May 29, 2017

Under beautiful spring sunshine, Camp Orkila welcomed Memorial Day Family Campers for a fun filled weekend. Over 370 people arrived at Orkila Friday afternoon to begin a weekend’s worth of wonderful adventure.

We put smiles on campers faces all weekend long with our many different activities. Campers challenged themselves on our zip line, giant swing, circuit, and double N traverses. We had face painting in our Marine Salmon Center as well as kids getting to use our touch tank to better explore marine invertebrates. Beyond the M.S.C. campers got to experience the lowest tides of the year at -3 feet! Our beach was filled various kinds of marine life for campers to explore in their natural habitat. Campers got their creativity on in pottery and arts and crafts, and had smiles as wide as the blue sky this weekend doing all these different things.

This was one of the weekends where we did some other things for the first time this season. We had campers under the age of 3 so we got to do some really fun Pre K. arts and crafts! After roasting s’mores at our camp fire, Campers got to set sail their wish boats! These were boats made from anything found in nature, so as to not litter or hurt the environment, and then finished with a wish. After the campfire we set the boats to sail out into the Salish Sea! Since the weather was so beautiful and the floating dock is in, we got to do our first Dock Jump of the year too! We were happy to provide these unique activities for or family campers this weekend.

Overall, it was a weekend filled with laughter, smiles, challenges, sunshine, and lots of walking. We thank everyone for coming out. We are looking forward to providing all of this next year for our annual Memorial Day Family Camp!

May 26, 2017

The beautiful weather elated Camp Orkila this weekend. Sunshine, smiles, and fun times were had for the Happytalk Adventure Guide Expedition.  Over ninety father-daughter pairs ranging from kindergarten through 3rd grade participated in a camp extravaganza. They supported each other through challenges of heights and persistence, such as rock wall climbing; and dared to conquer the giant swing together. Fathers empowered their daughters at archery with the skill of Katniss herself. However, daughters became the teachers during arts and crafts. Overall, the weekend was filled with discovery, fun, and lovely, sunny weather.

May 14, 2017

   Mother's Day- a day we celebrate women who do everything for us. This weekend, we celebrated families and mothers of all kinds! The highlight of the weekend for many was the final night's campfire. Many acts performed for the group with highlights of family musicians, Moana karaoke, and a cellist. Other activities for this weekend included massages, kayaking, and camp favorite activities such as giant swing and the zipline. There was a competition for who could pick up the most micro-trash, and one of our entrepreneurial campers gathered a whole team together, named Litter Matters More, and with gloves and bags scoured camp to help keep us looking great.
     Thanks all for coming out, and Happy Mother's Day!


May 13, 2017

Over the last two weekends, Camp Orkila was honored to have the Adventure Guides! The Mercer Island Princesses, Snoqualmie, At-Sar-Kal, and Talk-A-Lot enjoyed all the sun and fun Camp had to offer! While everyone is having fun at the Zipline, Giant Swing, Row Boats and other great activities, the Camp Orkila staff were looking for participants that exemplified the YMCA’s four core values. Individuals and group circles that demonstrated excellence in being respectful, responsible, honest and caring were nominated throughout their time at camp and given awards of recognition at their culminating campfires. It is great to see so many wonderful participants living up to the values of the YMCA!


April 29, 2017

A few weeks ago, we were excited to hold the first African American Males Weekend at Camp Orkila in partnership with the organization 100 Black Parents. We had about 160 males come to camp for a weekend of bonding, fun, and learning. 

Saturday was filled with Ziplining, the Giant Swing, archery, riflery, rowboats, pottery wheels, and more. Some police officers from the Seattle Police Department visited for a workshop with the kids in our Marine Salmon Center. Kids and parents ate together in the dining hall, slept in our cabins (some open-air!), and ended each night with a campfire full of skits and songs.


“Through our efforts to create sustainable, thriving communities we have to first look at the structure of the family and create a sense of community amongst them,” says Bookie Gates, African American Father and one of the main coordinators of the event. “We put nearly 200 African American men and boys in the same place where the expectation was nothing but family, fun, and empowerment and that’s amazing!”

It was the first of what is now an annual event, and we look forward to May 2018 for next year's African American Males Weekend!

April 2, 2017

They Are Women, Hear Them Roar!

The sun came out to play with us as we celebrated Women’s Wellness Weekend. Held once in the spring and again in the fall, this weekend brings women from all over together to connect, recharge, and try something new. Here were some of the many highlights during the retreat:
Friday night started off with s’mores, yoga, needle felting, and karaoke!

Saturday showed off the many skills of both staff and participants; activities like jewelry making, kayaking, hula hooping, cooking and crafts were so fun….it was hard to choose which one to do!

It wouldn’t be a camp experience without overcoming challenges, and these ladies sure did with kayaking, the giant swing, zipline, high circuit and the climbing wall!

Saturday night really peaked the excitement with continued crafting, Bingo with prizes from the camp store, and even an excursion to the Doe Bay Soaking Tubs!

Sunday morning wound down with meditation, exploration of sea life in the Marine Salmon Center, and packing that good ol’ sack lunch for the ferry ride back home.

Thanks ladies for a wonderful spring weekend, and we hope to see you in the fall!

January 9, 2017

Happy winter from Camp Orkila!

We're certainly feeling the changing of the seasons here in December and January. With our first snow in a few years and a couple weeks in the 20's, camp has certainly changed it's face. Our pond has frozen over, making for some great (if a little nerve-wracking) skating. Also check out Graham McDade campfire pit covered in snow!

For the first weekend of the year, we had the delight of hosting almost 300 people at camp! We were visited by Alpha Omicron Pi, a UW sorority on their winter retreat, a local school group, and the island's firefighter team. We provided a banquet for the latter group, eating some delicious food and celebrating their service to the island.

October 6, 2016

There are a lot of really wonderful things about being here on Orcas Island. There's the opportunity for adventure in the woods, mountains, and sea. We have astounding views of the Salish Sea right here at camp. That's just to name a couple of the features we value so much about this island. We can't mention these merits without highlighting one of the greatest things one can find here: An abundantly welcoming and vibrant island community. The people, businesses, schools, organizations, and sense of place all come together to make Orcas Island the gem that it is.

This week, we're excited to be hosting many local groups from the Orcas Community. Here's a big shout-out to Orcas Island School District (including specialty groups Outdoor Adventures and Marine Science), Orcas Christian School, Kaleidoscope Preschool and Childcare Center, and the Salmonberry School for coming to learn and play with us this week. See you at Fall Fest!

May 5, 2016

Spring OEE takes to the Trail!

When students come to Orkila for the spring and fall OEE seasons, all of camp becomes the classroom. It doesn't stop there, though! Really, the natural world here on Orcas Island is the learning environment. This week, Oregon Episcopal School (Portland, OR) took their experience all the way to the top of Mt. Constitution. Hats off to these 54 5th-graders and their chaperones for conquering the hike!

April 26, 2016

Spring Mentor Group Outings

In addition to our overall Spring 2016 Outdoor and Environmental Education team, we're spread among several "Mentor Groups." These smaller groups, each made up of 6-7 instructors and a member of the Leadership Team, act as a community-within-a-community. Yesterday, we had our annual Mentor Group Day. Folks enjoyed activities on 3 different islands such as hiking, games, cycling, milkshakes, enjoying wildlife, and visiting alpacas. Check out some group photos from the day!

April 14, 2016

Twin Day

Seeing double? Well, that's probably because today's "Theme Day" theme has us many of us twinning. Readers, allow me to introduce you to Larly, Chalex, Jemoey, Jeverty, Malanatt, Marchelle, Thumpyle, and...Joe.

Letty and Carly, "Larly"
Chex and Alex, "Chalex"

Joey and Emily, "Jemoey"
Jessie, Flaherty, and Eva, "Jeverty"

Matt and Alana, Malanatt

Margaret and Richelle, "Marchelle"
Joe Davidson-Curry

April 7, 2016

Springtime, especially here on Orcas Island, is often marked by interesting weather. Today, we had the chance to see an impressive system of heavy fog that rolled through camp from early morning until just after lunch. Even familiar places, like the challenge tower and zip line, took on a new, foggy appearance. Check it out in the photo below. The only thing cooler than riding the zip line is riding the zip line through a cloud!

A foggy view of the zip line from the top of the tower.

October 6, 2015

One of the things I love about Camp Orkila is that we work to serve our community. Above, you can see one of our instructors, Eli, hanging out with local kindergartners and feeding carrots to the horses. With the fall season rushing by, it's important to take a moment to appreciate the amazing work our staff does.  They instill a sense of wonder in our participants and teach them not only about nature, but also about them selves. The value of the experience they provide is incalculable.

September 16, 2015

The days are getting shorter. The air is getting cooler. And camp has switched gears from the roar of summer to the bustling of school children learning about the wonders of nature. OEE has begun once again! Check out some of our RAD fall instructors and staff! Don't let their silly costumes fool you, these wild cats mean business! Our wonderful educators work hard to create amazing programming and they don't disappoint! With our first week of schools underway, nothing warms the heart quite like the site of youth engaging with the outdoors and each other!

July 8, 2015

Camp Orkila | Session 1 Slideshow

Session 1 was so fun! What a great start to our summer here at Orkila!

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