Staff Renewal and Development

On Monday, Tues. and Wed. of this week four of us attended the Southeast American Camping Assoc.  Conference in Hilton Head, SC.  It was hard to stay focused on the meeting content in such a tough venue but the three days were packed with speakers and sessions that provided fodder for the future here at camp.  It was also a reaffirming time for our year round staff as we found that our work is right on target with the goals of our national organization as well as the industry at large.  Andy, our assistant director brought us the “Fish philosophy” last summer and also invited the Fish folks to be represented at the conference to present one of the keynotes as well as a conference session.  If you’re not familiar with the “Fish philosophy” it’s simply: Choose Your Attitude; Play; Make Their Day; and Be Present.  Through those four interconnected practices, a staff member can certainly make a huge difference in a child’s experience here at camp.  I won’t go into a lot of detail but if you’re interested in learning more about the “Fish philosophy” go to “to catch the energy and release the potential”.   The energy and potential is certainly a match for the camp environment.

As a director and one who in totally invested in camp experiences for children, we are doing so much more that just having children come to experience Gwynn Valley for a session.  I believe we are truly in the business of youth development.  A camp experience can be a transformational experience for a child in our environment.  I don’t however, think that transformation takes place here.  I think it takes place back home after a child has had some time to reflect on the camp experience.  It was once said that the experience alone is not the teacher, but rather it’s the reflection of the experience.test for web

One of our speakers talked about how there’s so much that bombards children these days and through his work with kids it’s hard for them to focus and just get into the flow of life as one of his students described.  My mind went to that wonderful scene in “Finding Nemo” where Nemo was invited to join with the turtles and ride the flow or current and just enjoy the simple aspects of that ride; much like enjoying the simple joys here at Gwynn Valley.   It’s coming to an environment that is unplugged where you feel the response of the boat from the paddle by doing that forward sweep stroke.  It’s clasping your hands around a turning ball of clay to form and shape it by slight simple movements of your hands.  Most of all, it is knowing that your counselor is there and present with you to guide you through the camp experience.

I hope that many of you have had some time to reflect on your camp experiences and share them with your siblings, parents and friends.  Speaking of sharing, we will soon be sharing our message of Gwynn Valley by hitting the recruitment trail.  Look for our promo schedule under this news page soon, as we travel to a town near you.  Stay tuned!

Hamish’s Visit

For those of you that were here this summer when the piglets were born, you may remember that Hamish the pig was the lone survivor.  He received a good deal of attention from campers as well as his other mom, Arrington, who worked down at the farm.  Hamish is still around the farm and he’s still “hamming” it up.  Sorry about that Hamish, as I know you like to “hog” the limelight.  Well, Arrington came for a visit the other day.  She’s working in a nearby school and had some time off.  She went straight to the farm, picked up Hamish (not literally), and the two of them trotted  up to the office to visit with us.  It was a real treat.  The incredible Mr. “H” has grown quite a bit and lacked no amount of shyness as he got right to work rooting out new territory in and around the office grounds.  We wanted to visit with Arrington in the office but even though pigs are pretty bright, our fair porker has not been house trained.  So we visited with the two of them just outside in the yard.  Those of you that don’t know Jeff may not know that he’s in charge of GV’s grounds and we dared not let on that Hamish went right to work excavating around the office yard.  If the Tajar was watching that afternoon, he was probably relieved to have someone else take the heat for a while.  As you know, that Tajar can get into a lot of mischief.  Well not on this day.  The afternoon belonged to Hamish.  Hamish covered himself with fresh dirt as we talked and used his nose like a miniature backhoe to look for who knows what. IMG_819411 smaller After a while he looked a little bored and I think somehow communicated with Arrington that it was time to go back to the farm. There was food there and of course Hamish is all about food. We had a nice visit and hoped to see him soon, perhaps on his own ground. If you want to send Hamish a greeting, just make it care of He loves fan mail and is still trying to figure out all those headlines that read something to the affect of “swine flew”.  After all, what pig doesn’t want to fly. And that’s the way it is here at Gwynn Valley. Stay tuned!