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!

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, 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.

Greetings from Hilltop. It’s a beautiful Sunday on Orcas Island. The wind changed on Friday, finally coming out of the south. That cleared out the haze that we’ve had as a result of forest fires in BC for a while now, and also brought a rare bit of overnight rain. We’re thankful for all of the above.

This is an interesting moment in Camp. In a few short days, it will be obvious to everyone that we’re nearing the end of the session. This is a bit of an interstitial moment. Now, we’re doing our thing. The Sunday schedule isn’t new to anyone anymore, but it hasn’t quite hit everyone that this is our last real Sunday together (departure day doesn’t count). The Seniors are still off on their trips. The word from the trip staff is that the trips have been great. Back in Camp, the change in energy has been great for everyone. The Seniors are back tomorrow, and then we only have two regular evening activities before we enter our series of four evening activities that end every session.

I’ve written many times that camp tends to warp your sense of time. On the one hand, it feels like we’ve always been here together. On the other, time has absolutely flown by. At this moment in Camp, I’m tempted to remind people that Camp is almost over, if only to jump start the feeling that we all get in the last few days of Camp, when we all seem to value Camp just a bit more, and that collective energy makes our community feel sublime. Today’s Sunday Assembly was on the topic of living in the moment, and it reminded me that some of the happiest times in my own life have been times when I’ve been fully present, focused on the here and now, and not worrying about the past or future. That’s also true of moments that make not make any top ten list, but are still filled with deep satisfaction and happiness. So, maybe I won’t push so hard this year to remind everyone that the end of the session is near, but instead will just allow them to have these precious moments in the here and now.

It’s been a great week in Camp. We played Capture the Chicken on Monday night. On Tuesday, we had Craftapalooza. On Wednesday, we handed the Evening Activity reins over to the CTs, who invented an elaborate hide and seek game which was all kinds of fun. On Thursday, we had silly songs and skits on Moonraker Point.

One of the funny things about Camp is the inside jokes that occur. For some reason, one of the jokes this session has been the playing of Careless Whisper by George Michael on an instrument called a melodica. I apologize in advance if any of you get requests to purchase melodicas when your kids come home. In any case, there was a very elaborate performance of Careless Whisper at Moonraker, and it was great. I only bring it up to attempt, as weakly as it may be, to give you a window into one of those had-to-be-there moments that makes Camp so great.

Last night, we had Burger Bar, a well-loved Evening Activity that we always do during Senior Trips, making it a special thing for just the Juniors and Intermediates. The Heads give the kitchen staff the night off, dress themselves and the Lodge in a theme, and cook burgers, fries, and shakes for the whole camp. Each cabin dresses itself up in theme and presents their theme at flags. And, we have our one bit of technology for the month, a movie for Evening Activity in the Boat Barn, projected onto a sail. The Heads theme and movie last night were both Harry Potter, and the kids ate it up.

This has been an amazing session so far. I look forward to spending these next few days with these campers and staff, and closing out this session well. Thank you for sharing your children with us. Be sure to follow our daily updates on Twitter, and I’ll post here again after the campers are on their way on the 20th.

Posted by Paul Sheridan on August 13, 2017 at 12:55 pm.

Greetings from Hilltop. We’re right in the middle of Second Session. We had a staff meeting last night, and I was able to tell the staff that in exactly two weeks from that moment, we’d be wrapping up our final Evening Fire of Second Session. The middle is in an interesting place. It doesn’t have the newness of the beginning, or the secret sauce that makes the last few days of Camp just magical. What it does have is the real meat of the experience. This is the time when adventures are had, friendships are deepened, and memories are made.

As one little indicator, last night was Cabin Adventure. Cabins were all over Camp on special adventures that were designed by their counselors. I had multiple counselors come up to me on Friday night and Saturday morning asking to change their days off from Saturday to a different day so that they could be with their kids for Cabin Adventure. I granted as many of those requests as I could. I love that phenomenon. Young adults today get a bit of bad rap of being selfish and incapable. In this environment, I find that nothing could be further from the truth. At least when they have work in front of them that has meaning, as they do here, they are selfless, hard working, and capable of great things. These campers are the beneficiaries.

It’s been a great week of Camp. On Monday, we had the Garbage Auction, a Second Session favorite. A week ago today, instead of normal Sunday Work Projects, we all picked up trash all over Camp, and each cabin and tent got points for the trash they picked up. On Monday, we had an auction where the cabins could use their points to bid on items like Ribs with Paul, the Head of Girls delivering your mail, to tea with all the British counselors. It’s good fun, and it also injects lots of adventures throughout the session. On Tuesday, we had Capture the Chicken, which is like Capture the Flag, but with a rubber chicken (and therefore much better). On Wednesday, we had silly songs and skits on Moonraker Point. On Thursday, for lunch, we had the Gypsy Sisters and Swamp Chomp lunches, the only meal where we split into Boys’ and Girls’ sides. For Evening activity, we played Lord of the Rings, a complicated yet very popular version of Capture the Flag that we play on the Sports Field, with a Tolkien them, four teams, multiple flags, and extra characters that have special powers in the game. Trust me, it’s fun.

On Friday, we had Gypsy Day. Gypsy Day started in Ruth Brown’s era at Camp on a day when the water system failed. She had to get all the campers off the property so they wouldn’t use the facilities and she could have them fixed, so she declared it Gypsy Day and sent them off on adventures. Today, we continue that spirit of adventure with slightly more advance planning. We surprise the kids with a slightly early wake up, and starting with the oldest girls, we wander through camp, waking everyone up with song. We play some big group games on the sports field, and then return to the Lodge for a special breakfast including a decorated Lodge, muffins baked by the CTs with fortunes inside, sugared cereal, and eggs. At breakfast, each camper gets a clue that sends them off to meet their Gypsy Band, which will go on an all-day themed scavenger hunt, meeting crazy characters along the way, and ending in buried treasure. In the afternoon, we all gather back together in cabin and tent groups, change into Sunday uniforms, and honor eight campers chosen by the staff for their extraordinary expression of our camp values – trying new things, being helpful, and being a good friend. We have dinner, and then a lovely Garden Concert to end the day.

This next week ahead will be normal for a couple of days, and then the Seniors will depart on their six-day trips. They will have great adventures, and Camp will feel a little different while they’re gone. When they return, we’ll be in to the last few days of camp. As I told the staff last night, and will tell the campers tonight at Evening Fire, the time will fly by, and it’s incumbent upon all of us to make the most of these fleeting moments together. 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 August 6, 2017 at 1:27 pm.

Greetings from Hilltop. It’s a beautiful day for our first Sunday at Camp, and it’s been a great first week of Second Session.

Sundays are a completely different schedule at Camp. We sleep in an hour later, have a leisurely breakfast, and then Sunday Assembly. At Sunday Assembly, we gather in a beautiful spot in Camp, and a group leads a discussion of some topic that is important at Camp. Today, we met at Big Rock and the CTs led a discussion about trying new things. After Sunday Assembly, we have Sunday Work Projects, where we all do a job to give back to our community. We have lunch, an extra long rest hour, and then a fun Sunday afternoon activity. Today, we’ll all be heading down to the dock for Regatta Day. We’ll have dinner, and for our evening activity, we’ll have Evening Fire, Camp’s oldest evening activity, where we’ll gather in the Lodge to share music and poetry as campers and staff have for 90 years.

A Sunday focused on a slower pace, reflection, celebration, and service is particularly necessary at a four week camp. One of the best parts about a four week session is that there is opportunity for ebbs and flows, for development, and for deeper relationships to form. An opportunity to pause from the normal routine helps that process along, and it makes for some of my favorite camp days.

As I said earlier, it’s been a great first week. As I wrote in my first post, arrival day was followed by Rotation Day and Biffer Medic for evening activity. On Wednesday, we had our first day of classes, and Cabin Adventure for evening activity. Thursday brought the first day of Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday classes, the departure of the first round of intermediate trips (all the cabins and tents that are entering 8th grade), and Sports Night for evening activity. On Friday, we had a Folk Dance, which involves crazy costumes and dancing to well loved line dances. Last night, we had Age Group Night, where each age group comes up with its own evening activity.

With the first week in the books, we’re now ready to get into the meat of Camp. This morning’s Sunday Assembly topic was particularly apt for this time in the session. The reality of the first week of camp, and of a one week camp session, is that most of the new things campers try are thrust upon them. We create their cabin groups, assign their counselors, make their class schedules as best we can, but imperfectly, according to their preferences, and they learn all the ins and outs of camp. Now that all that is behind us, they can choose they new things they will try over the next three weeks. They can attempt that feat in an activity area that has been just beyond their reach. They can attempt to make a new friend that’s beyond their current social group. They can get up to perform at Evening Fire, or one of the many other opportunities we have for performance. In short, they can identify their own challenges, and attempt them. It’s a great thing.

Thank you for sharing your children with us. In this first week, these campers and staff have created the beginnings of a wonderful community, and I look forward to seeing how it develops. Until next Sunday, be sure to follow our daily updates on Twitter.

Posted by Paul Sheridan on July 30, 2017 at 12:41 pm.

Greetings from Hilltop. Second Session has begun, and it feels fantastic. The boats deposited the campers on our dock, and they ran up Greenie Hill to greet their counselors and the campers who had been dropped off by their parents. Reunions were had, introductions were made, and Camp was off to a fine start.

These campers are in for a fantastic experience. For 90 years, campers have been coming to this corner of Orcas Island to try new things, have adventures, learn to live together, and make the best kind of friends. The staff has had a nice break between the sessions, and is raring to go. I’m so proud of this staff. During First Session, they showed that they are all we hoped for. They are willing to do what needs to be done to give these campers the experience of their lives. I can’t wait to be a part of it.

Tonight, the campers are just moving in and getting to know one another. We had a great Thanksgiving-style dinner on the Lodge deck, met on the stairs, sang some songs, and celebrated the beginning of the session. That, moving in, and getting to know one another a bit is plenty for the first night. Tomorrow, we’ll have Rotation Day, where we’ll select classes, visit the nurse, take the swim test, exchange uniforms that don’t fit, have cabin photos made, get oriented, and get to know each other a bit more. The day will be capped off be a great evening activity, Biffer Medic. It’s essentially a giant game of tag in which campers try to match fun facts to counselors while avoiding Biffers (counselors armed with a sock full of flour). If they are tagged, they freeze, and can be unfrozen by Medics (counselors doling out silly tasks). It’s a great way to end the first day. Starting on Wednesday, we’ll begin with classes, and we’ll be on our way.

I’m sure that some of you are looking for an update on our fire situation. The truth is, there’s not much to update, which is great news. Or, to put it another way, we haven’t had any more fires. Our kitchen is back to about 90% of its normal operating capacity, and we’re working to get it that last 10%. We’ve taken some smart precautions, and we’re hopeful that we’re beyond the trouble. If not, we are ready.

Back to more normal beginning of camp things, I should talk a little bit about communicating with your camper. The primary method is the letter. Letter writing, a dying art, is alive and well between Four Winds campers and their families. There’s something about the tactile nature of the letter that makes it magical. Getting a letter at Camp feels great, and receiving one from camp creates memories that families treasure for years. And, we view the delay of the mail as a feature, not a bug. It adds to the independent experience of Camp. With that said, a few of you will receive homesick letters while your children are here. I won’t lie, those letters can be heartbreaking. But, please give us a call if you get one. The feeling may well have changed during that delay of the mail. If it hasn’t, we may already be working with your camper. Rarely, a camper doesn’t express any homesick feelings at camp, but does in a letter home. In that case, your calling camp will help us to get your camper the attention they need.

With respect to homesickness, we don’t view it as something to be feared. It’s a normal feeling and an age appropriate challenge. When campers overcome homesickness and have a successful camp experience, they feel accomplished, and they are more ready for other independent experiences. I can’t prove it (I hope someone will), but I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts that children who go to a good, long term summer camp have better outcomes in college than those who don’t.

There are other ways that you can get a sense of what’s going on as well. I’ll blog here once a week, on Sundays. I’ll also post daily on our Twitter feed. You don’t need to join Twitter to get those updates. You can just go to the link, or text the phrase “follow fourwindscamp” to the 40404, and you’ll get the updates by text. In fair warning, I do occasionally tweet at 10 or 11 at night, so take necessary precautions. You’re also welcome to just call the office, and the staff here can check in on your camper and call you back with a report.

Thank you for sharing your children with us this month. I can’t wait to see the community that they’ll create.

Posted by Paul Sheridan on July 24, 2017 at 9:50 pm.

Greetings from Hilltop. Well, Camp is quiet for the first time in a month. In spite of the challenges of the last few days, this has been an absolutely extraordinary session. Last night’s final Evening Fire was a fitting end. When you’ve been at Camp for a while, it’s tough not to rate Evening Fires a little bit. Normally, they’re really good. Once in a while, we get one that’s a little sub par. From time to time, we have one that’s transcendent. Last night was one of those nights. There were many great moments, but two notable highlights. The first was a sea shanty led by our Head of Boys, Ciaran, and sang by all of Boys’ Side. For all of us who live in Girls’ Side, myself included due to the location of Hilltop, it was a complete surprise. The voices of the boys and their counselors were strong and joyous. They filled the room like I’ve never seen. The second moment was a surprise of a different sort. We awarded our Head of Girls’ Side, Charlotte, her Gypsy Pin. The Gypsy Pin is the highest piece of Gypsy Jewelry we award. We often don’t list it when we rattle off the types of Gypsy Jewelry because it’s given so rarely. It’s given at a point after the Polaris Ring or Gypsy Bracelet, and it’s meant to recognize a truly significant service to Camp. Charlotte fits the bill perfectly, and the Pin was probably overdue. Hearing everyone’s expressions of gratitude towards Charlotte, hearing the impact she’s had on so many campers and staff, was a reminder to all of us about how we affect each other daily. I love Charlotte, and I’m happy she got her pin, but my mind does wander to the impact on the entirety of Camp of seeing all that gratitude, impact, and emotion laid bare in the Lodge. Three of Charlotte’s former campers from Fir, our youngest girls’ cabin, from six years ago, now Seniors, spoke. Charlotte recalled that when she was their counselor, at perhaps 19, she witnessed a Gypsy Pin ceremony at a final evening fire. It makes me wonder which young person sitting in the audience last night will be recognized years from now, having impacted hundreds.

Moving from the sublime to the informative, Travel Day is going well. Many of you are already reunited with your children. For those that aren’t, flights are going smoothly. Camp is an emotionally intense experience, and lots of kids need a little bit of a re-entry period to what we refer to as “the real world.” Kids express that decompression period differently. Some come immediately with the camp stories. Other are on devices communicating with camp friends and not talking as much as their parents would like. Take your cues from your camper. The decompression period will normalize in a few days.

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, clicking on “Registration Form,” selecting the 2018 season, and filling out the form.

Thank you for sharing your children with us this month. It was a truly extraordinary experience, both for us and for them. I hope to see them all next summer, and in the off season as well.

Posted by Paul Sheridan on July 21, 2017 at 6:21 pm.

Update on fire in the kitchen – All is well

Hello everyone,

I sent this email to all parents of all First Session campers earlier today. Second and Junior Session parents got a similar email. But, I recognize that email can fall through the cracks, and of course our Four Winds community extends beyond the families that have campers at Camp this summer, so I thought it wise to post it here as well.

Not a lot has changed since I wrote this email a few hours ago – we’re all doing fine, we have meal plans through the remainder of First Session, and we’re hopeful that we can be back to a fully operating kitchen before the Second Session campers arrive, or just shortly thereafter.

Here’s the email:

Dear First Session Parents,

I’m writing to let you know about a fire that occurred overnight in our commercial kitchen. First of all, let me say the most important thing, which is that all campers and staff are safe. There were no injuries at all, not even minor ones, that resulted from the fire. Secondly, there is no damage to the main structure of the Lodge, to the room where we have Evening Fire, or to any of the historical treasures we keep in the Lodge.

There is, however, significant damage inside the commercial kitchen, mainly to the floor, but there is also smoke damage, and residue from the powder and foam from the fire extinguishers and compressed air foam system that were used to extinguish the fire. We are already in touch with a fire damage restoration company that is sending someone to Camp today to assess the job, and will have a crew on site tomorrow.

In the meantime, we are focused on solving the logistical problem of feeding our campers and staff without use of our kitchen, and on keeping Camp as normal and fun for the campers as possible. Our friends at Camp Orkila are helping us out with breakfast and lunch today, and we’re working on plans for dinner today and meals for the next few days. Ruth Brown, our founder, had a way of looking at wrenches thrown in plans as opportunities for adventure and delight, and that’s how we intend to make Camp work for these next few days. Obviously, those plans will change as we get more information, but we know that we can keep the campers fed and happy, and that’s what we’ll do.

This session has been fantastic so far, and it will end in the same fantastic fashion. Thank you for sending your children to Four Winds. I’ll be sorry to see them go on Friday, but those family reunions are just as much a great part of Camp as the rest of it, and I look forward to those as well.

All the best,

Posted by Paul Sheridan on July 18, 2017 at 4:41 pm.

Greetings from Hilltop. The last few days of Camp are here. It always sneaks up on me, even in my 13th summer. While the seniors were gone last week, it seemed as though we’d all be here together forever. Of course we could look at the calendar and see, but it doesn’t register emotionally for some reason until the Seniors are back, and we are looking at our final four evening activities.

Part of what makes Camp great is ritual. Ritual is important at Camp because it creates a sense of familiarity, and it sends signals to our community about what’s going on. The familiarity is important because much of Camp involves pushing yourself outside your comfort zone. The familiarity of our rituals offsets that push into growth. The signals are important because we’re a relatively large community, and Camp is at its best when many of us are feeling similar feelings. Sometimes it’s simple. Our good night songs every night signal feelings that it’s time to go to bed, and to bring our energy down after a sometimes zany evening activity.

The ritual that I want to talk about here is bit bigger than that, our final four evening activities. We end each session with the same four. Tomorrow, we’ll have Talent/No Talent, our talent show. On Tuesday, we’ll have Pins & Slides, where we’ll award activity area pins and have a slideshow of the session. On Wednesday, we’ll have the CT Dance, where the CTs will decorate the boat barn and we’ll dance the night away. On our last night together, we’ll have our final Evening Fire. All of these evening activities share a theme of celebration and reflection. The fact that they’re the same every year shakes us out of our sense that we’ll be here together forever. We will not. Our time is short, and when we recognize that, we value our time together all the more. It’s one of my favorite times in Camp, and I can’t wait.

On top off all that, we’ll have a great number of Gypsy Jewelry ceremonies in this last week. As many of you know, campers and staff receive different items of jewelry in their camp careers. In everyone’s first year, they receive a boon pin. In their third, boys receive a Polaris Pin and girls receive a Gypsy Ring. At some point after that, usually when a person is on staff, they can receive a Polaris Ring for boys, and a Gypsy Bracelet for girls. The way we award this jewelry is simplicity itself. We surprise the recipient in a place in Camp that is special to them, sitting in a circle and singing a camp song they love. We each take a turn sharing something about the person that makes them particularly deserving, we give them the item of jewelry, and then they pick a song for us to sing to end the ceremony. It sounds simple, and it is, but the net effect of dozens of those circles over the next five days is fellow feeling across our community. To me, when people say Gypsy Magic, a term that can be hard to define, that’s what they’re talking about.

Thank you for sharing your children with us. It’s been a pleasure to spend these last three weeks and a bit with them, as I know it will be to spend these last few days. I’ll post again on Friday when the campers are on their way home. Until then, be sure to follow our daily updates on Twitter.

Posted by Paul Sheridan on July 16, 2017 at 1:50 pm.

Update #3 from the Carlyn

Hi Paul!

We are making a brief stop in Campbell River now before pushing off tonight for Namaimo.
We left you last at Lund, BC and a lot has happened since then. We left for Desolation Sound the next day and went to one of my favorite spots: Tenedos Bay. We anchored and swam in 73 degree salt water before a hike up to pristine Unwin Lake for yet another swim to rinse off the salt. We’ve been eating a lot of huckleberries as they are finally ripe. It’s a new crew favorite, and in fact the campers have become quite the naturalists! Alaskan blueberries are out too, a personal favorite of mine. We have seen many of my friends out here on different boats as well and it has been nice for the campers to make new friends.

The day after Tenedos, we went over to Prideaux Haven for yet another swim, and sailed all afternoon up Homfray Channel which was stunning. Spent the night at my favorite dock in Toba Inlet, a gorgeous fjord with snow capped peaks. We had Gypsy Day aboard the next day and as a challenge, the campers took over the boat and sailed to the head of the Inlet. We saw a black bear eating on the shore, but he didn’t like the look of us and ambled into the woods.

The day after, we left Toba Inlet and headed to Octopus Islands Park, but on the way were treated with a great humpback whale sighting as they fed near Raza Island! Octopus was wonderful. We spent a day there before going to Pulton Bay and spending a relaxing 2 days at the Bounous property relaxing, swimming in the lake and rock quarry and catching salamanders.

We left early this morning and went through Seymour Narrows and arrived at Campbell River. We are gassed up, got food and water and took naps in preparation for the most challenging part of our trip; we will sail all night tonight and tomorrow on our way to Nanaimo. The campers will lead the watches and guide the ship over 70 miles to our destination. They have been preparing and are ready.

We will spend the 16th in Nanaimo and then head for Friday Harbor and then back to Camp. It’s been a marvelous trip but we miss our friends at camp. We look forward to seeing you soon and I’ll drop a line from Nanaimo. Fair winds!

Capt. Ryan

Posted by Paul Sheridan on July 14, 2017 at 5:33 pm.

Greetings from Hilltop. What a time to be at Camp, on Orcas Island, in the middle of this First Session. It’s hard to believe that we’re past the halfway point of the Session, but of course that is indeed the truth. Camp has a way of warping your sense of time. As someone more eloquent than me said about the phenomenon, “The days feel like weeks, but the weeks feel like days.” The Seniors left on trips today. That is a pretty big marker of time in our four weeks together. We’ve been together for two weeks. Everyone knows each other, the campus, and at least the most important songs. We’ve tried new things, and overcome setbacks. Some campers have made a friend, gotten into a disagreement, and made up with that friend again. We’ve had great special events like the Fourth of July, Gypsy Sisters and Swamp Chomp lunches, and of course Gypsy Day.

Now, it’s time to switch things up a bit. Our Seniors are going off on 6 day trips around the San Juan Islands and on the Olympic Peninsula. Nearly all of them are quite comfortable at Camp, but some of them are a bit nervous about trips, whether it’s about not knowing everyone in their group, going on a longer wilderness trip, or the physical nature of the trip. That nervousness is a big part of why we do trips. Parents often marvel at the growth that occurs in campers over the course of just a few weeks. Growth doesn’t occur by doing things that are easy. It occurs when we try things that make us a bit nervous. Time and time again, I’ve seen those nervous campers return from trips elated, proud of their accomplishments, happy to be reunited with friends from other trips, and full of inside jokes from their own trip group. It’s fantastic, and I’m a bit jealous of the adventures they’re about to have.

Back in Camp, we have great things in store for our Juniors and Intermediates. Camp will feel a bit smaller, with nearly 70 of our community members off on trips. Our 13 year olds will be the oldest kids in Camp, giving them a heretofore unavailable leadership opportunity. Lastly, we have some great things in store for them here, chiefly among them the always loved Burger Bar, in which the heads will give the kitchen staff the night off, dress themselves and the Lodge in a theme, serve burgers, fries, and milkshakes to the campers, followed by a movie projected onto a sail in the Boat Barn – the only “screen time” they’ll get for a month.

But, enough about the week to come. The week that’s past was action packed. On Monday, we played the Game of Life, an elaborate game of tag between the Barn and the Helm. On Tuesday, we had our 4th of July parade to Deer Harbor and a concert in the Garden. On Wednesday, we had our Gypsy Sisters and Swamp Chomp lunches. The girls had pizza and decorated cupcakes at the Drama Stage and revealed their Gypsy Sisters, Senior campers who’ve been writing notes and making presents for younger campers secretly throughout the month. The boys had barbecue on the Sports Field and played lawn games. For evening activity, we had Craftapalooza, a celebration of all things Craft Courts. On Thursday, we played Lord of the Rings, a great version of capture the flag that involves four teams, multiple flags, and a J.R.R. Tolkien theme. Saturday was a great Cabin Adventure.

Yesterday was Gypsy Day! Gypsy Day is an old tradition at Camp, begun when the water system failed in Ruth Brown’s era, and she sent everyone off the property to have an adventure while it was fixed. Today, it’s slightly more organized, but in the same spirit. We woke up a bit early. The Head of Girls and Music Director started in the Senior Girls’ cabins and woke them up with singing. The campers formed a chain and wandered through all the cabins and tents, singing and waking up the Camp. We all ended up on the Sports Field, where we played some big group games led by the oldest campers. We headed back to a crazily decorated Lodge for flags and a breakfast of sugared cereal (the only time during the month!), chocolate chip muffins with fortunes inside of them baked by the CTs, and eggs (on Paul’s insistence). At breakfast, each camper received a clue that told them about their Gypsy Band, which included a theme and a mode of travel. Each Band spent the day on a giant themed scavenger hunt, meeting crazy characters along the way. At the end of the day, we gathered in the Garden for Gypsy Court, where we recognized a boy and a girl from each age group, and two of each gender from the Seniors, as campers who have exceptionally displayed the values we espouse at Camp: Helping each other, trying new things, and being kind, welcoming, and inclusive. We had a great dinner, and then a Folk Dance for Evening Activity. It was a long, but fantastic, day.

That’s the news from Deer Harbor. Thank you so much for sharing your children with us. I look forward to spending this next week with the Juniors and Intermediates, and hearing stories from the Seniors about their adventures when they return on Friday. Until next Sunday, be sure to follow our daily updates on Twitter.

Posted by Paul Sheridan on July 9, 2017 at 3:28 pm.