Special Day is Always Special

Dear Parents & Friends,

A cool evening here at camp that started out hot and muggy.  It was Special Day today here at GV and that means no program, all specialness.  The theme was in fact a “Theme Park”.  The stations were set up so that campers could travel to anything they wanted in an area just large enough to fit into the Green and the Lodge and Waterfront.  The stations were as follows:  Jurassic Park, Haunted Stage (but not too haunted since it’s not GV to do scary things at camp), Horizontal Bungee Jumping, Basketball Shootout, Picture Station, Sling Shot Balloon Shot, Slip and Slide, Titanic / Jaws, Dunk Tank, and Men in Black –Alien Shootout.  The morning was hot and there were lots of activities in the shade and in the water.  We all had a blast.  I especially loved the Titanic and the Horizontal Bungee Jump.

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s super camper!

We were scheduled to continue our afternoon and get back together as cabin groups to enjoy a relaxing afternoon with your cabin and do something special like a trip to the Rock or ride bikes with your cabin down to the river, or creek hike up to Connestee Falls.  We served lunch outside which was ham, turkey, or chicken salad sandwiches, pasta, potato chips, watermelon and cole slaw.  Just as everyone was about to eat the heavens opened up.  We keep a pretty close eye on the weather here and we thought we would get the storm during rest hour.  We ended up staying in the dining room for quite a while.  Everyone sang songs and when it subsided we all went to our cabins.  Again we consulted the weather map and it started to rain so being spontaneous and always ready to change things up we showed a movie in the Lodge (The Sword and the Stone) and sat out the rain storm.  The afternoon cleared just as the movie ended and we all hustled back to the cabin to get ready for dinner.  Usually after the first week of camp everyone needs a little Sunday rest.  It was actually good timing.  We’ll all start our week stronger.


Is that Woody?


Dinner was BBQ chicken, rice, salad, fresh rolls and bread pudding.  Delicious!!!!  We took some cabin photos and then went to Vespers/Sunday Service after dinner.  Everyone always dresses in white for that and it’s very nice to have a clean white shirt on for just a few hours.  It’s amazing how quickly one can go through clothes at camp especially when there’s all the variety and activity.  It’s been a few years since our children were young and now they do their own laundry at home.  I’m just glad we have a laundry here at camp.  Lots of campers and staff contributed to Vespers tonight.  Rose Bay had 6 different contributors (Mya, Sophie, Jessie, Gwynn, Carly and Gwynn, and Anna).  There were violins, piano, recorder, guitar and an assortment of words and thoughts.

We’ll be putting up some more photos throughout the evening and hope you are enjoying them.  We do our best to get as many children as we can and I know we don’t satisfy each family but we’re trying.  I worked with Riverside again on the lake today and they’re doing great.  We have a group that definitely has some experience paddling.  I hope they can put it to work on the river.  They will be leaving for their paddling component on Tues.

Mountainside chose their adventures tonight and they also put on their own rendition of the Lion King.  I missed it but I’m sure it was spectacular.  They will start their training days on Tues. and will continue on Thurs. and leave for adventures next week.  Things are going well and I gauge this by many conversations I have with campers throughout the day.  One young man at the table from Echo said, “I can’t believe I’m coming for two weeks my first year. Most people come for just 8 days and want to stay for three weeks next year. “  His table mate who is also in on Hillside but older said, “Yeah you’re doing great, I only came for 8 days my first year and it was so much fun that I wanted to come for longer too!”  I guess you just have to be here to see and be in on these conversations.  They are going on all the time and it’s priceless.  Stay tuned!


Riverside Returns and Cooler Weather

Dear Parents & Friends,

It’s been a cooler day here and campfire just ended with the Hillsider’s coming to the Lodge for a little Mountain Dancing.  We had them dance the Blue Bird Dance, the Hokey Pokey, Going to Kentucky, Circle Round My Zero, and the Patty Cake Polka.  It was a lively dance to say the least.  The Patty Cake Polka is not an easy dance to learn and they did beautifully.  It’s a mixer dance so when you start the dance it’s mostly boys dancing with boys and girls with girls.  After the first verse everyone changes partners and keeps changing every verse until the end of the dance.  You might have 30 partners before the dance ends.  80% of the time when a boy advances to a girl partner they will figure anyway they can to not hold hands with the girl partner, which is called for in the dance.  Near the end you have to give your partner a right arm swing and I’ve never seen so many long distance right arm swings in all my life.  It’s comical and has always been that way.  Our goal is certainly not to encourage the boy/girl idea but to make each gender feel comfortable in a social setting where they can have fun and not worry about those insecurities.  By the end of that particular dance, about 40% of the boys were still holding out for no contact.  The youngest boys are the ones who don’t seem to mind.  We’ll try and get some pictures up tomorrow.

Where friendships can last a lifetime!

We encourage friendship at camp and I feel that is the basis for all of us being here.  Developing relationships with each other is at the heart of it all.  Our activities are wonderful, we have a nice beautiful site but it’s about that human interaction and it exists all over camp starting at the cabin level, to the table, into program and ending each day again in the cabin.  And who better to guide you through this than our staff.  They were chosen for their desire to work with children and be  en loco parentis, or in place of you.  My Latin is pretty rusty.  It’s not any easy job for example; tonight we had a wonderful dinner of steak, mashed potatoes, vegis from the garden and stir fry.  The desert was what got everyone’s motor wound up and it’s called Dirt Pudding.  It’s really chocolate pudding with Oreo’s sprinkled on top and gummy worms on top of that.  By the end of the meal everyone was ready to bust out of that dining room.  I don’t think it’s the sugar in the desert but just the fact that we’re having something that’s pretty cool and it tastes good.  Deserts can always do that at the end of a meal.

Those mashed potatoes were picked just this morning at the farm and went straight to the kitchen.  They were delicious and I was surprised that some at the table chose not to try them.  I ate my fair share.  Digging potatoes is probably one of my favorite things to do at the Farm.  It’s like finding buried treasure and campers always love it.  The Farm is a special place and speaking of special, tomorrow is Special Day here at camp.  You’ll have to wait to find out what the theme is but it will be fun.  Tomorrow night is our Sunday Service or Vespers.  Many cabins and individuals perform, sing, or perform a skit.  It’s a nice way to end our first week and move on to the second.

For those Riverside parents, they returned from their trip yesterday and had a great time climbing over in Tenn. at Foster Falls.  I spent a couple of hours on the Lake with them today and getting them ready for their upcoming river week.  They’ll leave Tues. and begin 4 days of paddling.  We spent some time teaching strokes and running gates on the lake.  I’ll work with them again tomorrow and the next day as they start to resupply and get ready for their next component.  There’s never a dull moment at camp, so stay tuned!


Dancing, Stories, and Opportunities

Dear Parents & Friends,

More campouts tonight and the perfect night for it.  I would love to be by the fire tonight and way off in the woods making smores and telling stories.  We just finished our campfire and the Brook came into the Lodge and danced while the Hillsider’s went to the Gatehouse Green for stories, mostly Tajar Tales.  In the Lodge we danced several dances starting with the “Hokey Pokey” and then progressed to “Goin to Kentucky”, “Patty Cake Polka”, and the “Virginia Reel”.  We ended the evening outside on the cool grass reading from the Grandfather Tales.  The Hillsider’s read some Tajar stories and if you don’t know who the Tajar is, well just settle in for a spell.  Of all the animals in the forests and the lakes, there is none so curious as the Tajar.  The Tajar lives in a very special place.  He lives in an old tree somewhere near the camp.  If you were to see the Tajar’s tree, it would look like all the other trees of the forest.  But if you were to see the Tajar, you would know that he is something very special. The Tajar looks a little something like a tiger and something like a jaguar and something like a badger, but is different from all those animals.  He would rather dance in the moonlight on a warm summer night than sleep in his tree.  He might be sitting in a tree right now, listening to campers carrying on a conversation.  And if he were, he would be so quiet you couldn’t hear him move.  But if you were to look around and see the Tajar sitting high in the limbs of a nearby tree, he would certainly look most curious.  You might think he looks a little like a tiger and something like a jaguar and something like a badger.  But if you were look away, you wouldn’t be able to remember what the Tajar looks like.  If you see him once you forget. If you see him twice you forget that you forgot and if you see him a third time he becomes your friend.  He is a most curious animal but also a true friend.


Keeping Those Smiles Bright


Some campers went to the Rock today.  If you’ve never been to “The Rock” at camp it’s the highest point of the property that you can see from.  It’s not an easy hike but the view from the top is pretty spectacular.  You can see all the way to the Blue Ridge Parkway and Mt. Pisgah.  Cedar Rock, where we sometimes climb is also visible.  The last scramble to the top is hand over hand rope climbing but safe enough to do without a helmet/harness and what is classified as a class 4 climb.  It rooty, rocky and craggy, but fun.  The actual rock itself is huge and is tucked away in the forest where you really can’t see it.  It has two sides but campers rarely go to the other side.  An arrowhead was found on the other side last summer and I’m sure it was a special place for the native peoples.

We had clear weather all day and activities were humming.  You might notice pics of our Main Camp Bikers trying out their skills on the mountain bikes.  We have games they participate in called the slow race, slalom, circle game and others.  The slow race is to see how slow you can ride from point A to point B, usually not more than 15 or 20 feet.  The object is to balance your bike and go sloooow.  They also tried their hand at riding the tetter totter which is a form of a skinny.  This is all bike lingo that you’ll just have to learn more about from your rider.  Lots of riding of horses today as you can see from the pics.  Horses are an all round favorite here at camp especially with the girls.  I don’t know any young girls that don’t like horses.  Climbing, soccer, weaving, feeding the animals at the farm and so much more was the order of the day today.  Every day is another day of opportunity here at camp.  So much goes on that  it’s hard to keep up with.  I sometimes asked children how their morning or afternoon was at camp and they’ll say great but they can’t always remember what they did.  It’s a full day and sure beats sitting around at home in front of a screen.

The benefits to young people of a summer camp experience are many.  Gwynn Valley is unique in that it offers campers a chance to experience activities not commonly found in other camps. The Farm and Mill are two and also our attention to a nurturing environment where each child can learn and grow under the guidance of a mature and caring staff.  And not to forget that major benefit, the big “O”.  Simply put, they are Opportunities. Opportunities not exclusive to camps but rather concentrated at camp, where under those caring counselors, campers can learn to become more independent, more confident, more self-aware, and more giving toward others. These are just some of the life lessons learned at camp.  Every day at camp is another day of opportunity, as Dale says, our site manager and the guy in field with the hockey stick that greets you when you arrive.  Every interaction, every activity taught, every new friend made, every chance to stretch and go beyond our cushy life and all in the haven of GV.  We are having fun and the opportunities abound! Stay tuned!


Camping Out on a Perfect Night

Dear Parents & Friends,

Just a regular old beautiful day here at camp with no threat of rain and we have 11 cabins camping out tonight.  It should be a starry, starry night.  Our camp-out shelters are just that; three sided shelters with a wooden floor that’s up off the ground.  Each shelter has a fire ring and some are located next to streams and have running water, well sort of.  There are also two tent shelters over on the Hunt Farm where one of our Mountain Biking Trails is located.  We grow a good bit of our hay and cattle feed on that side of the road and it’s also the Tubing takeout on the French Broad River.  Today I was at the lake and 7th Heaven cabin was coming back from tubing on the river.  It’s a long hot walk after spending several hours floating lazily on the mighty FB.  Cindy who runs waterfront called out to the boys just as they entered the area around the Lake and told them to swim their tubes back to the lakefront and cool off again just before lunch.  It was a good idea and the boys looked like they had been dipped in a refreshing bowl of ice tea.  You could hear the ahhhs and ooohs coming as they waded in the cool lake from their long walk.

Now if you’re perusing the photos and I know you are, you may be wondering what the colored balls of cotton like material are.  This is for a project called Felting which is where the campers make these wonderful felt bags that can act as pouches or a small purse.  Tamara, who works in A&C’s shows the children how to make these and has been doing it for several years.  It’s a very cool item and looks like something you would find at an artisans fair.  Some campers were making button flowers today and I’ve only seen this a couple of times.  Marisa was running that activity today and they were turning out very well.

Arborist Climbing from the Birds Eye View

Speaking of crafts but moving to the Mill, Cindy was running an activity making corn husk dolls or 1890’s Barbie dolls.  For you history buffs, that’s when the Mill was built.  Some of you may have heard this before but several years ago one of our camp doctors was stirring up the dirt around the fire ring at the Mill and found an 1890Indian Head Penny, the very same year the Mill started operating.  The history of our land and all the stories that could be told from that era would be so interesting.  There were quite a few community mills then and Transylvania County sure had their share given all of our streams and running water.  Our extension of the Mill is of course the Farm and vice versa.  Baby chicks were hatching down at the farm today and coming out of the incubator.  We keep two incubators going all summer long and we’re pretty constant with the hatching process.  It’s rare if chicks don’t hatch every few days.  It’s a neat process if you haven’t seen it before.  They are moved to the chick box which has warming lights all the food and drink they need and then on to a different area when they are a little older.  It’s kind of like when they get to be a teenager you graduate to a different surrounding.  Old Bessie was milked at the Farm today and it’s harder than it looks, just ask your children.  And how about those piglets!  At what point do they stop being cute.

Speaking of teenagers, our SIT’s are the best this session.  They are a dedicated group of folks that I hope will all want to be staff in a few years.  Some will be eligible to become Interns next summer and others will have another year as an SIT.  They work very hard and spend a lot of time in the Kitchen and at Horses.  You’ll see some of them leading horses in the photos from today.  This is the future of GV and hats off to them this session.

Mountainside took a day off from Mini-Adventures to have sign-ups today.  They did a variety of things from Ultimate Frisbee and soccer, to making paracord bracelets.  I tried to help out while up there this morning and really couldn’t get it in the short time I was there.  The bracelets were pretty cool and not easy to make.  Riverside is still out climbing and will return on Friday.  We’re looking forward to having them back.  Climbing photos in Main Camp today got off the ground literally and you’ll see some nice photos of the Arborist Climbing group from this morning.  Fred got up in one of the trees to shoot down on the campers, thus the unusual perspective.  Steve is our photographer for the rest of the summer and has done a great job capturing your children at GV.  Technology is wonderful when it works and we hope you’re enjoying yet another way to enjoy camp vicariously through the photos.  Stay tuned!


New Zealand Day!

Dear Parents & Friends,

Greetings from the land down under.  Today was New Zealand day or as we learned Aotearoa (land of the long white cloud).  Campfire just finished outside the Gatehouse (office) as everyone sat on the hill underneath Playhouse and Mountain View.  It was a holiday heme since they celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa in the warm months which is our winter.  Everything was decorated and we literally entered New Zealand just on the other side of the creek.  Meals and customs all day were Kiwi oriented.  We sang their songs, heard their anthems, and even listened to a bedtime story to bring closure to the evening. You’ll see photos as they are loaded.  Many campers and cabins got into the act and it was quite an evening.  My favorite is always the Haka, which is a traditional dance form of the South Pacific islanders and mostly known from the Maori of New Zealand through their rugby team display. It is a posture dance performed by a group, with vigorous movements and stamping of the feet with rhythmically shouted accompaniment.  The boys from Wildwood and Walnut Run all participated along with their counselors.

Another warm day at camp, but no rain.  We had plenty yesterday, so it was a good day to dry out a bit.  Lots of activity on the lake today especially with our kayakers.  Kids were getting their wet exits down, which means they have to turn over in the kayak and exit with ease.  It can be a little un-nerving to be upside down in a boat that you have your legs tucked in to.  They’re getting folks ready for a trip down the Green River sometime next week.   Bikers in Main Camp were out today and we’ve had lots of campers sign up for mountain biking this session.  All different abilities and many are new to the skills to ride a single track trail.  Ben, Erin, and Gary are doing a good job with the Discovery groups.  Archery was in full flight today and everyone loves to shoot a bow and arrow.  It’s one of those concentration sports that works your strength, breathing, timing and patience.  It looks easy but is not.  With clear weather, the tree climbing was fantastic today.  You can see for miles when you’re in the top of one our hemlock trees.  There are 4 types of climbing at GV:  Tree climbing in the Hemlocks, Arborist climbing in the Poplar trees, wall climbing and rock climbing.  We have a small rock at the top of our property which we’ve placed bolts on and use it frequently.

Learning to Ride in the Attack Position

I did a tour today for prospective campers and went down to the farm to check out the progress of the piglets and their growth.  They are getting bigger by the day and squealing just as you might think they would.  The Farm continues to crank out the farm to table cuisine.  We had fresh salad, corn, potatoes and beans today.  It’s an amazing place and the campers are totally involved in every aspect.  I think I’ve mentioned that we grow our own gourds at the farm and today the Gourd Discovery group was working on their gourd art.  This is an item that’s grown here that you can do so much with.  Creativity lives in all aspects of the program.  Go to Shady Grove where we have our looms and see all the wonderful patterns and colors that the campers can combine to create tapestry.

Mountainside completed their second day of mini-adventures and will take a day off tomorrow to host their own sign-ups.  It was nice having them at campfire tonight.  They add a great deal to the scene wherever they are.  I have two Mountainsiders at my table and I allow them to serve and help out with the meal when one of the other table counselor’s are missing.  Riverside is still out climbing and we’re hoping they are getting some good days in on the rock.  They’ll have stories to share when they come home.  Look for photos as well.  Tomorrow is a new day at Gwynn Valley.  Each day holds surprises and challenges. Miss Mary Gwynn, who founded camp, said that children should be challenged every day.  I think this still holds true today.  It’s a large community and everyone needs to pitch in and help one another.  I see many campers learning new skills and it makes my day. I so enjoy these youngsters growing inside while playing outside.  Stay tuned!


Apple Ice Cream!!!?? and GAGA (but not the Lady)

Dear Parents and Friends,

A sunny morning and early afternoon turned into a rainy late afternoon but camp goes on.  Very few activities were affected with the exception of waterfront and sports.  We move those campers indoors if it’s thundering and lightening.  We played a new game in the Lodge today called GAGA (not to be confused with the singer).  It’s a game I learned about over the winter and is a form of dodge ball with some major changes.  You play in a confined area and in this case it’s a circle of chairs which act as a rebound board.  Instead of standing the chairs upright we lay them down so the walls are not very high.  You can’t throw the ball but can hit it with an open palm or closed fist.  If you hit the ball and it sails over the chairs then the hitter is out.  If you hit someone or a ball you hit rebounds off the wall and hits someone they are out.  If you hit someone above the knees then you are out.  You can start the game with any number of people in the circle which is about 20’ in diameter.  It’s much like our Knock Out game but you don’t have to be able to shoot and sink a basketball.  It’s every boy and girl for themselves.  In the rounds we played today it seemed that the girls were dominating and I heard lots of excuses from the boys.  It’s a good equalizer game and is fast paced, good for reaction time and allows lots of people to play.  Usually games don’t last more than just a few minutes.  I learned about the game at a camp conference up north where it originated.  Most northern camps play it and have a GAGA Pit.

I happened to be visiting Pottery today and they were making coil pots and this afternoon were making pinch pot animals.  I love pottery but never seem to have the time to sit down and give it a whirl.  Stu and Emily do a great job with teaching and today they were showing how to roll the clay in a ball and keep the surface as smooth as possible to avoid the dreaded cracks that can occur when you begin shaping your pinch pot animal.  Clay is just plain fun to work with and is analogous to our staff shaping and molding the campers in the ways of camp.  Living in a cabin with 7 to 9 other people is not that easy and we have to work together.  We want to avoid those cracks that sometimes keep us from forming a good circle of friends.  Cooperative living skills carry into every part of life.  That is also very evident at the table as we wait till everyone is served before we start eating.  That’s a difficult task for some children and for two reasons; they’re really hungry and they’re used to eating when they are served.  Nothing wrong with that but it’s just how we do things here.  Please and thank you are also staples at the table.  Only counselors can serve you and you must remove your eating utensils before receiving more food.  It does make for a more orderly dining room and slows the eating process down a good bit to promote conversation and interaction with all the ages that sit at the table.


Now that’s a smile!


While I was so close to Pottery today and also hopped over to the Mill for a look see.  They were serving a very new flavor of ice cream that the children had made.  It was “Apple”, yes, Apple.  At first it tasted like apple sauce and then apple yogurt but much better and richer.  It was very different but very good and I think we may have started something new.  The children really liked it and it was gone in a hurry.  My favorite from the Mill is peach and I’ve heard they are making that tomorrow.  Speaking of food we had a delicious Lasagna meal today for lunch and good ole hamburgers for dinner tonight.  I think most of you know but we do raise our own beef here at camp.  We don’t advertise it to the campers but do tell them if they ask.  It’s the circle of life here with our Farm and Mill Program.  I think my all time favorite meal at camp is when we catch enough trout in Mill Pond to have a fish fry for lunch.  Everything in the meal comes from camp and it’s delicious.

The rain today prevented us from getting more photos and hopefully the weather will cooperate tomorrow.  It was nice to cool things down a bit and we did needed some rain as the last few days were dry and hot.  Tomorrow will be warm and steamy but camp goes on.  We only get wet skin deep.  Speaking of which, I think I’ll head back to my cabin. My shirt has been wet most of the afternoon.  Stay tuned!


D Session Opening

Dear Parents & Friends,

A great day for an opening of D Session and thank you for bringing such a great batch of campers.  We hope you are safe and sound at your destination.  We just finished our first night of cabin skits and will return tomorrow night to complete all the cabins on Hillside and Brookside.  Our Mountainsiders and Riversiders hold their own campfires in their own quarters.  Our day started with your arrival and everyone coming down to lunch for a buffet at noon.  Dinner tonight was the traditional first night dinner of Macaroni and Cheese with salad and fruit cocktail.  To top things off each cabin got a giant, and I do mean giant, chocolate chip cookie at their table.  It had their cabin name on it written in icing.  At the end of the evening meal we celebrated 3 birthdays at camp and those wearing the birthday hats had the whole dining room sing to them tonight.  After dinner there was cake for the whole cabin.  Cabin Laurel Wood took some liberty to smear a little extra icing to create chocolate beards. Those Laurel Wood girls are going to be a lively bunch.   They’ve got great counselors which translates to having a great cabin experience. That’s where camp begins and ends each day and that sets the tone for the rest of camp experience. We’ll talk more about that later.
Jumping back to the afternoon everyone got right into program almost immediately.  The waterfront was very active because it was a warm day and because we always hold our swim assessments the first day of camp.  We need to know how well the children swim so this helps with placement in various activities based on their comfort in the water.  These days most campers are good swimmers but we still have Aqua Games which teaches confidence and builds strength in the water.  A favorite this summer has been a GV form of water polo where you swim with a noodle and play polo.  It’s fun, good exercise and the campers love it.  It’s just one part of our activity for those who need to improve their swim strokes and confidence in the water.

Birthday Beards!

Activities that were running today were Climbing, Texture Crafts, Horseback Riding, The Farm, The Mill, Fine Arts, Crafts / Pottery, and Sports.  Campers also signed up for their Discovery Activities today.  They will take those four activities through Saturday which last for 3 days each and happen every other day just in the morning.  The Discovery activities are as follows: Farm/Mill, Horses, Archery, Climbing, Creative Writing, Basketball, Weaving, Fine Arts Musical, GV Rescue Team, Web of Life, Gourds, Mountain Biking, Pottery, Outdoor Living Skills, Printmaking, Jackson Kayaks, Felt Making, and Aqua Games.  The afternoon has 2 more hours of activities and hosts sign-ups each day.  These can be 1 or 2 hour activities and there’s no limit to the possibilities.  Staff can provide a one time activity or several of the same over the week. This should be a great week as the session begins.
Riverside leaves tomorrow for their climbing trip and they are going to an area around Chattanooga, TN.  They’ll be gone through Thurs of this week.  Riverside has a nice tradition that started this year where the previous session writes letters to the session coming in. It was fun to read some of those today.  Maybe we can print a few or take some excerpts from their letters. Mountainside starts their Mini-Adventures tomorrow and will take a break mid week and continue at the end of the week.  As the session progresses, we’ll have more and more trips out for all three programs including Main Camp.  We look forward to reporting on those and hopefully have some photos up. Stay tuned!


Closing Session C,C-2!

Dear Parents & Friends,

Thank you all for a great ending to our C, C-2 Session today.  We’ve had a wonderful time with your children and will carry lots of good memories from those that were here for the 10 day and the 3 week session.  Soon you will receive an evaluation via email, sent to you by the camp and we hope you will take the time to fill it out and send it back.  This provides us with feed back to help make our program better.  The eval will come through a service called Constant Contact.  They will not solicit you in any way and you get only one correspondence from them.  We use their services and design the form here at camp.  We appreciate you taking the time to help us keep Gwynn Valley an outstanding program.

For those of you that have arrived home we hope that your child’s experience has captured all the magic of what camp can be.  We know you will hear stories and songs as the weeks go by and camp becomes a great memory.  Placed in the hands of a mature staff a camper really gains a good bit from “playing outside which produces growing inside”.  From all of us, thanks again for a great session.  Wonderful children, great staff and the Simple Joys of Childhood at Gwynn Valley!  Hope to see you next year!



Tired Puppies and the Last Full Day!

Dear Parents & Friends,

As we passed by the Asheville airport this afternoon around 5:15, the temperature registered 99 degrees.  Thank goodness we were on a paddling trip today and kept the temps at bay.  I had a great day with the Main Camp Kayakers.  They did a great job and were certainly tested on the Green River today.  We left about 10:00 this morning and got to the river around 11:00.  By the time I ran shuttle and set the van at the takeout, got lunch, and got everyone on the water it was 12 noon.  We put in at Fishtop which is the farthest upstream you can put in for the Lower Green.  (there must be an oxymoron somewhere there) Usually we put in at the second bridge and wait for the water there (it’s a dam release river).  With our early start, I said let’s go for it and run the whole section.  So we ran Fishtop, Island Split, Teaching Rapid, Bridge Rapid, Big Corky, Little Nantahala, Jacobs Ladder, Sunday Ledge, and Little Corky.  It was fairly non stop the whole way with lots of eddy hopping, peel outs, S turns, ferrying and generally reading the river.  We ate lunch before we left and by the time we got to end of the day everyone was ready for dinner and camp was an hour away.  We dug into our food, rehydrated and headed for home.  Josh and I took bets on how many would fall asleep on the way home.  Out of 6 campers I guessed two wouldn’t be awake when we rolled into camp.  Josh guessed 3 and the winning number was 4.  Just all of a sudden everything in the van got very quiet and they were out like lights.  Those of us that have raised a litter of puppies know how hard they play and then just crash.  You guessed it, just like puppies.  The two that stayed awake were on the verge and 10 more minutes and they would have been out as well.  It’s a good feeling and along with it a great deal of satisfaction.  I love taking campers out and teaching and having them stretch themselves.  We do it everyday in some part of camp and these trips are special.   A couple of these folks on the trip today were 10 years old.  That’s young to be paddling at that level all day.  Other trips were out today also.  Climbers and bikers from Main Camp were also out and had a great time exploring rocks and trails.

This morning in Main Camp at home we held signups and this afternoon everyone participated in pillowcase day.  It happens at the pool and is the perfect venue on a steamy day.  I wish I could have been there and performed my customary swim and going down the slide.  It’s fun to be there on the last day and play at the pool with all the children.

Tomorrow when you arrive your children from C, C-2 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, bedtime 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 there is our program in the Lodge for parents, friends and campers.  You can stay and enjoy a wonderful GV lunch at noon if you like.  Thank you for sharing your children and hope to see you tomorrow.  Stay tuned!


PS – This tired puppy is feeling the day too!


We’re All Home and Tajar Ball

Dear Parents & Friends,

We’re all back together in the Cove.  All of Mountainside and Riverside adventures are back home and everyone had a fabulous time.  You will be seeing photos as they are loaded over the next 24 hours.  Some of the Pioneer photos are already up and ready for viewing.  Mountain Bikers are not far behind and Climbers are in line as well.  Different groups were picked up at different times today and I had the job of picking up the paddlers.  I got to their campsite around 10:15 and they were ready to head back to camp seeking clean clothes and a hot shower.  I twisted a few of arms to convince them into a short hike in Dupont State Forest to visit Triple Falls area.  It’s a short walk in and certainly worth it.  After a brief discussion about safety around waterfalls we descended the rocks next to the Falls and swam at one of the bottom pools.  The water could only be described as refreshing since it was such a hot day.  There was a small slot of rushing water that you could get into and it was like riding a cold lazy river.  Everyone got to soak their sweaty clothes and wash the grime off in a cool mountain stream with a gorgeous view.  It also gives me a chance to talk about the danger of waterfalls in Western NC.  If you and your family ever visit one of our over 250 waterfalls in Transylvania County, be very careful if you’re at the top.  Watch for slippery rocks and try to view all falls from the bottom.

Pioneers Around the Sam’s Knob Double Peak 5900′


As I’m writing Riverside is winding down for the day in the field just outside the Gatehouse.  They are glad to be home as well to celebrate their adventures and also be at the Tajar Ball.  Yes, we awoke this morning to Tajar Folly and it was of course the Tajar’s Birthday today.  I suspect that most of your children know what the Tajar is and if they don’t they will learn before leaving camp.  I will tell you that the Tajar is a most friendly beast and not scary at all.  He couldn’t live at Gwynn Valley if he was.  He just loves children as much as he loves folly.  I was going to get a cup of coffee this morning during breakfast when a camper stopped me on the way and said “I think I saw the Tajar in the Lodge”, which you can see from the Dining Room.  I remarked that it’s quite possible and I would check it out on my way back from coffee retrieval.  After my refill I went out the side door and crept toward the Lodge and just up the stairs and into the building.  That Tajar is a cagey one.  He must have heard me coming and probably did two death defying life leaps up to the rafters of the building, where he can sit still as a mouse and blend right in.  I didn’t catch a glimpse of him but I’ll see him some other time.  He always comes to the Tajar Ball but no one can figure out who he is because we’re all wearing costumes and so is he.  At any rate, the Tajar is a very nice fellow.   The Tajar Ball was complete with a picnic of burgers, dogs, watermelon, chips, slaw, bread pudding, lemonade and ice cream.  There was a Carnival on the Soccer Field with all kinds of events and everyone could try their hand at over a dozen different stations including a short hay ride.  After that we all retired to the Lodge to watch the Fine Arts production which was called “The Janitor’s Closet”.  A transformation did occur there and is was a happy ending for all.  The acting was outstanding and I’m sure members of the cast enjoyed the short run on the GV stage.

There are several trips out of Main Camp tomorrow with various adventure groups.  Kayakers, Climbers and Mountain Bikers will all be out.  It should be a fun day and I will be leading the Kayakers to the Green River.  We’ll keep you posted.  Main Camp activities completed the last Discovery today and we had sign ups this afternoon which we’ll also have tomorrow morning.  Tomorrow afternoon will be pillowcase day and everyone will come to the pool for a swim.  It will be another warm sunny day and good for swimming.  Stay tuned!