Each summer a gathering of old friends converged for new (and repeated) experiences at the Seabeck Conference Center on the Kitsap Peninsula in Washington State. Some of these friends came from as far as Maine, while others trekked from down the road. Some came to revisit old friends and renew relationships, while others came to meet new friends, watch their children play, and take a few days to play themselves!
Just a note to let everyone know that the annual Orcas Gathering at Seabeck will not be happening in 2018.
We didn't make our required registrations last year or this year, so we are folding the tents and putting them into storage for awhile. We've been meeting annually for almost 20 years but things have shifted. Most of us started the annual summer family camp experience because of our children. But the kids are grown, running off to college or around the world. Many of us are seeking new experiences or putting our energies elsewhere and the annual 5 day commitment to Seabeck has become burdensome. And that is OK. We get it.
Much of the success of our earlier gatherings was the sheer anticipation of seeing old friends, from all over the country, gathering in a huge party, without the responsibility of taking care of children. And I hope that we may go back in that direction, getting together in a larger group of friends every 3-4 years for a grand party, instead of seeing you all at funerals. I can live with that. I even prefer it.
In a couple years we can put the feelers out. In the meantime, we love you and miss you and hope to see/hear from you all, especially as the retirement years draw nearer. Stay in touch!
History of the Orcas Gathering
The first Orcas gathering took place in August of 1987 at Camp Moran on Orcas Island, WA. The occupants were a collection of ex-LRY Unitarians, Evergreen State College students, and their friends and loved ones who were crazy enough to rent a summer camp together, cook their own food, conduct personal growth seminars and programs, and commit themselves to recreational bliss. Whether it was hiking up Mt. Constitution, dancing at the Grange Hall, or jumping into the hot tubs at Doe Bay, the Orcas Gathering united dozens of old and new friends. After a week there were tearful goodbyes and promises to do it again.
Five years later we did! The 1992 Orcas Gathering was at Camp Moran again, and the crowds were large, our enthusiasm sustaining, and many new friends and friends of friends were introduced all around. The food was hearty as some of us introduced their culinary talents to this post-college crowd. Many of us were married now, bringing along our wives and husbands. Again, after a week we said goodbye and promised to do it again.
In 1996 the Orcas Gathering at Camp Moran brought a new element... children! Suddenly there were all these babies! The energy we all once had for each other was now being dispensed in different directions and we realized that it was no longer just a gathering of individuals, but of families. The normally enjoyable responsibilities of cooking, childcare, and cleaning up were cutting into the precious little time that we needed to connect. After a week of scattered energy and incredible art programs, the participants decided to find a place where the Orcas Gathering could meet in greater comfort and space, where meals and clean up were provided, and where participants could find more options on how to spend their time together.
That gathering place was Seabeck. In 1999 we held the first Orcas Gathering at the Seabeck Conference Center.
Not only did old and new friends come, but they arrived with all their children! The conference center was large and roomy, with spaces for families with children or for individuals who needed their privacy. A dining hall with three square meals a day added a new social dimension, and we now were able to provide childcare and programs for all ages. Seabeck had swimming and boating, play areas, woods and hiking trails, and all the beauty of the Puget Sound shoreline. After an incredible week of playing, we went home happy & exhausted with our children begging to go again next year.
The Orcas Gathering Today
Since 1999, the Orcas Gathering has become an LRY and TESC reunion and an active family camp experience. As we have aged, many of us are approaching retirement while our children are off to college and the world at large. But Seabeck is still an anticipated event in our lives as we greet old friends and make new.
- The Orcas Gathering is now held each year at Seabeck during the middle week of August.
- The Orcas Gathering provides housing and meals for families and individuals.
- Artistic and personal growth programs are available to children and adults.
- Recreation includes swimming, hiking, boating, arts and crafts, an annual talent show, and organized games.
- Subsidies are available to persons who need it for getting here, staying here, and sharing their talents here.
Despite all the wonderful spaces and activities at Seabeck, the most important element here is you! The Orcas Gathering exists because of the energies and creative talents that people bring and share. We are all growing and changing each day. How nice it is to find a time to get together and share the blessings of our individual existence within a supportive community! The Orcas Gathering is a community rich in spirit, intellect, and progressive ideals. Come find us!