A slower pace to cap off a great first week

Greetings from Hilltop. It’s a beautiful, sunny day on Orcas. Though today is the second Sunday of the session, the first was Rotation Day, so this is the first day we’re following our Sunday schedule. We love our Monday to Saturday routine at Camp, but Sunday is always a welcome change of pace. We don’t have any religious component to our program at Four Winds, but we have borrowed an idea from religious traditions all over the world: We take one day out of the week, slow the pace down, we’re more reflective, we focus on why we’re all here, and we give back this community. At a four-week camp, I can’t imagine it doing any other way. We need an opportunity to process, to recharge, and to talk about what it means for us to be here.

On Sundays, we sleep in for an hour, have flags and breakfast, and then go to Sunday Assembly. At Sunday Assembly, a cabin leads us in a discussion of a topic important at Camp. Today, Top Gallant led us in a discussion about growth. Top Gallant is our oldest boys’ tent, and they just finished their first year of high school, so growth is on their minds. Hearing the Top Gallant boys, as well as other campers and staff, talk about growth with both excitement and apprehension was a great reminder of just much these young people are growing. It’s full of possibility, but it can be confusing and scary too. I have a theory that the reason parents report so much growth in their kids after just four weeks at Camp is that challenge seems less scary here, but is no less real. Challenge and growth are intertwined, and so growth blossoms. It’s remarkable to see.

After Sunday Assembly, we have work projects. We believe pretty strongly that campers should both give to and receive from this community, and work projects are a big part of that. Every day, campers are responsible for cleaning their cabins and table chores (scraping plates, bringing them back to the dish room, wiping down tables, etc.), and on Sundays, each cabin is assigned a job somewhere in camp. It might be tidying up an activity area, washing a camp vehicle, or splitting firewood (for older kids, with supervision). After that, we have an extra long rest hour, a fun Sunday afternoon activity (today, it’s an all-over-camp relay race), and dinner, and Evening Fire. Evening Fire is perhaps our oldest tradition at Four Winds, dating back to the first summer in 1927. We gather in the Lodge, light the fire in the fireplace, and share music and poetry. Like many Four Winds traditions, it’s simple, but the simplicity belies powerful feelings of connection and community. I look forward to renewing that tradition once again tonight.

This Sunday caps a fantastic first week. We had a ton of fun, and got all the first week jitters out of the way, for both campers and staff. Now, everyone knows how to find all the important spots in camp, has gotten to know their cabin mates, knows a few songs, and generally has a sense of how things go around here. Now that that’s accomplished, we can start to build on it. Four Winds people are fond of saying that camp is magical. That’s true, and it’s important to note that to get to magic, everyone needs to have their basic needs met and feel comfortable. It takes time for that to happen, and it’s why we stick to four-week sessions.

The coming week will have more great activities, songs, and friendship, but we’ll also switch things up here and there. Again, the benefits of a more extended camp. Be sure to follow our daily updates on Twitter to hear all about it. Thank you for sharing your children with us. They’re having a ball, and creating a beautiful community.