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!

First Session has begun!

Our 90th anniversary summer has begun in fine form. All campers have arrived safely. More than that, they’re thrilled to be here. The energy in Gatehouse Circle, where the campers being dropped off by their parents arrived, and on Greenie Hill, as the boats arrived in Four Winds Bay, was absolutely electric. Each new batch of arrivals elicited a cheer from the growing crowd. Old friendships were renewed, and new campers were welcomed. It was a scene of young people excited to embark on a great adventure.

The staff have been training since the 15th at the latest, and some since the 5th. They were as ready as any for Camp to begin. We use every minute of staff training intentionally, and we sometimes feel the need to squeeze in one more thing, but Camp feels incomplete without campers, and after so long training, all the staff was thrilled to get started on what we all came here to do. I’ve been so impressed with this staff so far. They are truly committed to giving these campers an extraordinary experience, and I know they have the skill to make it happen.

Tonight was all about settling in and getting comfortable. Once everyone was gathered on Greenie Hill, cabin and tent groups went back to cabins to get a sense of their new homes, and of each other. Counselors led games and introductions, and helped everyone with the things a person needs to know at the start of a new experience. Each cabin introduced itself with a skit at flags, and we had a great first dinner of chicken, corn, and potato salad (plus a vegetarian option of veggie and tofu kabobs). We all met on the stairs to learn a few songs, and celebrate our newly formed community. We have campers and staff here in their first summer, and staff here in their 14th. We represent 20 states and 11 countries. We’ve joined together on this beautiful corner of Orcas Island to create an extraordinary community where people can be comfortable sharing their true selves, and be accepted and loved no matter what, where we can try new things, and get better at the things we already know, where we value relationships over things, and take things just a little bit slower.

Tomorrow, we’ll have Rotation Day, which all about getting oriented to camp and taking care of some business. We’ll sign up for classes (adding three to the three you signed up for using pre camp forms), take the swim test, visit the nurse, take cabin photos, exchange uniforms that don’t fit, learn lots of things about how camp works, and get a tour. For Evening Activity, we’ll play a great game called Biffer Medic. In Biffer Medic, about two thirds of the counselors sit around the edge of the Sports Field. Campers attempt to match clues from a list to the counselors sitting around the edge, all while avoiding Biffers, counselors armed with a sock full of flour. If they do get tagged, still a third category of counselors, the Medics, can unfreeze them by giving them a silly task. It’s a fantastic game to end the first full day of Camp. We’ll end the same way we end every Evening Activity, singing songs, and end our first day together. On Monday, we’ll start with classes, and Camp will be in full swing!

I’m sure you’re wondering about how you can check in on your children while they’re here. The first (and best) way is the good old fashioned letter. All the campers wrote postcards at dinner tonight which you will receive in the next couple of days, and we will do our best to encourage campers to write home. If your camper hasn’t written in a while, feel free to call or email Mariah, and we’ll give them a nudge. And, of course, letter writing from your end is encouraged as well. The second is this blog, which I’ll write once a week on Sundays (given that it’s nearly Sunday now, I’ll write again on the 2nd of July). Third, I’ll tweet once a day from @fourwindscamp. You don’t need to join twitter to get the updates, you can just go to, or, from the United States, text the phrase ‘follow fourwindscamp’ to the number 40404, and you’ll get the updates by SMS. Lastly, feel free to call Mariah in the office. She’s happy to check in on your camper and get back to you with a real time report.

Thank you for sharing your children with us. It’s a privilege to spend our 90th Anniversary summer with them. These next four weeks will be filled with adventure, song, and friendship. I can’t wait.

Posted by Paul Sheridan on June 24, 2017 at 11:31 pm.

A Great Junior Session, and a Great Summer

Greetings from Hilltop, one final time. Camp is very quiet. We have a skeleton crew of counselors doing some last jobs getting things cleaned and buttoned up for the winter. Travel is going well, with everyone on time, and no hitches so far. Summer 2016 is complete, and it was one for the record books.

The end of Junior Session was just fantastic. Pirate Day, as I predicted on Friday, was a huge hit. The kids dove into Pirate training with abandon, and were able to turn Pirate Captain Ryan’s heart with some great pirate jokes, and he freed me and Emily. Good thing, too, as we had the second half of Junior Session to run. That evening, we had silly songs and skits at Moonraker Point. The Junior Session version of Moonraker is its own beautiful, silly thing, and this year was no exception. There were belly laughs all around. On Saturday, we had a full day of classes, followed by Cabin Adventure, where we made boats of driftwood to be used in last night’s closing ceremony, and had s’mores. Yesterday, we had classes in the morning, packed in the afternoon, and had Evening Fire at night. Evening Fire can be tough for the little ones, as it does involve sitting quietly and paying attention for an hour, but they did a great job, and got a taste of the feelings of community that make Evening Fire our most loved evening activity.

Junior Session flies by, particularly for those of us that are used to the rhythms of our four-week sessions, but that’s kind of the point. For these younger campers, the goal is to have that first (or second) experience be successful, fun, and positive, and get a taste of what Four Winds is all about. We accomplished that goal in spades. Most children today do not get an independent experience like this one. These campers now know that they can do it. They’re better off, and will be more ready for bigger independent experiences down the line.

With Four Winds’ 90th summer complete, it would feel remiss to not say thank you as well to all the campers, families, and staff from all three sessions. It takes a commitment to come up to Orcas in the summer and build this community of which we’re so proud. Thanks to all of you.

For Junior Session families, as well any other families that may be reading this, I hope your camper is already talking about summer 2017. You may be interested to know that registration for summer 2017 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. This year, 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, clicking on “Registration Form,” selecting the 2017 season, and filling out the form. Please keep in mind that because Junior Session is intended to be an introduction to Camp for families that hope to have their children attend our four-week session, there is a two year limit on Junior Session attendance. New families may also register now (at, and we will enroll them, or place them on the waitlist, once the returning camper guarantee expires on December 1.

Thank you for sharing your children with us this week. It was great fun to have them here, and I hope to see them all next summer.

Posted by Paul Sheridan on August 29, 2016 at 10:56 am.

Taking to Junior Session like Ducks to Water

Greetings from Hilltop. Junior Session is in full swing, and we’re having a great time at Camp. These campers are showing great camp spirit, and throwing themselves fully into this experience. They’re all about learning new songs, trying new things, and seeing what surprise is around the next corner.

It’s so much fun to see them throw themselves into Camp with such abandon. This morning, our music director asked them to sing a silly camp song (Baby Shark) in the voice of their favorite singer. There was no hesitation. The cacophony that came up from the Lodge Steps was incredible. They ready for anything, and that’s perfect for Camp.

Here’s a report from the week so far: As I wrote in the last post, on Wednesday we took care of business in the morning and went right into activities in the afternoon. For Evening Activity, we played Capture the Chicken. Capture the Chicken is one of our most well-loved Evening Activities from our four week session. It’s really just Capture the Flag, with a rubber chicken instead of a flag, but the kids just love it. During the main session, we play all over Camp, and in Junior Session, we just play on the Sports Field. As usual, it was great fun. Yesterday, we had a full day of activities, two periods between breakfast and lunch and two between lunch and dinner. For Evening Activity, we had Sports Night, with a nice variety of sports on offer to end the day.

Today, we have activities in the morning. While the campers don’t know it yet, this afternoon has some shenanigans planned. We’ll head to the stairs for afternoon activities as normal, but instead, Emily (our Assistant Director) and I will be kidnapped by pirates (the crew of the Carlyn). The campers will spend all afternoon in pirate training (eye patches and tattoos on the Craft Courts, dodging canon balls at landsports, learning sea shanties, walking the plank) in preparation for rescuing us at the end of the day. Since these campers are so willing and eager to use their imaginations, it will be a great change of pace. After a long day, tonight’s Evening Activity will be great. It’s called Moonraker, and we gather on Moonraker Point, one of the most beautiful spots in camp, and get entertained with silly songs and skits. I can’t wait.

Thank you once again for sharing your children with us this week. We’re having a ball, and look forward to sending them back to you on Monday, having had and experience that’s both massively fun and genuinely valuable.

Posted by Paul Sheridan on August 26, 2016 at 12:48 pm.

Junior Session has Begun!

Greetings from Hilltop. Junior Session has begun in fine form. All campers have arrived, safe and sound. The charter boat that brought most of the campers turned into Four Winds Bay to be greeted by a cheer from the counselors and the campers who were dropped off by their parents. The campers ran up Greenie Hill to meet their counselors and the rest of their cabin groups. The spirit of welcome and adventure was palpable. It was a great start to the week.

This week represents something great: The next generation of Four Winds campers. Our aim for this week is for these campers to have their first (or second) experience away from home and the supports they’re used to be a positive one. They’ll have fun, experience Four Winds traditions, make new friends, try new things, and navigate an environment that’s new for them. That sounds simple, but it’s incredibly powerful. These kids are the lucky few on our society that get a chance like this, and they’ll be all the better for it.

I should write a little bit about what we’ve already done, and about we’re going to do in the coming days. After the campers arrived, we had an hour or so to see cabins and tents, learn some names, and explore a bit of Camp. Then, as we do every evening, we gathered in a circle on Greenie Hill to sing some songs and lower the flags. Tonight at flags, since it’s the first night, each cabin introduced themselves with a funny skit. We had a great dinner, and as I write this, campers are unpacking in cabins and tents. Very soon, we’ll be headed to bed for a good night’s rest.

Tomorrow, we’ll wake up for flags and breakfast, and then spent the morning doing a miniature version of the full session’s Rotation Day. We’ll visit the nurse, take the swim test, exchange any uniforms that don’t fit, learn some songs, and have our cabin photos made. We’ll have lunch and rest hour, and then in the afternoon, we’ll start the campers on activities. Over the course of the week, each camper will visit each of our five activity areas two or three times, plus take a half day sail on our 61′ foot yawl, Carlyn. It will be a great introduction to Four Winds activities.

I’m sure you’re interested about how you can hear about how your camper is doing. Although Junior Session is only a week, mail is still the best way to keep in touch. You can have direct communication with your camper, with the tactile nature and remove that only the Post Office can provide. The magic of getting a letter at Camp (or from Camp) is a great part of this experience, and we do everything we can to nurture it. In fact, we had each camper write a postcard at dinner, and those will be going out in tomorrow’s mail. I will post updates daily on our Twitter feed. You don’t need to join Twitter to get the updates, you can just go to the website, or text the phrase “follow fourwindscamp” to the number 40404, and you’ll get the updates by text message. I’ll post here on Friday, as well as after the campers leave on Monday. Lastly, you can give us a call in the office. We’re happy to check in on your camper and give you a call back.

Thank you for sharing your children with us this week. They’re going to have a ball, and grow more in one week than you can believe. I can’t wait to be a part of it.

Posted by Paul Sheridan on August 23, 2016 at 7:56 pm.

A Month to Remember

Greetings from Hilltop. Second Session has ended. Some campers are already with their parents, the rest are on their way. Our airport run crew reports smooth sailing so far. Back in Camp, things are eerily quiet. Our counselors are cleaning and organizing, getting Camp partly shut down, as there are some things we don’t use for Junior Session. After two months of caring for campers, and all of sudden relieved of that responsibility, the counselors aren’t quite sure what to do with themselves. The campers will need time to decompress from this big experience, and so will the staff.

The Session was fantastic throughout, and the end was no exception. I wrote last week about how the last week is usually my favorite, and it certainly delivered. Our four final evening activities did their job, reminding everyone of the shortness of our time together and providing opportunities for celebration and reflection. Throughout the week in Camp, there were moments of celebration. There were dozens of Gypsy Jewelry ceremonies, where we surprise the recipient, sing one of their favorites songs, and then tell them, one-by-one, why we value them so much. Carlyn returned to Camp, ebullient from their experience and enjoying their reunions with old friends who had spent the session in Camp. In the activity areas, there were accomplishments all around, whether it was joining the “Tens Club” (hitting the bullseye on the farthest target in archery) or finishing a cherished project in the Craft Courts. All of that positive energy filled Camp with a spirit which, if you could replicate it elsewhere, would change the world.

Your campers will come home to you today experiencing lots of great emotions. Most will be tired and happy. Some will immediately regale you with stories, others will take some time before sharing. I mentioned decompression earlier. It often takes kids a few days today readjust to the rhythms of the real world. The decompression period won’t be too long, and they’ll soon readjust. What won’t leave them is the memories, growth, and friendships they’ve created here.

I hope your camper is already talking about next summer, and you may be interested to know that registration for summer 2017 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. This year, 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, clicking on “Registration Form,” selecting the 2017 season, and filling out the form.

Thank you for sharing your children with us this month. I know what a sacrifice it is to let them go for that long. I know that the growth and memories created here will make it worth it. I hope to see them all back next year.

Posted by Paul Sheridan on August 20, 2016 at 12:02 pm.

Final Update from Carlyn

Carlyn is returning to Camp on Tuesday, and they’re heading south fast. Here’s the final update from Captain Ryan before their return:

We left Gorge Harbor and sailed to Desolation Sound Marine Park, passing Sarah Point just like Geroge Vancouver did in the 1790s. We went to one of my favorite spots called Tenedos Bay. We anchored and hiked up to Unwin Lake, a beautiful clear and warm freshwater lake where we jumped from high rocks into the perfect water. We noticed Desolation Sound was a bit too crowded so we headed to a new place for Carlyn: Toba Inlet. No one on the crew will forget the beauty we saw there. Shrouded in mist, and still raining a bit, we docked at the Wildernest Retreat. There, our hosts showed us the way to a pristine waterfall where we had another pin ceremony! We also hung out with the owners dog, Clipper, who is 2/3 wolf! Petting a wolf is quite a memory. We reluctantly left Toba and sailed to Hole in the Wall Rapids, to another favorite spot of mine, Octopus Islands Marine Park. Full of tiny islands and wooded rocks, it was a great spot for some alone reflection time for the campers on their own small island! We packed them lunch, water, a journal and sunscreen, and they were able to put their trip, ending soon, into perspective. We all gathered on a large moss-covered rock after sunset and watched the meteor shower and shared our thoughts on our trip. Each camper and staff member picked the name out of a hat, and we had an affirmation circle, telling each person what we loved about them, and how they’ve changed during the trip. Quite an experience under the exploding comets in a crystal clear sky. The next day, we braved Lower and Upper Rapids to arrive at Pulton Bay on Quadra Island. The incredible property is owned by a camp family, and have been hosting the Carlyn since 2004. We met friends, hiked to a lake for an afternoon swim, and cooked an enormous crab dinner that we all shared with our hosts on the lawn. Also, a swim in crystal clear water at an abandoned granite quarry! We left early yesterday to catch the tide at famous Seymour Narrows, and arrived for a brief fuel up at Campbell River. This done, we broke into watches for our trip back to camp. We got AMAZING wind down the Straits of Georgia until it became a little too much wind at about 2am this morning. We took in sail in the dark amidst 35 knot winds and 5 foot waves to duck into Nanaimo for some sleep. The campers performed magnificently, and have become great sailors. We are leaving Nanaimo now, heading back to Bedwell Harbor tonight. We will clear customs in the USA tomorrow around noon. We have stories to tell, and can’t wait to see our friends again. See you soon!

Posted by Paul Sheridan on August 14, 2016 at 11:57 am.

The Last, and Best Week

Greetings from Hilltop. It’s hard to believe there’s less than a week left of Second Session. At Camp, the focus on the here and now and the intensity of the experience does strange things to our sense of the passage of time. On the one hand, it feels like the session has passed incredibly quickly. On the other, our pre-camp life seems like a distant memory. In that sort of headspace, things can sneak up on you, and the last week of Camp has certainly done that.

With that said, it’s important that we sit up and take notice of the last week of Camp. In my experience, it’s usually the best week. It’s the culmination of all that’s been built, and it’s not possible without the first three weeks. That warping of our senses of time that I referred to is necessary to get to this week. We all collectively realize that our time here is short, and therefore all the more valuable. I personally spend a lot of time in these few days verbally reminding people that time is short, in an attempt to jog us into that end-of-camp headspace, but there are plenty of markers that do a much better job than I ever could. We’re starting to get into what I think of as “the lasts”: The last Sunday Assembly, the last evening staff meeting, the last Sunday afternoon activity. This week will be filled with those “lasts,” and each time someone notices one, it will bring them closer to that end-of-camp headspace. The Seniors return from trips today. Their energy will fill Camp, full of joy at reunions and stories from their adventures. Carlyn will return on Tuesday, bringing more of the same. Starting Tuesday night, we’ll begin our traditional series of evening activities that end each session, each offering opportunities for celebration and reflection in its own way. We’ll start on Tuesday with Talent/No Talent, our talent show. On Wednesday, we’ll celebrate effort in our activity areas and have a slideshow of the session at Pins & Slides. On Thursday, we’ll blow off some steam and dance the night away at the CT Dance. And on Friday, we’ll end our session together in the only appropriate way, with Evening Fire. All through the week, there will be tons of gypsy jewelry ceremonies, where we’ll surprise people with song and telling them how much we love them. All of that, experienced in a unique way by each of the 285 or so individuals on this property, is what people are referring to when they say “Gypsy Magic,” and I can’t wait to be a part of it once again.

The past week has been a great one in its own right. In Camp, the week has been defined by the absence of the seniors. The smaller size of Camp is a great change of pace, and it’s great to see the older intermediates step up into leadership roles as the new oldest kids in Camp. Plus, we have our special traditions for the Juniors and Intermediates when the Seniors are gone. On Monday night, we had Sports Night. On Tuesday, the CTs took over evening activity and created an in-real-life version of Pokemon Go, in which campers had to find Pokemon (counselors) hiding in the woods. It was a ton of fun. On Wednesday, we played Lord of the Rings, a four-way, multi-flag, Tolkien-themed version of capture the flag on the sports field. On Thursday, we had Moonraker and a sleepout on the sports field, perfectly timed to catch the peak of the Perseid meteor shower. On Friday, we played Capture the Chicken, ever the camper favorite. And last night, we had Burger Bar, in which the heads team gave the kitchen staff the night off and prepared burgers, fries, and milkshakes for all of Camp. They dressed themselves and the Lodge in a theme of an Orwellian version of camp, in which I was Big Brother. It’s not as dark as it sounds, I promise. For Evening Activity, we had The Lion King projected onto a sail in the Boat Barn.

As I said before, this last week holds so much promise. I can’t wait to be a part of it. Thank you, once again, for sharing your children with us. They’ve created an incredible community here this month, and it will be great to see how they finish. I’ll post here one more time this session, after the campers are on their way on Saturday, and on Twitter throughout the week.

Posted by Paul Sheridan on August 14, 2016 at 11:34 am.

Carlyn Update from Gorge Harbor, BC

(Written by the campers!)

After leaving Nanaimo, Carlyn and her crew sailed to Pender Harbor, the last calm, muddy harbor we could count on before Princess Louisa Inlet. Following a good night’s sleep, the crew was ready to make the 40 nautical mile journey up Jervis Inlet to Princess Louisa. Near the entrance of the temperamental Malibu Rapids that guard the Inlet, the crew found an unnamed waterfall, now known to the crew as Carlyn Stark Falls, where they went for a nice swim in the 72 degree water. Once slack tide came around, Carlyn was ready for the last bit of the trip up. Upon entering the incredible fjord, we spotted Schooner Martha, an old Camp boat with not one, but two songs written for her that campers still sing today. After spending time with Martha and her crew, the campers got one last swim in before bed. The next morning, the crew woke up ready for the hike up to the abandoned cabin atop a small mountain. The crew was disappointed to find that the previous night’s rain had made the steep dirt trail too muddy to traverse safely. Instead, the crew hopped around on the rocks of Chatterbox Falls until they regrouped to present a camper with his Polaris Pin! The ceremony was lovely, and the team returned to Carlyn all warm and fuzzy inside. The next morning the crew woke up at 4:00 AM to catch the slack tide on the way out of Princess Louisa. A few naps and 40 miles later, Carlyn returned to Pender Harbor. Later that afternoon the crew hiked to Garden Bay Lake, where they went for a refreshing swim in the warm fresh water. The kids woke up the next day to the singing and muffins of Gypsy Day, appreciative that the older crew had not forgotten camp’s important holiday. The adults on board took care of the camper chores while the campers picked blackberries and salal berries for a pie and cobbler. The next morning, the Carlyn set off for Lasqueti Island, where Capt. Ryan’s friends, the Ryding Family, own a cabin. After a day of hikes, food, s’mores, music, sparklers and general fun, the girls camped out on land and the boys returned to the ship. We left the Rydings the next morning and went to Powell River to get water, do laundry, shower, buy food and charge the ship and our personal batteries. We had a big pizza dinner with friends we made from Orcas Island, and walked to an ice cream shop for desert. Today we left Powell River, dodging rainstorms, stopped for fuel in Lund, and are now in Gorge Harbor warming ourselves in the hot tub at the resort. Its supposed to be a bit rainy for the next couple of days, but the rain simply makes the northwest look more beautiful. We will be going straight from here to Desolation Sound for the next few days, and then to our friends’ home on Quadra Island on the 11th. We will try to send an update from there. Hope all is well at camp!

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Posted by Paul Sheridan on August 8, 2016 at 5:06 pm.

Making the Most of Camp

Greetings from Hilltop. It’s been a wonderful week. We’re just over halfway through Second Session, and Camp is just as it should be. Camp feels like home. Campers are having a great time, enjoying their time with friends, and enjoying all that’s on offer here at Camp. We’re at the point in the session where people are starting to think to themselves, “I’m comfortable now, how can I really make the most of this experience?” It’s one of the huge benefits of a four week camp experience. Campers can get beyond the simple adjustment to a new environment, and find something deeper.

Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not arguing that the above thought quote is how the thought is exactly worded in each camper’s mind. But, you can feel that energy all over Camp. As it happens, the Helping Hands were in charge of Sunday Assembly today, and did choose making the most of your Camp experience as their theme. The Helping Hands are an interesting group in Camp. They’re 16 and 17 years old, all former campers, who have jobs in Camp like dishwasher, office helper, barn hand, and so forth. They come for one session, arriving and departing with the campers, and live with a Helping Hands Mom and Dad, 21+ staff members. Their jobs are very behind the scenes, and their role in Camp is not as intuitive as our Counselor Trainees, who are more or less the same age and have the same living arrangement. It was a rare treat to see them speaking in front of the whole group, talking about making the most of Camp.

It did take a minute before the campers got into the flow of sharing what making the most of Camp meant to them after the Helping Hands finished, I think because the Helping Hands are in such a unique place in their Camp careers, very different from the campers. They’re in an in between place, and their role in Camp is changing. Many of our counselors are former Helping Hands. I think the reason that the Helping Hands program works so well, why it produces such great counselors, is that the Helping Hands are demonstrating, in a very tangible way, that they are willing to put their own needs second for the good of campers. When you’ve grown up at Camp, washing dishes while the rest of Camp is playing Capture the Chicken is an extraordinary sacrifice. As I write that sentence, I realize that some of you may take it as glib, but please believe me when I say it’s not. The Helping Hands are putting themselves second. That’s what we ask our counselors to do every day, and by practicing and demonstrating that they can do it, the Helping Hands are proving that they’ll be great staff, next year, the year after that, or whenever it makes sense for them.

It’s been a great week at Camp. On Monday, we played Capture the Chicken, which is exactly like Capture the Flag, but with a rubber chicken. It’s a huge camper favorite. On Tuesday, we had our second Cabin Adventure. On Wednesday, we had a unique Second Session tradition, Garbage Auction. The cabins and tents had earned points by picking up garbage, pulling an invasive species called laurel spurge, and returning Camp owned gear to its home on Sunday during work projects, and were able to spend those points at an auction on Wednesday evening. They earned prizes that will be delivered all session long, dropping little bits of wish, wonder, and surprise into Camp for the rest of the summer. Thursday was Gypsy Day, and we had a fantastic one. We adventured all over Camp and Westsound, using our imaginations on a giant, all day scavenger hunt. Later in the day, we celebrated eight campers who have done a great job exhibiting the qualities we try to exhibit at Camp at our Gypsy Court, and had a lovely concert in the Garden for our Evening Activity. Friday night, we played the Game of Life, an elaborate game of tag, and last night we had Sports Night. It was a big week.

This coming week, on Tuesday, the Seniors will leave on their six day trips. They will be challenged in a new setting, in new groups, and will have great adventures. Those of us left back in Camp will have a changed up feel with a smaller, younger group, and special traditions just for the Juniors and Intermediates. I’m particularly looking forward to the peak of the Perseid meteor shower on Thursday night. With seniors on trips and many groups in Camp sleeping outdoors, far away from the lights of the city, it should be stunning.

Thank you, once again, for sharing your children with us. It’s been a fantastic session so far, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store. Until next week…

Posted by Paul Sheridan on August 7, 2016 at 12:04 pm.

What a week

Greetings from Hilltop. What a week it has been at Camp. I’ll get to it all, but first I want to talk about Sunday. Sundays are days for slowing down, reflection, service, and celebration at Camp. While we’re not a religious camp, we do borrow this good idea from religious traditions across the world that taking time out of the normal routine for those things is important. On Sundays, we sleep in for an hour, have a nice breakfast, and then have Sunday Assembly (more on that in a minute). After Sunday Assembly, we have work projects, because we know it’s important for kids to contribute to this community as well a receive from it. We then have lunch, an extra long rest hour, and then a fun Sunday afternoon activity. Today, it will be Regatta Day, and the whole camp will spend the afternoon down on the dock. The weather is beautiful, and it will be a great day for it. After dinner on Sundays, we have our oldest evening activity, Evening Fire. We’ll gather in the Lodge as campers and staff have for four generations to share music and poetry. It’s often when our feelings of community are at their strongest, and I can’t wait.

There’s a quirk of Four Winds, which is that our calendar doesn’t have the campers arriving on the same day of the week every session, so each time we make up the calendar, it’s a different amount of time from the first day of Camp to the first real Sunday, as we’d say in Camp parlance. It’s necessary to say real Sunday because of course arrival day was a Sunday. For a Sunday to be real, we need to follow the schedule I’ve outlined above, and arrival day doesn’t. This session, because of the Sunday arrival, we had the maximum amount of time between the campers’ arrival and a real Sunday. Each calendar has pros and cons, but this one been fun to see. That full week before the first Sunday makes it so camp no longer feels like it’s in the beginning of camp. All the campers’ schedules are set, everyone knows where everything is, everyone knows the routines, and cabin dynamics have formed. This feels like a wonderful community, and so when we reflect on it and celebrate it today, we really know what we’re talking about.

I promised more information on Sunday Assembly. At each Sunday Assembly, a group of campers picks a topic that’s important at Camp, and talks about it in front of the whole group. Then, other campers have an opportunity to stand up and share their thoughts. Today, Flying Cloud and Crow’s Nest spoke about leadership. It’s a topic I think about a lot, because it’s really one of the things that makes Camp work on a fundamental level. True leadership is occurring when people are following a leader because they want to, not because they have to. The latter isn’t leadership, it’s control. True leadership isn’t tied to a certain personality type, or a title. It’s about service, and ideas that make a community better. Flying Cloud, Crow’s Nest, and many campers spoke eloquently about that at Sunday Assembly, and their understanding of leadership explains a lot of why this community feels as strong as it does, and it gives me great hope for what these campers will create over the next three weeks.

I usually recap the week in these posts, so here we go: I already told you about the first two night’s evening activities, Nesting and Biffer Medic. We had Cabin Adventure on Tuesday night, in which each cabin comes up with its own fun activity. On Wednesday, we had Sports Night, which is just as it sounds. On Thursday, we had Moonraker, which is silly songs and skits on Moonraker Point, one of the most beautiful spots in Camp, on the northern end of the property. On Friday, we had a Folk Dance, one of our most well loved evening activities, in which we dress up in crazy costumes and dance to line dances (my favorite is the Pata Pata, followed by the Virginia Reel). Last Night, we had Age Group Night, and each of the six groups came up with their own thing to do. I took a walk around camp, and it was impressive to see all the groups so engaged and having fun. Tonight, as I mentioned, we’ll have Evening Fire.

These campers have done a wonderful job of getting our Second Session community started off right. They’ve been open to trying new things, they’ve been inclusive and welcoming to each other, and they’ve had a ball. We’re off to a great start. Until next week…

Posted by Paul Sheridan on July 31, 2016 at 5:40 pm.