Australia Day and The Tooth Fairy!

Dear Parents & Friends,

This week is flying by and I can’t believe we’re just a few days away from the end of the session.  It’s been a great day here, in fact, it was Australia Day.  G-day Mate and all the other idioms that go along with that part of the world.  We just had our evening campfire and our 5 Awesome Aussie staff did a superb job in telling about their country and many interesting facts about it.  I never knew that Australia had some many dangerous animals and it sounded like a lowly jelly fish, called the box jellyfish, is the deadliest.  We had a typical Ozzie breakfast this morning with beans, eggs, fruit, toast and of course if you wanted it, Vegemite on your toast.  It’s very high in Vitamin B and Folic acid.  If you like anchovies you’ll like Vegemite.  I personally do but maybe I’ve eaten too much campfire food in my life.  We sang lots of Ozzie songs throughout the day and learned about the history of the country this evening through skit form.  It was a day of no worries mate!

Many of our campers are camping out tonight and it’s a beautiful night here.  There are some storms off to the east which are providing some good light shows but nothing threatening the campouts.  There are 12 campout shelters at camp and some have a variety of amenities such as running water (a creek next to your campsite), easy to find firewood, and others offer you an exquisite view, while others are just around the corner from Main Camp like Hidden Stall which has running water (a creek), close to camp but no view.  It’s kind of like renting a cottage for the night. You get to choose where you want to go unless it’s already taken.  All shelters are built up off the ground and three sided with a roof and a campfire circle.  After all one only needs a place to sleep and cook dinner and breakfast.

A Hike to the Rock on a Beautiful Day!

We’ve volunteered to participate in a reading program this summer and you may hear that your child’s counselor may have read to them at night.  Part of being involved in the program which was sponsored by the American Camp Association was that we get a number of books and publications geared toward children to enhance summer reading.  With a good deal of talk about year round school, why not keep those reading and listening skills on par by reading and being read to at camp.  The program is called Explore 30 Camp Reading Program and addresses summer learning loss by providing youth with at least 30 minutes of reading time per day.  Explore 30 is a free program involving a variety of camps and other youth development organizations interested in starting either a formal or informal reading program. Camps that sign up have the opportunity to join in advocacy efforts to increase the recognition of and support for the value of the camp experience as a vital component in the development and education of the whole child. Camps like Gwynn Valley have agreed to encourage daily reading to support building literacy.   It‘s a good program and just started this summer.  You as a family may receive an online questionnaire about it in the weeks ahead.

We received a sprinkle of rain today but nothing to compare to a couple of weeks ago.  It was a beautiful sunny day here.  It was perfect for all activities in every part of camp.  Our tomato population is growing around our dining room and we bring them up from the Farm and place them on window sills of the room.  It’s a nice thing to see, all those beautiful tomatoes ripening up just waiting for a salad or sandwich.  It was a good day for all water activities and there were several tubing trips out today.  What a great day for a hike to Conesstee Falls which is Carson Creek and flows the length of camp.  It’s a magical place and magic happens each and every day here.  I overheard one little girl talking about a loose tooth and wondering if the tooth fairy would visit GV.  I told her not to try and force it out but if it did come out then, yes, the tooth fairy does do GV calls.  Magic happens all the time and yes parents, the tooth fairy does come to camp.  Stay tuned!


Fresh Food & Ant Lions!

Dear Parents & Friends,

It’s been a great day here at camp and many cabins are on campouts tonight and a good choice for those who went out.  The weather was just perfect today with the right amount of sunshine and the occasional cloud.  As I write tonight and look out of my office window I know why they call our mountains the Blue Ridge. They are casting a blue hue this evening and the layers of ridgelines go on and on. The Farm was an active part of camp this morning and Farmer Jacob was telling the children just how to pick corn and how to judge if it’s ready or not.  There’s a certain way to separate the ear from the stalk without breaking the stalk and it takes a little practice.  Our Farm furnishes us so much of our good food and today proved it.  This morning we had cheese grits along with eggs and for lunch we had one of my favorite meals – fish caught at the Mill, cornbread milled at GV and cole slaw from the Farm.  Tonight we had scalloped potatoes, beef with gravy, green beans, corn on the cob and fresh salad all from the Farm.

Good Day for Swimming!

This afternoon on the sports field there was a big Ultimate Frisbee game.  If you’ve ever played Ultimate, it’s a great aerobic workout.  Everyone gets a chance to play and throw and catch.  It’s fast paced and there’s no standing around.  Once you catch it you can’t run with it and you have to throw to a teammate.   If it’s dropped it automatically goes over to the other team or they can intercept it.  Great game and is good for all skill levels to play.

Lots of gourd art today with arts & crafts.  You can make most anything you want with all shapes that come from the fields.  Folks were also learning to throw on the wheel with Emily today.  She is the niece of a friend of ours that runs the pottery shop at the end of Island Ford Rd. and many of you pass it when coming to or leaving camp.  She’s quite talented and a great counselor.  The waterfront was very popular today because of the weather.  At one point there was a cabin of girls on the water mat just laughing and giggling like some mystical wand was tickling them.

I led two hikes to The Rock today for two one hour sessions.  It’s not a long hike but a steep one and we had 18 campers go over the two periods.  Usually the Playhouse crew is not up for such a hike but we ended up taking 5 of their girls and they were troopers.  The last 100 yds is tough and then you have to hand over hand up to the very top with a rope.  The view is super and you can see all of Pisgah and beyond.  We didn’t stay too long at the top and made our way just down to the base and went around the other side to check out the Ant Lions.  If you’ve never seen Ant Lions, they are pretty neat little creatures.  They build conical shaped holes under the rock in dry areas and wait at the bottom till an unsuspecting ant or other insect happens by.  They fall or crawl down into the hole and the Ant Lion snatches them up with their long powerful mandibles and that’s the end.  At this point they’re in a larva stage and eventually will develop into a flying insect.  We didn’t have any trouble finding several of them of various sizes. That side of The Rock is a magical place because several years ago I was up there with one of our camp Doctors and he found a perfect quartz arrowhead.  With the overhang from the rock I’m sure that native peoples used the area to spend the night and probably slept nearby for the shelter.  From The Rock you could spot game and easily see everything below you.  It was easy to get to and I’m sure had an abundance of wildlife.  There’s so much on our property to explore and children love to try new things and see nature at its best.  We went to a beautiful place and were challenged by the climb to the top and everyone had a great time.  Stay tuned for more!


Harry Potter Comes to GV

Dear Parents & Friends,

It’s been a busy two days at camp and we had beautiful sunny skies today.  It’s been a pleasant change from the overcast drizzle we’ve experienced at the end of the week.  We just left our Sunday Service in the Lodge where the theme was “God’s Many Colors”.  Many campers and staff paid honor through that theme with songs, readings and even dance.  It was a nice service.  Debbie played a song called “What Color is the Wind”.  If you don’t know Debbie, she’s our camp musician and is visually impaired.  The song she sang is about a young boy who cannot see and asks his Dad about all the colors around him and to describe those colors.  It’s a great song!

Today was Special Day at GV and the theme was Harry Potter.  There were a number of stations that the campers went to with the movie themes in mind.  At breakfast this morning were  Harry, Haggred, the Weasley Brothers, and of course Dumbledore and Herminone.  All through the day you could see and hear adventures being played out, spells being cast, and Quidditch being played.  Everyone carried a wand and waived it at the drop of a hat.  It’s a good thing I’ve retained my appendages or else I might be a frog tonight and unable to report our day.  Anne would have to work some magic to turn me back into Mr. Camp Director.  The making of silly puddy was a real hit today and we had all colors that were made.

Today our Mountainsiders and Riversiders departed camp for their adventures.  Riverside is backpacking  up in Pisgah and will come across the top of the Parkway and all the way down the Art Loeb trail to Davidson River Campground.  And of course Mountainside is out climbing in Linville Gorge, Paddling the Green today, Section #10 of the French Broad tomorrow and TBA on Wed., mountain biking at Dupont State Forest, and Pioneering and Backpacking near Graveyard Fields in Pisgah.  We miss them already but they’ll have good weather and it’s not too hot.  Adventures are happening here at camp as well.  Yesterday we may have broken the potato digging record with well over 150 lbs of potatoes.  And that’s probably for just one meal at camp.  I don’t know about you, but one of those potatoes in the picture looks like it’s looking back at me (and they do have eyes you know).  We had potato salad at lunch today and it was delicious.  Last night at campfire was Talent Night and let me tell you we have some talent here at camp.  No doubt the pictures speak a thousand words.  I’ve seen a lot of guitar players but not too many can play with their legs up and behind their head.  Eat your heart out Jimi Hendrix.

We were all wearing sweatshirts and hoodies yesterday and there’s one activity that gets your temperature up and that’s Arborist Climbing.  It’s a favorite here at camp.  We’ve been doing it for about 5 years here at camp and it keeps on getting better.  You ascend the rope you’re climbing with what’s called a Blakes Hitch.  It’s a prussick knot that’s been modified that grabs the rope when under tension.  The camper (climber) literally hauls themselves up the rope by standing in another slideable prussick that helps move the climber up.  It’s very simple but sounds complicated.  Remember that GV is all about the simple joys.  Arts and Crafts ties lots of knots from Friendship bracelets to paracord bracelets.  Knots are everywhere in life and it’s always handy that you can tie a simple knot for the task that you are doing.  When tying down boats on the trailer we tie a truckers hitch and is guaranteed not to move and keep those boats tight on the trailer when headed off for adventures.  Just another skill you can learn at camp.  Stay tuned!


You’re a Shining Star, No Matter Who You Are!

Dear Parents & Friends,

Brrrrrr!!!  It’s been a chilly day today at camp.  It drizzled all morning and the temperature hovered around 76.  Those that braved the water today had a treat waiting in the Lodge with a fire.  We’ve had a warm fire going all day in the Lodge and it was big hit as cabins and groups passed through between raindrops and program.  I worked on the Lake this morning helping with kayaking and since it was the first day you have to teach wet exits.  Mike and I were in the water for both hours and I was cold and know the campers were too.  The water temperature actually felt warmer than the air temp.  All was well and we all just shivered a bit before warming up.  Despite the drizzle, program marched on and we all waited for the sun to come out.  By lunch, no sun but no rain and all was well the rest of the day.  Anyone that had a water activity this afternoon could opt out for any other activity that had openings and most did opt out.  There were a few campers that still wanted to go 50 times down the zip line.  Future Navy Seals!

Stage Combat has been a success the last couple of sessions.  Brought by Mack to camp, the children really love their choreographed martial arts routine with the batons.  You will notice a very short video with the photos from today that Natalie, our photographer took.  In Shady Grove (a converted old cabin), we’ve set up our weaving program which has been a great success this summer.  Our arts at camp are very good for younger campers and I’m always proud of the things our campers do with their hands utilizing their talents and creativity.  We bought 10 new looms this spring and it’s been a real bonus to the overall arts program.  Max, another staff member has been teaching a martial arts class in the Lodge and it’s been well received.  Children are learning how to tumble and fall properly as well some escapes and simple defense technique.  In a non aggressive format, it’s good for coordination, balance, speed and confidence.  Those at the Mill today did a good bit of shucking and grinding corn.  From that batch we’ll get lots of grits and cornmeal.  It’s fun to step back to the 1890’s, when our Mill was built, and live life as it was then doing many of the same things a Miller and his workers or children might do.  There are some added treats that go along… I’m sure that Miller didn’t have  4 ice cream freezers hooked up to the Mill that produced any flavor you wanted.

As the summer progresses our crops change too.  Tomatoes are starting to come in and we’ll need to get some more sun to a have a healthy crop.  They don’t do well in damp conditions.  That cabbage you see in the photos became cole slaw on the table tonight.  With the farm in mind, we held our farm campfire tonight.  Everyone turned up at the Lodge to see the piglets being named (you might have witnessed a similar scene if you saw the Lion King).  Our farm band, The Needle Nose Vice Grips, played a lot of music, danced and sang some camp songs as well as a couple of their own.  My favorite was one called, “Home Grown Tomatoes”, which they called their theme song.  Even the piglets got in on the act as they squealed into the microphone.  It was a fun evening and one that was warmed by the fire and all of our campers including Mountainside and Riverside.  It was good to have everyone present and see the young and the older there.

Camp is all about community.  Our campers have so many opportunities to meet many wonderful adults at camp as they go about their regular routine.  There’s a wealth of talented mentors here who teach and parent the campers each day.  It’s not a perfect world but it’s close when we’re humming along.  We have a great staff this year and that’s the essence of our program.  Thank you for sending us your children and we appreciate the time we spend with them.  They are all shining stars.  Stay tuned!


Comfort Zones & Challenge by Choice

Dear Parents & Friends,

A cool and overcast day here was a welcome relief to the weather we’ve been having.  For the next few days we’ll have cooler temps and will enjoy a break from the rain and humidity.  Our first day of Discovery started today with the T,TH,S group.  Tomorrow will be the first day for the F,M,W group.  Everyone I talked with today had a great first day.  The beginner canoer’s from Main Camp learned their first strokes today on the lake with Cindy and Mary Stiles.  They might even make it to the river next week if they continue to improve.  I was at the Farm leading a camp tour today and there are bunches of baby chicks that have just hatched.  The baby piglets are eating and sleeping and crawling all over Big Mama.  She is doing her best to keep them fed and nurtured.  Soon the little ones will be coming out to play. Gourd Art got off to a good start today.  We grow gourds at the farm during the summer and dry them over the winter.  By the time camp gets here you can choose from hundreds of shapes and make a gourd that you can customize.  You can etch it, paint it, create all kinds of shapes and holes in it, use it to hold your desk items or make a birdhouse.  One of these days we hope to make some brooms from the broom straw that Dale grows at the farm.  Fishing at the Mill today was a hit but we didn’t catch quite as many fish.  I’m looking forward to the next fish fry when the whole meal comes from GV.  Fish, cornbread, cole slaw and potatoes.  The food today was spectacular.  Meatloaf for dinner tonight.  I don’t eat that much beef but it was hard not to have a second helping.  Mac and cheese was for lunch today with salad and a great vegetable medley.  Breakfast was pancakes and bacon.  I may roll or waddle home tonight.

Jackson kayakers got their first wet exits today with some trepidation but it’s part of the program.  Our philosophy is to take campers just outside their comfort zones and pull them back in, just in time to build confidence.  We call it perceived risk vs actual risk.  The camper perceives it as scary and over the edge but in actuality it’s quite safe.  With a staff member right there to assist, one works off of trust and the power of gentle encouragement.  Many of our adventure sports work on the same principal and challenge by choice comes into play.  We encourage higher, farther, deeper and steeper but not to the point of no return or danger to the child.  Go a little higher on the wall, perform an S turn on this rapid, roll over the lip of this rock on your bike and push yourself to hike the last hill without stopping, are in our teaching bag of tricks each day.  In our biking program we ask the campers to learn the “attack position” where you stand up off the saddle with your feet in the 3 & 9 position or even with one another.  It takes some a while to get used to this and probably the worse place to remain on uneven ground is in the saddle.  Use those legs as shock absorbers and let the bike move under you while shifting your weight.  Leaning into turns in your canoe or kayak is also a hard one to teach.  Most of time if you don’t lean the river will provide the wake up call.

Speaking of rivers the Riversider’s just returned from their paddling component and spent today running Section #9 of the French Broad.  It’s the most difficult section of the river near Hot Springs, NC.  Yesterday they ran the Nantahala and the day before the Tuck.  They’ve had a great week of rivers and are glad to be home with hot showers and camp food.  They’re off again on Sunday for the backpacking component.  Mountainside begins packing tomorrow because they also leave for adventures on Sunday.  Next week will be a busy week here a t camp with many trips out.  I only wish I could go on them all.  Stay tuned!


C-2 Opening and C Rolls On!

Dear Parents & Friends,

For those of you that dropped off your children today, I hope that you’re safe and sound and at your destination.  Thanks for a wonderful opening day for the campers who are attending C-2.  Even though it was a hot day, activities got off to a roaring start.  Those campers who are here for three weeks had signups this morning while the new campers were arriving.  With half the camp, it was just a small intimate group to sign up this morning.  As new campers arrived we were priming the pump for another great session.  Right after lunch everyone signed up for Discovery activities.  These are activities that take place over several days.  They have many choices and ultimately get 4 activities that happen for 1 hour each every other day.  As always the afternoons are for signup as well when many different one time activities are offered.  Both times of the day are lots of fun.  The morning focuses mostly on skills and the afternoon, some skills and the experience of trying something new just for a short period of time.  Following are the Discovery activities offered:

Farm/ Mill, Archery, Canoeing, Stationary, Horseback Riding, Climbing (three kinds), Stage Combat, Batik, Fine Arts Musical, Weaving, Martial Arts, GV Rescue, Web of Life, Gourds, Mountain Biking, Pottery, Outdoor Living Skills, Jackson Kayaks and Jewelry.  Lots of choices and lots of things to do.

Andy and Josh are working on placing children based on their choices.  They will know their schedules by tomorrow morning.  Many of the above and more will be offered in the afternoon and we’ll keep you posted.

The waterfront was a great place to be this afternoon where children tried their hand at sit-on-top kayaking, zip lining, and sliding on the water mat.  Riding was open and it was nice to hit the trail on one of our camp steeds.  The crew that went down to the farm this morning brought us lots of corn that was shucked at lunch, which in turn was served at dinner.  Delicious!  Great meals today starting at breakfast and going right through dinner.  We had baked chicken, couscous, fresh peaches, caesar salad, rolls, and fresh corn on the cob.  Some folks caught the Golden Chicken at the Farm today.  Farmer Dale says it’s good luck!  Catching fish at the mill was going well today.  Serena from my table, told me she caught 9 fish today.  That could be a fish tale and I’ll find out tomorrow from Cindy who runs the Mill.

There was a great creek hike again today.  Our Carson Creek is a spectacular part of the property.  You get the feeling that you could be out in the middle of Pisgah when only just minutes from the center of camp.  It’s a neat hike whether you go via the trail or hike in the creek itself.  I was out this afternoon with the Mountainside Paddlers.  They tackled their first whitewater today on the upper French Broad.  We paddled where the West, North and East Fork intersect one another in less than a mile.  All three come together to form the FB just near Rosman, NC.  The Mountainsider’s did a superb job.  Only one boat went over and it was definitely a tough little rapid that caused it.  You had just enough space to squeeze between the bank and two rocks and the water was really pushing you into the second rock.  As I told the campers, you have to paddle faster than the water.  You determine your fate; don’t let the water dictate its course.  We had a great time learning to hit eddies, ferrying, peeling out and trying to surf the unsurfable wave.  Everyone made a valiant effort and we swam to cool off about half way down.  Paddling tandem is not easy.  We’re teaching canoeing to some of our main camp campers this session and may take a trip with them next week.  All kinds of good things are on tap at camp so stay tuned!


Closing C-1 and C Thrives!

Dear Parents & Friends,

What a great session we just completed today for those of you that picked up your children for C-1.  Thank you for sharing your children with us this past 10 days.  We’ve had a wonderful session and it was evident as we held our closing for Session C-1 Friendship Campfire last night.  It’s been a beautiful and warm day here and we couldn’t have asked for more.

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.

As our C-1 session campers left today we still have Mountainside participating in their training day and getting ready for adventures next week.  They chose their adventures a couple of nights ago and each group is using this time to prepare and work on skills.  The MS group will all head out on Sunday as will Riverside on their next outdoor component.  Riverside is out paddling this week and ran  Section 6 of the French Broad yesterday and the Tuck today.  Tomorrow is either back to the Tuck or on to the Nantahala.  We can’t wait to hear the stories from their adventures and look forward to having them back in camp.  I’m getting ready to post some pics from the Pioneers that hiked in the Daniel Ridge area today.  They went to one of my favorite swimming holes in Pisgah and there are pictures from that very place.

You’ll also see the boys of Sunrise who went on a creek hike this morning.  Our camp photographer Steve went along and got all the photos.  It’s a spectacular way to see some of our land and our water source that courses right through the middle of camp.  A creek hike is a fun exercise and today was one of the first days the water hasn’t been too high to go out.  With all the rain last week we had to wait a few days before the used creeking as a program option. We always take a lifeguard on the trip even though the pools are barely 4 feet in most places.  Along on any trip is a radio (or cell phone if farther away), a first aid kit, an epi pen and staff qualified in first aid and CPR.

For those of you that still have children in camp, tonight is special.  We have ice cream on the Green and show a movie in the Lodge.  Tonight’s presentation is “How to Train Your Dragon”.  I’ve not seen it, but hear it’s pretty good.  It should be an early night and then up in the morning regular time and off to activities.  We held regular activities for those children today and will do the same tomorrow.

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 hope 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!



Last Day of C-1 and a Great One

Dear Parents & Friends,

Our last day for C-1 Session and it was a good one.  I started off with a trip down the mighty French Broad with our Main Camp kayakers.  You’ll find some photos from the day.  It’s a good beginner section to tackle and our campers got their sea legs pretty quickly out there.  I think there was only one tip even though others came close.  We hit many eddies, did some ferrying, peel outs, S turns and some even tried surfing on the one of the last rapids.  It was a hot day here at camp and a good one to be on the water.  All activities were running this morning and everyone got a lot of choices as we wound down this session for our campers who are leaving tomorrow.

The mountain bikers also went out today and were happy to ride the shady trails of Dupont State Forest.  The nice thing about biking is that it is mostly in the shade and rarely do you have to ride in the hot sun.  Dupont is covered in trees with few open spots so riding there is a pleasure.  They tried their hand at the small bike park which also has a pump track.  You’ll find lots of pics from that trip.  Spinning wheels from biking to spinning mill wheel at home.  Cindy at the Mill, held an activity today for those who wanted to make corn husk dolls.  It’s those simple joys that the pioneer children used to have when they made the only alternative to dolls.  You’d be surprised what you can do with a few corn husks, some glue, string and corn silks.

To beat the heat, the zip line, pool and lake were in full action.  Everyone flocked to the water mat and the zip line for a refreshing dip.  We did the same on the river when we stopped to teach swim techniques in moving water and did some self rescues.  No matter the heat and weather, there’s always a game of knockout going on at the B-ball court.  It’s an everyday favorite and one where the girls take on the boys and win about half the time.  And no matter the weather the calves and animals must be cared for and fed and crops must be harvested.  The farm life goes on and one has to think how hard some farmers work.  We have an army that helps out down at the farm.  Thanks to the children harvesting and feeding, we can afford extra time to teach and talk about all the aspects of living on a farm and working the land.  You can’t just go on vacation and not milk the cow for a week.  My uncle was a dairy farmer and it truly was one of the most demanding lifestyles I’ve ever witnessed.  He loved it and was very good at what he did.  Our farm crew is great and each day brings us the fruit of our sewing.

We had pizza for dinner tonight which is traditional on the last night of the session.  After dinner we took the rest of the cabin photos which will go up tomorrow and then went on to watch the play, which was “Mother Nature’s Children”.  It was outstanding and our cast did a superb job.  Anne and I took some time to honor 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.

Tomorrow when you arrive your children from C-1 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, we welcome you to visit a while and maybe walk around camp to see the some of the activity areas.  Thank you for sharing your children and hope to see you next year.  Stay tuned!


ARRRRGGGHHH! Shiver Me Timbers!

Dear Parents and Friends,

Sorry for the delay on the post. We have such full days here it’s sometimes hard to squeeze it all in. I just came from an Open House with the Riverside boys and Anne is hosting the girls. They’re all having a great time even though the climbing component was pretty much washed out. I’m in process of uploading photos that Ryan took on the trip so you should be able to view those today. Open House is something we do with every cabin group every session. It provides us with a campers view of how their cabin life is going, how their counselors are doing and how they are getting along. Staff are not there when we visit and it’s set up beforehand and the campers actually choose who they want to come. It’s usually a member of our team and an activity leader. Simply, it’s a good way to gauge the campers enjoyment of camp and what kind of job the staff are doing.

Speaking of Riverside I just finished their final lake session before they leave on their paddling component tomorrow. We’ve had lots of rain so the rivers are full. For the past several years we’ve had to search for water this time of the summer. They will be going out with Robert Dye, who is a professor at Brevard College and a friend. He’s a great teacher and is actually an instructor/trainer, one who teaches instructors for the American Canoe Assoc. I’ll be out with Mountainside this week on their training days and hope to get in some good work with them. I would love to go with RS but I need to stay close to the nest.

We’ve had Pirate Day here at camp for Special Day. Every Sunday is special day at camp and there’s always a theme. There were 6 different stations and each involved Pirating – ARRRGGHHH!!!!!! There was the Mini Raft Pool, Pirate Gold Rush, Here Comes the Captain, Mutiny on the High Seas, Fountain of Youth (it’s here at GV and flows all the time) and Arm Your Vessel. For a grand finale me thinks that the counselors will have to swab the deck and walk the plank. In other words, lots of Tom Foolery. Photos should be up.

You’ll also notice that we have some pics of the baby piglets. They’re just three days old and growing already. Mama pig is cranking out the milk and when they’re not nursing they are sleeping. In the days ahead they will be become more active, their eyesight will improve and they’ll become more rambunctious. The farm crew was telling the children that the first few days mothers milk is almost yellow and it’s full of all kinds of good things (antibodies) to keep the baby’s healthy. As they grow and several days later the milk becomes more white. You learn a lot at the farm and it’s always a good place to be.

Over the next several days we’ll be taking a few trips out of camp. There’s a kayaking trip going out tomorrow and I’ll try and get some photos. We’ll be taking out some bikers as well. Mountainside chooses their adventures tonight and they’ll decide whether they want to paddle, climb, pioneer/backpack, or mountain bike. We’ll also have Vespers tonight which is always a good way to end our week and after such a full active day. Look for some photos there. Two young guys from Walnut Run did a great a capella version of Lennon’s “Imagine”. Usually boys don’t participate in those in these events and it’s usually a whole cabin that jumps in. These two guys were amazing. It was an amazing day with no rain and everyone had a blast. I’m off to staff rec where we give back to the staff for pulling yet another great week here at Gwynn Valley. Stay tuned!


Corn Meal to Mountain Biking

Dear Parents & Friends,

A bookend day like yesterday.  Some sun, some rain, more mud and camp marches on.  We’re marching on our belly’s as any army does.  The food today was great and supper tonight saw many helpings of ginger stir fry chicken, mandarin oranges, fresh corn and bread.  Today’s lunch was mash potatoes, meat loaf, fruit cocktail, fresh corn and beans.  The first photo on the web site tonight  is of corn.  Our mill is cranking out some products these days.  Children were eating homemade ice cream churned by the power of the water wheel today.  I saw Cindy cutting up fresh peaches this morning so I know peach was one flavor.  You can create about any flavor you want at the Mill.  We’ve had it all but one of my favorites in Reeces PB Cup.  You may not know this but the Mill has been here since 1890.  What we call the upper dwellings was a home and the Green in front was a large corn field.  The mill race (where the water comes from) was hand dug and runs more than a ¼ of a mile up to Mountainside where it joins the main creek through camp, Carson Creek.  The race is over 4 ft deep and is at least 4 feet across.  It must have taken a long time to dig.  There are huge rocks in and around the banks and the bottom of the race that only horse teams could have moved.

Several years ago one of our camp Dr’s found an Indian Head Penny around the fire ring at the Mill.  It was in pretty good shape and was dated 1890, the year the Mill started operation.  There’s a lot of history surrounding our property and the early settlers only scratch the surface.  Arrowheads have been found that date back 3000 years.  Our valley was a fertile land where game and fish were plentiful.  Water in the rivers ran clean unless there was flooding because agriculture and development wasn’t close to the scale it is today.  Trees were gigantic and one of the dominate species was the Chestnut.  That species has been wiped and today I would say the Poplar has taken over from the Chestnut.  Not a beautiful wood like the latter but a nice tree none the less.  Our stream that runs through camp must have been teeming with fish.  It still has a few native brook trout but not many.  I would love to bring that population back.

History gives way to technology as mountain bikes ride our trails.  I’m really pleased with our Mountain Biking program this year.  More children are riding than ever and it’s a great skill to have.  Growing up we didn’t think twice about biking but I think fewer children are riding bikes these days.  Mountain Bikes are safer in many ways because of the suspension and the bigger tires that can tackle rougher terrain.  Our young folks are doing a great job with learning the techniques to ride on single and double track  trails here at camp.  Instructors, Willis and Ben have done a great job of teaching and offering some challenges to children well within their means and also providing confidence while riding.  Our new trail on the Hunt Farm has been perfect for beginners to intermediates and is almost completely shaded so even riding in the heat of the day offers a respite from the heat.  The campers are also learning about gearing and understanding that cadence is important.  It makes me want to ride.

You can see in one photo that we’ve had plenty of rain.  The cabin in the photo has a plethora of towels hanging in the background.  It’s hard to dry things out in our rain forest.  I spoke last night about starting a fire for a cabin that couldn’t get it going.  I did the same for two more cabins tonight.  The secret ingredient was two waxed paper cups with dry wood shavings from a pile that’s under cover.  In 15 minutes we had a roaring fire and perfect in another 15 for smores.  On a cool night after a rainy day nothing is better.  I suppose we once again come to those “simple joys of camp”.  Stay tuned!


PS    7 little piglets were born last night around 10:30.  Children have paraded all day long to the Farm to see them.  It’s exciting.