Camp is a Magical Place

Parents and Friends,

Our first full day at camp was pretty darn good.  We had a wee bit of rain just during lunch and it was over before the end of sign-ups and allowed a rain free rest hour and afternoon.  Having a tin roof on your cabin is different than home where you rarely hear the rain unless the windows are open.  We hear the rain from all sides in our screened cabins and the metal roof accentuates the sound. Sleeping in an open air cabin has so many advantages.  Many of our campers live in air conditioned homes this time of year and the evening and early morning sounds take some getting used to.  You really hear the birds start their symphony way before the sun comes up and light spills into the cabin long before the wakeup bell sounds.  It’s a simple existence but is an important part of camp.  Right there you’ve covered two of Gwynn Valley’s values: Simplicity and an Appreciation of the Natural World.

Today was our first full day of program so the morning consisted of Discovery Activities that engage the camper in 4 different activities of building skills.  The afternoon activities provide different signup opportunities each day and campers sign up each day for a range of 1 or 2 hour activities.  In some cases you can go back to similar activities in the afternoon that provide more fun and practice in something you might have participated in that morning.

Today was also the day when we learn which table we’re assigned to.  Everyone has a new table after 3 meals with your cabin on the first day and breakfast today. At lunch, you sit with folks that you don’t know and get to know counselors who are not in your cabin.  The ages are varied as well so it’s like a large family at the table.  It takes a meal or two to learn everyone’s name but soon we’re working together and having good conversation.  The table is one of my favorite places in camp because GV has very good food and you really get to know the folks you sit with.  There were two boys at my table that go to the same school in the same hometown but didn’t know one another.  Their grade spread was wide so it made sense.  It was fun to hear that conversation take place.
One young man at our table lost a tooth today and yes, the Tooth Fairy does come to Gwynn Valley.  I gave him a plastic bag to save it in and he turned it over to his counselor for safe keeping until tonight.  The Gwynn Valley Tooth Fairy may not be as generous as the one at home, but does make an appearance and leaves a deposit under the pillow.

Camp is a magical place where we really live and exist just for children.  It’s a child’s world and one where you become the very best version of yourself.  I think that goes for staff also.  After several days of camp our adult lives take on a whole new meaning.  While camp is certainly busy, it moves at a slower, more consistent place.  Sometimes slow and consistent really keeps us on track and is great for all involved.  Camp is that kid “happy place” where you don’t have to worry about anything except why can’t I take all the activities each and every day.  We as adults talk about “there’s not enough hours in the day to sometimes get all the work done” and at camp there’s not enough hours in the day to enjoy all the fun.  It’s that place where children can make their own decisions, set and achieve goals, try new things, understand a sense of belonging to a group larger than oneself (cabin, activity & table), develop grit, resilience, confidence and all under the guidance of some very cool counselors you will hear about when your camper returns home.  We call it the Simple Joys here at GV.  Stay tuned!

Opening Day Session A – 2015

What a great opening day here at Gwynn Valley.  Parents and campers arrived to a cool morning after early morning departures.  It was a perfect weather day here at camp and it’s been our first day without rain in several weeks.  Everyone settled into their cabins and then off to lunch for a wonderful buffet from our Kitchen.   After lunch it was off to the Lodge for a bit of singing, sign-ups which included many activities and a taste of program in the afternoon. Down time on opening day is hard to come by.  We break right into program and everyone is pretty busy that first afternoon.  Not much down time on opening day gets everyone off to program and a great way to start off the week.  The Mill, Web of Life/Outdoor Living Skills, Farm, Crafts, Horses, Swimming, Sports, Lake Fun, Climbing, Tie Dye, and Fine Arts were open all afternoon to give campers just a taste of the coming week.  Tomorrow we begin our regular schedule and campers will find out about their choices for morning activities. Campers will have 4 activities in the morning every other day and 2 one hour activities or one 2 hour activity to choose in the afternoon.  Each afternoon everyone gets a choice each and every day.

All cabins had their swim assessments today.  We call them swim assessments instead of swim tests because the word test reminds us of school and we’re on SUMMER VACATION AT GWYNN VALLEY!!!  Mountainside starts their mini-adventures tomorrow as they take on skills from Pioneering, Climbing, Mountain-Biking, and Paddling.  Riverside starts their Climbing adventure tomorrow.  They were packing packs and gathering climbing gear this afternoon and will be off by 9 AM headed to Foster Falls in TN.

I checked in on a number of activities including Farm, Mill, Arts and Crafts, Sports, Pottery and Waterfront and the Pool. Waterfront was a sunny and happy place this afternoon splashing around with several cabins in the sit-on-tops and lots of swimming and zip lining at the lake.  I also went by and observed horseback riding and witnessed some campers who were pushing their comfort zones by riding for the first time. Mary Gwynn, our founder, used to say “do something difficult every day”. Web of Life (natural history), just needs to step out of their “Cabin in the Sky” home to experience the vast amount of interesting critters and plants here at camp. The Mill made ice cream today and soon we’ll begin a wonderful season of homemade ice cream consumption.  Any and all flavors are churned here.  Speaking of food we had our first night child friendly dinner of penne pasta and red sauce along with salad, fresh broccoli from the garden and dessert.  Traditional first night dessert is a chocolate chip cookie for each cabin.  The cookie is the size of a large pizza so everyone got plenty.

Campfire in Main Camp tonight was cabin skits which are always lots of laughs.  Each child introduces themselves either during or after the skit.  Children can be so comical on stage as well as their counselors.  We’ve got some great little actors with lots of talent that abounds when they get under the lights.  Our head counselors directed campfire tonight and hopefully you met Blake and Ash today when you arrived. They oversee The Brook and Hillside cabins. Blake is a school administrator and Ashley teaches in Atlanta.  They are a married couple from Atlanta who have a long history here at camp.

Thanks for dropping off your children today to get our summer started.  Our 80th summer to be exact and we’re so proud to have you be a part of it.  Hope you had safe travels back home.  Stay tuned