Orkila is much more than s’mores around the campfire | Editorial

Like many organizations during this public health crisis, Camp Orkila has stepped up to meet the needs of a changing community.

From hosting public school students for outdoor learning to offering its commercial kitchen to the food bank, the camp has quietly been there for us.

Coming up this summer, children can participate in day camp, learning about the world around them and forging connections with one another in a COVID-safe environment. The day camp serves primarily local kids, and one in five Orkila scholarships goes to an Orcas child. Prior to the pandemic, many of the campers hosted at Orkila are from cities and towns that are in stark contrast to the natural beauty and seclusion of Orcas Island.

Every year the camp holds a fundraising drive. Island volunteers solicit donations to help provide scholarships to kids in need, and this year’s goal is $55,000. Donations made to the annual campaign will provide scholarships for campers and support local programming. Donate at: https://www.seattleymca.org/donate/camp-outdoor-leadership-ymca. Anyone interested in helping during the campaign can email hcruzwinchell@seattleymca.org or korourke@seattleymca.org. The Islands’ Sounder is holding a subscription drive to benefit the camp. From now through April 30 we will donate $5 for all new subscribers. For more information, call 360-376-4500.

YMCA of Greater Seattle set up its first permanent camping home in 1906 on Orcas Island, starting what would later be named Camp Orkila. Since then, the staff has been dedicated to nurturing the potential of youth, promoting healthy living and fostering social responsibility.

Orkila is so much more than an incredible camp for children. It’s 280-acre, waterfront facility is a major part of our community’s foundation, and it often goes unnoticed. We forget how gorgeous the property is and what incredible work goes on there. We are very lucky to have a gem like Orkila in our community.