quest of sorts. They play games, use their imaginations, and find buried treasure at the end of the day. It was a great day. It ended with a concert in the Garden, a well deserved, restful evening activity. Thursday we played Lord of the Rings, which is four-way, multi-flag, Tolkien-themed capture the flag on the sports field. Friday night we had silly songs and skits on Moonraker Point. Last night was Cabin Adventure. Today, as usual, is Evening Fire, and we’re all looking forward to it.

Thank you, as always, for sharing your children with us. They’ve built a wonderful community here in the first two weeks, and now they get to enjoy it for another two. Until next week, be sure to follow our daily updates on Twitter.

Posted by Paul Sheridan on August 5, 2018 at 5:04 pm.

Carlyn Post from Powell River, BC

Note from Paul: This post was written by Carlyn camper Alanna Baker, and send to us from Powell River, BC, where Carlyn is currently resupplying.

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I can’t believe that we are already a week into our Carlyn journey. Already our trip has been filled with adventure, serene beauty, and endless laughter. After leaving Camp on the twenty-sixth, we anchored in Bedwell Harbor on North Pender Island. We rowed to shore and took a short hike to a small beach where we watched a magical sunset. The next day, we sailed to Princess Cove, Wallace Island. Here, we took another hike to try to find a famous driftwood cabin. Although we were unsuccessful in finding the house, we found ourselves in a spectacular forest where we had some memorable moments that were shared.

Four days into the trip, we had our first encounter with civilization when we docked in Nanaimo. Here, we got our first showers in a couple of days, and we were able to go off into the small Canadian town. As we were wearing our bloomers and Carlyn shirts, we got many strange looks and questions from the locals.
The highlight of the trip so far, was Princess Louisa Inlet. We sailed here on the 31st with the help of the first real wind of the trip. Throughout the entire day, we were surrounded by towering mountains with trees that seemed to grow straight out of the rock. It was one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen. Once we arrived in the inlet, we saw brilliant, flowing waterfalls and what seemed to be perfectly vertical rocky cliffs. After docking, we went swimming in the surprisingly warm water. From the first day even, the water was in the high sixties and low seventies.

We stayed at Princess Louisa Inlet for three days and two nights. On the second day, we took a hike to a breathtaking waterfall, almost sixteen hundred feet above sea level. The hike was challenging, but the sights at the end were rewarding.

During the trip, we have been playing a game called “Bigger and Better”. In this game, we try to trade an item for something bigger or better, until we are satisfied. We started out with a striped white and red paperclip, given to us by Linda, and now have a crab pot! The game has been fun so far, and although we do not make trades with every boat, we have met some very interesting people along the way.

Overall, the trip has been an incredible new experience for all of us. We have made many memories and learned several skills that will be sure to last us a lifetime. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the trip has in store for us.

– Alanna Baker, Carlyn Crew

Posted by Paul Sheridan on August 4, 2018 at 10:05 am.

Glorious Summer Days

Greetings from Hilltop. It’s another glorious summer day on Orcas. Today marks the end of the first week of Second Session. So far, the session has been absolutely wonderful. The campers have settled in quickly, and Camp feels very much like home. It’s been great to see old friendships renewed and new ones form. It’s also been great to see the counselors start over again, after a bit of rest, in the middle of their own camp experience but taking the care necessary at the beginning of these campers’ experience. It doesn’t hurt that every day so far has been absolutely perfect summer weather.

Today is also our first camp Sunday. We don’t have a religious component to our program at Four Winds, but we’ve borrowed a good idea from religious traditions all over the world to have one day a week set aside for a slower pace, reflection, celebration, and service. Particularly at a long-term camp, that change in routine is very helpful for processing this experience. On Sundays, we sleep in for an hour and have a nice leisurely breakfast. Afterward, we go to a special place in Camp and have Sunday Assembly, in which a cabin or tent leads us in a discussion of a topic important to Camp. Today, Flying Cloud led us in a discussion of friendship at Moonraker Point (I was pleased they chose the spot, selfishly, because it’s probably my favorite spot in Camp). After Sunday Assembly, we have Sunday Work Projects, where every cabin has a job to help out the community. We believe pretty strongly here that in any community, it’s important for all members to both give and receive, and so being a Four Winds camper is not a passive experience. After that, we have lunch, and then an extra long rest hour. In the afternoon, we have a special Sunday afternoon activity, which today is Regatta Day, where we’ll do fun dock stuff all afternoon. For Evening Activity, we’ll have perhaps our oldest, and certainly one of our most well-loved traditions, Evening Fire.

Friendship was a great topic for Sunday Assembly. It’s funny, having done this for so long now, I sort of divide the Sunday Assembly topics into familiar standards and deep cuts, and Friendship falls well into the former category. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth talking about again, just the opposite. It’s a familiar standard for a reason. It’s so fundamental to the Four Winds experience. While our activities are amazing, there are other places in the world where a child can learn to sail or ride a horse. The friendships that kids make here are so deep, satisfying, and genuine that they’re positively intoxicating. If you have a camper who’s returned for a number of years and have ever floated the idea of taking a year off (for a completely valid reason), only to be met with a surprisingly desperate look from your child, chances are it’s the friendships that are behind that look.

I think sometimes campers think that because these friendships seem to happen so much more easily here than in other places that they can only happen here. We do certainly have some things going for us. The simple reality of living together is one of them. The culture of accepting each other without conditions runs deep here and is supported from every direction. And we have time, both in the micro sense of having plenty of time to sit on a log or lie in the bunks while heading towards sleep to have that great heart to heart and in the macro sense of a full four weeks together. But a lot of what causes these great friendships to happen can be recreated in the outside world. It takes time, vulnerability, trust, and openness for friendships to form, and these campers are building those skills here, and they’ll be better at them when they return to what we at camp call “the real world.” I believe that a big part of it is also making, building, and sustaining friendships in a completely face to face way, with no digital filter. While these kids will have more access to technology when they go home, they’ll also have practiced face to face communication for four weeks here, and they’ll be better at it.

I should probably get off my soapbox for a second and tell you what we’ve been doing all week. As I reported in the first blog post of the session, Tuesday was Rotation Day, which went well and got the campers sorted and oriented to the summer. For Evening Activity that night, we played Biffer Medic, an elaborate game of tag in which campers attempt to match clues to staff members. We started classes on Wednesday and had Cabin Adventure (in which each counselor creates their own special activity for the cabin or tent) for Evening Activity. On Thursday, all the 8th grade cabins left on our first round of intermediate cabin trips left, Carlyn left on her 3 week adventure to Canada (Carlyn parents, all is well the crew, and they’ve currently in Nanaimo, BC), and in camp we had Sports Night for Evening Activity. We had a Folk Dance on Friday (crazy costumes and line dances on the Craft Courts). Finally, yesterday the 8th graders returned and we had Age Group Night in the evening.

It’s been a great first week, and I look forward to seeing to seeing what these campers and counselors do with the next three. If the first week is any indication, it will be deeply meaningful, a ton of fun, and a welcome break from the pressures of modern life for children. Thank you for sharing your children with us. Until next week, be sure to follow our daily updates on Twitter.

Posted by Paul Sheridan on July 29, 2018 at 2:14 pm.