As leaves begin to fall and our mountain weather changes for the arriving season, my thoughts turn to the land on which we host all the campers and staff each summer here at Gwynn Valley. Our appreciation of the land goes deep throughout the program as we venture down to farm and dive into the history of a working Mill from the 1890’s. It’s also the simple joy of just the land itself and some of the mysteries that capture our imaginations during the summer. Over the last several days we’ve drained the camp lake to repair some of the swimming docks and the drain. In the process we’ve had to relocate the fish and that was done yesterday. One of those magical aspects of the lake is that you can’t always see the bottom especially in the thick of summer when the water is being stirred up by 200 campers and staff. Once in a while we get a glimpse of the fish and “wildlife” that live in our little water world. Big Mama is our grass carp that we put into the lake several years ago to eat the grass that was growing on the lake bottom. At the time Big Mama was about 8 or 10 inches. As you see from the picture she’s grown quite a bit and continues to do so. She was rescued yesterday and
taken to another lake until we can refill ours. When we do see her at camp, it’s an event because of her size. I regret that we didn’t weigh and measure her length but we were trying not to traumatize her in the transition. She’s moves through the water like a submarine and glides along sometimes in the shallows so the boys and girls can see her in all her splendor. She’s a docile vegetarian and is rarely spooked by any would be invader of the lake. She usually swims quietly away to her deep secret place for sometimes several days before reappearing around early morning, rest hour or evening when campers are not in the lake.
I think all the camp animals are aware of our presence in the summer and I’m sure the nocturnal hours allow them to roam and walk in all the areas of our campus and surrounding woods. As camp ended this year our deer slowly made their way back into camp and it almost looked like they were wondering, where is all the laughter and joy that was just here. As camp transitions to the next season and we gaze out on the magic of our site, take some time to take a look at your own backyard and watch the changes that are occurring with the animals and plants. Even though your yard is smaller, it’s a micro-cosm of our web of life and there are lots of mysteries out there just waiting to be explored.
We’ll be heading out on the road soon and looking forward to seeing many of you at our camp shows. We’ll be bringing along a great new crop of GV popcorn and also a new video with footage from last summer that you might be starring in. Join us at one of these shows and bring a friend. Camp misses your presence and hopes to see you all again next summer.