Camp is Back

Greetings from Hilltop. I can’t express how wonderful it is to have campers back at Camp this summer. They’re here, making friends, playing pickleball, exploring this beautiful corner of Orcas, as they should be. The fact that those things didn’t happen last summer makes them all the sweeter now.

Yesterday was a whirlwind. Under normal circumstances, getting all the campers to Camp is a logistical feat. Being on an island is a beautiful thing, but it does make travel more complicated. Adding COVID testing into the equation and reinventing our many refined systems was like nothing I’ve ever seen. Given all those challenges, it went about as well as I could have hoped. That’s not to say it went perfectly, and I’m so thankful for everyone’s patience throughout the day. But, everyone tested negative, and everyone made it to Camp. It was a long day, but we’re here.

Today, Camp feels fantastic. As usual, our first full day of the session is Rotation Day. We rotate through various stations, learn about the activity areas, visit the nurse, exchange uniforms that don’t fit, take the swim test, and do lots of other camp jobs. There are some slight modifications to our normal Rotation Day routine, but overall, it feels surprisingly normal. Campers and counselors are taking care of their beginning of session jobs, getting to know each other, and sneaking in games and other fun in between. Just like every other year.

During staff week, we tried to emphasize with the staff that while we need to pay attention to our COVID procedures this summer, and while it can be easy to focus on what’s different about Camp, the point of Camp is not to focus on COVID rules. The point of Camp is the same as it always is – to create an extraordinary community where young people can be accepted for who they are, try new things, make the best friends in the world, and build an intentional community that lives by better rules than most of the outside world. We wanted them to hear that point so badly that we made them all buttons that say “WAWH?” (Why Are We Here) as a visual reminder of where our focus should be. I’m pleased to say that at the beginning, it seems that that emphasis worked.

When I wrote the first sentence of this blog post, I thought, “God, it feels good to write that again.” It’s not that not writing this blog was such a big part of the loss of last year’s camp season. That sentence, with which I start every summer blog post, is one of many Camp touchstones, the things that remind a person that they’re at Camp and that this time is special. Those touchstones are all over the place, and they’re a little different for each person. That sentence of one of my little touchstones. The fact that campers are all over this property right now, experiencing their own touchstones again and creating new ones, gives me great joy. I hope it does for you as well. Thank you for everything you’ve done to make this experience possible.

Throughout the summer, I’ll post on this blog regularly on Sundays and at the beginning and end of each session. We’ll also post daily on Twitter. You don’t have to join Twitter to get to the updates. You can just go to the website.

Thank you, once again, for sharing your children with us this summer. We’re always grateful for that, but this summer, we are more than ever.