The Unique Teams that Make Up Camp Orkila
Last updated: April 6, 2018, at 10:23 a.m. PT
Originally published: March 15, 2018, at 3:22 p.m. PT
Memories That Last a Lifetime
Each summer, over 250 staff from around the world join us to work as cabin counselors, program facilitators, team leaders and support staff members. Staff arrives up to 4 weeks before the first day of camp for specialized team trainings that cover everything from safely operating the zip line to fostering a positive group dynamic. We are tremendously grateful for our staff’s hard work and dedication to ensure each camper has a safe, positive, and growth-oriented experience with us. Learn more about the unique support Camp Orkila offers below.
The Inclusion Team
Supervised by a local Licensed Mental Health counselor, our team of Inclusion Specialists work directly with campers and staff to provide the individualized support each person needs. Whether a camper is feeling homesick or upset, requires an accessibility adaptation, or just needs some extra resources to adjust to camp life, the inclusion team will be there to help. In addition to working one-on-one with campers, this team also coaches staff on responding to common mental, emotional and social health needs, and critically examines our program with a focus on equity.
It is essential that the Inclusion Team is accessible to everyone. In addition to introducing themselves to each new group of campers, we also have “Talk Boxes” where staff and campers can leave a comment about their experience; comments can be anonymous, or a follow-up conversation from a specialist can be requested. A member of the Inclusion Team will be also available 24/7 by radio, is present at every meal and at major camp events.
One parent shared that she had "...never heard of a program that is so effective at making every child feel welcome and included.." and attributes this to the work of our Inclusion Specialists, who responded when her first-time camper was feeling homesick.
Health Hut Spotlight
Our number one priority is the health and safety of each camper. During the summer, over 25 medical professionals volunteer their time on a rotating basis while a camp doctor is available all hours of the day through phone, radio, and reoccurring office hours. Camp nurses, doctors, and health aids provide compassionate and flexible care to make sure campers get the most out of their experience.
At Camp Orkila we also strive to be accessible to as many people as possible. For example, we are honored to partner with Seattle Children’s Hospital to provide a summer session that serves the needs of campers on kidney dialysis. For one week, our health center is converted into a fully outfitted dialysis center, where campers receive early morning dialysis and don’t have to miss out on any of the daytime fun. These campers receive the unique experience of meeting other kids like them, sharing their stories and enjoying a week in the outdoors.
This summer, we’ll be joined by over 60 staff members from outside of the United States. It’s our longstanding tradition to hang a flag in our dining hall whenever someone comes to Orkila from a new country, and we’re happy to say you can barely see the ceiling! We always look forward to seeing what new traditions our staff will bring with them. At Orkila, we’ve had staff teach us about Capoeira from Brazil, sing songs from Kenya, and host a clinic teaching traditional dance with 10 different countries represented. Whether it’s having a counselor that can translate or speak to a camper in their native language, or teach a cabin about their home country and culture, we know that staff can have a huge impact on our camper’s worldviews.