C-2 Opening Day – Roll On C!

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. You were shown to your cabins today by our SIT’s. 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 every other day for a 3 day period. Campers have 2 activities in the AM on Mon., Wed., and Fri., and 2 more activities on Tues., Thurs., and Sat. The campers have many choices and 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, Mountain Biking, Pottery, Outdoor Living Skills, Jackson Kayaks and Bracelets. Lots of choices and lots of things to do!

Rain held off all day and it looked threatening several times but never quite hit the ground. Last summer we had lots of rain but it’s been a great summer so far. Only a few storms and just the right amount of rain. We also have a new “vigilant eye” on camp this year which is our Thor Guard lightening detector system. It’s a system we installed back in March and has been worth its weight in in gold. On stormy afternoons several of us could be found hovering over our computers trying to predict the weather. Our Thor Guard system can detect storms 15 miles out and provides a camp wide warning when it’s time to get indoors and stay there until the storm clears our area. It measures the electromagnetic disruptions in the air which we see or hear as lightening. A series of 6 horns alerts the Main Camp and also sounds a clear signal when it’s safe to return to outdoor activities. It’s saved us time in programming and also eliminates the human error of trying to predict the weather from our computers. It doesn’t go off after campers go to bed or until about 8:00 in the morning. It does however alert us in sleep and quiet times with a strobe light that can be seen in the middle of camp.

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, Mill, Sports, WEB, OLS, Archery, Climbing, Tye Dye, Fine Arts, 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!).

I spent the afternoon with a few Mountainsider’s working on a new woodworking program we’re trying to get up and running. We’re using hand tools to make simple stools that the campers can take home with them. Camp has a lot of lumber than we salvage from trees and the tops of the stools are cherry and the bottom legs are red oak. The campers cut their stool tops with a one man cross cut saw from two inch slabs of wood and hew the stool legs with a draw knife by sitting on what’s called a shave horse. Sounds simple but the hard work is shaving the legs down. Most of the legs were completed today and now we have to drill the holes and finish working the wood by sanding and cleaning it up.

Mountainside continues their training days tomorrow and I’ll be heading out with their paddlers on the mighty FB not far from camp. Riverside will be going to section 9 of the French Broad tomorrow. I wish I could go. It’s one of my favorite river sections in NC and the southeast. 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. The work they do is what makes camp. 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 is tough work but you already know that because you’re all parents! Stay tuned!

C-1 Says Goodbye and C Rolls 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 should be on the Nantahala tomorrow and then on to Section 9 of the French Broad. It’s one of my favorite sections of river in NC. We can’t wait to hear the stories from their adventures and look forward to having them back in camp.  I spent part of the morning and all afternoon with Mountainside paddlers. They had their first taste of moving water today on the upper French Broad and I will be out again with them on Thurs. afternoon as we raise the bar on their skills.

Creek hikes and tubing were the order of the day for some of our waterfront activities. 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 “Despicable Me 2”. 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! For those with children in our C Session stay tuned for the latest news and hope you’re having as much fun as we are.

Last Day of C1: Chose your own adventure

Dear Parents and Friends,

I like to think that every day at camp holds the promise and opportunity for adventure, but today was truly full to the brim with great adventures. When talking about adventure, I think people often jump to the idea of outdoor adventure, exploration, physical challenges, etc. Up on Mountainside we actually call our 3 and 4 day overnight trips “The Adventure”. That said, adventure will mean different things to different campers. Sometimes an adventure is just doing something new or going to a new place. It could also mean having a an exciting experience or perhaps it is a test of your skills and ability to work through a problem. I think what we had on offer today at GV covered all these bases.

We ran four off camp trips for our main camp program today as a continuation of the Discovery experience. For our morning discoveries, where campers work to develop a skill set over the course of their week here, we try to offer some sort of culminating experience wherever appropriate. Sometimes this is satisfied by the discovering program times themselves, such as completing a craft project or working through all the archery lessons. Today marked the trips that acted as the culminating experience for our climbing, biking, kayaking, OLS, and Web discoveries. The mountain bikers covered 7+ miles of single track trail in Dupont State Forest and finished with a swim at Hooker Falls. The climbers went to the Nose Area of Looking Glass Rock and set up some climbs that are taller and more technical than what we have to offer at GV. Kaykers went on section 2 of the French Broad where they had an excellent time playing around with eddy turns and ferrying on the river. Outdoor Living Skills and Web of Life teamed up for a nature hike in Dupont State forest where they also swam in a waterfall to cool off.

Outdoor adventure isn’t the only kind of adventure that we had going on today! This evening we saw two wonderful performances. One was an original camper musical written this week in morning discovery. Campers were sent back in time by a spell cast by the little known and highly misunderstood Lajar (brother to the Tajar – part lion instead of part tiger) and could only return to present day GV after helping him find friendship and community. Following this historical thriller, we enjoyed a performance by the GV Sparklers, our very own C1 dance troupe. Both performances were very well done and highly entertaining! It can be nerve wracking to stand up and speak or dance in front of 250 people, but these campers did it with confidence and grace. I’m sure they felt the experience was no less adventurous than climbing up a 100 foot pitch.

Of course, the act of coming to camp is an adventure unto itself. We are very sad to say goodbye to our C1 campers tomorrow, and we look forward to welcoming the adventurous C2 group who will be arriving on Wednesday!

Special Day- Disney Rules!

Dear Parents and Friends,

Special Day at GV starts with a bit of a sleep in. We have breakfast 30 minutes later and it was needed with the 4th this past Friday. Everyone had stayed up late on Friday night to see fireworks. Our Special Day is one where we don’t run program that day but have stations that the campers go to for pure fun and a little excitement. The theme today was Disney and the stations were as follows: Little Mermaid Water Games at the Pool, Mad Hatters Tea Party in the Lodge, Cinderella’s Scavenger Hunt on the Green, Mickey’s Flying Saucer Extravaganza –Gate House Green, Peter Pan vs Captain Hook on Hook’s Boat on the Lake (every camper walked the plank), Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride Across the Lake on a Barrel (hilarious), Attack Scrooge McDuck –corner of the lake (water cannon slingshots), Pocahontas Friendship Bracelets- Yanderside, and Jungle Book RainForest Hike – Hillside Creek. It was a full day of adventure, thrills, spills, fighting pirates and finding delicious treasure.

Campers had half time during lunch today and then a longer than usual rest hour. This was a good time to change your bed sheets as well as take that weekly shower. Just kidding parents, even though we have to twist some arms to get some campers to take showers every other day. I figure that the pool is chlorinated and that certainly helps. We all do wash our hands before meals at the trough at the end of the dining room. This is a ritual we started several years ago after a summer of some unpleasant bugs. We used to wash hands in the cabins before meals and a lot can go in and out of hands between the cabin and the dining room. Now we wash hands and head right in with a good start on sanitation. It’s the little things that make life better at camp.

This afternoon after rest hour we concluded our Disney Day and then got ready for dinner, took cabin photos after dinner and then held our Sunday Service. Everyone in camp was there including Mountainside and Riverside. Various campers and staff added their talents to our Service which had a theme of God in You, God in Me. Traditionally during the service we don’t clap but give the sign language gesture for applause and approval, which is raised hands quaking like aspen leaves. Will from Chestnut Hollow played the theme from “Frozen” and right away you could see all the campers recognize the music, many smiles and enjoyment of this recent movie music. At the end of Will’s performance everyone raised their hands with more enthusiasm than usual and then campers broke out in thunderous applause. In our 17 years of running camp, this has never occurred and it was an exciting moment. Emotions were high and everyone thoroughly enjoyed the “Frozen” music.

Riverside leaves for their paddling adventure tomorrow and we have numerous trips out with Main Camp as mentioned yesterday. Climbers, Kayakers, Hikers, and Mountain Bikers are headed in 4 different directions to squeeze the most out of our forests and trails putting to use the skills they have learned. Mountainside will choose their adventures tomorrow and spend a good portion of their week training for adventures. It’s a great week coming up and I’m sorry to see our 10 day campers finish up their session. Stay tuned for more to come!

Playing Outside-Growing Inside

Dear Parents and Friends,

Another weather from heaven day today at GV. It was a chilly 54 degrees in Brevard this morning and usually it’s a bit cooler here at camp. We mostly all wore sweatshirts to breakfast this morning and I didn’t come out of mine until about 11:00. Mountainside was working on a variety of activities today for signups. I was with a small group of campers doing some woodworking. We’ll talk more about that in another post.

Laurelwood was working on the Ropes Course this morning while Mountainside was in signups. It is a short little course but one with some thrills and action. Hopefully pics will be up tomorrow on that. Our course is tied into our climbing wall so it incorporates some elements within the wall itself. The last element is the giant swing that exits you off the course. It’s quite an exhilarating ride back to the ground. It takes some campers a bit longer to make that commitment and edge off the seat.

Yanderside was working on some beautiful scarves today and marbling was the design pattern. No two scarves are alike and the patterns and designs are brilliant. As we wind down for this 10 session many arts activities are completing their tasks. You might have a camper bring home some pottery, a beautiful batik, tie-dye, marbled paper or a piece of nicely woven cotton from our looms. We’re also tying up loose ends on teaching some skills that will produce trips out of camp on Monday of this coming week. We’ll have climbers, kayakers, bikers and hikers out of camp for visits to various rivers, rocks and trails in Pisgah National Forest and Dupont State Forest. It’s fun to watch these children grow in gaining skills, confidence, resilience and leadership. Spending time with talented staff members rubs off on children and they emulate a lot of what is passed down. You as parents see that every day as your children become like you in so many ways.

We can talk about the benefits of a good camp experience all day or even what are your favorite activities. What it boils down to is what we call the “song of camp”. This is hearing a healthy, positive, quality camp experience; one of laughter, the chatter of voices, questions being ask and answered and words like I heard today, “I would have never guessed I would be doing anything like this”. Sometimes it’s just remembering to say please and thank you. And then very often, you’ll hear song — individual voices coming together to make a song of one- incredibly powerful, and yet so simple. It’s conversation at the table over simple subjects like your favorite book you’ve read recently or your favorite Disney movie. Even our Riversider’s are heard singing Disney movie songs. Or more serious ones like why I’m a vegetarian (I had two at my table last session). Children want to know things and they are naturally inquisitive. I think our outdoor environment heightens their awareness of what’s around them and it raises their levels of recognizing what the great outdoors stimulates I them. Playing outdoors simply makes children smarter. When you play outside you open up more of your senses, you witness more of budding life around you, you create more imaginary worlds and you negotiate with each other to create a more playful environment. And… Outdoor play is fun. Children who are happy are successful learners. Children are naturally happy when they are moving, playing and creating outside. This joy opens them up for experimenting, learning and growing. Wish you were here to see it happen! Stay tuned!

Happy 4th and Fireworks Finish Our Wonderful Day!

Dear Parents & Friends,

It was just one of those perfect days – weather wise and camp wise. The weather today was brilliant. A big high is parked over the mountains . Our high today was only 79 and probably even cooler in Main Camp with all our shade. We just finished fireworks for the 4th and many campers were wrapped in their sweatshirts and PJ’s to see Team Maintenance present this year’s pyrotechnical display. The low tonight is 55 degrees. That’s fall and spring temps and is such a relief from the muggy weather we’ve been having.

Our day started off with a dip into our history with the pilgrims landing at “Sundial Rock” on the shores of Gwynn Valley. They were of course met by our Native Americans. Fast forward and suddenly Mark Twain was walking along the banks of our Big Muddy talking about a character who was sitting on our little dock, cane pole in hand and just buying time fishing, until the next big adventure came along. I was expecting to see Tom, Becky and Aunt Polly come crashing through the scene but Huck had obliviously picked a place that even his friends couldn’t find – the sanctuary of Gwynn Valley. Huck and Tom would have thrived here and taught us even more about the simple joys.

Lunch brought everyone to the Lodge to visit a Wild West Saloon and bank robbers made off with the townspeople’s money. Sheriff DoRight was off on his horse to get the stolen cash. Throughout the morning and the afternoon, activities went on with new energy because of the change in our weather. Even the horses had a kick in their step as they trotted around the ring with campers perched on their backs learning how to “post”. It’s all about timing and feeling the horse under you and trying to keep your heels down. Bikers on Mountainside were using some body english as they learned how to ride switchbacks on the bike trail near Mountainside. You have to feel the bike under you as well and be up off the saddle in order to use your legs much like in riding a horse.

We picnicked on the Green for dinner tonight with fresh apple pie for dessert and Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches for the main course. Also along for the ride was potato salad, chips, fruit, salad, watermelon and juice. A shortened after supper activities period gave way for the evening in our Lodge where our Imagination Time Machine carried us back to some Musical History with Shape Note singing and everyone singing on “This Land is Your Land”. There was a Disney skit by Cabin Playhouse, a Toy Story Skit by several staff and from the movie “UP” an adventure that we all went on. There were many famous American Quotes along our journey and of course no journey is truly complete without our endeavor of landing on the moon performed by campers in Fine Arts. There was also an excerpt from MLK’s famous speech.

Are you campers smarter than an American Counselor? It seems tonight they were. Our counselors didn’t fair too well against the brainiac camper trio. Shortly after was a great tale slightly modified called the Lorax. Music and singing dismissed us for the evening to go back to our cabins, change clothes and come back for fireworks. A great American Day had by all. Stay tuned for more tomorrow!

Twilight Play!

Dear Parents and Friends,

Despite a shower today during lunch and rest hour our day was perfect. Tonight’s temps have lowered considerably and we have smooth sailing tomorrow for the 4th. While our Mountains are covered in sunshine our NC coast will be feeling the effects of Arthur. We hope all remain safe and sound if vacationing in that area. Our own GV vacation is going well with a lot of happy campers taking in a variety of activities today. We’re into our fourth day of Discovery and will have activities again tomorrow and Sat. as well to finish up our Discoveries.

I had a couple of projects going today near the climbing wall and was able to see the Mountainsider’s learning about Ground School and the in’s and out’s of climbing, tying knots, positioning, learning belay techniques and communication between belayer and climber. Neatly learning to tie knots is an art. The smoother rope flows through knots the stronger it is and so sharp bends in a knot sometimes need to be corrected. You may have heard this saying before, “a not neat knot, is a knot not needed”. Our climbing staff do an excellent job of keeping everyone’s attention with back up belayer’s. Climbing is a sport where you sometimes have to wait but there’s always a coil that needs straightening out or support shouted up to one of your climbing mates.

Next to the climbing wall is one of our cookout shelters and Leah from Outdoor Living Skills was cooking over Hobo Stoves which you can make with a #10 can. It’s also a very efficient fuel burner and one that most anyone can use. More of those simple approaches to living outdoors. At some point our Riversiders may be making stoves of their own, but of a different variety. The staff up there was talking about building some alcohol stoves which can be made from soda pop cans. They are very efficient but the fuel is not cheap. Denatured alcohol is more pricey than white gas, which we burn in most of our camping stoves. We’ve tried a number of stoves here at camp and I’m still searching for the most durable and dependable that’s still lightweight. Your basic two burner Coleman stove works well for car camping but is not appropriate when you’re on the move.

Equipment takes a beating here at camp and we’re constantly checking, repairing and replacing all kinds of things. From inner tubes that carry your children down the river to simple water filters for backpacking and adjustments to replace the belts on the pottery wheels. Maintaining your equipment and site is constant here and a part of our overall goal to make camp a safe and fun place to be.

Gwynn Valley was reaccredited by the American Camping Association during Session B this summer. We are visited by two peer Camp Directors who go over most of our paperwork before they arrive and the walk through most of our programs on the day of the visit. There are close to 350 individual standards that cover Site & Food, Transportation, Health & Wellness, Operational Management, Human Resources, Program Development, Aquatics, and Trip and Travel. They look into every nook and cranny of our organization via paper and in person. We have to provide written and verbal evidence in meeting the standards. Tucked in among all of the above sections are Mandatory Standards that you cannot miss. Miss one and you’re not re-accredited. Camps are up for re-accreditation every three years. The Main purpose of the ACA accreditation program is to educate camp owners and directors in the administration of key aspects of camp operation, particularly those related to program quality and the health and safety of campers and staff. The standards establish guidelines for implementing policies, procedures, and practices. The camp is responsible for implementing and ensuring policies are followed. This is a voluntary compliance and one we gladly take on to make camp a better place for campers and staff alike. We usually do quite well on this but this is the first time we’ve ever had a perfect score. Our staff did a super job of meeting our expectations and going beyond on this day. After submitting mountains of paperwork throughout the winter and spring it was time to walk the talk and put to work everything we stand for.

One of the things we stand for is programming our day to provide the most we can offer to our campers. After looking at weather predictions and knowing that after supper weather was going to be great tonight, we scheduled in what we call Twilight Play. Spontaneity rules in most cases at camp! You have to be flexible. I must say that dinner was a great start to a great evening with chili, salad, fresh cornbread, peaches and rice. Following is what was offered for about an hour and 15 minutes tonight in the cool of the evening. Campers could take part in Chilling at the Lake, Mountain Biking, Horses, Capture the Flag, Corn Shucking, Kumihimo, Candles, Archery, Climbing, Fine Arts, WEB and OLS Hike, Pottery and Creek Hiking. I looked at many faces as we lined up to check in at 8:30 and I can say there were lots of tired puppies in those lines. Going hard all day makes for great dreams and sound sleep for another day of the simple joys of Gwynn Valley.

Settling into C session: friendship & free play!

Dear parents & friends,

It was another warm day here at Gwynn Valley. The sun and warm weather made water activities very popular. Today waterfront put on free swim at the lake and pool, zip line, traverse line, sit on top kayaks, white water kayaks, swimming through “seaweed” at the pool, water sliding, creek hiking, and a few tubing trips. Several other activities followed waterfront’s lead and incorporated wading in cool mountain streams into their curriculum. The Tajar Times (our daily camp newspaper) set up their writing workshop next to the Hillside Creek where they could be inspired by the cool rushing water, and soak their feel while coming up with riddles, jokes, and word searches and drawing publication worthy illustrations. The Mill crew walked down to the farm to collect blueberries, which will be used to make ice cream later this week. After picking (and eating!) quite a few blueberries, the millers cooled off in Carson Creek just half a mile downstream from the Tajar Times journalists. Web of Life waded around the edge of the lake looking for tadpoles, frogs, and salamanders. Lots of non-water activities took place as well: fire building with OLS, pottery, bead weaving, marbling, mountain biking, tree climbing, farming, fishing at the mill, and many others. For those who were interested, we also showed the highlights of yesterday’s Belgium – USA World Cup game as a 1 hour sign up in the lodge, which is a nice cool space to escape the afternoon heat.

Today was one of those days where you notice how at ease everyone is. We are really into the grove of C session; you can tell how comfortable campers and staff feel with each other when you look around during meals and after supper activities. Laughter is at an all time high, homesickness is at an all time low, the bonds of friendship and cabin unity are stronger than ever, and everywhere you look you see people engaged in games and conversation. I think the cook outs and camp outs that each cabin participates in really helps to bring a sense of cohesion to the cabin groups. Every session, each cabin group goes off program to spend the night at one of our camp out shelters located on camp’s 320+ acres of protected land. We had 12 cabin groups cook or camp out last night, and another 7 are cooking or camping out tonight. The cabin groups cook dinner over a fire and just spend the evening talking and laughing until the fire flies come out. It’s really nothing special – just a night in the woods – but when I ask campers about their favorite part of the session I often hear about memories from the camp out: playing games around the fire, making s’mores or watching the world turn from green to black as the sun sets.

I think part of what makes camp outs so magical is the element of supervised yet unstructured play time. We have some of this time built into our camp schedule every day in the form of after super activities and cabin time, but the camp outs really allow for a full evening of that unstructured free play. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), “free and unstructured play is healthy and essential for helping children reach important social, emotional, and cognitive developmental milestones as well as helping them manage stress and become resilient.” To learn more about the power of unstructured play and how to work it into your home life, check out this post by the American Camp Association: http://www.campparents.org/expert/powerplay

I am always amazed by how much happens in a day at camp. It reminds me of a quote from Richard Jefferies: “Not only the days, but life itself lengthens in summer. I would spread abroad my arms and gather more of it to me, could I do so.” Well at camp WE DO SO! Whether it’s free play or programmed activities, our campers are running around and using every single minute of the day to it’s greatest potential. So here we are, at the end of a very full day, with the world dark and the night sounds of the creek and the bull frogs wafting in through my open office window. With that thought, I wish you all a good night!



Sunny and Hot; We’ll Take It!

Dear Parents and Friends,

It was a beautiful day here at camp today. Nice and sunny and hot. Good day for any kind of water activities. Frankly it was a good day for all kinds of activities. Safety was a hot topic this morning in Outdoor Living Skills, as Leah got the campers to prioritize what they needed to take on a trip and how important each object was. I got there just as she was dumping many camping items out of a large bag and the campers had to choose which ones were the most important to them if they were in the woods camping. After choosing they set off to put the items to work, hands on. In the next couple of days she will be teaching how to cook over a hobo stove (a #10 can). Camp is all about hands on. Our crafts instructors are always reaching over the top to guide hands in the creative process. Even our farm staff are involved in showing campers how to break off an ear of corn, pick beans, broccoli, and the most dangerous of all—gather eggs without mother hen giving you a peck. Children want to do things on their own. I always find it enlightening to allow children to build their own fires. We provide the directions, show them the type of wood to gather, how to place it effectively and how to light it. Building an easy quick fire is a learning process that takes practice. I wonder how many of you have read the book “Outliers: The Story of Success”, where the author talks about the number of hours it takes to master a skill. We’re not shooting for those numbers, but we are trying to have the campers feel comfortable in trying new things and hopefully succeeding with proper instruction. Camp is also a place where you can fail and it’s ok. We are not good at everything and there’s lots of support to try and try again and hopefully move forward.

Camp too is a place where “look don’t touch” is not practiced, unless there is a safety issue like picking up a snake or critter, or perhaps touching poison ivy or putting something in your mouth from the forest. We want children to touch and feel the textures and look closely at our natural world. It’s ok to catch a frog or tadpole or perhaps a salamander. We always let them go right back to their environs and try not to disturb their world. I went with Web of Life today and we stopped and pulled open a rotten log to discover some interesting creatures that scurried away under the cover of leaves. They were some very large beetles that had nestled down into the soft wood of a fallen tree, rain soaked and full of life after the tree had died. We quickly learn in the Web of Life that everything sustains something else.

Our crafts were in process of making some beautiful things as I walked around camp this morning. We have four arts areas that churn out the camp goods day and in day out. We hope you’ll see the finished evidence of some of these crafts.

Campfire just ended with a good ole mountain dancing session. Brookside attended and Hillside went with to the Gatehouse Green to listen to Tajar Tales. Mountainside takes a day off from their Mini-adventures and Riverside is out there climbing at Foster Falls. There’s only a few days before the 4th and everyone is getting pretty excited. I think we’ll have some famous visitors from our past and most likely we’ll experience some special moments in our nation’s history. Stay tuned!