Closing Day C-1 and C Goes On!

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 was a beautiful morning for closing and hope most everyone is safe and sound back home by the time you read this.

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 the Tuckaseegee today and possibly back there tomorrow to hone skills and get ready for the Nantahala on Thurs.   We can’t wait to hear the stories from their adventures and look forward to having them back in camp.

Creek hikes and tubing started off our morning with the water providing a bit of relief from the heat.  A creek hike is a fun exercise and today was no exception.  Our creek is spectacular as you ascend to the upper reaches of our property.  You feel like you’re out the middle of the national forest but you’re only just few hundred yards from camp.  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 “Toy Story 3”.  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!

PS   I’ll be putting some video up in the next few days so stay tuned!  Also, what a great movie.  Everyone loved it.

Winding Down and What a Great Day!

Dear Parents & Friends,

Our last day for C-1 Session and it was a good one.  The big news this morning at breakfast was that the piglets were born on the farm last night.  There are six babies clinging to their mother at this point.  Many children were able to go to the farm today to see them.  If your child is leaving tomorrow be sure to visit the farm and see the newborns.  I was at the farm this morning shooting some video and as well as just visiting that special place.  Campers fed calves, milked Bessie the cow, gathered eggs, picked fresh corn from the garden and visited with mama pig and her babies.  No matter the weather the 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 labors.

From there I headed up to the climbing wall to watch some of our climbers try the toughest side of our outdoor wall.  It’s an overhanging section that pits the climber against more gravity than usual.  The campers did a great job as they scaled the tough section.  To beat the heat, the zip line, pool and lake were in full action today.  Everyone flocked to the water mat and the zip line for a refreshing dip.  No matter the heat and weather, there’s always a game of Knockout and Thunderball 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.

We had pizza for lunch today and it was all you could eat.  If that wasn’t enough there were brownies for dessert.  Earlier in the morning I had stopped by the Mill to see what was going on there.  As luck would have it they were making chocolate ice cream cranked by the power of the Mill.  It was delicious and everyone was treated who helped.  Monday afternoons are reserved for our weekly team meeting but I did squeeze out in time to be with a couple of programs.  Folks were playing checkers at the Mill while waiting for the ice cream to finish.  I learned some “new rules” for checkers while playing with a couple of campers.  Pottery class surprised me as I walked past the soccer field by running out of bushes covered in clay.  Slip and swim on the last day of the session is a GV favorite.  The campers and staff take the left over clay and cover themselves with it.  At first glance you would think that you time traveled to the stone age when man looked this part.  It’s a fun and wild thing to do.

After dinner we took the rest of the C-1 cabin photos which will go up tonight and then went on to our final campfire which included much camper talent.  Anne and I took some time to honor those who have attended camp for a long time.  We had our blanket ceremony for those who have attended camp for 4 years.   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!

Special Day and Wild Westing It!

Dear Parents & Friends,

What a great day here at camp.  It was special day here and the theme was “The Wild West” We took on the pioneer spirit and did a lot heading into the sunset.  Even though not all activities fit the theme there was a choice of what to do and when you wanted to do it.  Everyone got a chance to do something relaxing or strenuous whatever your choice.  Several groups took on the Tri-trail Challenge which was going to the Wall Property, then to The Rock and finally to Connestee Falls.  All three are hard to complete in a two hour period of time.  There were all kinds of themed hikes today that gave the children a chance to see many parts of camp that are not always possible to get to.  There was a hike to “The Rock” which is near the top of property.  The view is fantastic and even on a hazy day like today one can see for miles.  We could pick out Cedar Rock (which is where Mountainside and Riverside sometimes climb), Pilot Mountain (where Mountainside Hikers may go on their adventure), Mt. Pisgah, Black Balsam and Devils Courthouse.  There was a bees nest on the way but we only had a couple of stings.  When you have hot weather at camp and you hike like we do, you’re bound to run into bees at some point.  We carry epi-kits on all our trips and all staff are trained in how and when to use them if there is more than a local allergic reaction.

The most fun was visiting the other side of The Rock to check out the ant lion nests.  If you’ve never seen ant lions there are pretty neat.  They build small conical holes in the sand and wait for an unsuspecting insect to wander by and fall down the sides of hole and wham, they’re toast.  The ant lions which remind me of those sand fleas which you find at the southern beaches are a good bit smaller but they have big pincher jaws up front to grab their victim.  Several years ago one of our camp doctors found a perfect arrowhead while we were up there looking at the ant lions.

There were river trips down the mighty French Broad today and the Tubers took full advantage of the hot weather to tube our 3 miles back to the camp property.  Four trips in all went out over the course of the day.  There were many activities that only lasted 30 minutes like line dancing in the Lodge.  This was a good cool down inside our breezy lodge.  Campers of all ages and sizes were found dancing with Jordan and her crew.  Pioneer crafts were also popular during the heat of day.  We did have a thundershower just before rest hour today to water the garden and the grass.

Mountainside begins their training days tomorrow and will be going out in 4 different directions to begin prep work for their adventures.  Adventure sell was tonight and the campers choose their adventures and found out shortly after what they would be focusing on in the next few days of camp.  Riverside will leave in the morning for their paddling component and will be going to the Green for their first river.  It’s a good way to begin and hopefully they’ll progress quickly and be able to hit some bigger water as the week goes on.  I got to spend time today with Wildwood on the ropes course and hope to show you some video from that time.

We held our Sunday Service this evening after dinner and the theme was Gratitude.  I talked about how thankful I was for “time”.  Time at camp is precious and it goes so quickly, as does time with friends and relatives and those special times when times come to an end way before we’re ready for it to.  Life is a busy enterprise.  It seems there are always more things to do, places to go, and people to meet.  Sometimes the fast pace threatens to rob us of the quietness that we need.  When we’re in the car , stop signs and other signs warning us to slow down are reminders that to be safe we can’t have our foot on the accelerator all the time. We need those kinds of reminders in all parts of our lives.  So…..  find some time, some quiet time and put up a stop sign at the intersection of your busy life.  Find a place to be alone (hard for a camper), maybe your bunk at bedtime or if you wake up early.   Turn off the distractions that keep you from hearing God’s voice and let him refresh your heart and mind with the strength to live life well.  Camp is that place where life is lived well.  Stay well and stay tuned!

Saturday is Everyday at GV!

Dear Parents & Friends,

Saturday at Gwynn Valley feels like every other day and every day is special.  The day was hot and dry and it’s nice to have great weather for programming.  We do need some rain but I’ll take the good weather at this point.  This kind of weather is always good for water activities.  We had our kayakers out of camp today on the French Broad from Wilson to Patton Bridge.  It’s a great section because it teaches our fledgling paddlers all about the basics of river features.  The first rapid is perfect for ferrying, peel outs and S turns.  They had a great trip with 8 campers along and two staff.  We’ll be going out again soon the first of next week and looking forward to some more campers joining us.

Riverside came back late yesterday and was around camp while getting ready for their next component which will be paddling.  I spent a couple of hours with them on the lake working on drills and paddling gates for their next outing which will be Monday.  They are a strong group and should do well in their next adventure.  Our other adventurous group, Mountainside, had a sign-up day today which was relaxed and offered a bit of variety for them.  They’ve been going pretty hard all week since they arrived and it was a nice change of pace for them to have some time in camp.  They will be choosing their adventures tomorrow night and will begin adventure training on Monday and Wed of next week.

We talked about our kayakers going out today and so did our Mountain Bikers.  They went over to Dupont State Forest to ride the perennial favorite “Ridgeline Trail”.  It’s one of the best downhill trails in the park and is a crowd pleaser.  It looks like they will be going out again on Tues. of next week if not sooner.

There were several Tubing Trips down the river today and it’s a great way to spend a couple of hours in a cool shady environment.  We take the tubers about 3 miles upstream from GV and they float right back to our property.  It’s a lazy part of the river and perfect for Tubing and just being lazing along.  GV rescue held their river portion of the activity down at the French Broad today on our property.  They learned how to throw a rope, rescue in moving water, and how to swim a river if you turned over in your boat.  It’s good information even though many of them are not big enough to physically pull a victim in but they could certainly use what they’ve learned with the aspects of the old life guard curriculum of reach, throw and go.  These folks have the enthusiasm and may one day save a life.  Wouldn’t that be great!  More arborist climbing in camp today because it’s so popular.  Everyone who sees it wants to try it.

As we near the end of our 10 day session campers are beginning to glaze pots and work down to ends of some of their arts projects.  Marbled scarves and woven bags are beginning to appear.  The array of tie-dyed t-shirts always amaze me.  The colors and the different designs are beautiful.  It’s hard not to like something that you make yourself and our staff have done a good job coming up with great “successful” projects that the campers can do on their own with limited assistance.  There’s a great feeling of accomplishment whenever we achieve something on our own.  If we can wear it, use it or show it, it makes it even better.  Hands on learning is everywhere in the camp setting.  That, plus realizing that we can be independent and do well on our own is another added bonus of summer camp.  At camp, some kids practice sports, some practice instruments, and some practice their belly flops. But one thing that ALL campers practice is independence!

Camp provides a nurturing and safe environment for kids to face challenges on their own, and that can be incredibly constructive to a child’s character.  In a recent Washington Post interview, author and psychologist Michael Thompson, PhD, put it this way: “I think camp is the best emotional preparation for a successful college experience, because you practice being on your own, keeping track of your clothes; you practice living in a community and getting along with roommates you don’t love — all of the skills you need for true independence.”

And when kids have had the experience of overcoming a challenge on their own, it gives them a positive memory to draw from when facing future obstacles; say, preparing for that really big math test or interviewing for that first job.  Camp is place for beginning the stepping stones of life.  We are all gaining skills, making new friends and learning life’s best lessons here at GV.  Stay tuned!

Fires, Arborist Climbing and Open House

Dear Parents and Friends,

It’s back to business as usual tonight and please know that I was on a day off yesterday.  Tonight’s sunset was just wonderful.  I tried to capture a photo but my camera needed charging.  Also tonight was twilight play where we extend the after supper activities way into twilight and have extended play time after dinner.  There were a number of activities offered from soccer to arts to bike rides, kayaking, horses and much, much more.  It’s a cooler time of day so even in the open areas it was nice.  Great dinner tonight of meat loaf, mashed potatoes, corn, fresh cheese bread, and carrot cake.  Delicious!

I started off the morning by checking in on Outdoor Living Skills who were building fires to roast some marshmallows.  I encountered the group when I noticed a group of them hanging out at the OLS meeting spot and they all had a variety of sticks in their hands.  So after the period started I wandered over with my video camera and paid them a visit.  Having worked in camping for a few years I know a thing or two about starting fires.  I’ve started fires using every conceivable means and some that were inconceivable.  This group’s challenge was not so much getting the fire going but keeping it going.  When I got there they were just lighting small pieces of kindling and then not feeding it but thinking it would burn on once they got a flame.  I watched and waited and then after a only a few remaining coals from sticks about the size of a pencil lead, I showed them how they could revive the fire just by blowing gently and consistently on it while concentrating the kindling closer to the middle.  We proceeded to hold about 10 revivals of the fire and again it was not feeding enough wood to keep it going.  Everyone got a chance to blow and blow, some hard, some soft, some down, some through and some just almost blew it out.  Watching children build a fire and get it going is one of my favorite things in life.  They can learn so much about a fire in a short period of time and it’s usually pretty predictable unless you have pouring rain and thoroughly soaked wood.  These guys did a great job of getting to the point where they had a roaring small fire just big enough to nuke their marshmallows.  Of course roasting marshmallows is a whole different topic and one not to be taken lightly.  While there we talked about how man maybe first learned about fire and what their thoughts were and how they learned to harness it and carry it.  There’s something deep inside us that’s attracted to fire and all its mystery.  I think it really comes out in young children.

After my fire episode I went over to watch some of the Arborist Climbing that takes place just outside the office.  It’s a fascinating way to make your way up into a tree and in this case it’s two of our giant Poplar trees.  Look for them on closing day just in front of the office on the left as you walk in.  You’ll notice some tarp cord hanging from the limbs that we use to haul the ropes up each time we open the activity.  Instead of climbing the tree we climb the rope using a Blake’s Hitch which is a knot that grabs the rope under tension but releases when it’s not under tension.  There are many types of knots like that but the Blake’s Hitch is favored among the men and women who climb in trees without damaging them.  There’s a great book out called “The Wild Trees”.  It’s a true story and is about some of the folks who pioneered this method and how they used arborist climbing in their research of our big trees in America.  It’s not an easy sport and is demanding, fun to do and great for all those young energetic bodies.  In years past it’s been more popular than our traditional climbing activity.

Just before lunch I attended what we call an open house, where a camp leadership member visits a cabin with an activity leader and asks lot of questions to the campers about their experience so far at camp.  The cabin counselors are not there and this morning I paid a visit to Rose Bay.  Everyone was in a great mood and I asked the girls to describe their counselors one at a time using just three words.  First of all children are very honest and enjoy telling you about their counselor especially when they really like them.  These girls went on and on about Jenna and Calyce.  We discussed all kinds of things and you do see how the staff members are doing with the campers and frankly that’s what the purpose is.  You also gain a lot of info on how the girls are getting on with one another.   It’s a good way to get a read on all aspects of the cabin as well as the activities they are involved with and what they would change about camp if they could.  I wish I could go round to all the cabins but we’ve got a capable staff who do well with reporting back from the “open houses”.  Just trying to keep our finger on the pulse of camp and make it the best possible experience it can be for your children.

Stay tuned!

Fourth of July at GV – The Best!

Dear Parents & Friends,

Can I even possibly remember all the things that have happened here at camp today?  We started off with Paul Revere riding through camp awakening us to the fact that the British were coming.  I think they are already here and working in our ranks!  Just before breakfast a group of Southerner’s came riding into town (GV) along with Paula Deen, that famous restaurateur and cook to greet our campers and staff.  She had cooked our breakfast which consisted of scrambled eggs, grits, biscuits, jelly, fried bread, applesauce, orange juice, and blueberries and strawberries for that red and blue color of spirit.  After breakfast we danced on the Green to some of our favorite tunes from across our states and famous artists old and young.  Everyone had on red, white or blue and some even had their faces painted.  Our actual  day was quite normal and it just seemed that the meals were the interesting times that touched our history and tradition.  Just before lunch we visited the Wild West just in front of the GV Saloon where the meanest orneriest bunch of no goods were just getting in a card game and there was almost a shootout when some Californians  came by just in time to spread a little peace and bring those hoodlums to a higher state of the peacenik realm.  It was though the 1860’s met the 1960’s.  I love the way you can time travel when you’re at Gwynn Valley.  Lunch was about the ethnicity of our land as the melting pot of cultures filled our palettes with Rueben sandwiches, Greek salad, Italian pasta salad, fruit cocktail and ham and cheese for those non Rueben lovers.

No rain today but rumblings in the distance kept us on our toes in the afternoon.  All afternoon activities were right on schedule and most everyone stayed on camp property today.  Mountainside had a day off from their mini adventures and had sign-ups this morning and afternoon.  Those campers who are attending their first year of Mountainside sometimes miss Main Camp sign-ups and it’s nice to offer those up.  Riverside continued their climbing exploits in Linville Gorge.

Just before dinner tonight there was a commotion in Boston Harbor (our lake) as several British Warships were docked for the night.  Some Boston citizens dressed as Indians crept aboard the vessels and proceeded to throw all the tea cargo overboard.  Yes, you guessed it, the real Tea Party.  Dinner  tonight was Clam Chowder, Cod Fish with tartar sauce, green beans and squash from the garden,  rolls, baked beans, and two kinds of pie –apple and pumpkin.  After supper activities helped run off some of that food.

Campfire tonight took us across the US by air and on board with American Airlines.  Campers and staff were a part of every skit and stopover we made as we flew across the country.  We started off visiting the South again and helping to judge a beauty pageant that was underway in Mississippi.  We learned all kinds of things about the South and its people.  From there we went deeper into the south and west through our largest state of the lower 40, Texas.  Don’t mess with Texas was evident as we learned all about line dancing.  From our state of TX we moved to the California coast and fell into a dream, kind of like California Dreaming.  Wasn’t that the Mama’s and the Papa’s? Then it was on to the Midwest where one could see only corn and wheat fields and again we learned all kind of cool facts about the middle of our country.  We zigged and zagged back north to the Boston area (weren’t we just there?).  Patriots, Red Sox’s, Celtics and Bruins took us through Beantown, accents, and the home of Car Talk.  To wrap things up the whole staff sang This Land is Your Land to the campers and just before we dismissed a flash mob broke out in the crowd among the American staff and they sang and danced to Party in the USA by Miley Cyrus.  A truly fun day ended at around dark and then fireworks by our Maintenance Staff.  It will be hard to top 2012’s celebration of our Nation’s Independence but we seem to do it every year.  Thank you campers and staff for all your parts in the program throughout the day.  Stay tuned!

PS   Just posting a video for your viewing pleasure

Getting Ready for a Big Day!

Dear Parents and Friends,

Happy 4th of July to all of you at home and hope you’re getting ready for our Independence Day! We will be celebrating the 4th tomorrow and looking forward to a splendid day.  We’ll have fireworks tomorrow night and other festivities throughout the day and children will be up a little later.  We just had a threat  of rain today and the weather was good.  All activities were in full swing and it was a very warm day.  Archery takes place in the field just outside my office so I’m afforded a special viewpoint  and can usually tell when someone hits a bulls eye.  Those baby calves at the farm are getting bigger by the day and campers bottle feed them twice each day and provide fresh water and a little bit of food.  By the end of the summer they are very tame and will follow anyone that resembles a child or a farm person.  You learn a lot about how to feed a baby calf and you have to hold the bottle a certain way.  Instinctively they will push the bottle hard, thinking you’re the mother, the purpose being  to push more milk into the nipple.  It’s a natural occurrence and feeders have to be ready or you might get pushed down.  It’s always good to hold the bottle to the side and up high instead of straight on.  We’re expecting or I should say she’s (mama pig) expecting her piglets to be born hopefully in the next couple of weeks.  That’s always a treat here at camp and children come to the middle session hoping to be here for this event or at least try to be.  Piglets are very cute.  We’re anticipating our first tomatoes to begin coming in soon.  Also there’s a pretty good crop of natural blackberries out there in our surrounding woods.

The waterfront and pool have been refreshing places to be over the past couple of days.  There was also a creek hike to Connesstee Falls today by Echo and another mixed group.  The water there is more than refreshing and it takes some commitment to get in if the sun is not out.  I love the creek hikes because our land on the creek makes you feel like you could be in the middle of Pisgah National Forest.  The creek is steep on the sides and there’s little sign of humans.  Series after series of falls dot the creek along the way making for some adventurous hiking in the creek itself.  There are swimming holes that can hold a whole cabin and others hold  just one or two campers.  The land one sees when hiking up to The Rock at the top of our property is well worth the steep accent.  It’s about a 20 minute walk from Main Camp and the view is great.   One can see all the way over to Mt. Pisgah along the Parkway to Devil’s Courthouse and beyond.  We’ll have to take some video of that hike and put it online in the days ahead.  It’s a steep climb and the last part utilizes ropes to help get you to the top.  I love exploring the opposite side of The Rock where we’ve found everything from arrowheads to Ant Lions.  Camp and it’s 300 acres has some amazing topography and neat coves and nooks.  We’ll have to give you more info about our site at some point.

Mountainsider’s continued their mini adventures today and one group tried their hand at mountain biking and took on some manmade skills that we’ve created here at camp.  Erik and Lydia worked the crew today on riding different terrain in the attack position which is a necessary skill to learn when riding in our mountains on single track.  It’s a good skill to have even if you just ride in your neighborhood or across the playground to join a friend.  They also got a workout on the two camp trails.  One is a bit tougher and challenging and the other is good for beginners who are just starting to learn single track.

The kayakers are getting familiar with their boats and doing wet exits.  That’s when you roll over and literally fall out of the boat and up to the surface.  It’s first good to try this without a spray skirt and then to try it with the skirt.  We had Mountain Dancing for Brookside in the Lodge tonight and the Hillside listened to Tajar Tales on the Gatehouse Green.  Riverside left for their adventure today and will be in Linville Gorge through Friday.  If you’re traveling tomorrow drive safely and have a wonderful holiday.  Stay tuned!

Foundations of Learning while having FUN!

Dear Parents and Friends,

We did get the needed rain last night and it came while the children were sleeping.  No major thunder storms in the night, just mild rumblings and a good steady rain for several hours.  It’s been very dry and hot and this morning you can tell that the weather has broken.  I hope the same is true for you all wherever you may be living in the heat.  Today we began our activities and children started their Discovery activities in the AM.  So if I have soccer first hour and biking second hour, I take those on Mon., Wed., and Fri.  If I have horses first hour and pottery second hour I take those on Tues., Thurs., and Sat.   Then in the afternoons I have a free choice of 2 one hour activities or 1 two hour activity and that changes each day.  Progressive skills in the morning and skills and variety in the afternoon.  Then of course there’s the after supper activity time when all kinds of activities are available for about 45 minutes.  Pick-up ball games to basic crafts and the like.  Tonight lots of campers chose Thunderball and volleyball.  Games on Green drew a crowd as well as crafts on the wall, looking for 4 leaf clovers and soccer.  With 210 campers you need a good amount of activities available.  Thunderball is new this year but we did play some last year indoors.  This year we’ve built an outdoor court and there’s always at least 25 to 30 campers playing of all ages.  The game was brought over from Israel and is played in many camps up north.  I learned about it at a conference a couple of years ago.  It’s a form of dodge ball but you can’t actually throw the ball at someone.  You have to hit the ball with your hand and it can only tag someone from the knee down.  If you hit someone above the knee the person who hit the ball is out.  If you’re tagged below the knee by a legal hit you’re out.  If the ball sails over the court which is just over a yard tall you’re out.  It’s fast paced and integrity plays a major role in admitting that you’ve been tagged. Size and age have little to do with it but quickness and reflexes do.  We get down to three people in the ring and the game starts over.  In most programs it’s called GA-GA but we wanted a different name and we’ve slightly modified the rules for younger campers.  It’s been a hit this year.

As we started program today it was interesting to go around to many programs and see them get off the ground with the foundations of the program.  I think most people who sign up for biking think that they’re just going to hop on the bike and ride off.  We go through a battery of fitting the bike and helmet and making sure that you practice shifting and understand cadence.  There are so many games that can challenge the child just on short grass to give you an idea of their riding ability.  You quickly learn what sort of terrain they can handle and whether or not they can ride single track.  Single track trails are rarely more than 3 ft. wide and take some skill to navigate when there are small roots, inclines and the occasional rock to ride over or dodge.  Guidelines and foundational teaching is so important throughout camp and the water front provides info for the campers as to where they can dive in the lake and when and where they need to wear a PFD.  Progression of teaching and building on foundations of safety, skills and fun make for good programs.  Kayaking, Marshall Arts, Weaving, GV rescue, Fishing at the Mill, and many others started their day with the importance of foundational learning.

Today I worked with Riversider’s on the lake and preparing them for their canoeing component which starts next week.  Many had experience but we needed to go back to those basics to start anew and not get into bad paddling habits.  Paddling at the ripe age of 13 and 14 should be a dance on the water and finesse instead of power.  One can never really be stronger than moving water but only figure out best how to harness it’s strength to your advantage.  Even on the flat water of the lake that is in evidence.  They made great progress today and it was a joy to work with them.  They’re off to Linville Gorge for climbing tomorrow.

I made a reference to Spider Man last night talking about our Zip Line.  The National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) has released “The Amazing Spider-Man™” lessons and exercise guides. Designed by NASPE for children and youth ages 6-11 and 12-14, the free online lessons are posted on NASPE’s Web site and are perfect for our program.  It helps the campers get the nationally recommended 60+ minutes of physical activity every day while having fun. In addition, children and youth will have an opportunity to earn a Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA+).  PALA has chosen “Spidie” as their poster rep in conjunction with the release of the upcoming Spider Man Movie.  We are easily getting those 60+ minutes of activity but we can benefit from some of the activities that the site has to offer.  It also helps us to sleep better each night because we’ve had a full day of activity.  I can think of no better way to assure a restful night.  Working at camp certainly does that for me.  We hope you will sleep well knowing that your children are in good hands and are enjoying the simple joys of childhood here at GV.  Stay tuned!

Opening Day – C / C-1

Dear Parents & Friends,

It’s a cool night here after thunderstorms gathered all around us tonight during campfire.  We didn’t get a drop of rain but the temperature has gone down at least 10 degrees.  Many thanks for dropping off your children as we head right into the middle of our summer with a lot of returning campers as well as those who will experience Gwynn Valley for the first time.  One our values at camp is acceptance and we acknowledge the fact that we come from many places and have a lot to share and what better place to do that than camp and especially GV.  We make it a priority to incorporate those new campers and make them feel that they are part of the GV family.  It doesn’t take long and already I’m seeing friendships being formed.  Those that have been to camp before know that we start off our first day of camp with a bang.  There’s not a lot of down time the first day or any day but especially the first day when campers might have a tendency to think too much about home.  Activities were rolling with campers climbing the wall, Arts and Crafts, Sports, The Farm, The Mill, Fine Arts, and the Waterfront were cranking this afternoon.  Always an active part of camp, the Waterfront had the Zip Line humming with camper after camper trying to go for the Spider Man.  The web spinner would be proud of our fledgling “spidies”.  We have a new challenge at the Lake this year called the Tension Traverse.  We will show you some pictures as the week progresses.

After lunch we held our Discovery Skits, which provide the campers with a glimpse of the activities they can take in the morning while at camp.  They get 4 choices for an every other day schedule, one each hour of the two hour time slot. The afternoon signups happen every day for either two one hour activities or one two period.  The two hour provides a chance to go on a long hike, bike longer, visit the rock, go to the farm or possibly a tubing/kayak trip down our section of the French Broad.

We also had swim assessments after signups with some time to digest our food and get ready for the afternoon.  The swim checks allow us to gauge how well campers swim and their comfort level in the water.  These are done in the pool where you can easily see the bottom and its only 5 ft. deep at the DEEP END.  It’s a great teaching pool and allows those who are a bit uncomfortable in the water to take it on gradually.  The depth starts off about 4 inches and gradually goes to the 5 ft. mark.  Speaking of water, I think there were some trout caught this afternoon at the Mill.  It seems that the fish were biting on this hot afternoon.  One of the nice things about our afternoons are that we’re indoors during the heat of the day.  Our lunch starts at 1:00 and rest hour ends about 3:15.    Tonight’s dinner was our traditional first night macaroni and cheese, salad from the farm, pears  and the GIANT COOKIE with each cabin’s name on it.  We will move to our tables tomorrow at lunch where we’ll mix up ages and programs and you’ll have yet another group that you belong to at camp.  I had dinner with the boys from Chipmunk Hut.  We had a blast and Mr. Camp Director spilled a whole bottle of salad dressing on the table which brought out a lot of laughter.

After supper activities are a free time for campers to choose one activity after dinner.  It changes each evening and a variety are offered each night.  Usually there’s a ball game or two of some sort, games on the green, some kind of arts & crafts, story telling, and any number of other activities.  Tonight after activities we held our first campfire and cabins began introducing themselves through cabin skits.  I spent about half my time with Main Camp and then made my way to Mountainside to see what they were up to.  Riverside also started up a session today and they were out on the Gatehouse Green playing Ninja and other get- to-know you games.   Mountainside starts their mini-adventures tomorrow with each camper trying out all four adventure activities- mountain biking, paddling, climbing and pioneering.

Tomorrow always brings more and our days are full.  That’s the way it should be at camp.  Maximize our time outdoors, playing hard, eating our farm grown food, and getting good rest by night.   What more could a camper ask for.  The “simple joys” of GV abound and it’s an exciting time as we begin our session. Stay Tuned!

PS     We’re getting a few drops of rain and hoping for more as it gets dark.