Counting the Days and Because of Camp!

As I was coming to work this morning I heard an old song that probably none of you campers have ever heard or even heard of the group – The Moody Blues.  Some of your parents may remember them. The song that was playing was called “Lovely to See You”, and soon we will be seeing you.  Several more staff arrived today as we prepare the site and the organizational aspects for the coming summer.  Everything has been in full bloom and the rain we’ve been having has answered a need from the 3 years of drought that we’ve experienced.

Biker Dan was out at camp today to work on some bikes.  You’ll see a little bit of him this summer as he has commited to racing on the local circuit and beyond.  He’ll be helping us with the mechanical aspects of our program.  Rick James arrived today from being all over the globe and will be back to work on Mountainside in the climbing program.  Alice Lysaght who worked with SIT’s also arrived today and will be tapped for her many talents this summer.  Sarah Wakefield is here and will be on Mountainside this summer along with returning head counselor Laurie Jacobs.  Overall and including support staff, we’ve got 73% of our staff returning this summer.

Camp is really all about the people and relationships that are created by our camp counselors or leaders.  They are the ones who really make a difference in a child’s life.  Day in and day out here at camp when you see campers and staff interacting you realize it’s not so much all the great activities we have here at Gwynn Valley, but the way in which the children are being led in those activities and the relationships that are being formed through mentoring by the staff.  Our human powered activities provide an environment where everyone comes to the table with different skills and talents and our staff are the ones who guide the children in discovering what those talents are as well as building on what is already there.  Gwynn Valley has a great facility nestled in our little cove in the Western North Carolina Mountains and super activities, but what makes it really magical are the staff who work with the campers. That, my friends is the BONUS! Great staff create great experiences for children at camp.  Take a few seconds and check out this short clip of some folks you may have heard of who think camp has been an important part of their lives.  See you soon!

Hurray for May!

Can you believe it’s May already.  As I walked through camp and up to the dining room this morning, I realized how green and beautiful camp looked but something was missing….. campers and staff!  It’s just around the corner until you begin to arrive and just over a month before we have our first campers show up for an 8 day session here at Gwynn Valley, the best camp for boys and girls this side of the French Broad.  For those of you not familiar with the French Broad the name refers to the river that flows through the valleys of our region and was given that name by early explorers.  Those first settlers came to a point where they looked down on the broad green valleys that at that time were held by  France.

Azaleas looking toward the Lodge

Azaleas looking toward the Lodge

Many of you may know that Gwynn Valley is in Transylvania County.  “Transylvania” comes from  Latin, meaning “over the trees” or “across the woods”.  Our forests and timber held a big attraction in the early years of the area, but before the timber industry came there was a good bit of farming done in these fertile valleys  of the river.  We’re still farming here at Gwynn Valley and taking advantage of the fertile soil here on camp property that helps produce about 70% of our food each summer.  The very first timber harvested from the county was floated down the French Broad RIver to Asheville, where it was sold. An attempt was made at one time to make the French Broad River navigable, and jetties were built in order that boats might come up the river. A boat called the Mountain Lily came to Brevard and never returned due a flash flood that pulled it’s from its moorings and mired it in mud not far from the town.  Never again able to move from that spot, the boat was stripped of its wood which was used to build a church in the Horseshoe community.

Many of our paddlers at camp utilize a section of the French Broad each summer where you can still see evidence of  those jetties.  Depending on the water level you can see their remnants and we often use them to teach the art of eddy hopping on river trips.  Eddy hopping is safely moving from one spot on the river either laterally or  going downstream to another spot.  It allows the paddler to scout as they go to take advantage of safe spots on the river as they progress down.  We’ve had good rainfall this Spring and hope we continue to fill those rivers for a good summer of Gwynn Valley river trips.  Whether you’re tubing, kayaking or canoeing there’s no finer place than the western NC mountains for a fun or challenging day on the river.

Fiddle heads of ferns just coming up

Fiddle heads of ferns just coming up

In the days ahead we will be putting the finishing touches on most parts of camp as we make ready for another great season.  Nature is putting the beginning touch on many of our wildflowers that are springing up everywhere.  Soon the Trilliums will be in all their glory on the southwest part of our property.  Look for some pictures on our next blog for some of outstanding wildflowers that grow here at camp.  Thanks for being a part of the “simple joys”.