Good news all around

Greetings from Hilltop. I don’t want to bury the lede on this blog post. Last night we got the results of our day 5 surveillance tests, and they were all negative. That’s great news for sure. Following our COVID Safety Plan, that means we can go to optional outdoor masks in most situations for the rest of the session. We know from First Session what a relief that is for both campers and staff, and so we’re thrilled to be able to do it. The delta variant has everyone justifiably nervous, but given the rigorous testing we’ve gone through, all the other precautions we’re taking, and the relative safety of Orcas Island, it seems like good risk management to follow our plan as written, and give the campers one extra bit of normalcy this summer.

It seems both appropriate and a little off to lead with that news. It’s appropriate because I know everyone is curious. Waiting for test results always causes a bit of anxiety, and when you multiply that by 300 campers and staff (and their families), people want to hear results as soon as they can. It feels off because the absence of COVID in camp is not the most important thing that going on here.

During staff week, we gave all the campers little buttons that said “WAWH?” – Why Are We Here? We did it as a tactile reminder that while we need to practice COVID safety protocols this summer, they’re not the point of the summer. The point of the summer is the same as it always has been – to give kids an extraordinary experience in an intentional community, in a beautiful place, free of technology, and independent of the usual supports of home. Our purpose is the same as ever. The need is perhaps greater than at any other time.

The good news to go along with the negative COVID tests is that that purpose is happening every day here at Camp. Friendships are being forged and strengthened. Adventures are everywhere. Smiles, laughter, and inside jokes abound. The Pata Pata (one of our Folk Dance favorites) played over Westsound, and campers and staff remembered just how aerobic a Folk Dance can be.

Today is Sunday, often one of my favorite days in Camp. On Sundays, we slow our schedule down, and we create space for service and reflection. It’s an important thing to do at a longer-term camp. At a one-week camp  (we have some experience in one-week camps via Junior Session), it’s fine, even preferable, to keep up a high, activity-driven pace for the whole time. At a four-week camp, there has to be time to pause and reflect. So, on Sundays, we sleep in a bit, we have a Sunday Assembly, an extra-long rest hour, a fun Sunday afternoon activity (today’s is Country Fair, hosted by the Barn staff), and Evening Fire for Evening Activity. Four Winds is a secular camp, but religious traditions all over the world have set a time once a week for a slower pace, service, and reflection. It’s a good idea that we’re not above borrowing.

So, all is well here on Orcas. There’s good news all around. Thank you for sharing your children with us this month. We’re so glad that they can be here, together, after everything that’s happened in the last 18 months and continues to happen. We’ll keep focusing on our real reasons for being here.