Camp Nor’wester’s Program
- Hi/Lo Ropes & Challenge Course
- Arts & Crafts
- Northwest Native Focus
- Adobe Oven
- Weekly Overnights
- Outcamp Trips
- Work Projects
- Chapel and Musicale
The sailing program capitalizes on the Camp's location, the magnificent San Juan Islands in Washington State. Instruction in 12 foot Picos is geared to the experience of each camper, with opportunities available for racing and outcampt trips on larger boats lasting 4-5 days.
Older campers enjoy our one- and two-person kayaks. Our location allows for intimate exploration of surrounding shorelines as well as trips to neighboring islands. Kayaks are also used for our overnight trips, and outcamp trips lasting 4-5 days.
Canoeing is popular with nearly every age group. Our twelve 17 foot canoes and our 22 foot Nuu-chah-nulth style canoes are used by campers to explore the shorelines and beaches of the San Juan Islands and to go on overnight and outcamp trips lasting 4-5 days. The 22 foot "Hunt" canoes are fiberglass molds of a canoe carved by Calvin Hunt.
High/Low Ropes and Challenge Course
The Ropes Course builds self-confidence as each camper attempts the many different levels that make up the course. The Challenge component emphasizes group participation and problem-solving skills through activities that develop an appreciation for teamwork and cooperation. Challenge activities and low elements are available to all campers, the high course is available to campers in the older units.
Arts & Crafts
Our craft instructors are on hand to teach a variety of skills. Campers are taught to conceptualize, develop and produce their individual projects, without the use of kits or prepared projects. Our large craft center is well equipped for wood working and carving, ceramics, embroidery, weaving, spinning, dyeing, macramé, book binding, silk screening, batiking, painting and drawing, jewelry making, calligraphy, basket making, leather work, and other crafts depending on expressed interests and the experience of our instructors.
Music is an important part of every day life at Nor’wester. Folk songs and ballads from many countries, reflecting different times and ways of life, are sung after meals in the dining hall, at campfires, in the shower and on the trails. Lessons offered in guitar, piano and often fiddle and banjo, have marked the beginning of a life-long interest in music for many campers and staff.
Northwest Native Focus
Located on a site with clear evidence of old Native encampments, Nor’wester has a unique tradition of Northwest Coastal art and culture. This tradition, inherited from the Henderson Camps, is reflected in the camp's totems, canoes and our spectacular Kwakwaka'wakw-style Bighouse. It influences much of the artwork produced at camp, and is the basis for the gift exchange which take place at season's end. All campers and staff will learn about the Northwest Coastal tribes and will see songs and dances of the Northwest people, performed at the end of each session in the Bighouse.
The bicycle fleet, comprised of 26 mountain bikes, is popular for daylong rides and overnights on neighboring islands, and for 4-5 day outcamp trips in the San Juan Islands.
Our full time Naturalist teaches campers about the local ecology and general biosystems. Our unique natural campsite with its many forests, meadows, beaches, tide pools, wetland and coves invites exploration. Younger units can also accompany the Naturalist to the Whale Museum and Lime Kiln Park on San Juan Island.
Under the guidelines of the National Archery Association, campers are instructed in safe and fun shooting. The reward for faithful practice is the satisfaction of mastering a skill and the opportunity to earn NAA JOAD Awards.
The drama program provides campers with an opportunity to express themselves creatively, to learn to speak in front of groups and to learn to work with others to create entertainment. Units develop and host campfire skits under the guidance of our full time drama instructor. Individuals can also participate in a full length presentation produced by the drama department at the end of each session.
Our outdoor adobe oven is heated by wood. Campers have an opportunity to try their hand at baking bread, cinnamon rolls, pizza, cookies, pies and many other culinary creations. Best of all they get to eat their results fresh from the oven! Fresh ingredients from our garden often make their way into adobe treats.
Once a week all campers spend the night camping out with their unit, away from the main camp and other groups of campers. With the help of staff members, the campers plan their overnight destinations, means of transportation and their menu for dinner and breakfast. These outings provide a hands-on opportunity for everyone to practice and improve low-impact camping techniques. Destinations include hidden coves, windswept beaches, forested hilltops, secluded meadows on the island and on nearby islands. Transportation is mainly by foot, canoe, kayak or bike.
Older campers participate in co-ed, out camp trips lasting four to five days. These trips may include a mountaineering expedition, alpine hike, biking, kayaking, sailing or paddling the 22' Hunt canoes through the San Juans. The Mt. Baker trip is led by a professional mountain guide. Ice axes, ropes, crampons and helmet are supplied by the camp for snow and glacier travel. These trips, both challenging and rewarding are, to many, one of the highlights of their camp experience.
Work is an essential part of our program both philosophically and practically. Each unit reserves one or two periods during the week for maintenance and improvement projects. Typical jobs are hauling fire wood for the shower houses, cutting and skinning tipi poles, graveling tipi floors, or clearing trails. Older units may participate in community service related activities on San Juan or Lopez Island.
Weekly Reflection & Musicale
These offerings happen every Sunday. Weekly Reflection, called Chapel, is a gathering, hosted by a different Unit each week. The Unit will pick a topic, like friendship, communication, honesty, or respect, and present it to the entire camp community. Songs, readings, skits or small group activities help to guide our discussion and exploration of the chosen topic. Musicale is an opportunity for individuals and small groups to perform for the entire camp after our Sunday mid-day meal. They might play an instrument, sing a song, read a poem or perform some other talent.