Thirteen Days of the Simple Joys!

Dear Parents & Friends,

The last full day of Session B was spectacular. It was another beautiful day as far as the weather. Everyone soaked up the sunshine and enjoyed the moderate mountain temperatures. Some of today’s photos are from last night’s Tajar Ball. We haven’t loaded all the pics from today but they will be up no later than tomorrow evening. When Mountainside and Riverside came in yesterday we had a bunch of photos to upload from their adventures.

Tomorrow when you arrive your children will be waiting for you in the cabins. At 10:30 there will be a cabin friendship circle where all can join in. We do these each night and check in with campers to find out how their day has been. It allows staff to see how the children are doing since they only see them at morning wake-up and just before and after meals. A lot happens in our day here at camp and it’s a good way to learn about the children’s experiences. After the friendship circle, we hope you will join us in the Lodge for our final campfire for the session. There will songs, stories and skits from the session. Lunch is just after and most of the food will be from our farm.

Morning program was sign-ups and everyone got to choose two activities that they maybe hadn’t done and wanted to try. There was a huge variety of things offered, plus there were a couple of off camp trips for tubing and one for climbing at Cove Creek. 6 Main Camp campers went with our climbing staff up into Pisgah for a wee bit of climbing. The Cove Creek climbs sit at the foot of a creek and rise up out of a small cove that is just beautiful. We took the staff up there for a picnic during training and had a blast just playing in the fields and wading in the creek. Main camp bikers were videoed today by Ben, one of our instructors who has a little GoPro camera that mounts to his handlebars or helmet. He’s putting it together tonight and we’ll try and get it up tomorrow. This session has produced some great bikers. I asked one little guy today if he bikes at home and he said he didn’t. His parents should get him a mountain bike because he’s got a knack for it given his age. There was zip lining, corn shucking, candle making, learning how to use an axe ( I know it sounds dangerous, but it was a great session), weaving, swimming, and the list goes on.

We had pizza for dinner tonight which is traditional on the last night of camp. After dinner we took the rest of the cabin photos which will go up tomorrow and then went on to friendship campfire. Lots of people sang and talked about what the past couple of weeks had meant to them. One of the best groups to chime in were our SIT’s. They’ve been just extraordinary and outstanding this session. They stay for three weeks and spend a lot of time working and watching and being sponges. Let me say that again, they spend a lot of time WORKING! We hope one day this group all comes back to be counselors. What a great bunch and if your camper had one in their cabin be sure to introduce yourself and thank them.

Friendship campfire was also about honoring those who have attended camp for a long time. We had our blanket ceremony and also the 5 year plaque ceremony for the “old timers”. As I said earlier in the week camp creates memories or as I call it camp DNA. Gwynn Valley is all about the “simple joys” of childhood and we celebrate that each and every day. We look forward to seeing you all tomorrow but will miss our campers from this session. Stay tuned!


Playing Outside and Growing Inside

Dear Parents & Friends,

What a beautiful day! We have a song we sing at camp that’s one of my favorites called “It’s a Beautiful Day”, and it certainly lived up to it today. It was our last full day of programming and we were all over the camp map going to the 4 points of the compass. You’ll notice that our camp T-shirts this year were designed with a compass rose on the back and front. It reads, playing outside and growing inside. Today was one of those cotton candy cloud days. The temperature was just right, no rain and everyone had a great day. Our campers went tubing, creek hiking, biking, swimming, sporting, horseback riding, played capture the flag, kayaked, hiked, ran, jumped, and last but not least ate. And those were just the outdoor activities and we did eat outside tonight for dinner. The Tajar Ball was tonight and there were characters from every conceivable description. I’ve never seen so many wild costumes and it was a very festive atmosphere. We had burgers and hot dogs with roasted potatoes, potato salad, lemonade and ice cream. After the picnic there was a carnival on the soccer field with all kinds of games: soccer shootout, fortune telling, face painting, penny drop, sponge throw (at counselors), M&M Guestimate, can throw, frisbee throw, frisbee golf, fidget ladder, a hay ride and the bell ringer. There was popcorn, cookies and as mentioned ice cream. We played and played until almost dark and slowly made our way to the cabins for a very sound sleep tonight. I know there will be some tired puppy’s tomorrow morning. If your camper comes home and wants to just sleep it’s not because they stay up too late; it’s because we go all day long and into the evening. It’s quite a pace and it’s like riding a giant wave.

A hundred years ago, more homes were in villages or cabins in the woods. People were surrounded by wide-open spaces with green as far as the eye could see. That is not the case now, the “village” has changed. For generations, children grew up outside. They walked to school, rode their bikes, and walked barefoot through the grass. Childhood was characterized by innocence, imagination, wonder, and laughter (those are a constant at GV). Being inside all day was torturous. With kids in general, spending more time indoors and plugged into some kind of electronic medium, camp is a must do experience. I think that exercise and fitness is slowly creeping back into our lives as we learn more about how to manage what we eat. In our small town of Brevard, Crossfit has become very popular which is overall fitness where you do exercises that related to the work we used to do and adding the aerobic element. According to Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, “Nature enhances children’s senses and makes them more confident in more settings. When nature and play go hand in hand, they have a profound impact on the health and development of children on the road to adulthood.” And some of that play needs to be unstructured. We have a very structured day here at camp and it was really nice to see the campers just wander from one activity to another and play along the way. We also have that time in the evening after supper. Children really need unstructured and active play.

Camp is the prescription that every child should be on. I only wish we could get every child in some kind of camp because there’s a camp out there for everyone. We are fortunate to live in a country that has so many opportunities for children. Camp is one of those and one that I totally believe in. It’s real and it teaches real skills, life skills that make for great adults. This session has been a good one and we will hate to see this group of your children leave us. But wait, there’s more as the song goes (ask your child). Tomorrow is a brand new day and GV is place of opportunity. By the way, we welcome all our outdoor groups back to camp today. Riverside and Mountainside returned from their adventures with tales to tell and bent on taking a shower after several days of playing outside and growing inside. Stay tuned!


International Day- Brazil & South Africa

Dear Parents & Friends,

It’s been another great sunny/showery day here at camp.  We had a little extra long rest hour today because of thunder storms and rain which came up just as we were about to start afternoon activities.  Everyone was in their cabin but afternoon trips and activities went out just a bit later.  A group of mountain bikers from Main Camp went out just after breakfast this morning.  They went up to Dupont and we’ll load those photos for you tomorrow morning.  Ben, Sarah and Erin went along with 9 campers to Dupont.  They returned safe and sound just before the afternoon thunder boomers came in.  They rode in at Lake Imaging up Jim Branch Tr. to Gion Farm and from there to Wintergreen Falls for a dip and swim.  Sarah was the lifeguard for the group so we had all aspects covered.  From the falls they went back to Gion and then down Ridgeline Tr. which is one of the best trails in the park.  They also stopped off at the play park which has all kinds of obstacles and challenges for bikers  and a pump track.  A pump track is a small loop with earthen bumps, berms and banked turns that allow the biker to use his or her momentum to go around track without pedaling.  It was a fun day and everyone had a blast.  This afternoon I went with a group of sit on top kayakers to the mighty French Broad.  It was a quick paddle full of songs and merriment as we paddled our way back to camp property.  Dinner was waiting on us and we all ate at the same table and talked about our trip and all kinds of things under the sun.

Castle Ball was offered at signups this morning which is a great game that was brought to camp several years ago.  It’s played with 6 hula hoops which comprise a castle.  The idea is knock all the other team’s castles down before they can rebuild them.  Get them all down and you win.  It might be the most competitive game we play at camp. The balls are soft and even if hit square in the face (unintentionally of course) it wouldn’t hurt.  The climbing wall was also going strong this morning.  Lots of campers signed up for climbing and especially those who hadn’t had a chance and wanted to.  Our climbing wall is a 3 sided 50’ tower that has a beginner, intermediate and advanced side.  It’s perfect for Gwynn Valley and is used most everyday here at camp.

Pottery and Arts and Crafts shared the limelight down on the lower end of our arts arena areas.  Weaving is winding down and folks are finishing up their projects.  We’ve turned one of our older buildings into a weaving and loom center that is great.  Get your children to bring you by and visit while you’re here on Friday.   Hand crafts were abundant as well as the talent from our international day tonight.  It was a day to celebrate Brazil and South Africa and celebrate we did.  The counselors from those countries worked very hard to present their countries to the rest of camp which included skits, songs, games, dances and slide shows and a video or two.  Lots of celebrities were there including Nelson Mandela to Scar the villain from the Lion King.  Needless to say it was a very creative night.

The other celebrities we always have at camp are the baby animals at the farm.  Calves, baby chicks, baby goats, always get the most attention and well they should.  It was no exception today because they have to be fed and cared for and the children help out in so many different ways.  We thought that Big MaMa pig might give birth this session but it looks like she’s going to hold off for a few more days.  That’s an exciting time at camp and usually comes about now or early into next session.  Don’t forget those big 4 legged horses, but of course they are in a class by themselves.

Farm animals are fun but the food is up there as well.  We had our first corn on the cob today and it was delicious.  Everyone helps shuck and in no time you can “process” 400 ears.  Gwynn Valley is an awesome place and if you don’t think that to be the case, talk to our campers and they will provide you with awesome lessons.  Stay tuned!



“My Favorite Things” (all of camp)

Dear Parents and Friends,

We just left the Lodge where our Fine Arts program presented 2 one act plays.  All the children were amazing and everyone did a superb job.  The campers wrote both plays and there was some pretty strong moral themes with both.  “The Princess Brat” started off with one spoiled princess who soon learned that she needed a little wake up call.  “It Takes a Village” was about doing good deeds and how everything comes full circle and service to others is so important.  Both productions mixed a bit of modern with the classical and Oprah Winfrey was actually a part of the second play.  That’s what is fun about camp; you can create, be outside the box and take it to the next level while in the comfort of those who really appreciate all the work you put in to it.

All of Mountainside went out today and each group traveled to different directions on compass rose in our backyard playground of Pisgah.  Bikers went up to Dupont State Forest, where slickrock riding abounds and the terrain offers up about anything you want from beginner to advanced.  Climbers headed out to the Cedar Rock, which you can actually see from camp.  As the crow flies it’s not that far up into Pisgah.  Cedar is a granite dome that has several sides that offer various grades of climbing. Our campers will probably be climbing in the 5.5 to 5.10 limits and doing what we call top roping.  The views are spectacular since you’re surrounded by National Forests.  The Pioneers will be backpacking near Cedar Rock and will start at the Fish Hatchery and loop up in behind Johns Rock, around Cedar and then back through Picklesiemer Fields and back to the Hatchery.  Johns Rock like Cedar, is another large granite dome that has a beautiful overlook and if clear tomorrow, will offer some stunning views.  The paddlers headed up near the confluence of the North and East Fork of the French Broad to start their moving water experience.  That section of the French Broad is all natural flow which is nice.  They will progress to the Green tomorrow, which is a release river.  We’re hoping that it will be running.  The outdoor life, what could be better.

While back at camp we’re not too shabby either.  We harvested and shucked our first fresh corn of the season today.  Approximately 400 ears were picked and shucked by the campers.  I’m sure corn will be on the menu tomorrow.  You couldn’t ask for a quicker farm to table experience.  The Lasagna today at lunch was out of this world and everyone just needed rest hour to recover.  You’ll also see some cabin photos we made last night just before we went into our Sunday Service.  We’ve taken quite a few pictures over the past several days but we’ll get them all loaded soon.  We’re working on a huge upload right now.

You’ll notice that many pictures are made with friends.  Camp is the kind of place where that happens all the time.  You could meet your best friend here or come with your best friend.  The longer we live in the GV world the more we learn what we have in common and the more we appreciate the relationships at camp.  I’ve said this before; camp is all about relationships and learning to live in a small community of people.  It’s the original social networking.  Not many of us are used to living with 7 to 9 siblings.  It takes work and we have a great staff who guide the campers and show them the way.  That’s what makes camp.   You all have provided great campers and we are creating great camp memories.  Last night during our Sunday service, Meadowbrook sang “My Favorite Things”.  I had a flashback of being an elementary school student and singing that song just after the “Sound of Music” came out.  We practiced for hours and performed before the school and many parents.  It was a big deal and that memory has been so vivid all these years.  Yes, we are creating what I call camp DNA, which will be a part of the children for a long time.  Stay tuned!


Sunny Day Sweepin’ the Clouds Away…..

Dear Parents & Friends,

Sesame Street came to life today at camp as we celebrated a very “Special Day” with visits from Big Bird, Elmo, the Cookie Monster, and Oscar. After a little bit of a sleep in and breakfast, activities started with cabin groups traveling to the different Sesame Street activities which included Bert and Ernie’s Bubble Bath at the pool, Cookie Monster Craze, Oscar the Grouch needs a cleaning on the soccer field, Snuffleupagus Story Telling, the Count’s Kayak Attack on the lake, The Search for Elmo’s World, Big Bird’s Big Bird Masks, and Super Grover’s Obstacle Course on the Green. There was lots of fun, swimming, laughter, and sunshine. We took a break for lunch, sang in the lodge, had a relaxing rest hour and began the afternoon by visiting more stations and activities.

Mountainside spent the morning preparing and packing for adventures and are very excited to head out either on their biking, climbing, pioneering, or paddling three day adventure. Excitement was in the air up on the Mountain as packs and dry bags were being filled with necessary camping gear.

Riverside left this morning after breakfast for their four day backpacking trip headed for Tennessee and Roan Mountain. They will hike part of the Appalachian Trail and cross the beautiful grassy balds in that area.  Michael, the boys counselor hiked the entire AT several years ago and completed the Pacific Trail last year so they have a very experienced hiker leading them.  He’s an expert on going light so I’m sure he’ll be able to help load lightening.

After dinner, we enjoyed a little cabin time and took many cabin photos, which you will see and get one via mail sometime in the new year.   The evening brought both Main Camp and Mountainside together in the lodge for a beautiful Sunday Service. The theme was God’s Wonders and many campers and cabin groups shared songs, music and a skit.

At this hour and as children are snug in their beds, part of our staff come to the dining room for staff rec.  Cabins are all covered with one counselor staying back with the kids and the other coming for a relaxing hour with food and fellowship and then they flip flop.  A day like today is a long day and counselors deserve and need a perk like this on Sunday evenings.  With summer well underway we’re hearing the cicadas in the evening and it’s a song of the wood.  We’ve only got 4 full days left in our session and we’ll be seeing you on Friday.  It’s going to be a busy week.  With Mountainside and Riverside out, we’ll also be adding some main camp trips for climbing, paddling, and biking. Stay tuned!


PS  If you missed a blog last night, it was because Mr. and Mrs. Camp Director had an evening off.

Zero Chance of Rain and Lots of Sun!

Dear Parents & Friends,

It’s a cool night here at camp and tomorrow morning it will dip down to 60 or the high 50’s.  That’s good sleeping weather up here.  We had a shower earlier this evening just before dinner and that started the cool down.  We stoked those little furnaces with Chili tonight at dinner served with cucumber salad, rice, cornbread and honey and butter.  The chili and rice was the perfect fuel to propel us into Twilight play which is our extended version of after supper activities.  Usually it’s about 40 to 45 minutes long but tonight it was well over an hour with many great activities offered.  Capture the flag literally captured a good many people.  Candles, horseback riding, mountain biking, kayaking and a host of others rounded out the evening.  6 cabins were on campouts tonight and it’s a spectacular sunset happening as I write.  By now they’ve cooked out, had dinner, have a roaring fire going and are probably about to serve up some smores.

Water polo has been a favorite this summer and we play at the pool.  If you’re a shallow swimmer, this really helps with your swimming skills.  You can start off with a swimming noodle +which makes you a little more buoyant.  Swimming with the ball in front of you is such good exercise and also provides stamina.  Cindy who runs our waterfront told me this evening that many of the children had really improved their strokes and were so much more confident in the water because of water polo.  I saw some confidence gained today in our mountain biking program.  I subbed in for a staff member who was on a day off and got to ride with both groups this morning.  The first hour had some beginning riders that I worked with.  These are campers that can ride a bike but our terrain has lots of features that are quite different from the yard/street/sidewalk at home.  Learning how to ride in the attack position and being able to shift your weight around was the first thing we tackled.  The attack position is when your pedals are even at the 9/3 or 3/9 position depending on which foot you want to place forward.  You’re also standing up out of the saddle with your weight evenly distributed over the entire bike depending on the terrain which we teach in a later lesson.  We keep a couple of fingers on the brake levers ready to use those if you need them.  We first started off in that position riding down a slight incline and then went to maneuvering the bike around a few obstacles in that position and then finally going off several small drops about 4 to 6 inches high.  Everyone did great which led into a ride around camp utilizing our terrain with its many features.  We got on the single track bike trail at the end our session and went about a ¼ of the way up our trail and rode back down because we were running out of time.  Big improvements with this group!

Mountainside chose their activities today and will be heading out on Monday for their adventures.  I have a Mountainsider at my table and she was very excited about being on the climbing adventure.  We have a great staff up there with super leadership.  I wish my own children hadn’t aged out of that program because I’d love to have the staff as their mentors and role models.  It’s all about the staff and the role they play while your children are here at camp.  Conal, our assistant waterfront director, told stories in his Irish accent tonight as thunder and showers ran some of us indoors before supper. It just sounds better with the accent and not to mention he’s a great guy and good teacher.  It’s hard to take your place here at camp but we’re doing our best.  Tomorrow’s forcast-zero chance of rain and lots of sun.  Stay tuned!


Sunset at GV


Raindrops Keep Falling and Camp Keeps Rolling

Dear Parents and Friends,

We started off with a rainy day this morning and it finally abated around 12 noon.  Most activities went right on including sports, climbing, and all other outdoor activities.  When it rains here you only get wet skin deep.  We had a fire going in the Lodge this morning so folks could come by and dry out a bit before moving on to their next activity.  Mountainside was out on the lake and at the climbing wall and the bikers were riding at a slower pace because of the wet conditions.  By lunch time everyone was just a little wet but the skies were clearing.  Afternoon activities got off to a great start with a game of kickball on the soccer field.  There was also fishing and as stated yesterday we should be having that fish dinner any day now.  Those trout are jumping on those hooks and it’s fun to catch one.  Speaking of food, we had taco’s today for lunch and I’ve never seen children eat so much.  They must have burned a billion calories this morning while attending activities.  Despite the rain all water activities went right through the day.  The water temp in the lake and pool feel warmer when it’s raining. The rain is also good for the rivers.  In previous summers here at camp we’ve really had to search for rivers with water to paddle and everything was very low.  This year we’re back up and things are running well.  The creek just outside my office is humming right along.  Tonight several cabins were camping out and eating dinner over an open fire at one of the many campout shelters we have on the property.  For those that stayed behind we had Tajar Tales for the Hillside campers and a hoedown for the Brookside campers in the Lodge.  Debbie plays a mean piano and with a few calls, we had everyone clapping, dancing and smiling their way all over the floor of the Lodge.  It doesn’t take much to get campers involved and camp creates something from nothing without screens, pop music and the myriad of media that bombards children every day. Neither are we fuddy duddies.  We’re actually pretty hip at camp but the campers don’t really know that.  They think if you’re over 25 you’re over the hill.  Not true at all and how.  Most of us are like Peter Pan and just never grow up.

But…. we are adults too and in our adult world comes responsibility.  I mentioned last night that were being visited by the American Camp Association today.  We hosted that visit as a part of our accreditation process and passed with flying colors.  We’re required to meet over 220 standards many of which are mandatory and all are important as it relates to the well being of your child here at camp.  There are approximately 12,000 camps in the US and only about 3500 go through and pass the accreditation process.  It takes a lot of time to prepare for the visit which occurs every three years.  You’re visited by other camp directors who really know their stuff and understand the in’s and out’s of running a camp.

ACA standards help with every aspect of camp management and operation:

• Site: Fire protection, food service, sleeping quarters, utility and maintenance systems.

• Transportation: Procedures concerning drivers, vehicles, and traffic on site.

• Health and Wellness: Staff qualifications, facilities requirements, record keeping, storage and distribution of medicines, contact information, health forms.

• Operational Management: Safety regulations, emergency communication systems, procedures for intruders, personal property regulations.

• Human Resources: Staff qualifications, screening and training, supervision ratios, and procedures.

• Program Activities: Aquatics, adventure/challenge, trips, horseback riding, staff qualifications for special programs.

It’s a worthwhile review to go through because it benefits all participants of our program as well as the staff.  Each year I learn a great deal about our work here.  The accreditation process accentuates that learning even more and keeps us riding the crest of industry standards in working with children in our Gwynn Valley simple joys of childhood world.   Stay tuned!


A Day to Remember

Dear Parents and Friends,

It’s been another great day at camp. We had a thunder boomer this evening right after dinner which put a damper on 4 cabin campouts. Never fear, they will reschedule and make it happen. The day started off with a strong group of mountain bikers heading to the Hunt Farm to test their metal on the new trail over there. We just finished building it in the Spring and it’s a good beginner/intermediate trail. The faster you ride it the more of a workout you get. It’s rolling with no step hills but several sharp turns that require fast reflexes. Mountain biking is one of the untethered sports where the campers has a great deal of independence and can really feel a sense of freedom within the confines of two counselors at either end of the group. In this case it’s Ben and Erin. Erin ran our program last year and hails from New Zealand and Ben is a Senior at Brevard College studying in the Wilderness Education Dept. He’s an outstanding biker and has the ability to tone down his personal riding and adapt his skills to teaching beginners at camp. Between he and Erin we have great teachers in that program. Erin is spending time working in the Main Camp Logistics position when she’s not on a bike.

Our kayakers are getting ready for a river trip which will happen next week. Those who feel comfortable with their wet exits and have learned to handle their boats on the lake will be going off site for a trip. Remaining in the water world, we’re catching lots of fish down at the Mill. We should be having a fish fry soon. Soccer and archery rounded out the morning on the sports pitch. There’s at least one soccer game every day at camp and more often there’s more than one. After all it is the world’s #1 sport (behind ACC Basketball). Pottery, while not a sport does take a fair amount of coordination. I’ve been in camping a long time and haven’t yet been able to master the proper throwing of a pot. Practice and perseverance will get you there.

The Riversiders came home tonight after 4 days out on NC rivers. They spent the first two days on the Green to get their sea legs and then progressed to the Tuck over around Dillsboro and then today paddled the Nantahala. The Nanty is a great teaching river and offer the paddler a lot of chances to play and ply its waters. It’s a good trout stream which means it’s cold and colder than most, because it drains off the bottom of a lake. Year round temperature of the water is not much above 52 degrees if that much. They had a great time putting in at Delbar’s Rock and taking out at Surfers Rapid. Only one boat went over all day trying to negotiate Whirlpool rapid and trying to ferry out of the whirlpool. I think they had a blast as was evident in the dining room tonight upon their return. They came in after campfire and ate leftovers of jambalaya and several other tasty dishes. It’s amazing how campers can be revived after putting some food in their bodies. It was quite a transformation.

There is someone almost always on the zip line when the waterfront is open. It’s a great ride and everyone’s challenge is to perform a spiderman (hanging upside down) while zipping. Harder than it looks. We’ll try and get some photos.

There are not a whole lot of photos this evening because Natalie our photographer is off tonight. I would normally take pics but I’m getting ready for our American Camp Association re-accreditation tomorrow. We getting our once every three re-accreditation and will be visited by two other camp directors who will spend most of their day with us and looking at every aspect of camp. They’ll arrive about 8:00 and will be with us most of the day. We’ll keep you posted on how we do. Stay tuned!



UK Day and the Royals!

Dear Parents and Friends,

Today was UK Day here at camp and the Union Jack’s spirit filled us all day long.  Who, none other than William Wallace showed up this morning to greet the loyal citizens of Gwynn Valley to try to enlist them to roll for freedom, roll for truth for Scotland.  His men from Echo and Chipmunk Hut roared down the hill just before breakfast to show their allegiance.  After Wallace’s speech we were all ready to take on any army.  It was typical UK food today with Bangers and Mash for dinner and for snack this afternoon we had scones and jam.  This evening the Royal Family was at Gwynn Valley and reenacted the recent wedding of Phillip and Kate just for us here at camp.  All the family was introduced and much merriment and song surrounded the evening.  Possum Manor cabin performed a Scottish Dance, Echo Boys were the choir for the ceremonies and Blue Ridge cabin sang a song.  At the end of the ceremony the newest royal couple drove away in their carriage (the kitchen truck) to live happily ever after.  Fairy tales do come true, even if your blood is blue, at Gwynn Valley!

Blueberries are starting to come in at the Farm and you might see a few pickers and grinners among the pictures.  The Farm is always a busy place and is not only a great place to visit but it feeds us too! Did you know that a baby chick’s heart beats about 400 times a minute.  That’s just one of many tidbits you‘ll learn at the Farm.  Another favorite animal at camp, among the many, are the horses.  I can’t think of any young person who doesn’t want to go riding.  Sometimes our campers legs just barely stretch over the backs of those critters.  The Web of Life went bird watching this morning and were identifying many varieties of flying critters and learning what they look like as well their calls.  Emma, who leads that program is a dedicated birder.

It’s staff like Emma and many others that make the camp experience so rewarding.  A camper who bonds with the counselor and other campers wants to return. That is the magic of camp. Well trained staff who understand the “magic” of what is developmentally appropriate and the importance of an intentional program dedicated to the values and mission of the camp will bring both campers and parents back to camp year after year. What changes lives? Relationships! Sure, sprinkle a little magic and program into that formula, but never underestimate the staff’s role which I think is the essence of camp.  Camp abounds with opportunities for social, emotional, and physical development while practicing, failing, and learning in safe, intentional environments.

Camp is a wonderful institution in our Western NC region.  Gwynn Valley is among many great camps in our area and we’re so glad you’ve chosen us to host your child.  Gwynn Valley was recently chosen by our local NPR station as a camp that represents the strength of camping in our region.  If you go to the following links you’ll find a two part story, that aired yesterday and today, about camping in our part of the state and how it impacts the area.

Part One

Part Two

Some of our parents and staff were interviewed and you can hear some wonderful sounds of Gwynn Valley.  The station is hoping that the story will go nationwide on a show called Market Place.  That would be great for them and us.  Of course camp is great even without our 20 seconds of fame.  The simple joys are what it’s all about!  Stayed tuned!



Playing, Growing and Learning

Dear Parents and Friends,

It’s been a most pleasant day here at camp.  We dodged some scattered showerss and the sun was in and out all day long.  Everyone had a productive day and the waterfront was a very busy place starting early in the morning, right up until dinner.  Campers zipped, swam, learned new strokes, played on the water mat, paddled, and rolled their kayaks.  It was a wet and wild day at the waterfront and the perfect day to be there.

Arborist climbing was going full steam this morning and I say full steam, because it takes some steam to get up the tree.  Unlike traditional climbing the climber ascends the tree using a special knot called a Blake’s Hitch.  It’s a member of the prussick family of knots that when weighted does not slide but when un-weighted it slides upward or downward quite easily.  By using your arms and legs you can ascend the rope and once you get it, the payback is speed.  It’s a very friendly way to climb a tree and doesn’t require spiking the tree like traditional lumber jacks still do in some parts of the world.  I won’t try and describe it any further and will shoot some video soon to put up on the site.  It’s quite satisfying to get to crook of the tree and rest on a huge poplar branch.  It’s a whole different world up there.

Those of you that have been to camp before know that we have a cabin called Shady Grove.  Well, we’ve turned Shady Grove into an Arts Building and it now houses 10 wonderful looms that you may see pictures of from today.  Some really beautiful weaving designs have come from those looms already in our first session and campers are beginning to plan their patterns as B Session gets underway.  Visit our Shady Grove cabin at closing and have a look around.  It’s a beautiful cabin and beautiful things are born there.

Fishing at the mill pond netted some results today as some campers caught their very first trout.  I’m sure we’ll catch enough fish this session to have a full GV meal; trout from the pond, cornbread from the Mill and cole slaw from the farm.  Can’t wait for that meal.  Waiting for a turn to throw a tomahawk at archery today was a treat.  Mark, who runs our archery program also is an expert at tomahawk throwing and brought several with him again this year.  The targets are small but very doable by those that have the arm strength to make the toss.  It’s primitive and fun.  What young boy or girl doesn’t want to try something that comes out of the past and is real and not on some screen.  Archery is one of those activities also and I think children sometimes find it harder than it looks.  It’s good for hand eye coordination as well as patience and timing.  Just imagine having to gather your food at camp with one of those weapons.  Now that is a whole different matter.

Part of the fun of camp is truly getting back to basics in our unplugged world that we refer to as the simple joys.  It’s all around us here at GV and we only have to take it by the hand and sometimes step out of comfort zone for a short time to experience what we can only imagine.  Or…take it by the reins and see if you can negotiate the turns required for weaving your horse in and out of the cones.  Special relationships with animals and getting close to them is a wonderland experience for many of our campers.  Your children may have only fed the family dog or cat and haven’t experienced the hungry calf that think they’re its mother as they inch closer with the giant bottle full of calf formula.  And then there’s always milking a goat or cow and the dexterity it takes to get that milk to hit the bottom of that bucket.  All this and more is part of playing outside, growing inside and learning by doing here at Gwynn Valley.  We’re playing, learning and growing every day and I’m always amazed at the satisfaction and wide eyed wonder coming from all those little faces.  I’m a lucky guy, along with my staff.

On a older note, Riverside is out on their second day of paddling and made a trip to the Green which is about an hour away.  They’re improving their skills each day and will head out again tomorrow and Wed. to ply the waters of our western NC rivers.  Stay tuned for more good news from GV!