Only 355 Days Until Camp!

Dear Parents & Friends,

Anne, the kids and I just returned  Monday from a relaxing week at the beach and we’re setting the stage to crank up for the new year here at Gwynn Valley.  Thanks so much for sharing your children with us this summer.  Each session brought all the joy that comes with their arrival and experience here at Gwynn Valley.  As we begin preparations for our 75th year, a true milestone, I’m reminded of the simple joys that were realized here at camp this summer.  Many experiences are savored and accomplishments are made while at camp but for me the thing that tops the list is building human relationships.  Coming to camp not knowing anyone and making new friends that could last a lifetime is priceless.  Or coming to camp with your friends from last year and rekindling the friendship in a wonderful and creative environment.  The other aspect of a camp experience starts with counselors.  They set the stage in so many ways for the campers experience and life in the cabin is the building block to move out into program.  Staff are creating “camp DNA” as they embed great memoires in the recesses of campers brains.  IMG_6507Camp also encourages exploration and a camper who is curious loves to explore and enhance their experience here, will no doubt become a leader.  The camp community nurtures and facilitates those willing to approach healthy risks; those willing to try, fail, and try again; and those who understand the value of working together to accomplish the greater good.  That greater good comes back in full circle to that daily interaction with other campers and staff; to a place that is unplugged where conversation is real and not from a screen, keyboard or  text.  What better place for a child and the simple joys of Gwynn Valley!

Stay tuned!

New’s from Session E

 

Dear Parents & Friends,

 

A beautiful but hot day here at GV.   We just finished up our intro skits at campfire and everyone is back in their cabin and getting ready for the sandman.  Riverside took off this morning and I made their cabin photo just before they pulled out to tackle a 38.5 mile hiking trip in 4 days.  They are starting at Davidson River Campground and then up to about 6000′ on the Parkway and back again to the start in a big loop.  Great country they’re hiking through.  Mountainside starts their adventures tomorrow and they are off in 4 directions, one for each point of the compass.

How about those girls at candle making this morning.  Can you believe you start out with just a wick and it develops into a candle after many trips through the dipping line.  They were very excited about making their first candle.  Then it was on to the Mill where a couple of cabins were milling and chilling.  The milling crew were going hard and milling all that corn from the corn crib as fast as it was coming off the cob.  The boys were into it and all gathered around the mill watching the fine powdery mixture come from the mill hopper.  Next it was to be screened to separate the corn meal, grits, and chicken feed from the mixture.  While in the process they had also cooked up a batch of Johnny cakes and were enjoying them while they worked.  The girl’s cabin was not chilling but fishing and all I heard were screams every time they got a bite from the fish at the mill pond.  No fish was actually landed during the scream fest but it was none-the-less exciting to watch.  Bait was going left and right and those trout were well fed this morning.

I caught up with the Echo boys at the lake and after their swim lessons at the pool, they were at the lake kayaking, swimming and going off the zip line.  There was one little guy who was obviously a bit timid about going off the zip.  It took a fair amount of positive coaxing by the staff to get him to try it.  Waterfront director Cindy swam out in the water to intercept his zip and with some trepidation he launched down the wire and into the lake landing within an arm’s reach of Cindy.  From there he swam back to shore on his own.  I was there and just watched until he got back in line to do it again.  I caught his eye said his name and pumped my fist.  He returned the gesture and in several minutes time went at least three more times with no coaxing at all.  Then it was cannonball contests and minnows and sharks with Steve.  One of the Echo boys said he had seen the zip line in the Gwynn Valley “commercial” (our camp DVD) and he wanted to know if I was going to make a commercial while they were there, because he wanted to be in it.  Priceless!

Lunch was the next order of the day with baked chicken, fresh bread, rice, gravy, and fresh peas and carrots.  After lunch everyone went outside to help shuck corn which was picked this morning by the campers that went down to the farm.  Everyone has to shuck about three ears.  We had that corn for dinner tonight.  Speaking of commercials, what grocer could advertise a fresher crop – from farm to table with salt and butter, there’s nothing better.  And yes folks, our corn does have worms because we don’t spray it with insecticides.  Those bigger worms go over to the Mill Pond and are gobbled up by the fish or back to the farm to the chickens – all a part of the web of life.  After shucking corn everyone went to the Lodge to sing and as always our singing counselors led from the stage as Debbie was at the 88’s.

Signups for afternoon activities happened after singing with a variety of things to do from Jackson kayaks to mountain biking to pottery animals.   It was a busy afternoon here at the GV cove.  My blog is just the tip of the iceberg for what happens here each and every day.  Before I sign off, I just want to say that these kids are here and unplugged and having a great time.  The camp experience is an American tradition because of the value it adds to the lives of kids.  Camp helps children:

Grow emotionally

Develop values like respect, honesty, caring, and sharing

Develop critical skills, such as leadership, independence, personal responsibility

Participate in physical activities and exercise

Connect to nature

Form authentic relationships

Take healthy risks in a safe and nurturing environment

 

I am a firm believer that the camp experience should be available to all children.  As I told my staff during training this spring, we are creating Camp DNA as we embed memories deep into the recesses of the children’s brains.  Now and later on they will recognize many of the values mentioned above.  Simply put, camp is an essential part of a child’s development. Stay tuned!

Grant