A Perfect Sunday

Greetings from Hilltop. It’s yet another beautiful day on Orcas Island. When we settle into our solid summer weather pattern here in the San Juans, it’s tough to imagine a better place to be outdoors. We’re very grateful for it.

As we enjoy that beautiful weather, we’re also enjoying our first Sunday of Second Session. We don’t have any religious component to our program at Four Winds, but we are more than willing to borrow a good idea from faith traditions all over the world – we take one day a week and have a slower pace, a change of schedule, and we focus on reflection and service. At a four-week camp, it’s a vital part of the community building we do here.

On Sundays, we sleep in for an hour, have flags and breakfast, and then go somewhere special in Camp to have Sunday Assembly. Typically, Sunday Assembly involves a cabin leading us in a discussion about a topic that’s important at Camp – friendship, doing things that scare you, staying true to yourself, or something along those lines. Today, we took a break from that format to recognize someone special in our community, our Assistant Director, Danielle. We gave Danielle her Gypsy Pin. The Gypsy Pin is the highest piece of recognition we give at Four Winds, and it’s given for dedicating a good chunk of your life in service to Camp. We give it the same way we give all Gypsy Jewelry at Camp. We surprise the recipient, sing one of their favorite camp songs, and then the person’s friends say why they love that person and why they deserve the jewelry. Then, the person gets to pick another song for everyone to sing; we all hug and move about our day. Every once in a while, there’s a piece of jewelry we need to give out that is relevant to everyone in Camp, and not just that person’s friends. Today was such a moment. It was lovely to recognize Danielle, and an opportunity to point out the things that matter here, the things that cause a person to be recognized as a leader at Four Winds, for all the campers and staff to see.

After Sunday Assembly, we have work projects. We believe that everyone in this community should both give and receive from it, and so campers must have jobs here. Every day, they’re responsible for cleaning up their cabin, clearing their tables, and cleaning up after activities. On Sundays, each cabin has a specific job for the hour and a half between Sunday Assembly and lunch. After lunch, we have an extra-long rest hour, a fun Sunday Afternoon activity (today is Regatta Day, and a perfect day for it). We’ll have flags and dinner, and for evening activity, one of our oldest traditions, Evening Fire. Just like Gypsy Jewelry ceremonies, Evening Fire is extraordinarily simple when you describe it: We gather in the Lodge and share music and poetry. But, that simplicity belies a power that’s hard to describe unless you experience yourself. I can’t wait to share it with these campers.

This week has been a great one. We did what the first week of camp is meant to do. We got things going. The campers got to know each other, their counselors, and the routines around here. They got started in their classes. A few of them had their cabin trip. It’s amazing to think that for most kids who get to go to camp at all, this is where the experience ends. For the campers here this session, the real magic is about to begin. That might be in our activity areas, learning how to sail or cantor or get that art project just right. Perhaps even more likely, it’s about having a different kind of friendship than seemed possible in the outside world, one based in genuineness and vulnerability, but which feels as comfortable as can be.

As that magic unfolds and evolves, it will be a treat to be there alongside the campers. Thank you for sharing your children with us. Until next week, be sure to follow our daily updates on Twitter.