Updates from Camp
Saturday, July 21, 2012
End of a great session
Greetings from Hilltop. All the boats have left Four Winds Bay, and the campers are on their way home. It’s been a wonderful session. Last night at Evening Fire, I told the campers how proud I was of them for building a community as strong as the one they built this session. There were many tears last night at Evening Fire and this morning as the campers boarded the boats, a sign of the strong connections made this summer.
A word about your campers when they come home. Some campers will experience what we call “campsickness,” the flip side of homesickness. They’ve been feeling strong emotions, intense feelings of belonging, and now that camp is over, a sense of loss. Some campers will take a few days to adjust to the real world. This is very common. Just take your cues from your camper, and just like homesickness, campsickness will pass.
I should also mention that registration for 2013 is already open. For returning families, the easiest way to register is to go to fourwindscamp.org/login, and log in to the same account you used to fill out forms this spring. Click on “Registration Form,” select the 2013 season, and you’re on your way. Your information will be automatically entered into the new Registration Form. Please verify the information to make sure it still correct. We certainly appreciate your spreading the word to new families, who can register at fourwindscamp.org by clicking on “Register Now.” We hold spots for returning families until November 30, so we will hold the registrations of any new families until then, and enroll the children on December 1.
Thank you for sending your children to Four Winds this summer. It’s been a great session, and we hope to see them all back next year.
Posted by Paul Sheridan on July 21, 2012 at 9:25 am.
Sunday, July 15, 2012
Poised for a great finish
Greetings from Hilltop. Once again, it has been a wonderful week. The Seniors returned from their trips yesterday, full of stories and camaraderie, and joyful in their reunions with friends from different trips. Every director at Four Winds has had his or her personal traditions, and one of mine has been welcoming the Seniors back from trips with a picnic of barbecued beef brisket in the back yard of Hilltop. We did that last night, and as always, it was a great way to welcome them back. All of them overcame something on their trips, whether that was paddling or hiking a longer day than they ever had, reaching outside the social group that’s most comfortable, camping out during the thunder and lightning storms that we had on Thursday and Friday night, or just not taking a shower for six days. The collective pride in those accomplishments has infused Camp with a wonderful energy as we go into the last week of the session.
Of course, the Juniors and Intermediates had a fantastic week as well. While the Seniors were gone, we played Capture the Chicken, performed and watched silly songs and skits on Moonraker Point, followed by a sleep out on the sports field, had an all-camp scavenger hunt, Sports Night, and Burger Bar. At Burger Bar, each cabin and tent dresses up in a theme, we give the kitchen staff the night off, and the heads cook burgers, fries, and milkshakes for the campers. Afterwards, we head up to the boat barn to watch a movie projected onto a sail hanging from the rafters. This year, it was the first Harry Potter movie. There was thunder and lightning in the distance, and when Draco Malfoy was first introduced, thunder boomed, which was fun. Less fun was that all of San Juan County lost power about halfway through the movie due to storms on the mainland. Luckily, our intrepid staff were able to sing songs with the campers while our Carlyn Captain, Scott Cann, got our maintenance generator going so we could finish the movie. I love that our staff are always ready to get creative to make sure the kids have a great time, even in the face of unexpected challenges, and even on a night when the original plan was one that allowed them to check out a bit for a couple of hours and let the movie do the work.
Now, we head into the last week of Camp. We do a lot of things well at Four Winds, but the last week of Camp is one of our best. Tomorrow is our last normal evening activity, a Folk Dance. After that, we begin a sequence of evening activities that end every session. On Tuesday night, we’ll have Talent/No Talent, a talent show in the Boat Barn. On Wednesday, we’ll have Pins & Slides, where we’ll recognize campers with activity pins and have a slideshow with photos from the session. On Thursday, the CTs will host a dance. On Friday, we’ll have our final Evening Fire of the session. These activities do a couple of things. First, they have a great balance of reflection and celebration. Second, the fact that it’s the same sequence every year triggers a different part of everyone’s brains, it signals that the session is coming to a close, and that scarcity causes everyone to value Camp just a little bit more. When many people feel that way, and act on those feelings by taking full advantage of every moment, Camp feels about as close to a utopia as anything I’ve ever seen. For me, that’s Gypsy Magic.
I look forward to the coming week, and to finishing this wonderful session in the way these campers deserve. Once again, thank you for sharing your children with us.
Posted by Paul Sheridan on July 15, 2012 at 1:45 pm.
Sunday, July 8, 2012
Warm days, grand adventures
Greetings from Hilltop. Summer weather has come to stay on Orcas, after a touch and go first week of the session, weather wise. The joke in the San Juans is that summer starts July 4th, and this year, that held true to the day. The night of July 2nd, we were supposed to have an all Camp game, planned by the CTs, as our evening activity. Right around dinner time, it started to rain pretty hard, and we knew the game wasn’t going to work. At the last minute, we threw together an alternative evening activity, “Surviving the Pacific Northwest,” which involved an open mic coffee shop in the Lodge, the wearing of flannel and beards, a protest against the rain, and a treehouse commune. Campers and staff made a great night of it, and apparently the protest worked, because right after lunch on the 3rd, the sun came out, hasn’t left us since, and isn’t forecasted to for the foreseeable future.
It’s been a week full of wonderful events. On July 4th, we had our traditional giant American flag sheet cake for dessert, and a parade into Deer Harbor. On the 5th, for lunch, we had the Gypsy Sisters/Swamp Chomp lunch. The girls have lunch in the garden and reveal their Gypsy Sisters, secret senior campers who have been looking out for younger ones, and sending them special gifts. The boys head to the sports field for barbecue and games. The 6th was Gypsy Day, a surprise, all day, all over Camp scavenger hunt prepared by the staff. Campers are woken up by a chain of fellow campers, starting with the oldest girls, singing songs and wandering through the cabins and tents. Then, we then play games on the Sports Field in our pajamas. We have breakfast on the Lodge Deck but there is sugared cereal and muffins baked by the CTs with fortunes inside instead of the normal fare. At the end of breakfast, each camper is given a clue, which leads him to his band, which is the group he’ll adventure with all day long. At the end of the day, we all gather together and recognize the Gypsy Court, a few campers from each age group, selected by the staff for having been leaders among their peers.
All of those special events took a great deal of energy, so yesterday, we had an unscheduled sleep in. That, combined with today’s scheduled sleep in has everyone well rested and ready for the coming week. Tomorrow, the senior campers leave on their 6 day trips. They’re meeting and packing today, and tomorrow they’ll set off via war canoe, sea kayak, sailboat and on foot in smaller groups for great adventures. The adventures will challenge them, in some cases physically, in some cases socially. They will meet those challenges, and be stronger as a result. The juniors and intermediates will have the run of the Camp for the week. We have some special events planned for them, and the different dynamic of the Camp with the seniors gone will allow them to step into different roles, and test themselves in different ways.
Now, I’m off to enjoy our Sunday afternoon activity, a slightly reprised version of the game the CTs had planned for our evening activity on the 2nd, followed by dinner and evening fire. Until next Sunday, be sure to catch our daily updates on Twitter. Thank you, once again, for sharing your children with us.
Posted by Paul Sheridan on July 8, 2012 at 3:37 pm.
Sunday, July 1, 2012
What a week!
Greetings from Hilltop. As I write this, campers are in their cabins and tents, enjoying an extra-long Sunday rest hour. Sundays are wonderful at Camp. We sleep in for an hour, have a nice breakfast, and then gather somewhere special in Camp for Sunday Assembly. Today, we met at Madrona Point, a beautiful spot by the junior girls’ cabins, and Crow’s Nest led us in a discussion about positivity, gratitude, and leadership. After that, each cabin group has a work project to complete around Camp, we have lunch, and an extra long rest hour. In the afternoon, we have a special Sunday afternoon activity. Today, it will be the Olympics. In the evening, we have dinner and Evening Fire. It’s so refreshing to slow down even more than we normally do at Camp, spend time with each other, and focus on what’s great about this place. The fact that it’s sunny and beautiful out doesn’t hurt either.
It’s been a great first week. Camp feels in full swing, as though the campers have always been here. For evening activities this week, we’ve had Biffer Medic (a giant game of tag that involves matching clues to staff members and avoiding Biffers, counselors armed with socks with flour in them), Cabin Adventure, Moonraker (silly songs and skits on Moonraker Point), Age Group Night, Capture the Chicken (Capture the Flag, but with a rubber chicken, and therefore infinitely better), and Folk Dance. Trips have begun. Several of the junior and intermediate cabins have already had their cabin trips. It’s great to see the kids come back from trips, full of stories and inside jokes, and proud of their accomplishments. Another round of intermediate trips leaves tomorrow. Carlyn, our 61′ yawl, has already taken a number of campers out, and tomorrow has a circumnavigation of San Juan Island planned. That trip will take them into Haro Straight, where they have a good chance of seeing Orca Whales.
Amidst all of this fun, there is amazing growth happening. Campers are experimenting and testing themselves away from the supports of home. They are overcoming challenges, sometimes easily, and sometimes with great struggle. This is where the true magic of Camp happens. This is why parents tell us that they’re amazed at the growth they see in their children after only a month here. It’s a privilege to be a part of it.
Before I go, a few bits of information. First, we’re asking all the campers to write a letter home today during rest hour, so that will be tomorrow’s mail. More than a few of you haven’t gotten a letter yet, and I’m sure you’re anxious to get one. Depending on mailing times from Orcas to where you live, if you haven’t received a letter by the middle of this week, give us a call and we’ll nudge your camper a bit. Second, many of you will be visiting in the next two weeks. If you are planning a visit, please give Abby a call to let her know when you’re coming, and have a look at our Guidelines for Visitors. Third, you can get daily updates on the goings on of Camp on our Twitter feed, @fourwindscamp. You don’t have to join Twitter to get those updates, you can just go to twitter.com/fourwindscamp.
Once again, thank you for sharing your children with us. They’re building a wonderful community up here on Orcas.
Posted by Paul Sheridan on July 1, 2012 at 4:39 pm.
Sunday, June 24, 2012
Camp has begun!
Greetings from Hilltop. What a day! It’s been a bit gray the last few days on Orcas, but at about lunchtime today the sky turned a perfect blue, and the sun shone as the boats pulled into Four Winds Bay, full of campers ready for the summer of their lives.
All the First Session campers have arrived safely, minus a few that had late flights and are with staff and on their way. As I write this, campers are meeting their cabinmates and counselors, getting to know each other, and preparing a brief introduction skit for our opening flags ceremony, which will happen in about an hour. After that, we’ll have some dinner, and meet on the lodge steps to kick off the session. We’ll celebrate number of years people have attended Camp, and the fact that 27 states and 16 countries are represented by the campers and staff of First Session. After that, we’ll head back to cabins and tents to unpack and get settled in.
Tomorrow, we’ll have Rotation Day, and the campers will take care of a bit of business like the swim test, visiting the nurse, having cabin photos made, and choosing classes for the three unfilled spots in their schedules (the first three were chosen using the form you filled out in the spring). At night, we’ll play Biffer Medic, a great sports field game that involves matching interesting facts with counselors, all while avoiding getting biffed (tagged with a sock full of flour).
It’s been a great staff training. This staff is one of the best I’ve seen. They are ready to give of themselves in order to give these children a fantastic experience, and build a community that rich, welcoming, and challenging.
I’m sure you’ll be wondering how to check up on what’s going at Camp, and you can do so in several ways. First, there will be a post on this blog once a week, on Sundays. Second, you can get daily updates from our Twitter feed, @fourwindscamp. You don’t have to join Twitter to get those updates. You can simply go to the website twitter.com/fourwindscamp, or you can text “follow fourwindscamp” to the number 40404 and all the updates will be sent to you via text message. We don’t comment on specific children in either of those settings, so if you want to ask about your individual camper, please don’t hesitate to call Abby at (360) 376-2277.
Finally, a word about homesickness. Homesickness can be part of the camp experience for many children, and our staff are well trained to help campers through these feelings. The majority of campers are able to work through these feelings in the first few days of camp. A few struggle with them a bit longer. Either way, we view homesickness as one of the normal, healthy, age-appropriate challenges that might be put in campers’ paths this summer – similar to riding a horse for the first time, or living with a cabin mate that the camper might not choose as a friend. As with all challenges, we want to give campers a lot of support as they work through those feelings. It’s certainly possible that you might receive a homesick letter at some point this week. If you do, don’t hesitate to call us. Often times, the camper has already worked through the homesickness. On rare occasions, the camper has not voiced their feelings, and a call from a parent following a letter allows us to give the child the attention they need.
We look forward to another fantastic Four Winds summer, one fitting of our 85th anniversary. Thank you for sharing your children with us. We’re off to a great start.
Posted by Paul Sheridan on June 24, 2012 at 5:28 pm.