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!

Update #2 from the Carlyn

Here is update #2 from the Carlyn trip!

Hi Paul!

We are in Lund,BC for the night. The Crew is cleaning the boat and getting some more groceries and doing laundry. Sending them up for showers as well. We got here around 1400 after an amazing few days.

We left Powell River on the 3rd around 1100, and set sail right outside the harbor. We turned off the engine immediately and didn’t turn it on again until we anchored in Thunder Bay at 1900. We sailed about 22 miles without turning on the engine. It was one of the best sailing days we’ve ever had on a Canada trip. We polished it off with a swim.

Fourth of July we had a fair breeze and were able to sail the majority of the way to Princess Lousia Inlet. On the way we spotted a herd of elk grazing on the Britain River!

We entered the Inlet at 1745 and it was calm and lovely. It was the least crowded I’ve ever seen it at PLI. We docked and spent a lovely evening playing games and being a crew.

The next day we hiked for two hours up to the waterfall and old trappers cabin. The view and falls were magnificent and we had some bonding time watching the falls. A good swim after we got back all sweaty, and settled in for an early night. Yesterday we started with a swim and motored back to Thunder Bay to anchor. This morning we had a ton of wind and sailed at 9 knots up Malaspina Straight all the way here to Lund, BC. Tomorrow morning we fuel up and head for Desolation Sound for two days, and then Toba Inlet where I will get another email out to you.

It’s been a perfect trip with wind and mild weather. We miss our friends at camp but the campers are bonding as a crew and learning quickly. Looking forward to seeing you all soon, and to tell you all of our stories!

Until then,

Capt Ryan and the Carlyn Crew

Posted by Paul Sheridan on July 8, 2017 at 5:24 pm.

Update from the Carlyn Trip

The crew of the Carlyn sent their first blog post back to Camp. Here it is!

Paul,

All is well here in Powell River, BC! We left Camp on the morning of the 27th, and went to Deer Harbor for a fuel and water up before heading to Friday Harbor to clear customs. On our way, we ran into some friends of mine, the sailing ship Lady Washington, a replica 18th Century sailing vessel that I first learned how to sail aboard. We sailed together for a bit, and seeing an old square rigged ship like that was a real treat for the whole Carlyn crew. We spent the night on Bedwell Harbor across the border. The next day, we headed to Portland Island after a great morning sail. We anchored and went for a hike. While we were there, we discovered a small robin chick who couldn’t fly, drowning in the water. We rescued him in our small boat, and dried him off. He stayed with us for the afternoon, and we named him Eric. When we left him on the island, he was happily hopping around. We hope he is still ok!

That evening we headed to Ganges Harbor, and saw Martha, Camp’s old sailboat, on the way! We spend the night anchored in Ganges. Up the next day to Wallace Island, where we hiked to the old cabin. As is Carlyn tradition, we left a piece of driftwood with our names on it at the cabin, alongside many others from previous years. Kate, our deck hand, found hers from her camper year on Carlyn on 2009! We left Wallace and stayed the night nearby on Thetis Island. We got up early the next day to make the tide at Gabriola Passage, and sailed across the Straits of Georgia to Jedediah Island. It was pretty crowded, so we stayed at Lasqueti Island instead. We spent the next day walking around Lasqueti and the girls stayed at my friends cabin. They are gone for the month, but let us use the cabin. Boys stayed aboard the vessel, and both groups had a fun night.

We left Lasqueti yesterday, and sailed up the west side of Texada Island, and came across to Powell River. We worked hard cleaning Carlyn and taking on food and water. We went out to a crew dinner, and got all of our laundry and showers done. We are leaving in an hour for Blind Bay, and tomorrow we head for Princess Louisa Inlet, a trip favorite. We will check in on the 7th from Lund, BC.

We miss camp and hope all is well! Say hi to our friends and we will see you soon.

Sincerely,
-Captain Ryan & the Crew of the Carlyn

Posted by Paul Sheridan on July 3, 2017 at 2:17 pm.

Greetings from Hilltop. We are fully into the swing of things on Orcas Island. The First Session campers have settled in, and Camp feels like home.

Before I tell the story of the first week of Camp, I feel like I should take a moment to talk about Sundays at Camp. Due to the way the calendar falls differently every year, there’s a different span of time between the first day of Camp and the first Sunday at camp every session (or more accurately, there are seven different variations). Some of the variations present us with options, and if you ever wondered about the minutiae of Camp Directors’ lives, there is a running debate amongst our leadership team about the optimal amount of time before the first Camp Sunday. In any case, this session’s calendar did not present us with lots of options. Since arrival day was two Saturdays ago, and the first full day of Camp has to be Rotation Day, the first real Camp Sunday had to be today, day 9 of the Session.

Moving on from scheduling details, I should tell you what a Four Winds Sunday looks like. We sleep in for an hour, have a nice breakfast, and then head off to a special spot in Camp to have Sunday Assembly. Today, Crow’s Nest led us in a discussion of the reasons why Camp is important to each of us at Madrona Point, one of the loveliest spots in Camp. We don’t have a religious component to our program at Four Winds, and we welcome people of all faiths and none at all, but that doesn’t mean we can’t borrow an idea from religions all over the world to take a few moments every week to gather together and reflect on greater things. After Sunday Assembly, we head back to our cabins and tents and change into work clothes, in preparation for Sunday work projects. Each cabin and tent is assigned a job around Camp to help keep us in tip top shape. Actually, it’s about much more than getting the work done. If all we cared about was getting the work done, there would be much more efficient ways. What’s important about campers having jobs at camp is that we all give and receive from this community. Campers are not passively along for the ride at Four Winds, they are integral and important community members, and so having responsibilities is important. After work projects, we have lunch and an extra long rest hour. In the afternoon, we’ll have a fun all-camp Sunday afternoon activity. Today, it will be World Cup, where the campers will play a soccer tournament for countries they invent, along with flags and national anthems for those countries. This evening, we’ll have Evening Fire, our oldest and most closely held tradition, where we’ll gather in the Lodge to share music and poetry, and where our feelings of community are strongest. All in all, it’s a day to take things more slowly, reflect, and serve. I was reminded today why they are some of my favorite days of the summer. I sat with the Gollywobbler tent, our youngest boys, for breakfast this morning. I was describing how Sundays work to them, and one of them said, “It’s like a dream day.” I couldn’t agree more.

On to a recap of the week. In my last post, I told you all about the 24th and 25th, Arrival Day and Rotation Day. Monday started Camp proper. Campers began their classes, and we had Cabin Adventure for Evening Activity. On Tuesday, Jigger, Romany Winds, and Rocky Point left on their cabin trips, and we had Sports Night for Evening Activity. Also on Tuesday, Carlyn, our 61′ yawl, left on her three week adventure to Canada with 9 campers and 4 staff aboard (more on that in a minute). Wednesday brought an opportunity to changes any classes the campers had tried once but didn’t like, known as Gypsy Switch. The campers on trips could do this after they returned at Tripsy Switch (see what we did there?). Evening Activity was Folk Dance, in which we dress up in crazy costumes and dance to well loved line dances. It’s good old fashioned fun. Thursday, our three tripping cabins returned, and had Moonraker for Evening Activity, in which we have silly songs and skits on Moonraker Point. Friday, we played Capture the Chicken, which is exactly like Capture the Flag, but with a rubber chicken, and therefore much, much better. Last night, we had Age Group Night. The only important thing about today that I haven’t already written is that our second round of trips departed today. This time, it was Moonraker, Genoa, Jib, Hillside, Caravanserai, and Shining Mountain. They will all return on the 4th of July, in time for our traditional parade to Deer Harbor.

I promised a Carlyn update. They are doing well. They haven’t been able to give us a full blog post, but they will soon, and I will post it here. What we have gotten are their daily “All is well” updates from their satellite device, along with their location. They’ve made it to Lasqueti Island on their way to Princess Louisa Inlet. They’re already a good way into an adventure of a lifetime.

It’s been a fantastic first week of Camp. As Crow’s Nest was leading us today in a discussion of why Camp was important, I heard many good reasons: That this community is so open and accepting, that relationships feel genuine here, that kids can spread their wings and try new things here, that they can have setbacks and know that it’s okay. What really stuck with me, though, is not all reasons why Camp is important, just that it is important. It’s fun, sure, but so is Six Flags. The growth and rejuvenation that is already happening here, and will continue for the next three weeks, will serve these campers, as well as our staff, throughout their lives. 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 2, 2017 at 2:03 pm.

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 twitter.com/fourwindscamp, 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 fourwindscamp.org/login, 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 fourwindscamp.org/register), 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 fourwindscamp.org/login, 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.