Closing Day D Session

Dear Parents & Friends,

What a great session we just completed today for those of you that picked up your children for D.  Thank you for sharing your children with us this past 13 days.  We’ve had a wonderful session and it was evident as we held our closing for Session D 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 D Session campers left today we still have Mountainside and Riverside here at camp.  Mountainside is taking a few days off before they head out on their big adventures.  Riverside returns today from their paddling component and will start their backpacking adventure next week.  The MS group will all head out on Tuesday as will Riverside.  Soon you will be hearing the stories from their adventures.  It’s hard to believe we only have a bit over a week left in our summer.  It always goes too fast.


Are those Halo’s on 7th Heaven??!! Closing Day Breakfast – What Fun!


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 great deal 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 Full Day of D Session

Dear Parents & Friends,

It’s been a great day at camp with our last morning of sign-ups and our end of session pillowcase day at the pool.  Tubing trips went out this morning as it was yet another very warm day here at camp.  We just ended our day with Friendship campfire and had many campers and staff share songs, music and laughter.  We also showed some photo highlights from the session that were really terrific.  Steve and Fred, our photographers for the session, put together a great slide show for the campers and staff.  Everyone loves to see themselves and their friends in the pictures.  It makes for a good way to remember all the great times we had this session.  Anne and I presented GV blankets to those campers who have been with us for 4 years and plaques to those who have been here for 5 years.  We also honored our long standing campers and staff upward of 5 years up to 30 +.  Some of our younger staff have already been here 10+ years starting out in Echo and Playhouse, our youngest cabins.  Look for the rest of our cabin photos coming up tomorrow or possibly tonight.

Playing Outside, Reaching New Heights and Growing Inside!

I was out on the river a good portion of the day with Mountainside and they were paddling their first day on moving water.  For me it was a milestone because one of the campers on the trip is the son of one of my campers that I paddled with and taught probably 25 years ago at another camp.  Having spent the day with those Mountainsiders, I’m actually feeling pretty young about now.

It’s been a pleasure to work with your children and I say this on behalf of my staff.  We’ve have a great group of campers here this session and all the campers have been so nice.  I’ve had two wonderful groups of campers at my table and tonight was our last meal together.  Tomorrow morning we’ll eat in our cabin groups.  I’ve always said that camp is mostly about building relationships with other people and thinking more about the group than oneself.  We appreciate you all turning your children over to us for two weeks and wish we could keep them a little longer.

Tomorrow when you arrive your children from Session D 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 looking forward to seeing you tomorrow.  Stay tuned!


A Day for the Tajar and More!

Dear Parents & Friends,

Tajar Folly was what we awoke to this morning.  As you can see there were kayaks on the Green along with some of our dining room tables as well as noodles from the pool where the Tajar spelled out his name.  Let me help you parents with pronunciation of the Tajar’s name.  The Ta sounds like ta in tack.  The jar sounds like jur and put them together with more emphasis on the first syllable you have Ta-jar.  He would appreciate you knowing that.  All the children can help when they arrive home which is coming up fast.  We’re going to miss this group as they’ve been splendid.  Anyway, back to the Tajar’s Birthday, which was today.  In actuality he celebrates his birthday every session.  He’s even older than I am by those standards.  Like any other day that’s his birthday we go right on with program and it was another splendiferous day here at camp.  I only know that through reports from Mrs. Camp Director who I always check in with after coming off a trip.  More on our paddling trip later.

Getting set to go off the zip line!

Did you see the paper marbling they were doing in arts and crafts.  One can make some beautiful stationary that way.  The main camp mountain bikers were giving some intense looks as they focused on riding obstacles today and were going all over camp to explore the different terrains and trails we have here.  Debbie, our camp musician had her Braille machine out today to make Braille cards for campers who wanted them.  She can put whatever you want on them including animals and plants even planets.  Debbie has been visually impaired since early childhood and gets around camp all by herself.  She knows camp very well and uses her cane to feel the ground as she walks.  Steps, banks and other terrain she feels and “sees” her way through.

Mountainside had a day at camp today and will continue their training day tomorrow.  I’ll be taking them out early tomorrow for some river work.  They held signups for the morning and afternoon and are slowly gearing up for their big adventures next week.   Riverside was out on the Tuck today paddling away and will be headed to the Nantahala tomorrow.  We’ll keep you posted on their progress.

Our camp drama troop put on a musical tonight for us.  It was called “The Thing-e-do”.  Written by Debbie, Mack and the children who sang and performed it.  I arrived a little late after helping clean up from the Tajar Ball and caught the end of it where they have discovered that the Thing-e-do was whatever you wanted it to be.  It supposedly had a lot of power but really didn’t because you possess the power within you and all you have to do is realize that you have it.  It was all about confidence and stepping out to assert oneself.

Before the musical we held the Tajar Ball on the athletic field.  There were all kinds of games, challenges, food, and dancing.  Roll the giant dice, Race for Space, Face Painting, guess the Jelly Bean numbers, Fortune Telling, The Can Throw, Walking the Slack Line, Sponge Toss at your favorite counselor, director or SIT, Soccer Shootout and of course the infamous Strongman Bell Ringer were just among a few of the things there.  Hay Rides and ice cream were happening just in case you were bored.  Costumes abounded at the Ball and of course everyone was trying to figure out who the Tajar was because he always comes in costume.  It was a fun night.

I must tell you that the Main Camp Kayakers had an excellent day on the Mighty Green River today.  It was hot but not so bad on the water.  We put in at Fishtop just at where the gorge starts to become more boat friendly for beginners.  There were lots of class 1 & 2 rapids with some extra challenges thrown in as we went down.  We never just run the river here at GV.  We work it.  At the beginning we practiced for a good while doing ferry’s and peel outs and spent most of the next mile or so working on eddy turns .  The rapids on that section were Fishtop, Teaching Rapid, Slot Left, Bridge Rapid, Big Bend, Big Corky, Little Nantahala, Jacob’s Ladder, and Sunday Ledge.  We stopped a good bit and allowed everyone to catch their breath and got wet as much as possible.  If there is a down side to paddling on the Green, it’s all the tubers.  I’m convinced that dodging tubes is good for one’s boating skills.  We ended our day at Sunday Ledge where everyone swam and practiced their proper river swim.  Some got to practice their river swims earlier when there were several unintentional capsizes.  Several campers wanted to run it again and I pushed them through a small slot on river left where they paddled up to a pool to try it again.  Some wanted to try and surf at Sunday Ledge which is a perfect place to learn that art.  It takes time and even our two interns on the trip learned it’s not so easy.  We took a huge lunch on the river and ate at the put-in before we started our day of paddling and even brought tons of food for the trip home.  It was all devoured.  There will be some tired puppies tonight as they plop down on their camp beds.  I know it’s been a full day here at camp and also on the river.  Everyday is full at GV and that’s what makes it all so wonderful.  Life is sometimes like the river.  As I tell the campers, when in doubt, just keep paddling forward. Your making progress whether you realize it or not.  Stay tuned!


International Day for Poland, Russia & France

Dear Parents & Friends,

As you can see we are celebrating International Day today and focusing on Poland, Russia and France.  We have a staff member from each country, Monica, Elena and Camille in that order.  Tonight’s campfire went into great detail about each country with songs, music and dance from campers and staff.  There was even a French fashion show early in the campfire.  It was a fun campfire and concluded with Camille dancing to a piece by Chopin.  She is a very good dancer and it was interesting watching all the girls in the audience as she danced.  What youngster at one time or another doesn’t dream of becoming a ballerina.  I think the boys were in awe as well of the athleticism in the dance.

Arts and Crafts was humming today with all kinds of creations happening with color.  Batik was making some very beautiful things and Shady Grove was weaving more than material today in their basket class.  Tamara, who comes all the way from Texas, brought our weaving back to life this summer by helping us purchase new looms.  It’s been a real bonus in the program and everyone has loved it.  It was a very good day to be on the waterfront.  It was 92 for us today and thankfully it wasn’t humid.  It was a crisp but hot day which makes it much more enjoyable.  Several tubing trips went out as well as many creek hikes.  The temperature walking up the creek is probably 10-15 degrees cooler than the temps on the soccer field.  Laughter and screams came from the lakefront all day long.  It will be warm again tomorrow as the Main Camp Kayakers embark on a trip out of camp.  With the dryer weather we’re waiting to see if the Green River will be running.  We’re also looking at section 6 of the French Broad close to Asheville.  At any rate it will be good to be in a boat on water.  I will be joining them and we’ll try and get some pics of the trip.

Weaving in Shady Grove

The man in the red suit was not Santa Clause but Max who has been teaching some martial arts all summer.  He’s quite good and today offered a class in self defense.  The most prominent activity, non activity, popular, favorite past time is making friendship bracelets.  Almost everywhere you look you will find someone making one of these either for themselves or for a friend.  There are some many possibilities and weaves and colors and you can wear several at once.  We are a wrist happy society.  Silly Bands, Livestrong type rubber wrist bands of all colors and quotes, friendship bracelets and other conglomerations of strings, you will find on many campers and staff wrists.  I may be the only staff member in camp without a friendship bracelet and a tye dye shirt.  I had tye dye shirts in the 70’s but the colors weren’t as vibrant as they are now.  It’s the time of year to show your creativity and colors.

Mountainside has their first day of Training Days today and will be going out again on Thurs. for the second day leading up to adventures next week.  We miss our MSer’s when they’re out of camp.  They did come to campfire tonight.  Riverside left for the river today and will be out until Friday evening.

I want to go back to something earlier that related to capturing the children’s interest and keeping them focused.  Camille’s dance tonight did just that.  It didn’t last long but everyone was watching intently.  It was a simple but meaningful presentation.  I think all too often we in society are trying to top the latest, greatest, biggest, fastest, and most popular.  At camp we get back to the basics and the simple joys of childhood.  For children, dreaming and having a vision is so important.  Our Vespers on Sunday night had the Theme of God’s Miracles.  I usually will say a word about our theme and talked Sunday about how some miracles come about through dreams and vision.  I sometimes think that if life were simpler we might be more able to dream and realize our dreams more.  Everything is so fast, so vivid, so now, so right there.  I think camp is so good for slowing down, creating from scratch, growing from scratch, and getting back to those simple joys we often overlook.  A simple dance accompanied by a piano instead of a music video that is a blur of shots and scenes.  The other day in our dining room several tables were racing to see who could clear their table the fastest.  One youngster at our table said, “it’s too fast, I want to eat slowly and enjoy my meal. I want our table to be the slowest clearing table because I like everyone here. “  That friends, is what camp is all about.   Stay tuned!


Ninjas and the Giant Chicken

Dear Parents & Friends,

It’s been a perfect camp day here today.  The weather couldn’t have been better.  Sunny, bright and full of light with nary a cloud in the sky, well maybe a couple here and there.  We had signups for the whole day today so everyone got to choose 4 activities.  Stick weaving has hit GV.  It’s all the rage in the A&C’s arena and you’ll see a few photos from that activity this morning.  The Main Camp Bikers went to Dupont this morning and rode Jim Branch and Ridge Line Trail which is a roller coaster on the way down.  It’s pretty much uphill all the way to the top and downhill all the way home.  Another caveat near the top is a small play park with skinny’s to ride, a teeter totter, and a pump track.  The kids had a blast and it’s one of my favorite trails to ride.  They’ve just rebuilt Ridge Line and it’s as good as ever.  The trail slices through mostly a pine and hardwood forest dropping gradually for a couple of miles with lots of undulations much like a coaster ride.  You’re pretty much off your saddle the whole time in the attack position.

One Happy Biker Dude at Dupont State Forest

I just want to know why a giant chicken is running around loose at camp.  I usually know everything that’s happening at GV and I was a bit surprised to find the chicken running down the camp road next to the lake today.  I called out to it in my best chicken voice but no response.  It could have been related a visit from the Ninjas this morning in Cabin Echo.  Several sessions ago, Echo adopted a camper named Pablo, who leaves notes for the boys and is hiding in Echo from the Ninjas.  When I arrived the other day to hold an Open House in the cabin, the boys were conducting a Ninja Drill.  Evidently this morning, Pablo was kidnapped and just as the boys were waking up at the 8AM bell.  Two Ninjas entered the cabin with squirt guns and took Pablo.  We had the same thing happen last session so the boys set a trap for the Ninjas and we got Pablo back.  I suspect that the same thing will happen this session before it’s over.  There’s nothing like a little adventure and mystery in one’s life to keep things interesting and mostly fun.  Echo is pumped and ready to roll.

Hope you got to see some cabin photos that went up last night.  We will be taking more tomorrow and will get them all by the end of the week.  It’s a lot of folks to take pictures of and I don’t think I could ever be a photographer.  It usually takes 2 people plus staff in the cabin to maintain and get the campers arranged so everyone can be seen.  One cabin last night had about 25 shots taken to get one picture.  Our photo guys are doing a great job!  If you see them on closing day please let them know they are appreciated.  Some of the photos tonight are of Mountainside campers and the photos are in the Main Camp portion of the website.  We’ll get that straightened out tomorrow.

Hey, it turns out that Chicken was really one of our SIT’s at camp.  Those SIT’s are good sports and really are a hard working bunch.  They spend a lot of time doing some of the grunt work in the kitchen and dining room as well as working in program and learning from the activity leaders.  We hope all of them will one day be full staff and working with future GVer’s.  Some of the SIT’s were helping at the Farm today where literally hundreds of carrots were dug.  I love fresh carrots and tonight with dinner, we had sautéed carrots and fresh squash.  There was also spaghetti as well as fresh peaches and cucumber and tomato salad and cookies for desert.  Conversation at the table consisted of overeating and how easy it is at camp.  The food is so good.  We all switched tables today and I hated to lose my old table but my new one is excellent as well.  I’m looking forward to getting to know a brand new batch of campers.  There’s always something new and different everyday at Gywnn Valley.  Stay tuned!