E Session Ending and A New Year Begins!

Dear Parents & Friends,

Thank you for a great ending to E Session and our summer.  We had a wonderful time with your children and thanks for sharing them with us.  Soon you will receive a link to an evaluation that we are hoping you will participate in.   We are collaborating with Clemson University to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of our camp programs and to better understand your perspectives as parents.  In addition to learning about your child’s camp experience, we also want to gain greater insight into how parents today are making decisions for their children.  We hope that this information will help us continually improve our camp programs and services. Your feedback is important. We appreciate you taking the time to help us keep Gwynn Valley an outstanding program.

I’d like to recognize my staff and leadership team on the outstanding work they performed this summer.  Everyone finished strong and 2015 will be a summer to remember.  What makes camp special is our staff and the work they do.  Your children will have fond memories of camp and I think they will remember their counselors the most. It’s the most important aspect of the work we do; making sure we hire good people to work with our campers.  As we finish up our summer and you embark onto the next chapter of school and fall activities have a great year and come by if you’re ever in our area.  Camp takes on a whole new appearance in the other seasons.  This was our 80th summer here at camp and as E Session ends, so begins another great year.  We look forward to preparing for our 81st summer in 2016.

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 know you will hear stories and songs as the weeks go by and that the camp experience will become a great memory. Placed in the hands of a mature staff a camper really gains 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!

Great Day, Super Campers, and What a Session!

Dear Parents and Friends,

We just finished our Friendship Campfire for Session E.  What a great time we’ve had and tonight was no exception.  We honored the many campers who attended camp for years.  As a tradition at our final campfire we honor those who are coming for their 4th and 5th year with a blanket for the 4th year and a wooden plaque for their 5th year.  We also honor those staff, SIT’s and campers who’ve gone beyond the 5 year mark.  It’s always fun to have them stand and be recognized.  Several drama groups performed skits they had written which were all fun.  Songs were shared and we finished off the evening with all the staff singing to the campers and Debbie playing  “Sheep May Safely Graze” which has been a part of campfire for many, many years.  It’s a beautiful song and if you linger after the end of our Closing Campfire you’ll hear it.  It comes after the staff sing, “May the Road Rise to Meet You”. Hope you’ll linger and listen.

Looking back to an earlier part of our day we started at breakfast with homemade cinnamon rolls made by Chef Megan and her staff.  She’s the head pastry chef at Johnson & Wales Culinary School in Charlotte.  Our breads and desserts have been phenomenal this summer.  After a long day yesterday and Tajar Ball everyone was pretty sleepy this morning.  Campers in Echo slept until after the wakeup bell rang and staff had to wake them up.  I’m sure other cabins were in the same boat.  We also finished up our Discovery Days this morning and all activities were putting the finishing touches on the skills that were taught.  After lunch and announcements we started to pack and each cabin checked in at the pool for afternoon swims, aka (pillowcase day).

Mountainside had their MS Challenge where they bike, climb, canoe and build fires for time.  They raced against the Mountainside staff and won. Riverside went tubing today, a throwback to their time in Main Camp.  It was the perfect day for it.

Tomorrow when you arrive your children will be waiting for you in the cabins.  At 10:30 there will be a cabin friendship circle where all can join in.  We do these each night and check in with campers to find out how their day has been.  It allows staff to see how the children are doing since they only see them at morning wake-up, rest hour, before and after meals and bedtime.  Our days are full and it’s a good way to learn about the children’s experiences.  After the friendship circle there is our program in the Lodge at 11:00 for parents, friends and campers.  You can stay and enjoy a wonderful GV lunch at noon if you like.

Thank you for sharing your children with us these past 8 days.  We’ve had a wonderful session and hope to see all of these children back again next summer.  Be sure and look for the evaluation I talked about last night.  We would love your input and feedback.  We appreciate you taking the time to help us keep Gwynn Valley an outstanding program.  It’s been a great session and a great group of children.  I can’t think of a better way to end our summer and I hate to see it come to an end.  We had a blast with our E session and I’m sure they will look forward to seeing you all tomorrow.  Safe travels and stay tuned!

Great Day for the Tajar and Campers Alike!

Dear Parents & Friends,

We awoke this morning to the Tajar’s folly with all kinds of pranks all over camp.  There were so many things moved and out of place we hardly knew what day it was and where we were.  Tables from the dining room were on Green.  Folks had different name tags on and didn’t even know it.  People were walking backwards thinking they were walking forwards.  Cups were hanging from trees and inner tubes were on the roof and of course the word Tajar was spelled out on the Green with kayak paddles.  Despite all his folly we made it through another wonderful day at camp intact and just ended on a great Tajar Ball note.  More on that later.

I spent some time this morning with climbers who were on their last day of Main Camp Climbing and taking on our two Arborist trees.  Arborist climbing is very different than tree or tower climbing here at camp and originally was used to access trees without spiking the trunk or limbs.  It’s an environmentally friendly way to get up into trees.  Through a series of knots and hitches you literally climb the rope you’re hanging on and inch your way up like a silk worm.  It’s a strenuous workout for legs and arms but you’re able to hang freely while climbing and 98% of the time making no contact with the tree.  I shot some good video today of the two groups that were climbing and am looking forward to using that later in some camp highlight reels.  Also spending some time up high today was cabin Meadowbrook, who was at the ropes course and participating in the Swing by Choice.  Campers wear a chest and sit harness and are secured into a cable that is about six feet off the ground.  Your cabin mates grab a rope and haul you upward till you’re parallel to the ground and you release a short length of cord that acts as a go button and lets you fly in a pendulum arc between two telephone poles.  It’s certainly not for the faint of heart but it’s no worse than most of the rides at a theme park.  It’s probably one of the few things we do at camp that is thrill based and is not so skilled based.  It’s is fun and it’s over pretty quickly.  Regardless, the girls had a blast and the staff participated as well.  There were several cabins getting the last tie dye session in today.  Raines Cove and Meadowbrook were there using every color you could think of and more.  Dye was mostly on the shirts and good thing we wear aprons and gloves or you might have greeted a tie dye hand or two on closing day.  Outdoor Living Skills took a hike to the Rock this afternoon as a signup and only four campers went but they were justly rewarded. It started to rain just before the end of rest hour but let up just after.  A cloudy horizon settled in for our altitude seekers, but by the time they made their way to the top of the mountain it had cleared off.  From the Rock you can see all the way to the Parkway, Mt. Pisgah over to Shining Rock and Devil’s Courthouse.  It’s a great view and you literally look right down on camp.  The last few feet are a scramble but well worth the time and effort to get there.

As the dinner bell rang tonight everyone showed up in costume to celebrate the Tajar’s birthday.  There was a cookout complete with burgers, hotdogs, chips, all the trimmings, watermelon, cole slaw, beans, and the best homemade relish and pickles you’ve ever had.  That was just the beginning of a food fest.  After dinner everyone headed to the soccer field where there was all kinds of activities: Strongman (ring the bell) Challenge, Waterslide, Face Painting, Hay Ride, Tin Can Topple, Corn Hole, Soccer Shootout, Giant Bubbles, Guess the # of M&M’s, Hide the Ping Pong Ball, Football Throw, Balloon Toss (at your counselor) and the Dunk Tank.  There was also ice cream, cookies and snow cones if you didn’t eat enough dinner.  There will be some tired campers tomorrow because after a full day we also went hard until 8:30 this evening playing and having fun.  We couldn’t have asked for a better day.

Mountainside and Riverside returned today and all reported good trips and great adventures.  I saw bits and pieces of campers and staff as they made their way back into the fold.  We look forward to welcoming them back into the dining room tomorrow and I’m sure they will appreciate some good GV home cooking.

Tomorrow morning is the last day of Discovery and we’ll have a special afternoon for everyone at the pool and lake.  Packing of course will happen in the early afternoon tomorrow but it should be another great day at camp.  Stay tuned!

PS  –  Just wanted to provide you with some information about camp and the camping industry in our region.  There are 52 camps in our county and the three counties that surround us. Many more exist throughout the state.  Soon you will receive an evaluation sent to you by Gwynn Valley and Clemson University.  We have been chosen, along with about 25 other camps across the state, to participate in a summer outcomes study that will provide valuable information and meaning to the work we do.  I’m on the North Carolina Youth Camps Board and we’re an organization that has performed an economic impact study here in our region as well as lobbying hard to keep our summers for camp and stay abreast of legislation that affects our industry.  I sincerely hope you will take the time to respond to this valuable tool.  This provides us with feedback to help make our program better.  We appreciate you taking the time to help us keep Gwynn Valley an outstanding program.

Rain Timed Perfectly and What a Day of Fun!

Dear Parents & Friends,

We finally got some rain today and it came at the right times.  Just a little bit of program was interrupted today by a short storm that rolled through camp this morning and some rain this afternoon after lunch and during rest hour.  Sign-ups had pretty much completed when it started to rain heavy and our Thorguard lightening detection system went off.  We purchased the Thorguard system two years ago and it’s been money well spent.  It picks up the static electricity in the air, measures it and determines if we need to interrupt program or whatever we’re doing and get to a safe place.  It’s set for 12 miles out in all directions and storms and especially lightening can come fast and without warning sometimes.  It’s been a life saver and has taken the human error of trying to make a decision about incoming weather.  You can spend hours watching weather maps and Doppler radar but this is very accurate.  It sounds off with a camp wide warning of horns for 15 seconds and 3 five second blasts when all is clear.  There’s no missing its alerts.

Josh and his sports staff were playing flag football this morning when it began to drizzle.  Josh is an Aussie but is very sporty, shall we say, and quite interested in American Sports.  He did a good job working with the kids playing a more razzle dazzle style play where two completions is a first down and there are only three plays instead of four.  The campers loved it and there was lots of ball movement and running, passing and catching.  American football was fun for these folks and they played right through the rain.

Several cabin groups were caught in the Lodge after lunch and we knew we might be in there for a while, so we pulled out the tumbling mats which gave the boys a chance to wrestle and play while the girls were just satisfied with a story told by several counselors where you take up where someone else leaves off.  The difference in the two genders is not always startling, but just ten feet from the girls the boys were having a blast while you would have thought that some famous character from Disney had  captivated the girls.  The contrast was quite evident to us all and downright comical.  Maybe the boys were just pumped up on food and the girls had the after lunch sleepies.

I visited quite a few activities this afternoon and among them was swimming at the pool where kids were learning life guarding techniques.  There were probably 25 campers there and they were learning how to rescue from shore.  Red Cross and camp teaches don’t “go” unless you have to and have nothing else at your disposal to reach with or throw.  You put yourself at much less risk when you learn these techniques.  You never know when one of these young folks will be put into a situation where they might have to assist a sibling or friend and they will have some skills to draw from.  They also had some free time to go off the slides, play basketball in the shallow end, float with noodles and just catch with all kinds of water toys.

The rain today made our bike trails a bit wetter but stickier.  Bikers left the shed and rode to both our skills areas where they were challenged by dodging natural objects, riding skinnies (narrow logs or boards on the trail), and just navigating the elevation changes and bridges that cross water on the back forty.  Mountain biking has grown immensely here at camp and it’s just a fun and gratifying activity for anyone who can ride a bike.  You can learn a lot about body position and learning to ride single track trails even in a short session like E.  On the animal end of Mountain Biking, the horse riders went on a long trail ride to the Hunt Farm today where they have acres and pastures to ride in, with a sense of freedom you don’t have on Main Camp.  It’s also a beautiful setting where you look out and see right up to the Parkway. I’m starting to see the handiwork of arts and crafts surfacing in camp.  A cabin of girls were showing off their shabori (spelling?) scarves this afternoon.  Great creations coming from our arts arena!

Tonights meal came totally from camp, well almost!  We had cornbread (cornmeal) from the Mill, trout caught by campers at the Mill, green beans, broccoli, and squash from the Farm, and potatoes from the Farm. Actually there were orange slices but that didn’t really count.  As almost half the camp was out camping out and cooking out tonight and the other half who stayed back, went to the Lodge for Mountain Dancing.  We did several folk dances, one called Menushka and one called Shasha.  Going to Kentucky and Patty Cake Polka rounded out the evening followed by a couple of Tajar Tales to end our campfire.  RB and Michael read a couple of Tajar Tales and if you don’t know who the Tajar is, then ask your children.  Tajar is pronounced like Tajer or Tiger with a short “a” vowel. First you learn to say it and then you learn all about his crazy and zany habits.

Mountainside and Riverside come home tomorrow after 4 days out on adventures.  I know the Mountainside Paddlers were on the Nantahala today and had a blast.  Dylan joined the bikers today and took on more new trails at Dupont State Forest.  They rode, swam, rode more and devoured lots of food.  Adventures will start to roll in just before lunch to de-gear and of course hit those showers.  By 4 everyone will be home and looking forward to some good camp cooking.  We’ll have a cookout tomorrow night and following that will be Tajar Ball.  Get ready for a fun evening and a carnival for one and all.  Stay tuned for more of the best days of camp!

Feliz dia de Mexico, Nicaragua y Honduras!

Dear Parents and Families,

Today was another sunny, beautiful, and action packed day! The day started early for our cabin groups returning from last night’s camp outs. All 10 cabin groups returned before the wake up bell to put away their dirty dishes and replace the smell of campfire-smoke-scented hair with sweet shampoo smells. Breakfast was abuzz with stories about who made the perfect s’more and who slept the best in their camp out shelter. The Echo boys could not stop talking about their SIT (Staff in Training), Evan, who played ukulele lullabies around the campfire. Every cabin group camps out once each session, so if your camper didn’t go out last night, they will be heading to one of the many camp out shelters on property this Thursday for a night in the woods. Some campers feel nervous leading up to the camp out, but for most cabin groups the night spent together out in the woods lives on in their memory as one of the best nights at camp.

Today marked the second day of A-day Discoveries, which is a time when groups can really dig into some deeper level skills. During sessions this morning, campers progressed through the 20+ Discovery curriculum we have on offer this session. Bikers practiced their gear shifting, breaking, and body positioning on our beginner trails around camp. Our Outdoor Living Skills group talked about first aid in the woods and practiced bandaging up pretend wounds. Down at the stables, campers practiced walking and trotting off lead in the riding ring. Creek hikers moved on to a more advanced section of creek and explored the aquatic habitats of our salamander friends. In pottery, campers used the coiling skills they learned on Day 1 to build larger forms. And on in on across all our activity areas… Sign ups this afternoon offered opportunities for campers to try out activities that are not part of their morning discovery line up. Our bikers went on a scavenger hunt around camp that ended with cool surprise at the end. Our climbers were superheros, flying through the air on the tower swing. Sports were popular this afternoon with soccer and castle ball on offer. Down at the farm, campers fed our calves and played with the piglets after picking veggies out in the field. At the Mill, campers made ice cream for the Tajar ball on Friday, though of course they got to sample a cup to make sure it tasted alright!

Our regularly schedule activities were spiced up a little bit today with our celebration of Latin America! At Gwynn Valley, our staff members come from all over the country and the world, and these diverse cultures are an important part of our camp community. The exact numbers change each summer, but roughly 30% of our staff are considered international. Each summer, we have a 10 – 20 countries represented by campers and staff. One day each week is designated an “International Day” with 1 or more countries being celebrated. All of the meals that day are themed according to the host country both in food and with the cultural and historical trivia that is shared before and during each meal. In the evening, our campfire is filled with dances and stories and pictures that help teach campers about that host country.

Today we celebrated Mexico, Nicaragua and Honduras. Most of our staff representing today’s countries work in the kitchen, so much of the cultural expression today was shared through authentic and delicious food. At breakfast we started the day with a chant called “el grito mexicano” and a traditional Mexican dance before chowing down on huevos revueltos (scrambled eggs), chorizo sausage,  queso fresco and cheddar cheese for garnish, baked plantains with a sweet cream sauce, a special mexican sweet bread called conchas, and mexican hot chocolate spiced with cinnamon. At lunch we ate gallo pinto, pollo mantequillado (a creamy roast chicken), roasted vegetables, and auga de sandia (watermelon juice). In Spanish, Gallo Pinto is a rice and beans dish which literally translated means “spotted rooster.” The name is said to originate in the multi-colored or speckled appearance that results from cooking the rice together with black and red beans. For dinner, we made tacos at the table with homemade corn tortillas, rice, mexican pulled pork, stir fried veggies, queso freso, cheddar cheese, spicy salsa, salsa verde. To wash it down, campers could chose between horchata (a creamy cinnamon/vanilla drink) and sky juice (water). No international day menu is complete with out a special dessert, so to top it all off each table received a whole flan impossible or chocoflan, which is a chocolate cake on the bottom with caramel flan on top. Our food is normally delicious, but the food today was truly exceptional. All the hard work, devotion, and national pride they poured into their efforts really paid off in flavor and authentic cultural experience for our campers!! Of course, campfire this evening was also put on by our staff members from the host countries. We enjoyed a few dances, learned about some of the language and geography (mostly showing on a map where the various staff members come from) and we also had a lesson in tortilla making from a Johnston and Wales professor who we have been lucky enough to employ as a baker and kitchen manager. Campers especially loved the frog dance. You may see photos of Roberto dressed up in a giant frog costume, which our Hillside campers found to be endlessly silly and entertaining!

Time must fly when you are having fun, because we are already halfway through the session. Tune in tomorrow to hear about more fun adventures at GV!


Adventures Ahead and Main Camp Buzzes!

Dear Parents & Friends,

Session E is off to a great start with another great day here at GV.  Today was a special day for Mountainside and Riverside as they left on their adventures.  All groups were out of camp by about 10 this morning, all heading off into different and diverse directions.  The MS climbers are spending the next few days in Linville Gorge which is a beautiful part of our state just north of Morganton.  It’s one of the deepest gorges in the east and has some spectacular climbs and vistas.  Bikers headed over to Dupont State Forest outfitted with over a hundred miles of single track trails for those who ride the knobbies.  Hikers were dropped off just near Black Balsam which is over 6000 feet and will slowly wind their way back into our backyard of Pisgah crossing the Blue Ridge Parkway and peaks like Pilot Mtn. and coves like Farlow Gap.  Their ultimate destination will be the Ranger Station just near the entrance to Pisgah.  Paddlers will be fighting our long summer drought of not having much water this year but relying on the Tuck, Nantahala and maybe the Green in their time just above the waterline.  I shouldn’t complain about rain but we do need some but it will be too little as our adventure seeks the frothy white stuff.  We’re scheduled to get a little rain on Thurs. at this point and I think it would be a welcome relief.  Riverside headed out to hike on the east side of Pisgah today leaving from Turkey Pen Gap and following the historical route of the South Mills River and which meanders from the Pink Beds area and then up toward the Parkway culminating at Mtn. Pisgah.  This area is known for such places as Cantrell Creek Lodge and Otter Hole.

Back in Main Camp we had our “B” Discovery Day and it couldn’t have been better.  The Mill was cranking out corn meal and grits for our Kitchen to use as well as making small batches of ice cream for the upcoming Tajar Ball on Friday.  All this is done with water power which comes from Carson Creek running through the middle of camp.  The Mill was built in 1890 and while it doesn’t utilize the original wheel or mill stones, the remnants from the old building are there and have been revamped through the years.  I have an old piece of chestnut that came from under the Mill and is now a part of our mantle piece at home.  Our small cove has always been active from Native American times to now.  The Green where children gather each day for games and activities, was once a terraced corn field.  Some aspects of camp escape time and progress and it’s fun and interesting to introduce these old time ways to campers.

Camp does capture the old and we also embrace the new with such sophisticated crafts like shabori scarves which campers were making today.  Twisting the cloth around a pvc pipe and coloring the cloth using dye, they create intricate patterns on the material that will be unveiled when the scarves are washed and dried.  Campers were making wind chimes in pottery today and some trying their hands at throwing on the wheel.  Climbers and bikers were testing themselves with balance and coordination today climbing the tower and navigating the skills areas and single track on camp property.  On these hot days it’s always fun to be part of the waterfront whether it’s pool, lake, creek hiking or tubing.  Standup paddle boarders were getting their sea legs today and they learned about steering and control of the board with one paddle.  Kayakers have the advantage of two blades instead of one and you know what they say, “twice the blade and half the man”.  Creek hikers paid visits to Connestee Falls today via the creek route and the trail route.  Near the top of our property there’s a great place to swim and soak up the stream as it cascades over the falls and into Gwynn Valley land.  Many campers through the years have made this a destination and its cool and clear water has been a great swimming hole that is perfect for a cabin group or mixed group of campers.  The hike up gets you warmed up for a nice dip and the walk back through our forest is all downhill and an easy return from a great experience.  It’s about a 30 to 40 minute hike depending on the age of the campers.

Many of our cabins went on campouts tonight to various points on the property.  Our sites are mostly three sided wooden shelters that are up off the ground and either surrounded by forest and some on the banks of streams.  There’s a campfire circle at each one and all dinners are cooked over that fire ring. As I write, about 70 plus children are experiencing maybe their first campout and all under a tin roof and three walls with the stars shining through the trees and the fire still smoldering after many s’mores.  The rest of camp joined Debbie and me in the Lodge tonight for some Mountain Dancing and a Tajar Tale or two.  We did the Hokey Pokey, Going to Kentucky, Shasha and the Paddy Cake Polka.  RB our resident writer of the Tajar Tales, read a couple of stories as the day came to an end and we slowly made our way back to cabins.

Everyday is full at camp and there’s so much going on.  Hopefully you’ll get to hear more when your camper arrives home.  But… let’s not rush these days, they will soon go too fast.  Stay tuned for more at GV!

First Day of Discovery!

Dear Parents & Friends,

A great day at GV started early and cool this morning.  Many campers and staff wore their sweatshirts to breakfast this morning and well into mid morning as the sun reached its long rays into camp by 11 to heat up our mountain hideaway.  I was doing some video of campers creek hiking on Carson Creek today not too far from Mountainside and you’d think you might be in the middle of Pisgah National Forest.  We’re so lucky to have the abundance of water on our land and Carson Creek runs right through the middle and length of camp feeding our lake and of course the energy for the Mill.  We only have about  300 acres but it’s varied land with lots of terrain features like coves, rock faces and little gorges to explore.  Our Web of Life crew and Outdoor Living Skills groups were taking advantage of that all day.

This morning we started our Discovery activities where campers work on skills.  They had two activities in the AM and will take two different ones tomorrow morning on the “B” day.  “A” day will resume again Wed. and of course afternoons are for free signups and you can take whatever you like.  I think when we think of camp we first focus in on activities.  They are important, but to me the most important aspect of camp are the friendships you make.  The people and relationships you encounter is the essence of camp.  Age is not a factor here and we see that at our tables each day as we gather to partake of that great GV food we consume.  Like all other tables, I have a variety of ages at the table and we talk about everything under the sun.  It takes a meal or two but things get very comfortable very quickly at the table setting.  I’m sure this occurs in the cabin as well.  Even though the counselors are quite a bit older they really don’t seem like parents when you’re a camper.  (Even though we tell them they are and use the Latin term – en loco parentis – in place of the parent.) As a parent, I can say that counselors are much cooler than parents.  It doesn’t take long before the campers see this and it helps these young fledging parent counselors to gain the respect and camper approval in such a short time.  It takes us longer as parents and we’re not cool all the time, just sometimes.

One of the other great outcomes of camp are the memories.  We hear that a lot from our staff who were campers here.  I call this Camp DNA, whether it’s a song, a friend, a special moment from an activity, getting to the top of climbing wall or making your first pot on the wheel.  These events come with satisfaction and an ability to keep that little memory for a long time.  Good memories are created and good things happen to us when we’re outdoors more and it’s a healthier existence.  When children play outside they are more adept at learning new concepts and thinking is clearer.  Our outdoor environment also enhances communication whether it’s one on one or one on many with those around us.  Adults and campers are a part of your world and you’re not drawn into the hypnotic world of screens.  Camp reconnects us with the real world of where food comes from, what is poison about poison ivy and how to avoid it, catching a tadpole almost at the stage of being a frog, learning to handle a real mountain bike not a virtual one, cooking over an open fire and more basic, learning how to build a fire.  It’s camp, it’s real, it’s fun, and it’s growth!

Our first full day was filled with growth.  There was nothing too special about it and tomorrow will have a bit more to offer as we settle into the week.  Campouts will start tomorrow night and many cabins will be camping out at one of our many outposts where fire becomes your friend and smores never tasted better after a meal cooked over the fire.  Those cabins who stay behind will be doing some Mountain Dancing.  I was talking with our Sports Leader, Josh, earlier this evening.  He’s an Aussie and was teaching cricket in one of the activity periods this afternoon.  The campers loved it but it was hard for those who play baseball to adapt to a different way of batting.  It’s good to stretch ourselves and learn some new tricks.  There’s always teachable moments at camp and we’re always learning, all of us! Stay tuned!

E Session Opening Day!

Dear Parents & Friends,

I hope most of you are safe and sound at home or perhaps at your alternate destination.  Thanks so much for such a smooth opening day and it was a great day to start our E session camp.  By noon most everyone was here and our lunch buffet kicked off the afternoon.  After lunch everyone went over to the lodge for Discovery signups and then it was off to activities this afternoon.  Climbing, Sports, Web of Life, Horses, Fine Arts, Mill, Outdoor Living Skills, Farm, Lake Fun, Tie Dye, Crafts, Pottery, and Swimming were all open this afternoon.  Your first afternoon at camp is a busy one and there’s a reason for this.  We like to keep campers busy in case there’s some lingering thoughts of home.  We also held swim assessments for all campers at the pool, which allows us to know each camper’s swimming ability.  Even though we wear PFD’s when we’re in any kind of boat, going off the zip line, playing on the watermat or testing your mettle on the Tension Traverse, it’s helpful to know swim levels.  Campers who don’t pass their “Lake” classification have to wear a PFD on the lake period and usually stay in the shallow area of the pool.  There’s not many of these campers but enough to certainly keep tabs on them when in the water.

Discovery Activities start tomorrow morning and here are the offerings: Masks Making, Weaving, Jewelry Making, Marbling, Silk Scarves, Scuba Steve’s Splash and Play, Mountain Biking, Large Vases (pottery), Wind Chimes, Outdoor Living Skills, Whitewater Kayaking, Web Of Life, Farm, Mill, Soccer, Stand Up Paddling, Archery, Creek Hiking, American Sports, Horses, Climbing (3 types), and Fine Arts.  Your children will be taking 4 of these in the morning hours and then have access to free signups every afternoon.  It will be a busy and exciting week.  You can make a lot happen in an 8 day session and we intend to do just that.

At tonight’s campfire each cabin presented their cabin skits which will continue into tomorrow evening.  We also learned where many of our campers were from and here’s the list of states:  AL, CA, CO, DE, FL, GA, KY, LA, MD, MI, MS, NC, NJ, NY, OH, PA, SC, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, NE, WV & MA.  And to top that off, here are the countries represented at camp for this session: Australia, England, Hungary, Republic of Ireland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Phillipines, Poland, Scotland, South Africa, and of course the US.

As I write serenade has taken place and all cabins are on their way to zzzz land.  Mountainside and Riverside will be leaving us on Tues. to begin their grand adventures and will return on Friday just in time for the Tajar Ball.  In the meantime we’ll keep you informed on what’s going on in camp and out of camp as best we can.  It will be a full week of activity and camp is akin to a bee hive this time of year.  We are making fun and learning instead of honey by carefully filling the structure of honeycomb that camp has in place.  Campers will be flying about gathering skills, gaining confidence and finding their way back to the hive several times a day to reconnect with their cabin, friends, and table groups.  Wings will grow and mature as they gain resilience, learn to make good decisions on their own and under the guidance of many king and queen bees. We hope that they will return home carrying the pollen of camp with them.  Stay tuned, there’s so much to come!