Q:What is the Camp Orkila Community Like?

It’s great! Around 35 people work for Camp Orkila’s Teen Expedition Program every summer. We are a good mix of returning staff members and new folks! A typical staff member ranges in age between 18 and 25 years old. Most come from an outdoor background (college programs, outdoor education sites, other outfitters) and love to spend time exploring, playing music, engaging in interesting conversation and sharing stories of their travels (in and out of country).

We also live and work with 200 other rad folks who work with Orkila’s Traditional Camp Program who also do many interesting things and have lots of cool stories. You WILL find and meet new friends (lasting ones) when you come to work at Camp Orkila.

There is TOO much to say about this. Many people make deep and lasting relationships after spending time at Camp Orkila. Maybe it’s the sunsets or the beautiful scenery, maybe it’s all the intentional time we spend living and working together, but there just isn’t anywhere else quite like Orkila.

Q: What does time on and time off look like?

Teen Trip Leaders: Trip Leaders work the entire length of their courses plus a day on either side (a pre-day and a post day) for pre and post trip logistics. During that time, there isn’t a 24 hour period of time off like most summer positions, but Trip Leaders are encouraged to work with their co-leader to take the time off during the day that they need to take care of themselves so that they can best work with their participants. After completing a course, Trip Leaders will often have about four days off to rest up and get ready for their next trip.

Logistics Coordinators: Our LC's work a six-day week usually starting at breakfast (8:45am) and working up until dinner (6:15pm). If there is work or projects that need to get done for the next day, working after the dinner hour may be required and expected. LC's may also get a short break during the day, depending on the work load.

Teen Expedition Assistant Directors: The Director Team works a six-day week with one 24 to 36 hour period of time off during the week (scheduled with the Program Director). The day starts just prior to breakfast (8:15am) and most responsibilities are finished by dinner (6:15pm). Each night one member of the Director Team will be on for Radio Checks and to be the Teen Director on duty. The Director Team is HIGHLY encouraged to find time off (two or so hours) during the day to make sure they are able to take care of themselves.

Q: Where might I be living this summer?

Teen trip Leaders and Logistics Coordinators: Housing is provided for all seasonal staff during their employment with Camp Orkila. Teen Trip Leaders and Logistics Coordinators are housed in open air cabins up in Tracy Strong Village. They have easy access to Tracy Strong Lodge for meals, showers and bath houses. Staff who are on time off are able to stay in a staff cabin. Storage is a little tight in the cabins themselves, but we are able to offer weatherized boxes near the cabin that staff can store their belongings in – they can be locked with a personal lock at the staff member’s discretion.

Teen Expedition Assistant Directors: The Director Team has shared housing in one of Orkila’s indoor cabins in our Dederer Conference Center. The house has four bedrooms – shared by two or three staff members – two bathrooms and a kitchen and living space. Internet and laundry can be found in the house.

Q: What’s the difference between an LDI (Leadership Development Course) and an Expedition course?

Great question. Our LDI program is our most popular type of course. They are either two or three weeks and combine wilderness leadership and travel (sailing, sea kayaking and bike touring) with a leadership focused traditional camp experience. The wilderness component includes an overnight “backpacking” trip to Moran State Park in addition to five to seven days spent out in the islands. While at camp, we utilize a full challenge course, structured youth work activities and whatever intentional programming you can dream up.

Our expedition courses spend most of their time out in the field – staying at camp just the first and last nights of the program. Instructors use the wilderness to teach peer to peer leadership, wilderness travel, skill in sea kayaking, sailing or bike touring and help our teens better learn themselves and how to work with others.

You do! We are able to offer Teen Staff members access to pro-deals with Outdoor Research, Werner Paddles, Kokatat, NRS, Cascade Designs and a few others. You’ll also find that you may qualify for entry into several teams online at Promtiv, giving you access to HUNDREDS of more deals and brands. 



Q: As a member of Teen Expedition Staff, do I qualify for any pro-deals or industry discounts?

YES – there is. Orkila also has a robust Outdoor Education Program that runs in the spring (March through June) and fall (September and October). Linking all of those seasons together is an awesome way to have a great job for 8 months out of the year! If you are interested in learning more about our OEE program, email Haley Cruz Winchell, the Site Director, at hwinchell@seattleymca.org

Q: Orkila seems RAD – are there ways to work beyond the summer?

Q: Can I use Orkila equipment to carry out my own adventures?

YUP! If we’ve got gear to spare that’s not earmarked for participants and courses, you are welcome to borrow Orkila sea kayaks and gear to go explore! It just needs to be checked out and returned in great/working condition!

Q: What’s it like to live on Orcas Island?

Living on Orcas is SWEET! There is lots to do, and many other island to explore. Orkila is located about two miles from the town of Eastsound. Eastsound is great! It has a grocery store and a co-op, a pharmacy, an outdoor store, two sea kayaking shops, a convenience store, a movie theater and MANY nice restaurants. And the Lower Tavern.

Orcas Island is home to Moran State Park with great campsites and over 30 miles of hiking trails. Other great trails can be explored on Turtle Back Mountain. Cycling is possible, but sketchy in places. There is a public beach (about 12 feet wide) with great views of the northern San Juan Islands and the Canadian Gulf Islands. Several outfitters will take you whale watching, if you’d like.

Orcas is artsy/crafty and has a lot of eclectic things to do and see. There is a farmers market in town every Saturday and all sorts of events hosted throughout the week in Eastsound – think open-mics, shows, karaoke etc… For a pretty penny, one can also travel out to Doe Bay Resort and Café and spend time in their hot tubs and sauna – and enjoy awesome food in their café.  

Getting to other islands is VERY easy. It is free to walk on to the inter-island ferry that runs between Shaw, Orcas, Lopez and San Juan Island. Friday Harbor, the largest “city” in the islands is on San Juan Island. It has about twice the things that Eastsound does. San Juan Island also has Lime Kiln State Park – the only land based whale watching site in the islands.

Orcas is also a hop, skip and jump (ferry ride) away from Anacortes which will get you close to Bellingham, Seattle and Vancouver, BC if you’re feeling adventurous. Past instructors have made up to hikes in the North Cascades, Vancouver Island, and the Olympic Peninsula.