Opening Day C, C-1! Welcome All!

Dear Parents & Friends,

It’s a cool night here after a beautiful day and some clouds rolling in just before dinner.   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 of 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  a 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 on 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”.  Some were trying the Tension Traverse which is a real challenge located at the lake.  We’ll show you some pictures as the week progresses.

After lunch we held our Discovery Skits, which provide the campers with a glimpse of the kind of 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.  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.

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 busy packing for their first adventure component of climbing.  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  Some pictures are still loading at this hour so don’t forget to check back the next morning.  Our internet service out here is not as fast as where most of you live.

Closing Day B Session!

Dear Parents & Friends,

By now many of you winging your way toward home and perhaps already there.  What a nice group of children from session B.  Thank you for sharing your children with us this past 13 days.  Even 13 days goes much too quickly.  It was a beautiful morning here and a perfect day to end another Gwynn Valley session.  Not only did Main Camp finish a session, but so did Mountainside and Riverside.

Soon you will receive an evaluation via email 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 your time in helping us keep Gwynn Valley an outstanding program.

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

Last Full Day of B and A Great One It Was!

Dear Parents and Friends,

As you all know we’re winding down from Session B.  It was a sunny day all day with our only rain coming about 6-7 this morning.  Mountainside and Riverside got to sleep in this morning.  Speaking of adventures, we had a lot of Main camp campers going out of camp today however, with the wet weather our climbers couldn’t find a dry rock.  Our paddlers and bikers were able to get out to Dupont for biking and the Green River for paddling.  Both groups had an excellent time while out and learned a good bit about their own abilities in different environs.

Our morning on the last full day is filled with sign-ups.  Every activity was full on despite the early morning rain.  I went down to the farm to watch the calves being fed and film some of the campers picking beans, playing with baby chicks, and using the automatic milking machine.  It’s quick, it’s easy and it’s techno.  There’s something to be said about milking by hand but sometimes one has to revert to more modern methods when time is of the essence.  Campers picked quite a few beans which may appear in the closing day buffet line after our last campfire.

I also checked in with arts and crafts and the mill.  Candle making was going great guns as campers made both dip and mold candles with some exotic scents to bring home.  While we promote making beautiful candles at camp, be aware that we encourage the children to ask your permission before lighting any candles upon returning home.   Some of the woven bags that appeared the last couple of days have been just terrific.  These bags are first woven on our looms, then sewn and then a carrying strap is added.  The one I saw was like a professionally made craft.  Good work gang!

The afternoon was filled with packing and of course pillowcase day where everyone goes to the pool and takes their pillowcase along.  You get it wet and fill it with air – voilà, you have a floatation device.  It was the perfect day to be at the pool and everyone enjoyed their last swim.  Along with pillowcase day is our traditional last meal of pizza and of course a delicious dessert filled with Oreos and whipped cream.  Some campers had dessert early today at the mill, where peach and fudge ice cream were made in the morning.  The peach was the best in my opinion.  Eating here is a lot of fun because of all the good food.  We spent time together at the table and don’t just eat and run.  There’s always time for good conversation and finding out what people are doing as the day progresses.

After supper activities is always a nice time at the end of the day.  It’s cooler and is perfect for some running sports like Ultimate Frisbee or soccer.  Tonight it was ultimate.  If you’ve never played it’s fast paced with lots of running.  You can’t run with the disc but can throw it a long way.  As soon as it’s missed by the team that throws it, the other team gets the disc.  It’s very similar to many of our sports taking the best of each.  It does take some skill to throw and it’s also a game of multiple opportunities where you get many chances to catch and throw.

Tonight our Friendship campfire was filled with talent and folks singing songs and readings along with a slide show made up of pics you all have been viewing.  As you arrive tomorrow friendship circles will be in each cabin at 10:30 unless you’re on Mountainside and Riverside and they will conduct their campfire for parents at the 10:30 hour.  Our final campfire will be at 11:00 in the Lodge and your welcome to stay and have some delicious GV farm food at 12:00.  See you tomorrow!

Tajar Ball and MS and RS Return!

Dear Parents and Friends,

The Tajar was in all his glory today as we awoke to major Tajar Folly.  Cars were in wild places, cups were hanging from crazy objects, boats and inner tubes were scattered on the Green.  He must have been up all night dancing in the moonlight and making mischief.  Today’s activities were as varied as the weather has been but heaps more fun.  The creek hikers took off early this morning to hike our fabulous Carson Creek.  You feel as if you’re in the very depths of Pisgah National Forest when you on the creek.  There are so many cool places to dunk your head, swim across a pool of deep cold water, and climb alongside the creek on the way to the falls.  It’s a great way to explore the creek and it’s run to the French Broad.

The creek makes its music and so do we at camp.  We sing just after lunch each day and most evenings at campfire.  Debbie is always at the piano to lead and teach us a new song.  There’s also a lot of singing before we go into meals.  And let’s not leave out the serenaders who come around each night to say it’s time for bed with music.  This is a custom that’s been going on for a long time at camp and continues to be a camp favorite.  Another camp favorite is Thunderball, which is played throughout the day at camp.  I learned about the game many years ago at a conference and we came back that winter and built a court.  You can accommodate almost any number of folks and the rules are simple, kind of like dodge ball, but  you can’t throw the ball.  You have to use the palm or fist of your hand to aim it at someone.  If it hits them below the knee they are out and if above the knee you are out, or if you hit the ball over the wall you’re out.  It’s a fast paced, good game for camp.  And we don’t play until there is just one person who wins.  We play three winners at the end.

Mountainside and Riverside both came home today from their adventures.  I actually was with the Mountainside paddlers today as they tackled the lower Green.  They did a great job and we had the perfect day on the river.  The bikers, climbers and pioneers all had great trips as well.  Coming home today in the van they talked and talked about every subject under the sun and lot about taking showers when they got back.  Riverside spent 4 days hiking on the Appalachian Trail and wanted to hike some more.  They were all dressed in counselor designed T-shirts tonight at Tajar Ball and are a very tight group.

Tajar Ball was almost upended by a hailstorm that came through camp just as everyone got home.  We had to hold dinner in the dining room because of the rain.  We usually have it outdoors picnic style with your cabin.  The actual “Ball” was outside and was so much fun.  There were all kinds of booths and fun things to do and eat.  Children love the “unstructured play” aspect of it all.  All our staff are there and everyone is contained on the soccer field with about 12 different activity booths to try.  There’s also dessert (ice cream and cookies both homemade) served throughout the evening.  After the Ball we all came into the Lodge for the Play presented by the GV thespians.  It was written by the campers and about the Tajar and freeing the campers from the evil clutches of a Gollum type figure who used to be a camper.  This Gollum was much prettier and just needed to have the spell broken and only the simple joys of GV and the Tajar could do that.

More outdoor trips out tomorrow, biking, kayaking, and climbing, all for Main Camp.  Stay tuned for the trip news and all the scoop of Main Camp for our last day of Session B.

International Day-South Africa and Brazil

Dear Parents & Friends,

Today was our second International Day here at camp this summer.  We celebrated the countries of Brazil and South Africa.  We had a Brazilian lunch today and a South African dinner, both of which were delicious.  We have staff from both countries and as always tonight’s campfire was centered around those two destinations.  Despite our jet lag and time spent traveling to faraway lands we managed to get in a full day here at good ole GV.

We had two groups go out with Main Camp today and one was our Kayakers and the other our Mountain Bikers.  The “yakers” went to the mighty French Broad Section 1 and the “biker dudes and dudettes” went to Dupont State Forest.  Both had an excellent experience and there’s talk of another trip out on Thurs. with both groups.  I saw both groups just after they returned and they were all smiles.  It makes it all worth it when you get these young people out away from camp and put their newly learned skills to work in a different environment.  Outdoor play promotes problem solving. As children navigate a world in which they have a very active part, they must learn to understand what works and what doesn’t, what lines of thinking bring success and failure, how to know when to keep trying and when to stop.  This translated directly to the river and biking experience.  One has to prepare for the trip, what to bring and what not to bring, getting your gear together, loading your boat and bike with a partner, and what lines to take on the river as well as on the single track biking trail.  Failure is ok in our environment because of its supportive atmosphere.  Conserving your energy to slow down, paddle or peddle, so you have the grit and resilience to take on the next hill or rapid on the river. These trips are so good for these children!

I hope you saw the pictures of the batik dyed material that were hanging in front of the dining room earlier today.  They were gorgeous and colorful.  Our Arts and Crafts folks are great!  The Mill was on a creative streak today as well.  They were making all kinds of things out of corn cobs this afternoon.  I saw everything from cars, jets, and pets.  They also made yet another flavor of ice cream for the upcoming Tajar Ball festivities.  OLS built a tower to raise the Brazilian and South African flag.  In the process of building the tower they learned how to perform “lashing”, which is a great skill to have even if you’re not a Boy Scout.  Building towers was on the minds of some but the WEB folks were building fairy homes under the hemlocks behind the Lodge.  I shot some video of this but I didn’t see but one or two pics from this amongst the photos.  It was pretty neat and very creative.

Tower of Camp Skills Power

Tower of Camp Skills Power

Campfire was again celebrating our two special countries of the day with songs, skits and stories about the countries.  It was a nice way to end our day and dream of faraway places where different cultures and people live, some like we do and some in very primitive environs.  Traveling is fun but it’s tiring.  I’m headed out again with the Mountainside paddlers tomorrow so the sandman is calling my name.  Riverside and Mountainside all come home tomorrow with stories and adventures to tell and retell.  I hope to hear some of those and see living proof that our program promotes playing outside and growing inside.  Stay tuned!

Mountainside is Off and Main Camp Flourishes at the Garden!

Dear Parents and Friends, Dear Parents and Friends,

A day without rain has been really nice.  We got just a sprinkle this morning but all was good the rest of the day.  It’s good to dry out and it was nice and warm here today.  We had sign-ups this morning and also after lunch.  The lake was a very active place to be for a number of reasons.  Just to cool off was number one and then to partake in some GV skills and thrills was next in line.  Water Polo was a big hit at the swimming pool this morning.  Our Main Camp Kayakers are headed out tomorrow to a section of the French Broad and our Mountain Bikers are going over to Dupont State Forest to ride the many trails there.  All of Mountainside left today for their adventures.  Climbers went to Looking Glass, Paddlers headed to a part of the French Broad that’s a great intro to paddlers, and Pioneers are hiking starting near the Art Loeb Trail in the Sam’s Knob/Shining Rock area.  It’s pretty country and good hiking with lots of water.  Many of us helped get everyone off this morning which is a chore getting 40 campers and 8 staff going in 4 different directions.  Everyone meets behind the kitchen and then off.  There are packs and food in piles everywhere and it’s always an exciting time of the session.  The campers will return confident, assured in their outdoor skills, and a stronger group as they tackle their individual outdoor components.  Their friendships will grow stronger as well.   Our Riverside groups number only 12 and it’s amazing how they bond as a small group in the three weeks they are here.  This has been a great group of campers on Riverside and we look forward to having many of them back as SIT’s and staff in later years.

I was on the lake with Mountainside Paddlers this morning and headed with them to the river after lunch.  The Farm is cranking these days with the abundance of rain and sun.  Not only are the vegetables coming in but I think the campers are seeing the animals grow as they care for them each day.  They also get a taste of the old and new as they milk Bessie the cow by hand and with our automatic milker.  It’s certainly faster that way.  Soon corn will be coming and of course the big event at the Farm is Mama Pig and when will she have her babies.  You’d be surprised what you can do at the farm in a two hour period.  There’s always work to be done and campers really take part in the hands on aspects of the farm.

There were some beautiful things coming out of weaving today and I stopped in after dinner to see campers putting the finishing touches on some of their work.  Archery is a camp favorite and one camper said today that we didn’t have Archery open in the afternoon.  There are so many things to choose from at camp but Archery is usually in the top 5 or so.  Another favorite is our tree and arborist climbing program.  Both utilize trees but in different ways.  Traditional tree climbing uses the limbs to ascend and arborist climbing ascends the rope connected to the trees.  Both can take you up to the land of Transylvania White Squirrels and birds but they’re very different types of climbing.  I personally like the arborist climbing and think it’s a bit harder as you pull and step up the rope to near the inner sanctum of the tree where not many humans go.  We been doing tree climbing since Anne and I took over camp 15 years ago and it’s always been a hit with the campers.

We’ll keep you posted on Mountainside and Riverside if we have any news.  Until then, stay tuned!


Great Day – Weather and Program!

Dear Parents & Friends,

If you didn’t catch my blog last night it was because Mr. and Mrs. Camp Director had a night off.  Tonight is a bit cooler and that means good sleeping weather up here.  You can’t beat the weather we’re having these last few days.  It’s been just brilliant recenlty with warm afternoons and cool crisp mornings and evenings.  Several cabins are camping out tonight and between the night sky and cool temps it should be great sleeping weather.  Those Hillsider’s will sleep well tonight because they just finished dancing in the Lodge.  We did Circle Round My Zero, Patty Cake Polka, Going to Kentucky and the Virginia Reel.

Snorkeling has been a very popular activity this session as has biking, thunderball, of course going to the farm.   Water polo is always a favorite as well and we play at the pool.  If you’re a shallow swimmer, this really helps with your swimming skills.  You can start off with a swimming noodle which makes you a little more buoyant.  Swimming with the ball in front of you is such good exercise and also provides stamina.  Cindy, who runs our waterfront told me that many of the children had really improved their strokes and were so much more confident in the water because of water polo.  I saw some confidence gained today in our mountain biking program.  The first hour had some beginning riders  who did well with our varying terrain and its features that are quite different from the yard/street/sidewalk at home.  Learning how to ride in the attack position and being able to shift your weight around was the first thing they took on.   The attack position is when your pedals are even at the 9/3 or 3/9 position depending on which foot you want to place forward.  You’re also standing up out of the saddle with your weight evenly distributed over the entire bike depending on the terrain which we teach in a later lesson.  We keep a couple of fingers on the brake levers ready to use those if you need them.  We start them off in that position riding down a slight incline and then go to maneuvering the bike around a few obstacles in that position. Everyone did great which led into a ride around camp utilizing our terrain with its many features.  We got on the single track bike trail at the end our session and went about a ¼ of the way up our trail and rode back down because we were running out of time.  Big improvements with this group!

We’re also seeing some real progress with our kayakers who will be going out on trips next week.  We’ll head to the upper French Broad and possibly to the Green next week.

Mountainside learned what their adventures were going to be today and will be heading out on Monday.  I have one Mountainsider at my table and he was excited about the upcoming adventures.   We have a great staff up there with super leadership.  I wish my own children hadn’t aged out of that program because I’d love to have the staff as their mentors and role models.  It’s all about the staff and the role they play while your children are here at camp.  We held open house today for many cabins and that is when our leaders go into cabins and talk with the campers about their experience when counselors aren’t there.  It’s basically to provide us with information as to what kind of job the counselors are doing.  Everything at camp starts in the cabin and works outward to building a strong base there is important.  One young man in Walnut Run said he had his neighborhood friends and now his neighborhood friends consisted of those in his cabin.

We’ll change tables tomorrow.  I have such a great table this session and we all really want to stay together for the remainder of the session.  We had oranges for dinner tonight along with Beef Stroganoff and other fresh items from the garden.  If your child sits at my table they know what orange teeth are.  Camp is all about having fun, and it’s also about learning and trying new things including new foods.

As far as learning new things, Arborist Climbing was in full swing this morning at our huge Poplar Trees in front of the office.  This afternoon the climbers headed to our “Rock” which is on site and at the top of our property.  It’s a small hunk of granite but nonetheless climbable.  This was a two hour activity this afternoon and is located in a cool shady part of camp.  Climbing is very popular at camp not a day goes by without some sort of climbing activity. It’s one of those that pushes the comfort zone and allows the camper to step out there on their own.  Camp is a great place to take those steps and then on your own step back into that comfort area.  Stay tuned as we take on new and exciting things each day!


Buckle that Helmet!

Dear Parents and Friends,

Maybe not a topic that you want to read about but, I was thinking as I was walking around camp today that a good many of our activities require helmets.  I feel this is a good thing and allows us to perform these activities in a safe way and is an important piece in the reasonable approach to managing the risk in the activities.  Whitewater canoeing and kayaking, any kind of climbing, horseback riding and of course mountain biking all require a specific helmet appropriate to the sport.  As a child I never wore a helmet or very few of the modern day safety accoutrements.  I made it through life fine but then it’s a different time.  I don’t think that camp has that much more risk than it did probably 30 years ago, but it means we can go about our program knowing that we are more protected than in the past.  And added bonus – as young children we’re getting into good habits for adult participation in many of the same sports.  Years ago when I had hair and first started climbing I would never wear a helmet and rarely wore one when with campers.  Today I climb with a helmet and we require all staff to wear them all the time when in a helmet zone.  These kinds of procedures are practical and reasonable and make good sense in so many ways.  The key to many aspects of equipment in our program is fit and proper use.  We stress this a great deal in fitting PFD’s on children at the waterfront.  It’s very important that a archery bow is not too powerful  for the size child that uses it and we wear glasses when shooting in our archery program.  Horse saddles need constant checks to make sure saddles are tight and stirrups are properly adjusted.  Knots are checked, gloves are worn, eyes are covered, arms bands are strapped on, proper shoes are required, sunscreen, paddle size, bicycle seat height, safe distances, and the list goes on.  This is all done to give your camper the opportunity to try and hopefully succeed in so many activities at camp that they can’t participate in at home.

I was talking to my OLS instructor, Catherine, about teaching a session on using knives, hatchets, and small axes.  It’s a valuable lesson that young people should know before they find the stray implement lying around in a friends garage and learn the bad habits when using these tools.  Hands on learning under the watchful eye of a qualified adult gives children the chance to learn proper technique in so many camp activities.  My staff are constantly role modeling and providing living evidence that progression of skills are learned in a fun and informative way.  The child is like a sponge and they’ve got knowledge and skills  that they can carry with them in later situations.  GV Rescue is a great course because it teaches campers what they might have to do if little brother or a friend fall into the water and can’t swim or needs assistance.  The children learn the proper ways to rescue while not putting the victim or themselves in more danger.

Learning in nature also allows us to understand the power of nature and a greater appreciation of our existence in the environment.  The campers in OLS learn how to do a lightening drill.  They could be at the local tennis courts or on a boat in the middle of a lake and would know just what to do.  Fire is a fascinating source of enjoyment, usefulness and can be a dangerous element when not properly managed.  Every camper loves to be around a fire and almost every camper wants to build or help build a fire.  Managing your fire “place” is just as important as managing your rock climbing site.  Thinking to  look up and survey the trees above before you pitch a tent or tarp is a good idea when camping.  Tree limbs or even whole trees that are dead or dying can be a threat if not observed.  Learning to identify poison ivy is always good medicine.  It’s prolific in our woods and is easily contracted when in contact with the oil of the plant.

So…. Camp is a place that helps us to manage our risks and learn more as we tackle the many skills and venture into the woods and streams.  Time spent outdoors improves children’s immune systems. Healthy children are stronger learners. As children spend more and more time outdoors, their immune systems improve, decreasing time out of school for illness.  Outdoor play increases children’s physical activity level.  Children who play outdoors are less likely to be obese and more likely to be active learners. Children who move and play when out of school are ready for the attention often needed for classroom learning.  Our open air classroom provides the balance that children need in our media and techno driven world.  Ah the simple joys of living at GV.  Stay tuned!

Ozzie, Ozzie, Ozzie, Oi, Oi, Oi !!!

Good Day Mate!  Today was Australian Day at camp and we had a great day learning about the folks that live down under.  Of course no Australian breakfast is complete without a little Vegemite on toast (it puts a rose on your cheeks).  For those that wanted the full experience there was also spaghetti –oo’s on toast along with scrambled eggs and fruit.  I tried it all and frankly it wasn’t that bad.  Cereal filled in the holes for those that didn’t want to venture into outback of food.

As the day went on the Australian sun shone brightly after morning showers came and went with bands of rain coming and going.  It actually feels nice when you’re outdoors and playing hard.  Even the climbers were able to scale the wall during the morning sprinkles.  I was at the climbing wall this morning and this afternoon for a short stint.  Several boy campers were impressed that girls could make it to the top of the wall and were envious as well.  Our climbing staff has a woman on it again this year named Jamie and she is great with the kids and is such a good role model for the girls at camp.  Dylan who runs the program is as well and provides a well rounded experience as he leads children through all aspects of the program.  Chris rounds out that group and has been on staff for several years and was a camper here.  The children were learning to tie their own figure eight follow-throughs and were checked by staff with their practice ropes and of course before they climbed.  It’s a hard knot to learn but once you get it, it’s a cinch, no pun intended.  It’s important to tie a “clean knot” because, “a not neat knot, is a knot not needed”.  Maybe your camper will learn to throw a half of the figure eight which is fun to learn.

The weather cleared just in time for an Australian Bar BQ on the Green for lunch and we all picnicked under the almost blue skies.  Pulled chicken, sliced cucumber salad, beets, chips, egg salad, and lemonade was had by all.  Lots of campers went back for seconds.  This was a time before sign-ups when children could participate in what we call unstructured free play.  They made up their own play, like rolling down the hill, spontaneous games of tag, teaching each other slap games, and just talking and running about.  Counselors were all in as well, participating and being the adult to make sure that the unstructured part wasn’t too unstructured.  Outdoor play is so important and is a multi-sensory activity. While outdoors, children will see, hear, smell and touch things unavailable to them when they play inside. They use their brains in unique ways as they come to understand these new stimuli.  This is especially true in activities like Web of Life and Outdoor Living Skills.  Playing outdoors is open-ended. There is no instruction manual for outdoor play. Children make the rules and in doing so use their imagination, creativity, intelligence and negotiation skills in a unique way.  We’ll talk more about this as the session goes on.

With the sun out after rest hour we had some wonderful offerings.  I headed up to Shady Grove to see what kind of crafty crafts that Tamara was cooking up.  She was making baskets that looked like bird houses.  It was a pretty close resemblance to the real thing.  From there I headed off to spend time with OLS because they were playing camouflage up in the woods near Pioneer 2, one of our campout shelters on the property.  Campers were very creative in using ingredients from the woods in finding ways to blend in.  It was a quiet and stealthy afternoon.

After spending time with them the mountain bikers rode by and I was able to catch some video of them as they took on the Main Camp Trail.  Our main trail is not easy but everyone learned very quickly about their Granny Gear which helps immensely on the hills.  Once you get to the top of our property then it’s a lot of fun riding downhill all the way back.  As Cass, our king of biking, calls it our flowy trail.  I sometimes ride it early in the morning all seasons and have seen deer, turkey, and once a bear passing through the property.  We have a newer trail near Mountainside and also a skills area that the campers test their mettle on.  Across the road is another single track trail that is a good transition for beginner to intermediate.

Tonight’s campfire was learning more about Australia and some of it’s animals and even a few skits and dancing.  Ask your kids about the Wiggle.  Some of the Aussie staff showed us all the dance.  It was fun and active.  As we wound down the evening they sang one of my favorite songs from their country which reads:

“We are one but we are many
And from all the lands on earth we come,
we share a dream,
And sing with one voice,
I am, you are, we are Australian.”

I’m sure you can find renditions of it on the web.  It’s worth a listen.  Stay tuned!


Lots of Sun and a Little Rain!

Dear Parents and Friends,

It’s been a most pleasant day here at camp.  We dodged some scattered showers and the sun was in and out all day long.  Everyone had a productive day and the waterfront was a very busy place starting early in the morning, right up until dinner.  Campers zipped, swam, learned new strokes, played on the water mat, paddled, and rolled their kayaks.  It was a wet and wild day at the waterfront and the perfect day to be there.

Climbing at the wall was going full steam this morning and I say full steam, because it takes some steam to get to the top.  Those of you that know a bit about the history of camp know that Shady Grove cabin used to have campers in it.  It now houses 10+ wonderful looms that weave all day long.  Some beautiful weaving designs have come from those looms already in our first session and campers are beginning to plan their patterns as B Session gets underway.  Visit our Shady Grove cabin at closing and have a look around.  It’s a beautiful cabin and beautiful things are born there.

Fishing at the mill pond netted some results today as some campers caught their very first trout.  I’m sure we’ll catch enough fish this session to have a full GV meal; trout from the pond, cornbread from the Mill and cole slaw from the farm.  Can’t wait for that meal.  Archery always has a full compliment of participants and Mark runs a tight ship down at the archery field.  He also specializes in tomahawk throwing and will pull those out later in the week.  That’s right, tomahawk throwing!  You throw at a wooden target and it’s very doable by those that have the arm strength to make the toss.  It’s primitive and fun.  What young boy or girl doesn’t want to try something that comes out of the past and is real and not on some screen.  Archery is also one of those activities that I think children sometimes find it harder than it looks.  It’s good for hand eye coordination as well as patience and timing.  Just imagine having to gather your food at camp with one of those weapons.

Part of the fun of camp is truly getting back to basics in our unplugged world that we refer to as the simple joys.  It’s all around us here at GV and we only have to take it by the hand and sometimes step out of our comfort zone for a short time to experience what we can only imagine.  Or…take it by the reins and see if you can negotiate the turns required for weaving your horse in and out of the cones.  Special relationships with animals and getting close to them is a wonderland experience for many of our campers.  Your children may have only fed the family dog or cat and haven’t experienced the hungry calves that think they’re its mother as they inch closer with the giant bottle full of calf formula.  And then there’s always milking a goat or cow and the dexterity it takes to get that milk to hit the bottom of that bucket.  All this and more is part of playing outside, growing inside and learning by doing here at Gwynn Valley.  We’re playing, learning and growing every day and I’m always amazed at the satisfaction and wide eyed wonder coming from all those little faces.

MS1-A going to their final breakfast of the session! We'll miss them.

MS1-A going to their final breakfast of the session! We’ll miss them.

On a older note, Riverside is out on their second day of paddling and made another  trip to the Green today on a different section of river.  They’re improving their skills each day and will head out again tomorrow and Wed. to ply the waters of our western NC rivers.  We closed our Mountainside 1-A session today and sent some tired and happy campers home with their parents.  Thank you Mountainside parents for sharing your children and we look forward to starting MS1-B on Wed.  Gwynn Valley just got a write up on a website for eco-friendly camps .  You can check out the article here:    or go to the GV Facebook site and click on the article there.  Stay tuned for more good news from GV!