Camp Orkila Family Camp Activity Guide

Last updated: July 17, 2020, at 11:07 a.m. PT

Originally published: June 3, 2020, at 7:24 a.m. PT

Pink sunset with dock and water at Camp Orkila

Due to physical distancing and sanitizing needs we will be running our daily activities a little differently than we have in the past. Please be sure to return the attached activity request form by the date requested so your family can be scheduled for certain activities. Our goal is to have at least 2-3 activities scheduled per family each full day at camp. Activities will be split into two categories: Sign-up & Drop-in.

Sign-up activities indicate an Orkila staff member will guide you through this pre-scheduled activity. Drop-in activities indicate you can do this activity once you have the needed supplies. GaGa Ball and Pond Exploration are Drop-in but require advanced scheduling to allow for the check-out of sanitized equipment. While we hope to offer each of the activities listed below, activities may vary due to physical distancing, gathering, or other restrictions. We will notify guest with as much advance warning as possible if an activity is modified or canceled.

Please reach out to Katie O’Rourke with any questions or concerns.

Dad and son preparing to ride the zip line

Team Building & Leadership

Safety Note: Our staff are expertly trained and certified to facilitate our challenge course. Our facility is held to the highest industry standards for safety. Our equipment is inspected with each use and careful logs are kept ensuring all equipment is in safe, working order. Each element course involves a safety briefing at the beginning about perceived risk and a debrief at the completion of the experience. Activities have been modified in order to meet safety additional standards and physical distancing requirements related to COVID-19.

  • Family Team Building: Sign-up
    In this activity, families work together to solve physical and mental challenges. The group starts with simple problems activities, requiring teamwork, communication, and problem-solving skills. Work up to more difficult challenges requiring trust and strong reliance on each other. The instructor may use props or low ropes elements to advance problems that must be solved with teamwork and group participation.
  • Zip Line: Sign-up
    After receiving an orientation and safety gear, participants soar over the fields of Orkila with sweeping views. The adventure begins at the top of our 68-foot climbing tower. While in a harness and helmet, you are clipped to a cable trolley. From there, walk off the tower and into a gentle thrill ride for 1000 feet until you reach the landing pad. Participants must be in 3rd grade or higher, and weight less than 285lbs. 

Open Recreation Style

  • Archery: Sign-up
    Learn the basics of range etiquette, shooting a bow, and proper archery form. With the support of our “range commander”, gain confidence and skills as an archer.
  • Fishing: Sign-up
    Groups cast for fish off the dock at camp. Catching fish not guaranteed, but fun is! This is a great activity for parents and kids to try together.
  • Arts & Crafts: Drop-in
    What’s more camp than Arts & Crafts? Make friendship bracelets, collages, dream catchers, etc. Tie dye an Orkila bandana to take home.
Family boating in Puget Sound, row boat

Waterfront and Boating

  • Boating: Sign-up* 
    Row, row, row your boat… around the Orkila Bay! Your group must have at least one adult and a maximum of five people to take a rowboat around the Orkila Bay. This is a great opportunity to learn to row or just to enjoy the gentle ebb and flow of the Salish Sea.
  • Swimming: Sign-up* 
    Take a dip in the Camp Orkila pool, while enjoying the breathtaking views across the Salish Sea. (Drop-in at Phase 3)
  • Beach Walk: Sign-up
    Hiking on our beautiful beach, observe and examine the shore community, including tidal pools, invertebrates, marine algae, and coastal wildlife. At the different coastal habitats, explore the physical features of the beach and organisms living there. In this activity, you are an active participant in your own learning: question, explore, and engage with your living surroundings.

Outdoor Education Explorations

  • Marine Ecology Marine Invertebrates: Drop-in
    Meet creatures from the saltwater ecosystem. Through hands-on activities, explore how marine invertebrates have adapted to different habitats and why these critters are suited to their habitats. Get to know creatures in the Marine Salmon Center’s touch tank.
  • Plankton: Drop-in
    Collect samples of ocean water with plankton nets and discover a universe through the guided use of microscopes. This activity provides a solid foundation of what plankton are through hands-on exploration and reinforcing ideas in fun activities.
  • Squid Dissection: Sign-up
    Students dissect a squid in the Marine Salmon Center. Learn the biology of a squid from beak to tentacle! 
Family in hiking gear, at waterfront with dock in the background

Forest and Aquatic Ecology

  • Evening Sensory Hike: Sign-up
    This hike takes place on camp property and will allow you to explore different environments in camp in the early evening. Activities might include a quiet sit in the forest where you diagram the sounds you hear, a walk to a beautiful view, or a chance to journal in a beautiful setting. Feel free to make requests!
  • Forest: Sign-up or Drop-in
    In hiking through our majestic trees, explore Orkila’s forests and woodland ecosystems. See the forest as a whole, interdependent, ever-changing community. Play games and participate in activities to learn about individual species in the forest and how they live.
  • Habitat Hike: Sign-up
    In this experience you will explore different habitats around camp. Options for exploration include Forest, Field, Pond, marine, and near-shore habitats. Orkila instructors will guide you through these areas as you and your family learn about the characteristics of a habitat and why it is suitable for some living creatures, but not for others. Habitat Hike is a great opportunity to sample the different areas of camp and learn about field ecology.
  • Natural History Hike: Sign-up
    Study the geological make-up of the beach and surrounding areas of Camp Orkila. Through a thorough study of the erosion patterns of the rocks located along the coast on camp property, students will understand how this area has changed over time. Learn about some of the history of Orcas Island.
  • Pond Exploration: Drop-in 
    The pond allows you to see and explore a unique and vital ecosystem. Use dip nets, magnifying glasses, and microscopes to identify the many kinds of plant and animal life in the pond. Questions to ask yourself: what are the seasonal changes of the pond and the life cycles of the insects that make it their habitat.
  • Garden Exploration: Drop-in
    The Organic Garden at Orkila is used as a model to discuss universal trends in farming, sustainability and environment and physical health. Explore the sustainability of plants, animals, and people living together. Participate in hands-on activities such as planting, harvesting, composting, and recycling in the garden.
Dad and daughter exploring rocky tidepools on Puget Sound

Drop-in Activities

These activities are included in your check-in packet. Feel free to check them out at any point during your stay. Please remember to stay on camp property, and to take only pictures or memories, and leave only footprints.

  • Beach: Drop-in
    Take a walk down the beach to check out all the cool critters. Use the beach walk key to identify things you find. Create a rock rainbow on a driftwood log.
  • Sandcastle Building
    Bring your own tools! 
  • Games: Drop-in
    Camouflage! Flashflood! Play these camp classics anytime, anywhere!
  • Hiking: Drop-in
    Check out our map and follow the Red Trails for harder hikes, Blue Trails for mid-level hikes, and Green Trails for easy hikes around our beautiful and expansive property!
  • Orkila Scavenger and Snazzler Hunt: Drop-in
    Explore Camp Orkila and become a Camp Orkila Expert! The Snazzler is a magical hidden item, found somewhere at Camp Orkila. Find the Snazzler and snap a photo of yourself with it.
  • ROAR: Drop-in
    ROAR stands for rouge obstacle adventure race! Explore obstacles, dirt and mud while racing to see who’s the most agile member of your family. The course is located in upper camp.

Physically Distanced Group Evening Events

  • Harry Potter Adventure: Drop-in
    Camp Orkila has been magically transformed into Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry! Families will travel around the grounds of Hogwarts attending Quidditch, Potions, Ancient Runes and Divination classes. At each class, families will be assigned a new challenge to complete. Will your team pass each exam and achieve their O.W.L. degree? This is a very active evening program and parent involvement is necessary
  • Ork-Fire: Drop-in
    This exciting campfire is outside under the stars with a fire to keep warm. The Orkila staff leading this activity may arrange songs, stories, cheers and skits and many more activities. You can prepare a song or skit to perform for the group, sign-up slots will be available.
  • Orkila Color Competition: Drop-in
    Blue, Yellow, Green, Red! Family Groups compete in this high-energy program with obstacle courses, trivia, mind-teasers, and silly games. Start the Orkila Color Competition with team cheers, face paint, and coordinated clothing that represents their specific color-based teams. Your family’s teams will compete against each other families to be the first to accomplish tasks at different stations. All teams will have opportunities to be challenged and opportunities to shine as students learn sportsmanship and friendly competition.


*Note: All boating activities, regardless of swimming ability, require a lifejacket/personal flotation device (PFD), which Camp Orkila will provide. All swimming and boating activities are under the supervision of trained and certified YMCA Staff Lifeguards.

Category: Camp