New Website and More!

Welcome to Gwynn Valley’s new and improved website.  I hope you’ll find that it really speaks to our reputation as a great camp for boys and girls located here in Brevard, NC.  Change is good and we’re very excited about the changes to this new addition that reaches out across the globe to families and children everywhere.  We hope you will find it more in line with our brochure as well as more interactive.  Please take a look at the many new photos that are there and most of those are from last summer ’08! Also check out the new map of camp.  It’s a great rendering of the main part of camp that actually encompasses “The Rock” and other favorite aspects of our 300+ acres.  You can get to it by clicking on About Us and then Map of Camp.  Also look for more news updates on our News page in the coming months and certainly check in at the beginning of the summer to see all the great photos and daily blogs that will be coming from camp.  You’ll of course need a log in username and password for that.  Your parents can assist you in that task.

Camp is only a few short weeks away and we’re pretty darn busy getting ready for you.  We’re ordering new gear, finishing up renovations, and crops at the farm are busting up through the soil.  We’ve had a lot of rain this Spring so vegatables are doing well.  The grass has never been greener and our dogwoods are in all their glory.  Carson Creek that runs through the center of camp is pumping lots of water.  I was on a walk yesterday with folks that monitor our land conservation easement (see Conservation Easement under About Us on the website).  We walked to The Rock and then bushwacked down the mountain to the Outpost Campsite and followed the creek all the way up Connestee Falls.  In the process we discovered a new cascade coming off the southern side of the property that I hadn’t seen before.  I’m sure it’s been pretty small with our lack of rain over the past couple of years but yesterday it was really running.  Yet another great place to explore once all our campers get here.  We’re planning lots of outings this summer that will take us to new and exciting places.

The year round team met today to plan Staff Training which is probably the most important week of our summer.  A lot of work goes into preparing our staff for a summer at Gwynn Valley.  We’ve attended conferences and workshops this winter to add to our knowledge and experience in creating the best possible environment for our campers and the staff mentoring them.  If this is your first year at camp we hire creative, fun, inspiring individuals who demonstrate a desire to work with children and who have strong character, leadership skills, and experience to teach in our program areas.  The heart and soul of Gwynn Valley is it’s staff and this summer we’ve got just over 70% of our staff who are returning.  You will recognize some old faces as well as some new ones from all over the world.  Countries such as Scotland, England, Ireland, France, Canada, Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Brazil, Korea,  Australia, and New Zealand are represented this coming summer.  In addition, we have staff from many US states. All of the staff are at least 19 and our overall camper/staff ratio is 3 to 1. We’re also excited to welcome a great bunch of SIT’s (the most we’ve ever had) this summer.  Once you reach the age of 16 and 17 you’re eligible to be a Staff-in-Training and it’s a great way to continue your camp experience on a whole different level.  It’s also a stepping stone and training ground for those interested and qualified SIT’s to make the leap into the staff ranks once you complete your freshman year of college.  Just a few years ago some of these folks were in Peter Pan and Raccoon Ridge.  This summer you’ll see them working hard in many aspects of camp and learning the ropes.

It’s getting toward sun down here and those mountains are turning blue as they usually do this time of day when it’s clear and beautiful.  Look for more updates as we count down the days until camp starts.  Looking forward to seeing you all here at Gwynn Valley where the simple joys abound!

Green in More Than Name Only

Every magazine under the sun has published a “Green” issue. Let’s hope that all those magazines are getting recycled. Through the years Gwynn Valley has been quietly moving in this direction. I say quietly because we’ve really not promoted our movement in lessening our environmental impact of running a camp.

As I began to think about our journey into “Green”, I spoke with Dale Robertson who has been a part of that journey and has been an advocate of sustainability here at camp. Those of you that don’t know Dale may just see him on opening and closing day directing traffic and directing his staff in getting you in and out of camp in a way that allows you to focus on your children. Dale is our site manager and has been at Gwynn Valley for over 30 years. Following are some of things that Gwynn Valley has been doing over the past 5 to 10 years under Dale’s leadership:

  • Recycling paper, plastic, glass, and metal for 10 years
  • Using high efficiency lighting in over half our cabins, which are run from batteries for over 10 years
  • Installing water-saver shower heads that use only 2 gallons per minute, saving up to 40% in water and heated water usage. We also have water saver toilets in most of our cabins and bathrooms
  • Using compact fluorescent lights throughout our program for over 5 years
  • Growing approximately 70% of our food and raising our own beef, thereby lessening our carbon footprint by eliminating food transportation from farm to table by wholesalers and purveyors (homegrown food also tastes better).
  • Heating 70% of the camp’s hot water with wood that is down or dead on the property. 15% of that wood goes into building projects (cabin siding, roofing, etc.)
  • Composting our uncooked kitchen waste
  • Powering the Mill with water which grinds our corn into grits and cornmeal and also churns the ice cream freezers for Tajar Ball and other special times
  • Utilizing our web site as a means by which to access camper applications, staff applications and parent handbooks which save paper.

The more I speak with other camp directors the more I realized how progressive we really are. It’s been a conscious effort to make Gwynn Valley a place that really has a strong connection to the values of the land and to educate our campers to that end. We’re a business that uses a lot of resources and has a lot of impact but there are always ways to improve and make our system better. Looking ahead we’ve focused on some long range and short range projects that will keep us attuned to our commitment to the environment and more importantly our commitment to a better world for our children and their children.

Future Projects

  • Erect a windmill to pump water to the farm
  • Use more environmentally safe cleaning products
  • Use more environmentally friendly composting of kitchen waste
  • Replace plastic dinner ware with recyclable dinner ware
  • Build a Pelton Water Wheel to power all of camp (this is a long range project that was first looked at in the late 80’s – we’ve already got the plan)
  • Use solar panels on roofs that get enough direct sun to heat water
  • Green design future facilities and buildings
  • Move toward more on-line correspondence and registration forms with families to save paper

Many of these things you can do at home and hope you will begin that journey toward a Greener existence. If you have ideas that you would like to share with us please feel free to get in touch. We look forward keeping Gwynn Valley a great model for sustainability.