Closing Day C, C-2 – Happy Trails!

Dear Parents & Friends,

Thank you 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.

Two pieces of business to further note:  For those of you that purchased a flash drive for pictures for Main Camp C and C-2 session, we realized that you don’t have all the days on the one drive and therefore don’t have all the pictures from the session.  Please let us know if you purchased a flash drive of Main Camp pictures from C & C-2 Session and we will forward the remainder of pictures to you on an additional drive via mail.  Also, I’m putting up some video of our paddling trip yesterday to the Green River with our Main Camp Kayakers.  It should be up no later than tomorrow morning.  If you were on this trip, I know you’ll want to see it.


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.  The picture above pretty much sums it up.  I took this just after breakfast this morning as they were at their cabin meeting spot awaiting parents arrival.  This group of boys from Primavera is an excellent example of coming to camp making friends and having a great time.  In my minds eye this crew will one day be working with the next generation of campers and coming back to GV as staff.  Bright, enthusiastic, motivated and ready for whatever comes their way.  Some of them are sporting their SURVIVOR headbands from the activity they participated in.  They survived at GV in fine form and gained a lot of confidence and independence along the way.

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!


Last Full Day of C, C-2 : (

Dear Parents & Friends,

We just finished our Friendship Campfire for Session C, C-2.  What a great time we’ve had and tonight was no exception.  We honored the many campers who have many years of Gwynn Valley summers.  As a tradition at our final campfire we honor those who are coming for their 4th and 5th year with a blanket for the 4th year and a wooden plaque for their 5th year.  We also honor those staff, SIT’s and campers who’ve gone beyond the 5 year mark.  It’s always fun to have them stand and be recognized.  We finished off the evening with a slide show of session highlights and the girls of Blue Ridge led us in the song “Linger”.  As always, Debbie played “Sheep May Safely Graze” which has been a part of campfire for many, many years.  It’s a beautiful song and if you linger after the end of our Closing Campfire you’ll hear it.  It comes after the staff sing, “May the Road Rise to Meet You”. Hope you’ll linger and listen.

I had a great day with the Main Camp Kayakers.  Hunter and Jamie, our two instructors led the trip and was along as the PR guy running the video and taking a few pictures.  I need octopus appendages so I  can operate more than one thing at a time.   The campers 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 Bridge Rapid, and paddled S Turn, Big Corky, Little Nantahala, Jacobs Ladder, Sunday Ledge, and Little Corky.  It was eddy hopping and ferrying the whole way which makes the learning curve go way up.  Just below our last rapid we got out of our boats and just swam practicing our whitewater swims in strong current and cooled down after a warm day on 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.  It’s a good feeling coming back to camp after such a successful day.  We had some tired puppies as we drove into camp around 5:15.  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.  I took some video while out and will hope to get it on the website soon.

Other trips were out today also.  Climbers and bikers from Main Camp were also testing their comfort zones on the trails and rocks.  The climbers went to Cove Creek which has the bonus of a great swimming hole and the bikers went to Dupont which has over a hundred miles of 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.  Mountainside had their MS Challenge where they run, bike, climb, swim, canoe and build fires for time.  I’m sure both Riverside and Mountainside got a swim into today.  It was the perfect day for it.

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, rest hour, before and after meals and bedtime.  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 all tomorrow.  It’s been a great session and a great group of children.  Stay tuned!


PS – This tired puppy is feeling the day too!

Video – Riverside and More!

Riverside and Main Camp Arborist Climbing from Gwynn Valley on Vimeo.

Here’s a snipet of some video from the past few days.  Just a small glimpse into camp life both for our Main Campers and Adventure Programs (Riverside in this Case).  Enjoy and Stay Tuned!

The Tajar’s Birthday!

Dear Parents & Friends,

We’re just getting back from a full day at GV.  All of Main Camp attended the theatre tonight with a production about the Avenger’s and their experiences from their high school days.  All the super heroes went to high school together and they were all trying to be #1.  The play was totally written by the campers who participated.  Debbie wrote the music and Mack and Emily directed.  Just before the play we held a huge carnival on the athletic field to celebrate the Tajar’s Birthday.  If you don’t know who the Tajar is, just ask your child.  Each session we celebrate his birthday and everyone comes to the party in costume.  This event has been going on at Gwynn Valley for a very long time.  We usually have burgers and dogs outside and then hold the carnival.  Because of rain tonight we had to eat indoors but the weather blew over in time for fun and games.  There was Fortune Telling, Soccer Shootout, Hayrides, Bucket Breakup, TP Toss, Frisbee Throw, Face Painting, free food including ice cream, Guess the M&M’s, The Penny Toss, Sponge Throw, and lots more.  There were all kinds of costumes at the Ball and Carnival.  I’m sure you’ll recognize some characters from your household.

Earlier today those Mountainsider’s and Riversider’s came home and are safe and sound sleeping in their own beds.  Each group had their share of rain over the past several days.  I spoke with many of them about that and it seemed it rained on everyone at one point or the other.  They all came back with smiles and that’s what counts.  We’ll look forward to having them back at our tables tomorrow at lunch.  They all get a big sleep-in tomorrow morning.  There will be several trips out tomorrow with Kayakers, Mountain Bikers, and Climbers all from Main Camp heading out.  I hope to go with the Kayakers to the Green River.  It will be an all day trip for that group.  They were doing their final preps today on the lake and getting psyched.  Speaking of water, Cindy our waterfront director is doing a great job with our fledgling canoers and we’ve seen great progress in adding to their skills.  Another water activity that I got involved with by chance today was Web of Life.  I happened to be coming back from horseback riding and found them at the Lake.  This has been a bumper crop year for tadpoles in our lake.  They are not the tiny ones either.  They’re huge and most are growing legs at this point.  They were hard to catch and I took off my shoes and got into the act.  I managed to get one.  We were having a blast trying to sneak up on them.  I don’t know if they can feel or see you coming but they usually scoot off to deeper water just as you get within a couple of feet.

All kinds of arts and crafts projects are being completed as we wind down the session.  There’s not a day goes by that I don’t see a new creation.  Pottery has glazed all their pots and creations and the kiln will be fired tomorrow morning to finish up the final pieces.  Pottery takes some of their leftover clay and they cover themselves with the slip and it’s like having people from a different age running around camp – very primitive looking.  Then they all go swimming in the lake and everything comes off.  I’m sure that people pay big bucks to cover themselves in clay as a cosmetic remedy.  We do it for fun and to swim.  Tomorrow will be signups in the morning as all of our Discovery Activities ended today.  Tomorrow afternoon will be pillowcase day for all of camp when everyone goes to the pool (not all at once mind you).  There is a method to this madness.  Tomorrow evening will be Friendship Campfire and our last one for the session.  We keep things moving right till the end of the session.  I think the three week campers will need a couple of days of rest upon returning home.  We were up a little later tonight and tomorrow is a big day for us all as we wind down from a very active and fun session.  I wish we could keep them all for another week.  Camp does a world of good.  If you’re feeling a little “campsick” and missing your children we understand.  They’ve provided a great deal of joy in our setting.  I read an article the other day that even the President and First Lady are missing their girls who are away at a camp for a month.  I’m sure camp is a better place for them than just hanging out at the White House.  Camp is a safe and supportive environment where children can develop authentic relationships, unplug from technology, connect with nature, and participate in human-powered activities. Camp allows children to relax and enjoy just being kids. There is a camp experience for every child whether they live in the White House or anywhere in America.  Stay tuned!

New Zealand Day!

Dear Parents & Friends,

Kia Ora everyone, which is Maori for “greetings”.  Today was New Zealand Day at camp and we started off the morning with the discovery of the country.  Food throughout the day was presented at each meal concluding tonight with a very delicious dessert called Pavlova.  Very sweet and very good.  Tonight at dinner we had a group of campers perform the Haka and then there was a Rugby game on the Green.  We came into the dining room to table clothes and a wonderful meal with a festive atmosphere.  Tonight at campfire the Kiwi crew (5 of them) along with many campers presented a variety of skits, music and great videos of their country.  Makes you want to go there.  Andy, our assistant director is a Kiwi and we love having all our different nationalities.  It’s a real bonus during the summer to learn so much about so many countries.

We dodged some showers this morning and this afternoon and it was rainy all around us but not at GV.  We hope the weather holds for the weekend.  Several trips went out today including some Tubers as well as a kayak trip to section 0 of the French Broad.  6 campers and two staff went along and they are preparing for a trip to the Green River on Thurs.  I think that I will be sneaking out with them.  Should be a fun day.  All the rivers are full with the rain we’ve had the past several weeks.  Children are practicing their lines and getting ready for their big performance tomorrow night.  I don’t know much about the production but it should be a fun night at the theatre.  GV Rescue headed to the French Broad today to work on their rescue skills.  Rope throwing, and using other devices is part of the curriculum.   It’s much like the reach, throw and go that has been taught in various ways for many years.  If you just wanted to have fun in the water, well… that happens every day at camp.  The Lake and Pool have been great all summer long for cooling off and having a good time.  The Tension Traverse across part of the Lake has challenged everyone and only one camper has made it all the way across this summer.

I spent half the morning perched in one of our Arborist trees to film and shoot some pictures.  I had a blast because it’s a whole different view of the folks who are ascending the tree.  I’ll try and get some video up maybe tomorrow.  I really enjoy this activity because it’s a challenge and it’s so much fun.  It takes some effort to get off the ground and once you get into a rhythm, you’ve got it.  We had some fantastic climbers today as they passed me and went even higher.  I took a picture of those intrepid climbers just before the period ended.  We’ve been doing this activity for about 6 or 7 years at camp and it gains in popularity each year.  Our two giant Poplar trees can accommodate 5 climbers at a time.  Ask your child about the activity to see if they have participated.

Those mask makers are about the finish up their projects.  We’re looking forward to seeing the final results.  There are so many art projects that will go home with you this weekend.  I saw an especially beautiful scarf that a young boy had made for his mom.  Great job and I know she’ll be proud to wear it.  Our Discovery Program gives the camper a chance to work on a project for more than one day.  It means working on a piece that has progression and has a number of steps that need to be performed before the final result.  How often does that happen in our lives where we have to follow procedures and learn as we go to reach that final destination.  Camp is a great place for learning those life skills that apply to so many aspects of who we are and how we learn to tackle life.

I’m so pleased that a handful of our once “homesick campers” are doing so well and have made it through the session.  Michael Thompson author of Homesick and Happy says, “Children want to be independent, and they realize that they cannot be truly independent until they beat homesickness, even when they have a painful case of it.”  You know that camp is good for your child and camp is one of the best things for building kids’ independence and confidence. Through the years, I have also seen many kids work through some pretty painful emotions at camp, so I know that camp is not easy for all kids.

We let them know right away that missing home is okay.  We reassure them that there are people at camp who will take care of their needs.  Talking with the child honestly about the importance of starting to develop some independence is important.  Share the reality that many good things in life come with some pain and failure.   Make sure they know you want to hear about everything they want to tell you in the initial conversation.  We let them know that we are confident in them.

It’s a growing experience for them and also for you as parents sometimes.  We thank you for your patience and your willingness to let us step in for you during these times.  You’re doing a great job by sharing your child with us.  Stay tuned!

Another Masterpiece in God’s Creation

Dear Parents & Friends,

It is a beautiful night here at camp and we’re inching into our final week of C, C-2.  It’s been a fun weekend and sorry for not blogging last night.  It was a busy day with “Special Day” all day long and then we had our Vespers service after dinner and staff rec after that.  Staff rec happens when we have a group staying over on a Sunday and we get all our staff together for some social time and food enjoyment together.  It’s a late night that starts after campfire and ends around 12 midnight.  I just didn’t have it in me to write at that hour.

I do want to talk about yesterday and today because we’ve been busy.  I mentioned “Special Day” and it was truly that.  There were events and challenges all over camp and beyond including tubing, hikes and runs/walk.  We built the Titanic on the lake and all through the day it was sinking and finally near the end of the day it finally went under.  Thankfully there were no campers aboard but we did have a few staff that went down with the ship.  I love camp because you can create so much with imagination.  Campers could travel to any station they wanted with staff.  Other activities at the lake were the Slip and Slide into the lake and launching rubber duckies with two giant sling shots.  Many staff were taken out after being hit by these yellow flying ducks.  There was Chillin at the Pool for the ones who wanted to swim in a controlled environment and play a little water polo and hit the slides.  The Green had the Bungee Challenge where you had to run on a slippery tarp with a bungee cord attached to you and try and grab a ball.  Level one was fairly easy but 2 and 3 were difficult.  If you wanted an off camp experience you could tube down the mighty French Broad and it was a fun trip.  We also had Super Knock Out on the B-ball court as well as the Shooting Gallery at the Thunderball Court.  How good are you with a water gun.  There was the Mysterious Trail inside the Lodge and for those who really wanted to stretch their legs, The Tri-Trail Challenge had campers going to the Wall Property, then to The Rock and finally to Connestee Falls and back to camp.  You could run/walk these three trails.  Those who completed it got recognized at dinner last night.  It’s quite a feat, no pun intended.  My favorite and I think the campers would agree, was the Jurassic Park theme ride.  Campers were driven about the property in Laundry Carts and of course the electricity was off and the wires were down so Dinosaurs and Giant Chickens roamed camp.  You never knew where or when you would be attacked but it did happen.  Luckily and our transport vehicles manned by the staff led everyone to safety in the end.

Mountainside and Riverside left before the action started yesterday.  They’ve headed in 5 different directions with Riverside going to the AT near Roan Mtn., TN.   MS Bikers went to Dupont State Forest, Climbers headed to Linville Gorge, Pioneers headed up into Pisgah near the top of the range, and Paddlers spent the day on the Green River.

Last night the Vespers theme was God’s Creation which segued into yet another beautiful day here at camp today with a shower just after dinner.  I went to help a couple of cabins get fires going that were cooking out tonight.  The big rain passed us and we were able to get blazing fires going to cook dinner.  Connestee Cove was one of those cabins and they were camped at my favorite spot called Indian Cave which is right next to our creek that runs through the center of camp.  It’s a great site with a feeling that you’re out in the middle of Pisgah but only a few hundred yards from Main Camp.  The rest of our campers who didn’t have a campout tonight had extended twilight play which is everyone’s favorite.  It’s one of my favorite times at camp.

Our bikers are blazing the trails hard this summer and each day they return from their rides tired and fulfilled.  The nice thing about riding our mountain biking trails here at camp is that they are mostly in the shade.  Even on a very hot day it’s quite pleasant to be on a bike.  I can think of no better way to have the wind rush all around you while get out and have fun.  Thomas is the counselor in charge of Main Camp Biking and is running a great program along with Laurel.  We’ve had more campers bike this year than ever and he’s doing a great job with teaching and running the program.  He comes from Elon University and rides on their team there.  When not biking he’s a Engineering Major in school.  Laurel is an old camper and goes to Vandy.

7th Heaven Teamwork

There are always chores at camp and one of those is getting your Laundry back and this group of boys from 7th Heaven used the team format to get the clean clothes back to the cabin.  It was almost like the Tour de France as they took turns leading out and supporting the giant bag.  I also threw in a photo of CC on their campout.  My phone couldn’t quite capture the clearness of it all but you get the idea.

CC enjoying the evening on their campout. Smores Next!!!

Other activities that were interesting today was mask making in the Lodge.  They look so mysterious and you never know how they’ll turn out and look on you until you put them on.  Canoeing, Fishing, the Tension Traverse, Arts and Crafts, Pottery,  and a host of other activities filled our day.  It’s a full day here and everyone sleeps well, including me.  More of the same tomorrow with some trips out of camp.  Stay tuned!

A Day With NO Rain! Yesss!!

Dear Parents & Friends,

If you are wondering why no blog last night it was because I was on a day off.  We’ve finally had a day of reprieve from the rain.  It was a sunny and not too hot day as we eased back into life without moisture.  You reach a point when everything is wet and you get used to it but it takes a while.  Despite the wet days behind us, there were willing souls who were at the lake all morning doing GV rescue, Canoeing, Aqua Games, and Kayaking.  The Canoer’s were learning strokes during their session and at the end of that session they tried what we call the “Groucho Marx”.  I learned this move over 30 years ago at a camp and have taught it to staff and campers since then.  Visualize this:  you’re in water with the canoe behind you and you’re holding onto the gunwales or rails of the boat like you’re getting ready to do a chin-up.  You stick your head under the water and your forehead touches the bottom of the canoe and as you do this you raise your legs straight up out of the water, tuck your knees in and you roll backwards into the canoe.   Maybe Photo Mary got a picture of them performing this but it’s really pretty neat.  You have to blow air out through your nose or you get water in.  I know it sounds crazy.  Parents, don’t try this at home without a trained camper by your side.

With the soccer field drying out today there was a great session of “football” going on with training and a pickup game.  The fish were biting at the Mill and those who weren’t fishing, were Milling making yellow corn grits and cornmeal.  Speaking of food I was sent a recent article in the NY Times about camp food.  Click on this link and it will take you to the article.   It’s an interesting piece about how food is changing in camps.  I feel as though we’ve been surfing that wave for long time.  Our “cuisine” is not exactly as exotic as some but our home grown food sure is delicious and we haven’t reached the point where we’re not serving sloppy joe’s which is one of our favorite meals.  Keep in mind those sloppy joes are coming from free range beef which live quite happily here at GV cared for by campers before they come back to us in a different form.  Let’s take tonight’s dinner:  Maple syrup and apple caramelized pork chops, cole slaw, corn on the cob, roasted potatoes (all from the garden), carrot cake (with carrots from the garden) and of course water and low fat milk.  That’s a pretty darn good meal and our table laid it to waste.  Food has always been at the top for us and we’re always trying to make it better.   We have been adjusting our meals for years to adapt to camper’s and staff diets and yes, allergies and other medical requirements have provided some challenges but we’ve just kept it simple and done what we do best by growing as much as possible and serving food that children will eat.  It’s fresh, whole and prepared in a slow way with no deep fryers or other such cookers.  We’re certainly not perfect but we certainly have a good thing going.  Just thought you might like to read about this trend in our industry.

Mountainside and Riverside leave for adventures early in the morning and will be out until Wed. afternoon.  I can’t believe we’re entering our last week of the session and our sixth week of the summer.

We’re all having a great session and tonight at campfire we had Talent Night.  There were all kinds of acts and I do mean all kind of acts from dances to songs to skits to even bicycle tricks.  If you can imagine it, it probably happened on stage tonight at camp.  What a great venue for a camper or campers to get up and perform for a group with total acceptance.  It’s a real confidence booster and you can just see when they come off the stage and everyone’s cheering that it’s so good and healthy.  Some acts were funny when they weren’t supposed to be and some were serious and more professional.  It’s good for us to support one another as we leave our comfort zones to venture onto the stage to perform for over 200 people.  I’m not sure I could have done that at that age. One of our values is acceptance and tonight’s show was certainly a reminder of that important aspect of camp.  We have some great campers here and we thank you for sharing them with us as we explore our strengths and talents in one another.  Stay tuned!

River Rats Return – We Teach, We Build, We Support and Acknowledge

Dear Parents & Friends,

I’ve been on the river all day with Riverside and just got back to camp about 7:00 tonight.  I understand our site is presenting some complications with logging on and looking at pictures.  Our office staff worked on this throughout the day and will continue to work with our web folks and the company we use to host our photos.  I apologize for any inconvenience and hope to see this corrected by tomorrow.  Sometimes at camp we have little control over just two things; one is weather and one is the internet and the myriad of complications it can produce.  Some of this may be weather related as we had a thunderstorm about 5 days ago that knocked out some our internet connections and phone lines coming into camp.  We’ve been limping along the past several days.   Most of the time there’s not a easily reachable person you can directly deal with about these types of problems but we’re doing our best to make things right again.

So… back to today.  It was an epic day with Riverside on the Nantahala.  Lots of rain today and lots of water in our boats from the river and also the sky.  It’s a classic river with not much flat water and lots of big eddies, standing waves, and swirling water that makes for tricky navigation.  It’s also a very cold river and comes off one of the deepest lakes in the southeast.  Year round temperature is about 49 degrees.  You all will be pleased to know that the only folks that went over in that frigid water were the staff.  Yes and one of those would be this staff member.  I ran the first rapid which is called Delbar’s Rock and pulled up in the eddy to video everyone coming down.  It was raining and misty on the water and all boats came through with little fan fare.  So I put my camera away and jumped back into my boat reached up to turn off my helmet GoPro camera and over I went right in the middle of the current with no paddle in hand.  I quickly swam my boat to shore, shook off my pride and headed down to meet the crew.  Maybe I should stick to paddling instead of videography.

It rained pretty much the whole afternoon and we paddled and eddied out in rapids called Delbar’s Rock, Quarry, Root Canal, Whirlpool, The Ledges, S Turn, Surfers, and many more.  Everyone was getting pretty cold as the temperature on the river was about 10 degrees cooler than is was 5 feet up on the bank.  On a day like today a solid ceiling of fog lays on the water surface.  The Nanty is one of the best teaching rivers in the east and has a variety of rapids with lots of eddies and play spots.  Other rivers we’ve been running have dropped about 35 to 75 feet to the takeout but the Nanty drops over 250 feet in its run to the end, which means it moves quickly.  We had a great time and the RS crew did a fabulous job in navigating those frigid waters.  They are looking forward to showers, a warm bed, and a couple of days in camp to kick back before their next adventure on Sunday.

Our Main camp Kayakers went out of camp today and paddled section 0 of French Broad.  There were some seasoned vets and some novices but Hunter, their instructor said everyone did a great job.  This is a great time to be a paddler at camp since we have all this rainfall.  We’ve been too dry the first few weeks of camp.  Even though it’s been raining a good bit, activities go right on.  The only activities that are affected are biking (we slow down with wet trails) and our climbing program.  Tree and wall climbing has gone on during the rain, as has arborist climbing which was happening during after supper activities tonight.  It also gets a little slippery, sloppy on the athletic field.  Soccer has to slow down a bit but Thunderball goes full tilt.  You’ll have to have your child explain Thunderball to you.  It’s a game that came over from Israel and is popular with camps in the north.  One has to keep things fresh and we’re always working on making strides in our program.  Our ropes course is new this year and we’re all enjoying the aspects of its challenges.  Coaching and mentoring are part of that equation also and that’s where staff make all the difference in our camp world.  It was certainly in evidence today on the river and is a part of every activity here at camp.  Children are so smart and learn in so many different ways.  I’ve always been a copier and can look at something and learn while others have to have the words and action together and some just need the words.  What we all need is confidence and support throughout the learning process and camp is a great venue to try it, maybe fail, try it again and keep working on it until you feel it’s good.  We teach and we build on that teaching, we support and we acknowledge the progress that happens every day here at GV.  Stay tuned!

C-2 Opening Day and C Boogies On!

Dear Parents & Friends,

We welcomed our new campers for C-2 today and got off to a rousing start to begin that session.  For those of you that dropped off your children today, I hope that you’re safe and sound and at your destination.  Thanks to our wonderful SIT’s who you will see in a couple of photos today.  They are a hard working group of young people who have been at Gwynn Valley for many years.  They work in the Kitchen and Stables and also live in cabins with campers.  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 in the morning:

Farm/ Mill, Archery, Canoeing, Horseback Riding, Climbing (three kinds), Print Making, Gourd-eous Gourds, Mask Making, Soccer, Fine Arts Musical, Weaving, GV Rescue, Web of Life, Gourds, Mountain Biking, Pottery, Outdoor Living Skills, Aqua Games, Jackson Kayaks and Bracelets.  Lots of choices and lots of things to do!

Rain held off this morning and we got steady showers most of the afternoon but not enough to stop programs.  We don’t waste any time getting things going on the first day of camp.  We held to our usual schedule of a 1:00 lunch since we have campers from the C session here for 3 weeks.  After sign-ups the new campers visited the Waterfront, Farm, Mill, Sports, and Horses.  We all received new table assignments tonight for dinner and I’m with a great group of campers and staff at table 13 (best table!).  Dinner tonight was baked chicken, vegetable medley, mashed potatoes, fresh rolls and salad.  Yum!

I spent the afternoon on the river with Mountainside who were participating in their second day of river training working up to the adventures which start on Sunday.  We ran section 0 of the French Broad where the West Fork, the North Forth and the East Fork of the French Broad all come together within about a mile.  The group learned a good bit about ferrying and angles and we stopped at one place where they practiced till almost perfect.  We had to “boogie” (hurry)  down the river the last mile so we wouldn’t miss dinner.  It was a fun wet day as we paddled the river with water falling from the sky.  It was one of those steady rains and I encouraged everyone to wear their raincoats (mostly for warmth) under their PFD’s or puffdaddy as I call them.  They will have another short training on the lake with me tomorrow and then out on Adventures on Sunday.  The hikers went to Dupont today and the Bikers went as well.  The climbers spent the day around the Nose area of Looking Glass and had a great time.

As it stands, tomorrow I’m spending the day with Riverside on the Nantahala.  They’re on their last day of rivers and will be coming back into camp tomorrow night.  I’m going tomorrow to get some video and also looking forward to getting on some good water.  Even I get to have some fun once in a while.  I truly believe when Anne and I get out into program with our staff and campers we have a pulse on what’s going on at camp.  It’s a chance to see the staff in action in range of activities from challenging situations to unstructured supervised free play.  We really value our staff and appreciate the work they put with your children.  It basically is the essence of our program.  We have a great staff this year and I know that your children will feel the same.  By getting involved in program and visiting activities we are able to see into the heart of our program.  It brings me great joy to see a group of campers enthralled and focused on what’s going on in a particular activity.  I know as you all go through photos you’re looking for your child and a happy face.  We try to take some photos showing children really focused on the work and play they are participating in.  As we go through the session, I hope you’ll get a glimpse of the work these young staff members are doing.  Many of them have come from the camper ranks and have reached counselor nirvana.  It’s tough work but you already know that because you’re all parents!  Stay tuned!