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!

Second Session has begun!

Greetings from Hilltop. Second Session has begun in fine form. All campers are here safely. There’s a fantastic energy that’s settled over camp. Of course we have some nerves and homesickness, but the overall vibe is that kids are just thrilled to be here. Returners just can’t wait for camp to get going. New campers are already absorbing information like sponges, eager to fully embrace this place. We’re off to a great start.

A few hours ago, the boats carrying most of the campers pulled into Four Winds Bay, greeted by cheers from the counselors and the campers who had been dropped off by their parents. Campers ran up the hill to meet their counselors and cabinmates. Once everyone in cabin or tent had arrived, the group went to the cabin or tent to get settled and organized. About an hour later, at flags, each cabin and tent introduced themselves with a short skit, and we lowered the flags together for the first time as a Second Session community. We had a great spaghetti dinner, and then all met on the stairs to sing some songs, share some announcements, and celebrate the fact that our community has people here in their first summer up to their fourteenth, and represents 24 states and 16 countries. Afterwards, campers and counselors went back to cabins and tents to unpack, and as I write this, they’re starting to wind down towards bed.

Tomorrow, we’ll have Rotation Day, in which we take care of a bunch of necessary tasks to get the session going (things like selecting classes, visiting the nurse, taking the swim test, having cabin photos made, and exchanging uniforms that don’t fit), as well as getting further oriented to Camp, playing games, and getting to know each other. For Evening Activity, we’ll play a great game called Biffer Medic. It’s an elaborate game of tag, in which some of the counselors sit in a giant circle around the sports field, and campers run around the field attempting to match clues to those counselor while avoiding Biffers (counselors armed with a sock full of flour). If they do get Biffed, they’re frozen until a Medic (still more counselors) can assign them a zany task to get unfrozen. It’s good fun. Starting on Wednesday, we’ll begin activities, and Camp will be in full swing.

As Camp gets going, I’m sure you’re wondering about how you can check in on your camper. The first, and best way is the good old fashioned letter. The dying art of letter writing is alive and well in the summer at Four Winds. The tactile nature of it, the delay between sending a letter and receiving a response, and the fact that these letters can be saved as mementos for decades all make letter writing a key part of the camp experience. In this age of instant gratification, delay is actually a rarity to be valued, and we certainly value it here. Secondly, I’ll be posting here once a week, on Sundays, and tweeting daily. You don’t need to join Twitter to get the updates if you don’t want to. Just go to twitter.com/fourwindscamp and you can read them there. If you’d like the tweets sent to your phone, you can text the phrase ‘follow fourwindscamp’ to the number 40404 in the US, and you’ll get all the updates via text message. Finally, we’re happy to check in your camper and get back to you with an update. Just call us in the office, and the team here will do a check and get back to you.

Finally, a word about homesickness. First of all, we wish they’d change the word. It’s not a virus. It’s a completely normal feeling that all people feel to some degree or another when they’re away from home. For kids, the feelings are relatively new, and so often more intense than we experience them as adults. Still, it’s an age appropriate challenge for camp age children. When they are able to overcome those feelings, it follows that they can overcome other things too. They feel capable and independent. It’s a huge gift. If you’re worried that your child might homesick at Camp, I highly recommend that you pick up the book Homesick and Happy, by the psychologist Michael Thompson. It will be a great guide for you as you follow your child’s journey at a distance. We’ll call you if your camper is persistently homesick, but if you get a homesick letter, don’t hesitate to call us. Most of the time, we’re already aware of the situation and the feelings have passed in the time it’s taken the letter to get to you. Occasionally, the camper has not shared his or her homesickness with anyone here, and your calling is the thing that can prompt us to get the camper the help they need.

Thank you for sharing your children with us this month. They’re embarking on an a great adventure, and we’re going to have a great time. I can’t wait.

Posted by Paul Sheridan on July 23, 2018 at 9:15 pm.

Tired and Happy

Greetings from Hilltop. It’s a whole lot quieter in Camp right now than it has been for the last four weeks. A handful of campers are still wandering the property with their parents, and the staff are cleaning up so they can go on their time off in between sessions. The vast majority of campers are on their way home. The boats left about two hours ago. At Skyline Marina in Anacortes, parents meeting their campers there picked them up, and most of the campers got on buses heading to Woodland Park and Seatac Airport. So far, travel day is going smoothly.

More important than the logistics is the settling in that’s happening right now about what’s occurred here for the last four weeks. Last night, we had our final Evening Fire of the session. As usual, it was a bittersweet time together. Songs were sung, tears were shed. As we always do at the end of the last Evening Fire of the Session, we ended by circling underneath the maple tree with candles, singing camp songs, then extinguishing them one by one, and singing the good night song one last time.

This morning, a bit bleary eyed, we raised the flags one last time, had a quick breakfast, and organized to get all the campers aboard the boats, and waved goodbye. Or maybe it was farewell, or maybe see you next year. This departures are always a little uncertain. Several of us were chuckling at the campers getting their phones back, and typing each other’s numbers into them while trying to collect their stuff and get on the boats. “Couldn’t they have written those down on a piece of paper anytime in the last few days?,” we said to each other. We pick our battles.

As they come home to you, be prepared to witness a little bit of disorientation on upon re-entry into what we call “the real world.” Camp is an immersive experienced, very focused on the here and now. Retuning to normalcy causes all sorts of reactions. Some will immediately be bursting with stories and songs. Some will be glued to their devices, talking with camp friends. Some will experience homesickness’ lesser known cousin, campsickness. Rest assured, your child will adjust in a couple of days. But, the independence, confidence, ability to communicate and make friends, and grit will last. You might even notice them offering to clear the table at dinner. They’ve done it every day for a month here, and habits do tend to form.

Perhaps they, and you, are already wondering about how to sign up for next year. I’m pleased to tell you that registration for 2019 is already available on our website. 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. We certainly appreciate you encouraging new families to enroll as well. We accept applications from new families at any time, and will enroll them in the order we received their applications starting on December 1. In other words, the sooner the better.

Thank you so much for sharing your children with us this month. It’s been an amazing session, and we hope to see all the campers back next year. Now we’re due for a little rest, so we can be ready for the Second Session campers on Monday. It’s been a privilege.

Posted by Paul Sheridan on July 20, 2018 at 10:33 am.

Seniors are back, and the last week begins

Greetings from Hilltop. Today is a big day in Camp, as the seniors return from their trips. We’ve already got three groups back in camp. The rest will arrive over the rest of this afternoon. The three groups that have already come back are proving to us once again why we do these trips in the first place. They did something that was hard. They had long days paddling or sailing, sometimes in imperfect conditions (the backpackers are not yet back, as is usual – they have a long drive from Olympic National Park). They made crossings when they wanted to take a break in the middle, but the trip leader told them they had to keep going. There were likely meals that couldn’t happen exactly on time. They faced this adversity while exploring one of the most beautiful places in the world in the best possible way. To quote Edward Abbey, “A man on foot, on horseback or on a bicycle will see more, feel more, enjoy more in one mile than the motorized tourists can in a hundred miles.” I’ll add to that canoe, or kayak, or sailboat. Abbey was a desert guy, after all. While exploring and facing some adversity, they had conversations, shared jokes, found new friendships and deepened old ones.

The pride and depth of experience that comes from these adventures, combined with the reunions the seniors feel seeing their friends from other trips, and the wholeness in our camp community having the seniors back, makes today a truly extraordinary day.

It also marks a moment where it’s really time be aware that there are only a few days left of this session. Not counting today or departure day, we’ve got four full days left together, and those four days will fly by. We all need to encourage each other to make the most of these last few days, set aside any negative stuff, and savor these last few days together. There will be plenty of opportunities for celebration and reflection. We always end the session with the same four evening activities – Talent/No Talent (our talent show), Pins & Slides (where we award activity area pins and have a slideshow of the session), the CT Dance, and our final Evening Fire. Plus, there will be many Gypsy Jewelry ceremonies, where we’ll appreciate each other and share lots of love, not mention all the informal connections and conversations that will happen. It will be great.

The week that was was also great. While the Seniors were gone, the Juniors and Intermediates had the run of camp. We had Sports Night on Monday, a counselor hunt run by the CTs on Tuesday, and Moonraker followed by sleeping out on the sports field on Wednesday. On Thursday, we had Burger Bar, a well loved evening activity that we always do when the seniors are gone. We give the kitchen staff the night off, and the heads team dresses themselves and the lodge up in a theme (this time, it was Spongebob Squarepants) and makes burgers, fries, and shakes for the whole camp. For evening activity, we watch a movie in the boat barn projected onto a sail, the only video of any kind these kids will watch all month. This session, we watched Coco, and it was very well received. We had a Folk dance on Friday, and last night, we had Craftapalooza, an evening centered on the Craft Courts. Tonight, we’ll have Age Group Night, in particular for the seniors to facilitate their reunions, and then tomorrow we’ll kick off our series of evening activities that end every session.

This session has flown by. As I write that, I realize that while it’s true, it simultaneously feels like these campers arrived ages ago. Camp has that tendency to warp one’s sense of time. It’s the intensity of the experience, our focus on the here and now, and the fact that it seems like so much can happen in a camp day. I take it as just one more small sign that this experience is a worthy one.

Thank you for sharing your children with us, once again. We will make the most of these last few days with them, and send them back to you on Friday having the pride and confidence that comes with having done something remarkable. I will blog here on Friday, as the campers are on their way home, and as usual, post daily on Twitter.

Posted by Paul Sheridan on July 15, 2018 at 4:58 pm.

The Midway Point

Greetings from Hilltop. It’s another beautiful day on Orcas Island. While we had a bit of rain earlier in the session, it’s mostly been at night, and today is gorgeous again. I looked at the forecast today, and saw nothing but low to mid 70s and sun for the foreseeable future. Not too shabby. It’s a beautiful day for a Regatta Day, and that’s where there campers and counselors are now, as I write this.

It’s been another wonderful week at Camp, and we now find ourselves at an interesting point in the session, just past midway through it. We’ve figured out the rhythms of a session pretty well over the years here, and our schedule isn’t an accident. During the first week, we work hard to establish the camp version of normal. We obviously need to spend some time in the first couple of days getting oriented, but what’s that’s done, we try to focus on establishing the routine. We have normal class schedules, not much in the way of special events, and lots of time and opportunities for friendship building and cabin bonding. In the second week, we turn everything upside down with lots of special events. We had Gypsy Day, the 4th of July, and the Gypsy Sisters and Swamp Chomp lunches all this week. At the staff meeting after the first two of those, which were on back to back days, I opened by just telling the staff, “It’s just a regular day at camp,” and they all cheered. All those special events require quite a bit from out staff. But, the point is that once we’ve established what’s normal at camp, we can introduce wish, wonder, and surprise, and we’ve done a ton of that this week. Next week, we’ll change things up again in a different way when we send the senior campers off on their six day trips, starting Tuesday. The seniors will have a fantastic adventure, and the juniors and intermediates will have a different energy in camp, with a smaller group (both in number and stature) and some special activities that we reserve for the juniors and intermediates this week. The last week is always my favorite. With our time at camp being short, people tend to appreciate it all the more, and we focus that energy with activities that encourage reflection and celebration. More on that week when we get to it, but to me, that week is what people mean when they say that camp feels magical.

At this interesting inflection point between the second and third week, we had a wonderful Sunday Assembly today. Royal, a senior boys’ tent, chose the topic of the power of words. It was a Sunday Assembly topic that I hadn’t heard before, and I believe pretty strongly that words have extraordinary power, so I was intrigued as to what would unfold. What unfolded is that the topic struck a clear chord with the campers. Camper after camper spoke, for an hour and 15 minutes, about times when words from others had given them strength or cut them down. Two themes came up repeatedly. The first was how the absence of technology here helps campers and staff to have meaningful conversations that are just harder to have with the distraction of technology available. They love those conversations. It’s a huge part of camp. I’m glad they get to have them here, and I hope they can take that skill with them to the outside world, even when they do have access to their devices. The second, and this one was harder to hear, was that several campers and staff shared moments of tragedy in their lives, but specifically to make the point that someone was able to use a word in that moment that made them feel hopeful, and loved, and better. It was honestly incredible to see such vulnerability from these young people, but it was amazing for us all to hear, and a reminder of what an impact our words can have.

As I said before, it’s been a great and full week. In addition to our special events, we’ve had our usual string of evening activities. On Monday, we had Game of Life, an elaborate game of tag in which campers attempt to rack up laps between the barn and the helm lawn, all while getting “lives” (rubber bands) from life givers (similar to medics in biffer medic) and losing them to the taggers, the life takers. We had another Folk Dance at the end of Gypsy Day, mixing things up this time by having it on the Helm Lawn. On Wednesday, the 4th of July, we had our annual parade and Garden Concert, though a bit of rain shortened the parade and moved the Garden to the Boat Barn. We played Lord of the Rings on Thursday, a four-way, multi-flag, Tolkien-themed version of capture the flag on the sports field. Friday was Cabin Adventure, and last night was Capture the Chicken.

These campers are having a fantastic time, and have built a wonderful community. Last week, I said that I looked forward to seeing what they could do with this community with a week’s experience under their belts. At the midway point, it’s coming into focus, and it’s pretty extraordinary. I look forward to the remainder of the session. The first half has been unbelievable, which only holds good things for the second. Thank you for sharing your children with us, and until next week, be sure to follow our updates on Twitter.

Posted by Paul Sheridan on July 8, 2018 at 5:42 pm.

A week in, and things are grand

Greetings from Hilltop. We’re in full swing up here on Orcas Island, and the kids are having a fantastic time. I was sitting today at Sunday Assembly, listening to the kids talk, and thinking how great it is that Four Winds is a four week camp. We have Sunday Assembly every Sunday. While we don’t have any religious component to our program at Four Winds, we’re certainly not above borrowing the good idea from religious traditions all over the world to have one day a week that has a slower pace and more opportunity for reflection and community. At Sunday Assembly each week, we sing some songs, and a cabin or tent leads us in a discussion of a topic relevant to the camp experience. Today, Crow’s Nest led us in a discussion of courage. Each girl shared her thoughts to the whole of Camp on what the topic meant to her, and then all campers had an opportunity to get up and share their own thoughts. Camper after camper stood up and shared about a time they overcame their fears, or about the thing that requires particular courage for them. After just one week here, kids where standing up and speaking publicly to a group of 250 people about a topic than can be quite vulnerable, knowing that they wouldn’t be teased later about having done it. This being my 14th summer at Four Winds, I’ve seen similar things many times, but it always strikes me as remarkable.

At a one week camp, the more typical experience that kids get, they would have gone home on Friday. Even at a two week camp, we’d have one eye towards winding down. Here, they’ve had a week to get settled, figure things out, and form relationships with staff and other campers. They’re just past the early stages of newness, and now we have nearly three weeks with them for real magic to happen.

I know that the four week sessions are a sacrifice for families in time, money, and psychological energy. Please be reassured that those sacrifices have real benefits, and thank you for being willing to make them.

Those of you who have been reading my Sunday blog posts for years know that I have a tendency to get up on my soapbox a little bit and extoll what’s good about this place, so thank you for being willing to read this far. I know you also care about the news of the week, what your kids have been up to, so I’ll dive right in that. As I indicated on my first night’s blog post, last Sunday we had Rotation Day. Rotation Day is so named because the campers rotate in groups through different stations, but it’s probably best understood as an Orientation Day. We wake up and have breakfast as normal, but we spend the first hour or two of the morning learning about the classes that are offered at Camp in our five activity areas (The Dock, The Barn, Land Sports, The Garden, and The Craft Courts), and then filling out forms to select the second half of the campers’ activity schedules, the first half being created from the forms you filled out in the spring. When that’s done, Danielle and I head up to the office with the activity areas heads to complete schedules for all the campers, and everyone else begins the second rotation of the day, completing orientation tasks like taking the swim test, visiting the nurse, exchanging uniforms that didn’t fit, having cabin photos made, and visiting Mariah in the office to learn about mail, packages, and the like. In between those tasks, there are games, activities, learning songs, and getting a tour of camp. That takes the rest of the day, and then for Evening Activity we had Biffer Medic, an elaborate game in which campers attempt to match fun facts about the staff to the staff members who are sitting around the Sports Field, while being pursued by Biffers (counselors armed with a sock with some flour in it) and being rescued by Medics (counselors dressed in crazy costumes who can unfreeze campers by giving them silly tasks). It’s a great way to end the first full day, and we ended as we end every evening at Four Winds, with singing, ending with our good night songs. On Monday, we began classes, and had Cabin Adventure for Evening Activity, in which each cabin or tent has their own unique activity. Tuesday brought Sports Night, with options for kickball, dodgeball, and ultimate frisbee. Wednesday was a camp favorite, Folk Dance, in which we dress up in crazy costumes and dance to well loved line dances. Thursday was Moonraker, where we have silly songs and skits on Moonraker Point. Friday was Capture the Chicken, which is exactly like Capture the Flag, but with a rubber chicken, also a huge camp favorite. Last night was Age Group Night, which is sort of like Cabin Adventure but with larger groups. Tonight will be Evening Fire, probably our oldest and most venerable tradition. We’ll gather in the Lodge, share music, poetry, and boons (thankful notes to each other that are read aloud to the whole group). Evening Fire is often the time when we have our greatest feelings of community, and I can’t wait.

It’s been a wonderful first week, and there is so much more to come. 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 1, 2018 at 1:25 pm.

First Session has begun!

Greetings from Hilltop. It is good to write those words on this blog once again, because it means that summer has begun. As I write this, the campers are heading towards bed, with many of them already there. They’ve met their cabinmates and counselors, had a nice meal, and are nested in their new homes. It’s been a long day, and it’s time for some rest.

The campers all arrived safely this afternoon. As soon as a whole cabin group was together, they headed back to their cabin or tent, played some games, and many created cabin or tent constitutions, rules they’ll all agree to live by as they share this space for the next month. Just after six, we had our first lowering of the flags on Greenie Hill. We sang some songs, each cabin and tent introduced themselves with a little skit, and we lowered the flags. We had a great dinner of spaghetti, garlic bread, and salad (with appropriate substitutions made for those with dietary restrictions). After dinner, we gathered on the stairs, sang some more songs, and then Danielle, our Assistant Director, and I spoke to the whole camp. We told them that we were excited they were here, that they are in a long line of Four Winds campers that have come to this place for great summers for over 90 years, and to ask their counselors or other staff for help if they need anything at all. We then celebrated the fact that we have campers and staff here from their first year up to their fourteenth, and that we come from 26 states and 14 countries, by standing up and cheering for each number of year and place. After all of that, campers headed back to their cabins and tents to settle in for the night.

Tomorrow is Rotation Day, where we’ll get the campers oriented to Camp and take care of business to make sure the session is all it can be. The campers will fill out their activity schedules (the first half being sorted out by the forms you filled out in the spring), take the swim test, see the nurse, exchange uniforms that don’t fit, have cabin photos made, get a tour of the property, and play lots of games. In the evening, we’ll play a elaborate game of tag, called Biffer Medic, on the sports field. Starting Monday, we’ll begin with activities, and we’ll be off to the races.

It’s early days, but the campers are about to have an experience of a lifetime. They’ll get to experience our wonderful activities, make the best kind of friends, and be a part of something bigger than themselves. Along the way, they’ll solve problems without the supports that they’re used to. They’ll gain independence, grit, and confidence.

Some of you might well be worried about homesickness. While of course it’s normal to worry that your child is having bad feelings, we don’t view homesickness as a bad thing. I honestly wish they would come up with a different word for it. It’s not a virus, after all, it’s a completely normal human feeling. For children away from home for the first time, of course those feelings are new, and often more intense than we experience them as adults. Still, though it’s sometimes hard, it’s an age appropriate challenge that these kids are ready to take on. Our staff train on helping campers that are missing home. If we notice homesickness that’s lasting past the first couple of days of camp, we’ll call to check in. Occasionally, a camper will write a letter home expressing homesickness, but not express those feelings to staff. So, if you do get a homesick letter, please call us. Almost all the time, we’re already working with the camper, and often the feelings have passed by the time you get a letter. But, every once in a while, a parent is able to alert us to a camper we didn’t know was struggling, so we always encourage you to call.

I’m sure you’re wondering about how you can keep in contact with your camper while they’re here. There are several ways. The first, and best, is the good old fashioned letter. That dying art is alive and well at Four Winds in the summer, and we encourage you to take advantage of it. Receiving a letter at camp is a wonderful, tactile experience. The letters campers write their parents often become cherished family keepsakes. The delay in delivery, in this age of immediacy, can actually make communication better. Please join us in this tradition, and help it thrive. Secondly, I will blog here once a week on Sundays, and tweet every day at twitter.com/fourwindscamp. You don’t need to join Twitter to get the updates, you can just go to the website. In the US, you can text the phrase “follow fourwindscamp” to 40404, and you will receive the updates by text message. Third, if you need to, please feel free to call our office. The staff here will be happy to check in your camper, and give you a call back.

I’m so happy this session has begun. The campers are full of positive energy, ready to have this rich experience. It’ll be an amazing month. Thank you for sharing your children with us.

Posted by Paul Sheridan on June 23, 2018 at 10:16 pm.

Greetings from Hilltop, and the end of a great Junior Session. The end of Camp tends to sneak up on a person, whether they’re a first time Junior Session camper who has been here for a week, or a Camp Director that’s been doing this since the beginning of June. Camp is quiet now, with counselors getting some jobs done before they can be on their way. Some campers are already with their parents. For those on their way to Woodland Park or the airport, our travel team reports that things are going smoothly so far.

At Evening Fire last night, I told the Junior Session campers that I was proud of them. They did something this week that most children their age never do, strike out on their own. For those that experienced a bit of homesickness this week, I told them I was extra proud. They now know that they can do things that they’re unsure they can. That is a powerful lesson, and one that will serve them well. A camper came up to me afterwards, as proud as punch, and said how he’d never had a sleepover before, and was a bit homesick the first night, but he did it, and wants to come back next year. Moments like that are why Camp is important, and speaking personally, why this work is so rewarding.

Speaking of next year, you may be interested to know that registration for summer 2018 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 2018 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. They got a great introduction to all that Four Winds has to offer, and it was a pleasure to have them here. We hope to see them all back next summer.

Posted by Paul Sheridan on August 29, 2017 at 10:30 am.

Greetings from Hilltop. We’re at the midway point of Junior Session, and having a ball. These campers are getting into the spirit of camp incredibly well. They’re playing, having fun, using their imaginations, and having that great early experience of being away from home.

As I write this, the campers are in the middle of Pirate Day. Pirate Day is the Junior Session sized version of Gypsy Day, an all day themed scavenger hunt during our main Session. In the Junior Session version, Danielle, our Assistant Director, and I were kidnapped by pirates while making announcements after lunch. The campers are off doing pirate training (dodging cannonballs, learning sea shanties, telling pirate jokes, practicing on pirate obstacle courses) in order to get ready to defeat our captors and rescue us. It’s fun for them, and provides me with a little time to get a blog post done. Everybody wins. In all seriousness, these campers’ willingness to use their imaginations is a big part of what makes Junior Session so fun. Give them an eye patch and a pirate accent, and you’ve got an afternoon.

The week has been great so far. Our Rotation Morning went smoothly on Thursday, and we started off on classes in the afternoon. For Evening Activity, we had Capture the Chicken. Capture the Chicken is exactly like Capture the Flag, but we play with a rubber chicken, for extra fun. In our main sessions, we play all over camp. In Junior Session, we play on the Sports Field. Yesterday, we had a full day of classes, and Sports Night for Evening Activity. This morning, we had classes again, Pirate Day in the afternoon, and for Evening Activity, we’ll have silly songs and skits on Moonraker Point.

We’re at just about the halfway point of Junior Session. For those of us that are used to the rhythms of a month-long session, Junior Session goes at lightning speed. But, for our campers, this first (or at least early) independent experience is a very big deal. For some, there have been moments of homesickness. We don’t consider that to be a bad thing, even though it’s hard. We’re at the halfway point, and very soon even the most homesick camper will see the light at the end of the tunnel. They all will complete something that most kids their age never do – a week away from home, away from family. Families consistently marvel at the growth that occurs here in a relatively short amount of time. Growth doesn’t happen from doing easy things. These campers are accomplishing something genuine, and they will be proud of that. I’m proud of them already.

Thank you for sharing your children with us this week. They’ve been a ball so far, and I look forward to spending the next few days with them. I’ll update you daily on Twitter, and post here on Tuesday after the campers are on their way.

Posted by Paul Sheridan on August 26, 2017 at 4:09 pm.

Greetings from Hilltop. All the Junior Session campers have arrived safely, and this wonderful week is off to a great start. About an hour ago, our chartered boat pulled into Four Winds Bay, greeted by cheers from the counselors and campers who had been dropped off by their parents on Greenie Hill. As I write this, the campers are exploring the areas around their cabins, getting to know their counselors and cabinmates, and (I’ll bet) skipping some rocks into the Sound. Soon, we’ll gather for flags and dinner, learn a few songs, and then move in and nest for the evening.

Tomorrow, we’ll spend the morning visiting the nurse, having cabin photos taken, taking the swim test, and learning some more songs. Then, after lunch, we’ll start going to the activity areas. After all, we’ve only got a week together, so we need to get going.

This week, these campers will learn to navigate a new environment away from their usual support system. Luckily, that environment is caring and a ton of fun, but it’s a huge growth opportunity nonetheless. When these campers complete this week, they will know that they are capable of just a little more than they thought they were when they started.

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’ll have each camper write a postcard tonight 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 Saturday, as well as after the campers leave on Tuesday. 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 get a fantastic first taste of all that Four Winds has to offer, and I look forward to going along for the ride with them.

Posted by Paul Sheridan on August 23, 2017 at 5:16 pm.

Greetings from Hilltop. Second Session is over, and it was one for the books. As I write this, some campers are already with their parents, and some are on their way. So far, our travel logistics are all going smoothly. In Camp, there’s an eerie quiet now that there are only around 75 summer staff where there was just recently just under 300 people. The counselors are cleaning, getting organized for an evening off and Junior Session, and processing their own really big experiences.

Last night at Evening Fire, there were more than a few tears. I told the campers to allow themselves to feel those feelings deeply, but also to be aware that the only reason to be sad is that something extraordinary happened here this month. Genuine friendships were forged and deepened. Obstacles and hardships were overcome. Campers became a bit more sure of themselves. Art, song, the wind at just the right angle to the sail, the rider in unison with her horse – all of those things will edify these campers throughout their lives.

Be aware that campers’ re-entry into what we affectionately call “the real world” at Camp may take a few days. They’ve had a big experience, and there is often a decompression period. Some will come out with the camp stories right away. Others make take a little time. Some may want to spend an inordinate amount of time on devices communicating with camp friends. Others will just want a nap. Give it a few days, and the decompression period will end.

I hope your camper is already talking about next summer, and you may be interested to know that registration for summer 2018 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 2018 season, and filling out the form.

Thank you for sharing your children with us. I know that it is a sacrifice, in both time and money, to choose Four Winds for your child. I hope you see the rewards in their faces when they return home, and I hope to see as many of them as possible back next summer.

Posted by Paul Sheridan on August 20, 2017 at 12:44 pm.