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Philosophy

We believe that a great camp is a great deal more than a place, and a great deal more than activities. At Four Winds, we’re fortunate to have a gorgeous property on Orcas Island, and unbelievable activities, but our philosophy and community are even more important. In selecting a Camp, we encourage you to dig deep and find out what a Camp believes, and make sure it’s consistent with what you want for your child.

With that in mind, here are some things that we believe in.

Independent Experiences

We believe that kids should have independent experiences, away from home and family. We live in an age where kids are supervised and scheduled almost all the time. Not so long ago, kids were told to play outside and come home by dinner starting at an age of 8 to 10. They played outside, with each other, often in the outdoors, totally unsupervised, for hours. That’s not the reality for most kids today, and some of that is to the good. Kids are almost certainly safer than they were in those days.

But we’ve lost something too. Those formative experiences, playing unsupervised, were practice for the greater freedoms that come with car keys and college dorm rooms later in a young person’s life. Even though the days of unsupervised play are over for most kids, we believe parents need to seek out independent experiences to fill that void in today’s kids’ lives, and sleepaway camp can be that thing.

Great Counselors

We believe that great counselors have a huge impact on campers’ experience, so we place a ton of effort and emphasis on finding, hiring, training, and supporting great staff. Our biggest ask of counselors is that they put campers’ needs ahead of their own. That sounds pretty straightforward, and in some ways it is. In other ways, though, it’s almost counter cultural. Our best staff realize how rewarding it can be to serve others, especially kids. They want to come back, year after year, to get that feeling again. Our campers are the beneficiaries.

Counselors cheer for their campers on Arrival Day

Fun

We believe that fun is a crucial element of Camp, and we have a ball every summer at Four Winds. We also believe that the type of fun we have at Camp is something deeper than the word “fun” usually gets credit for. Fun at Camp is fun with meaning, fun with growth, fun with genuineness, fun with the best friends you’ve ever had.

Excited campers show off dance moves

Four Weeks

We believe in a four-week camp experience. Longer term camps are more common in other parts of the country, but on the West Coast, they’re rare. While shorter term camps can be great (after all, we offer one in our Junior Session), they tend to emphasize fun, activities, and having a successful experience away from home. The magic that you’ll read about all over this website, and that you’ll hear about if you talk with Four Winds campers, staff, or alumni, takes time to build. In four weeks, there is time for a slower pace, for ups and downs, to make a friend, have a fight, and make up again. Four weeks allows for a far greater impact, so we stick with it.

Unplugging

We believe that all the technological connectedness we have today is incredibly useful, and that kids benefit from having a break from it. Four Winds is one of the few places today where kids don’t have any devices or connection to the internet, which fosters an even better connection to each other. Campers talk face to face, write letters home, make their own music, and get lost in the here and now.

Camper sits under tree to write

Growth

We believe that growth comes from doing things that are hard. Parents often marvel in the growth they see in their kids after four weeks of camp. No one has ever grown by sitting on the couch and eating ice cream. We have to get out of our comfort zones to grow. The key is to find experiences for kids that challenge them, but do not overwhelm them. Four Winds is often the perfect balance of challenge and comfort, and that’s why so much growth happens here.

Smiling camper points to lump of clay