For over 40 years, kids, teens and adults have run away to join our circus in beautiful Mendocino County. Drawing from our knowledge of the Arts as well as how to build strong community, our well trained staff teaches timing, balance and as Wavy Gravy says, “Survival in the 21st century or how to duck with a sense of humor and a dollop of compassion. Which kids can then take this into their lives and assist them forever.”

Wavy goes on to explain, “Kids from every walk of life come together and make a kind of a universal whole at Camp. Everybody gets something from each other and we end up being a community together and filled with love. And wonder.”

At the heart of our philosophy is a desire to celebrate our Diversity and use everything we learn and create together to grow as Universal Human Beings. With the skills and community we gain at Camp we are able to change the World.

The Show Show

Our performance philosophy emphasizes taking risks in a physically and emotionally safe environment. Campers choose from a wide range of activities and classes that encourage creativity, skills mastery, personal growth and physical development.

The Life Show

Camp Winnarainbow provides a training ground to nurture leaders for a peaceful, harmonious and sustainable world by teaching responsibility for one’s own behavior and developing confidence, inner security and self-expression.

Offering Restorative Practices

Elders remind us that sitting in a circle for Restorative practice is an old way of tribal people’s all over the world. Modern neuroscience and social wisdom is catching up with where we started as a Human Race.

Several years ago we made a conscious decision to move away from traditional behavior management to a restorative way of being in community together, which fits our relational programming. We train and mentor all of our staff in Restorative Practices (we call our program Offering Restorative Justice or ORJ) with the goal of using relationships and circles for teaching and healing. We’ve built on traditional Restorative Practices to design a unique program that works in the busy life of Camp and puts our philosophies and values into action.

One truly unique aspect of our ORJ program is that it begins the minute a camper arrives on the property. The main job of all of our staff is to know the story of every child they are working with and to be a safe, kind, respectful adult role model. By focusing on building positive relationships from the first minute, if conflict does arise then all the people involved can use the positive to help repair any harm that occurred.

We love to talk about our ORJ program. Feel free to call or email with any questions!

Toward The Fun!

An excerpt from “A Conversation with Wavy Gravy” by Morgan Shipley

Wavy Gravy (born Hugh Nanton Romney in 1936), is one of the most well-known figures of the 1960s counterculture. Known for his role in the founding of the legendary community Hog Farm, his part in Woodstock, his clown persona, his philanthropic work with the Seva Foundation, as well as his children’s camp, Camp Winnarainbow, Wavy Gravy’s personal history is deeply intertwined with that of some of the most important figures and events of the 1960s and after. In this wide-ranging conversation with Morgan Shipley, we not only gain insight into his remarkable history, but also garner some sense of his irrepressible humor and charm.

Morgan Shipley (MS):
From the frontlines of major sixties-era protests to the official clown of the Grateful Dead, you always seemed to embody a sense of joy, of happiness. In your book, Something Good for a Change: Random Notes on Peace Thru Living, you describe your philosophy as “Toward the fun.” Can you explain this idea or expand on its value and where it emerged from?

Wavy Gravy (WG):
“Toward the fun” is the motto of Camp Winnarainbow, which is a circus and performing arts camp that I’ve run with my wife for over thirty years. It is taken from the buzz-word of the Sufis, which is “toward the one.” That’s their spiritual explanation. We just changed the one to fun, because give me an “F.” [Laughter]

How did the Camp come about? In the midst of political activism and direct action, why Sufism, why a spirituality that emphasized oneness, as the basis for a Camp?

Camp Winnarainbow came about because my wife is a student of Sufism, and she was going to the Mendocino Woodlands for a Sufi retreat. Our son was like seven then, and she asked me to come along and babysit our son. And so I noticed—his name was Howdy Do-Good Tomahawk Truckstop Gravy Romney then—I noticed that lots of parents were not able to take part in the spiritual practices because they had kids. So I said, “hey, give me the kids.” So I ended up with a whole lot of kids and people that enjoyed working with kids, and in the next year Camp Winnarainbow came about…

Although it is a camp directed specifically toward kids, I know that you normally have a week for adults….

One week for grown-ups: it’s big fun or your money back. I guarantee it. [Laughter]

Do you see the camp emerging from your experience in the sixties among the hippies? For example, do you see it as a direct extension from Hog Farm? Is this something that, other than your experience with your wife at this Sufi retreat, you see as a natural extension of what you were doing or trying to do in the sixties?

Sure. People ask what my greatest legacy is and it’s either Seva or Camp Winnarainbow. Not that, it is the kids actually, not the camp itself, but the children who have come out of Camp Winnarainbow. And now a lot of the kids who started when they were seven, are in their thirties and are running the camp. [End Page 128]

I have a follow-up question about the camp’s relation to the sixties, but you mentioned Seva; can you discuss this organization?

Seva is a Sanskrit word that means service to human kind. We work in curable and preventable blindness in Third World countries and in Native American health care. We’ve done over three million sight-saving operations.

Wonderful. Would you say then that Seva and Camp Winnarainbow extend the values or ethos of the sixties as you understand it?

The beat goes on is my point. The sixties didn’t end in the 1960s…