Beloved YMCA Camp Orkila’s Legacy is Expanding

Last updated: December 19, 2022, at 1:45 p.m. PT

Originally published: December 19, 2022, at 1:45 p.m. PT

Photo of the Camp Orkila welcome sign

YMCA of Greater Seattle Community Seeks Help to Purchase Neighboring Properties 

For more than 100 years, generations of children have explored the outdoors at Camp Orkila, located on Orcas Island. A legacy has certainly been built within the Camp Orkila community – and we have an opportunity to expand it. 

The Y recently negotiated agreements to purchase two properties that are adjacent to Camp Orkila: the Beebe Property and the Curtis Property (a total of 24 acres). It is rare for properties of this nature to become available, and the Y decided to invest in and secure the future of Camp Orkila, expanding the outdoor camp and leadership experiences available. 

Y outdoor programs focus on fostering leadership and group skills, building confidence, social, emotional, and mental well-being, and champions for the environment. These properties help build capacity to bring these vital outdoor programs to more youth and families, especially those furthest from opportunity.  

“Blacks or African Americans, who make up about 13 percent of the U.S. population, accounted for about 1 percent of national forest visits in 2010. Hispanics or Latinos, who make up about 17 percent of the U.S. population, accounted for less than 7 percent.” — Recreating in color: Promoting ethnic diversity in public lands  

With this additional capacity, we can improve these trends and make the great outdoors and its health benefits accessible for all. These properties will help us... 

Camp Orkila Properties

  • Serve more youth: More space equals more housing and room for more campers, especially those who are furthest from outdoor opportunities, through our experiential learning centered on positive values, inclusion, equity, and social justice. 

  • Build housing capacity: Housing on Orcas Island is incredibly challenging, especially affordable housing. The two properties would help address staff housing needs, recruit and retain talent, and grow programs in service to youth and families.  

  • Protect and steward our environment: The Beebe property is a waterfront property on Orcas Island, which offers the opportunity to conserve the coastline and wildlife. This allows a permanent buffer from encroachment. This property is an optimal place for youth to experience marine and outdoor education and to develop youth as future stewards of the environment. 

  • Relocate camp maintenance: The Curtis property is inland. It offers the opportunity to relocate the camp maintenance unit from the center of the camp, thus repurposing that space for new and innovative programming for generations to come. 

What’s Needed to Complete These Property Acquisitions? 

With the support and flexibility of the property owners, the Y has executed agreements to purchase these properties with payments made over time, which allows the Y to fundraise. The Y has not been immune to the ramifications and devastating impacts of the pandemic, economic downturn, and rising costs. Completing the acquisition of these properties will require a community of support and investments in our shared vision to bring these opportunities to fruition. 

The total project costs for both properties, including the purchase price, due diligence, and funds to prepare properties for camp usage, is $6.5M. The Y has secured $1.7M and is seeking partners to secure the remaining $4.8M, which would allow the Y to move forward with these acquisitions, keep its promise to community, and secure the future of the camp and outdoor education at Camp Orkila for future generations. 

We invite you to join us in support of this generational opportunity. We cannot do without you. 

For more information, contact