Tajar Ball and All His Mischief!

Dear Parents and Friend,

Greetings from the land of FUN! The Tajar leaves lots of mischief around the center of camp the night before his day while we’re all asleep.  If you don’t know who the Tajar is, just ask your child.  Each session we celebrate his birthday and everyone comes to the party in costume.  This event has been going on at Gwynn Valley for a very long time.  We have a big picnic with burgers and dogs outside and then hold the giant carnival.  It started to rain just before the end of the Ball and it felt nice after such a hot day.  Our traditional after dinner carnival consisted of Face Painting, Smack the Rat, Soccer Shootout, Hayrides, Bucket Breakup, TP Toss, Frisbee Throw, free food including ice cream, popcorn, snow cones, Guess the M&M’s, The Penny Toss, Sponge Throw, a Giant Water Slide, Fidget Ladder, and Strongman Hammer Test.  There were all kinds of costumes at the Ball and Carnival.  I’m sure you’ll recognize some characters from your household.

Earlier today those Mountainsider’s and Riversider’s came home and are safe and sound sleeping in their own beds.  Each group had their fun and adventure while out since Sunday.  They all came back with smiles and stories to tell, memories to remember and that’s what counts.  We’ll look forward to having them back at our tables tomorrow at lunch.  They all get a big sleep-in tomorrow morning.

There will be several Main Camp trips out tomorrow with Kayakers, Mountain Bikers, Hikers and Climbers.  The kayakers will head to the French Broad on section Wilson to Patton.  It will be a half day trip for that group.  They were doing their final preps today on the lake and getting psyched.

I attended a slew of different activities this morning including the Mill, Pottery, Bong Tree, Shady Grove, Kayaking, Soccer, Horseback Riding, Arborist Climbing and Biking.  I carry a video camera with me and it’s my excuse to get to see what’s going on in various programs at camp.  I’m usually able to get to most all activities including time with Mountainside several times a week.  With the footage and time to observe programs, it helps me with assessing how staff are doing as teachers and are children enjoying these activities. I do have office work, which is not my favorite, but try and schedule that during the early morning and late evening hours.  Visiting programs also allows me to write about what goes on at camp each day although my assessment is the tip of the iceberg.

Tomorrow will be signups in the morning as all of our Discovery Activities ended today.  In the afternoon will be pillowcase day for all of camp when everyone goes to the pool (not all at once mind you).  There is a method to this madness.  Tomorrow evening will be Friendship Campfire and our last one for the session.  We keep things moving right till the end of the session.  I think the three week campers will need a couple of days of rest upon returning home.  We were up a little later tonight and tomorrow is a big day for us all as we wind down from a very active and fun session.  I wish we could keep them all for another week.  Camp does a world of good.  If you’re feeling a little “campsick” and missing your children we understand.  They’ve provided a great deal of joy in our setting.  We sent all of our children off to other camps when they were younger and we know how you feel.   Anne and I missed them and also knew how it would help them grow away from home and our familiar setting here.  Camp is a wonderful supportive environment where children can develop authentic relationships, unplug from technology, connect with nature, and participate in human-powered activities. Camp allows children to relax and enjoy just being kids. I truly believe there’s a camp for every child.  Thank you for choosing Gwynn Valley.  We appreciate you sharing your children.  Stay tuned!

“I Still Call Australia Home”

Dear Parents & Friends,

Another beautiful day at camp dodging the weather around us and we were lucky to just have thunder but no serious threats.  Our Thor Guard went off after sign-ups but cleared soon after during rest hour.  The afternoon was clear and sunny.  Today was Australia day and we started out witnessing some famous Australian sports and athletes before breakfast on the Green.  There was of course Cricket, Australian Rules Football and a famous soccer match between Australia and England.  Besides our usual fare this morning we also had the chance to taste some Vegemite on toast.  Not everyone was so brave and you really have to like things like anchovies and salty foods.  It’s packed with Vitamin B-12 and good for you but it’s an acquired taste.  Meals today reflected Aussie food and for lunch there were meat pies that were delicious.  The kitchen make homemade crust for the pies.  Tonight before dinner the Aussies acted out a short play sung to the tune of Waltzing Matilda, which is actually in our songbooks.  GV has a long history of Aussie counselors.  Aussie games were played after dinner and we settled into an informative and fun campfire with counselors and campers acting and singing about their land.   We also learned much about many of the strange and interesting creatures that live in the bush.  Campfire was topped off by a wonderful song, “I Still Call Australia Home”.

Our Discoveries are running strong in the mornings and preparing some campers to head out on trips on Thurs. of this week.  Kayakers are getting more and more comfortable with their skirts on and taking on new strokes that will enhance their river skills.  Paddling on still water is quite different but practicing on the lake makes for a successful trip to moving water.  I went by the Pot Shop this morning and projects are coming to completion and being glazed and readied for the kiln.  There are pots of all shapes, sizes and colors that have been produced by our clay makers.  Bikers this afternoon decorated their bikes with Koalas and Aussie flags to ride the trails this afternoon.  Each bike looked like it was fit for a parade down the main Sydney  Boulevard.   As we get into the middle of our week we are also preparing and bringing closure to a lot of our crafts.  Pots are being glazed, weavings finished up, shirts and batiks being washed to set the dye and other crafts that will be coming home.  The Mill was preparing ice cream today and there were some happy campers taking part in that.  That activity never fails to fill as you can see from the two happy faces enjoying their ice cream.  One of our crafts on Mountainside this session has been to build a primitive stool for the campers who participated.  They used traditional tools, drawknives, hand saws and their own strength to create their stools made from white pine and red oak.  On Thurs. the group will be putting the finishing touches on the stools they made with a lot of care.

bikesice cream

Camp is all about hands-on activities and getting campers to realize they can do some pretty amazing things with the proper tools and supervision.  We see amazing creations every day and know that when working on projects and seeing them through completion, it builds confidence for trying other new endeavors.  We are opening the minds of tomorrow’s engineers, lawyers, doctors, teachers and others who are here at camp trying something new that will fill that cup of creation and confidence.  Stay tuned!

A Well Rounded Day of Imagination!

Dear Parents and Friends,

Here we are at the end of another fabulous day at Gwynn Valley! The day started off overcast and foggy which is often the case in our French Broad Valley.  Breakfast was homemade biscuits and sausage, fruit, cereal and orange juice the weather must have known we had just eaten well because ole Mr. Sun popped out.  I left camp just after breakfast to ride with the Mountainside bikers and shoot some video.  I arrived at their campsite about 10 after a short ride into Dupont.  They were just finishing breakfast and preparing to leave when I showed up at their campsite.  From there we rode uphill to Reasonover Trail and headed for Turkey Knob Extension which takes you to the far eastern part of the park.  Most of the riding was on single track.  Shady cool and ups and downs for a little over 5.5 miles was pleasant and good riding for most of way.  At that point I had shot a good bit of video and go pro, so I headed back to the car to make it back to camp for lunch. They stopped for lunch at Grassy Creek Falls just after I left.   My ride back to the car totaled over 11 miles for the day so they must have done that much or more for the day.    It’s great to see them learning skills and riding in a beautiful place.  It’s a good group of campers and everyone is doing well under the leadership of Austin and Katie.

After a delicious lunch of mac and cheese the sun disappeared for a while and soon the skies darkened.  The storm came through south of us and we got just a tad of rain and afternoon program and tubing trips went as planned.  This afternoon several cabins went “off program” on creek hiking, tubing, lake kayaking, and hiking trips. Going off program is mostly FUN, but it also provides great opportunities to bring the cabin group closer together. Some of those going off program today will also be camping out tonight.  It’s the perfect night for it.  No clouds and no chance of rain.  For those cabins who stayed in normal program today, we ran a wide range of sign ups including making ice cream at the mill, tree climbing, farm, dip candles, kumihimo, biking the Main Camp trail, zip & traverse line at the lake, and quite a few more.

After our PM activities, we enjoyed a hearty dinner of chicken, roasted potatoes, salad, and fresh corn (which campers picked this morning and shucked after lunch). The roasted potatoes were the hit of the night.  Our table went back for 9 refills in our bowl.  Everyone ate well.  We had lots of visitors at our table tonight and it was a lively bunch.  One girl visiting the table said I was the oldest camper and the oldest person in camp.  I quite resemble that remark.

After dinner tonight we played the Great Tajar Scavenger Hunt that engaged everyone in camp to find the Activity Leaders who held clues to what was going to be happening at Tajar Ball on Wed.  Everyone anticipates the ball because the food is great and so many fun things to do.  You will hear more about the ball come Wed.  It’s all about imagination that evening.  New places like camp and experiences give our minds a fresh start by awakening the need for imagination and creative thinking. When children arrive at camp they are surrounded by new people, places and ways to play. Counselors and new friends provide support to explore this newness, learn from it, and enjoy it.  Whether it’s meeting a new friend, dealing with an obstacle on a hike, making art out of natural material, or working with their team to take on a challenge, camp has opportunities for children to exercise creativity and use their imagination.  Spending time in nature at camp gives children the time, freedom, and control to play in imaginative ways and collaborate creatively with other children, like building a dam on a creek or creating the back-story of the crayfish they caught in the creek.  That energizing push to explore their ideas will help campers become better problem solvers, communicators, and collaborators.  And most of all, better people!


As I finish this up our Playhouse girls have put on their pajamas and are in the Gatehouse field looking at the sunset.  They are throwing their stuffed animals in the air and I’m sure imagining all kinds of wonderful things.  Stay tuned!

Special Day Olympics and Positive Moments!

Dear Parents & Friends,

What a day at camp.  It was of course “special day” here where we don’t run normal programming and all the activity leaders have the day off.  We just finished our Vespers campfire and the theme was Gratitude for God’s Gifts.  That’s a broad topic and as you might expect there were a variety of thoughts, songs, and words passed along by campers and staff alike.  Of course we rose about 30 minutes later this morning which is nice and everyone got a bit more rest.  Pancakes and fresh fruit with bacon was on the menu and there is no substitute for pancakes, except maybe French Toast.

The theme of “special day” was GV Olympics.  There were 10 Stations including Archery, Crab Soccer, Track & Field, Water Polo/Water Volleyball, Basketball/9 Square, Beach Ball Lane Swim, Water Mat Diving, Rafting and Small Sailing.  It was a good day to get wet and there lots of opportunities to do so.  Everyone wore their bathing suits and stayed hydrated in the morning and afternoon.  We had some thunderstorms during lunch and rest hour today and our internet has been on and off.  We hope to get pics loaded from today and are working on that now.

Mountainside and Riverside left today and will be out through Wed. evening.  We look forward to hearing stories from their trips.  Camp is just one of the great things about summer.  Camp is filled with laughter and positive moments.  There is growing research that suggests that we should do everything we can to expand the attention and energy that we give to positive moments. When children experience positive emotions, their brain begins to function differently. They become more open, more flexible in their thinking and their attention is broadened. The opposite occurs with negative states, such as anxiety, frustration and sadness. Thinking is narrow, possibilities are not seen and emotional/cognitive skills are more rigid.  Positive emotions seemingly “undo” negative emotions or memories. For example, the aftermath of a painful event is dramatically improved by having a happy, pleasant experience.  Positive emotions allow children (and adults) to be more resilient. With an abundance of positive moments, research shows that children can better cope with change, adversity and struggles. Kids recover from stress faster, and remain more open to healthy, creative and rewarding experiences.  In every way, building optimism is good for your kids now, and even better for them as life goes on.

Camp creates so many positive moments throughout the day.  Cabin life, activities, meals, unstructured freeplay, time with each other, vespers, adventures out of camp, animals, and the list goes on.  Everywhere a camper turns in our camp world, they access positivity and optimism.  And all that creates joy.  Simple joys as we call it here at camp. Together, we are partnering with you to sprout and feed the seeds of growth and betterment of your children.  Maggie, our assistant director, says, “camp brings out the best versions of ourselves”, and I believe that.  Camp does us all a world of good.  Stay tuned for our last week of C, C-2.

Setting Sun and Rising Moon Over Oz!

Dear Parents & Friends,

Here we are at the end of another beautiful and action packed day at Gwynn Valley! Main Camp is getting into a rhythm again as C2 campers settle into the flow of camp. We are into our second A day of discoveries, which means that campers went to their A day program areas for their 2nd of 3 instructional periods. As I walked around this morning, I heard and saw so many moments of excellent instruction from our program leaders and quite a few ‘lightbulb’ moments with our campers.  Activities bring forth challenges and fun.  Struggling with wet exits was a conversation at our table today as we talked at lunch.  For those of you who don’t know, paddlers are secured into white water kayaks with something called a skirt. Before we allow campers to even practice paddle skills on the lake, we make sure they are comfortable with exiting their boat in case they flip over. Even for adults, this can be an anxiety inducing situation because even though it’s easy to get out, the process defies your natural instincts of how to get your head above water. We start off with a wet exit without a skirt and work toward an exit with the skirt on.  It’s challenging for most campers, but most rise to occasion.

Our Mountainside and Riverside campers are heading out tomorrow for four days in the field. The Mountainside climbers will be heading to Linville Gorge where they will climb at a wide range of sites that area has to offer. The Mountainside bikers will head into Dupont, where there will have access to more single track miles than they can cover in 4 days. The Mountainside paddlers will head for the Lower Green and from there to the Tuckaseegee. The Mountainside pioneers will be heading out into Pisgah for 4 days of hiking along many of the trails that trace our backyard range.  Riverside will be heading out for their backpacking adventure also in Pisgah with lots of ascending and descending, but the amazing views make it worth their while!

The 4 day Adventures are truly the pinnacle experience on Mountainside and Riverside, as they are marked by a level of personal growth and community strengthening that we don’t see gained as readily through other parts of the program. The true growth that we witness in these campers cannot be summed up by the number of miles they rode or the rated class rapid that they paddled down. Rather, the growth can be seen in their ability to go beyond what they feel they are capable of and if they fail, pick themselves up and try again. The great thing about this is that we emphasize “challenge by choice” and encourage them to take the high road to excellence.  There’s a lot of power when you have others to help you along who are supporting you in reaching the crux of climb, bike, paddle and hike.   I was just out on the Gatehouse Green videoing Mountainside as they were participating in their adventure sendoff’s and spending time together one more time before they’re upcoming departure.   It was idyllic as a beautiful sun set on one side and the moon appeared over the tree tops just opposite the sun.

Of course, adventure and challenge look really different to each individual, which is part of the beauty of being a camper at Gwynn Valley. Given all our different programs and activity areas, campers have the opportunity to choose how they want to challenge themselves each day. Adventure does not always mean climbing, paddling, biking or hiking. Sometimes adventure means signing up for an activity that you’ve never tried before. Sometimes adventure means milking a goat or feeding a baby calf, especially when you are an Echo camper and the calf is bigger than you! Sometimes adventure means getting up on stage in front of the rest of camp and sharing a talent. Speaking of which… our Fine Arts group put on The Wizard of Oz tonight.  Many were involved in this ageless story and you could tell that the crowd was into it.  At certain intervals you could have heard a pin drop.  I’ve always loved the Oz story and it brought me back to watching it with my children.  Our production wasn’t quite the same but the feeling and storyline was there.

Tomorrow is Special Day at Gwynn Valley, which means the whole day centers around a theme. It looks as though our theme will be Camp Olympics.  Some events will be silly and some not no silly, but fun.  A few leadership team members have been actively planning all of tomorrow’s events in secret. Part of the fun of Special Day is that you don’t find out the theme or activities until breakfast that day. Many campers were guessing what the theme might be over dinner as they discussed ‘best Special Days’ from years past. We’ll just have to wait and see what is revealed over breakfast tomorrow morning!! Until then… stay tuned!

PS  Here’s a short video put together just today!  Enjoy!

Early C, C-2 Highlights

Discoveries and Adventure Training Begins!

Dear Parents and Families,

Today we began a new round of morning discoveries with our C & C2 campers. Campers were excited as they found out what their schedule will look like for the next six mornings. Morning discoveries are organized into A & B days and campers rotate through activities of their choice 3 times each with the same group each time to develop skills in specific areas. Morning discoveries offer a great opportunity for campers to focus on areas of interest and develop targeted skills or finish a more intricate project than an afternoon sign up would allow. Some of the adventure Discoveries will be taking trips out of camp.

It was hot here today but beautiful and sunny with no rain in sight.  It’s looks like we’re having a dry summer compared to previous years.  We may get some showers over the next few days.  With the hot temps the lake and pool were quite popular.

Riverside was in residence all day today and took the day to relax a bit before starting to gear up for another adventure on Sunday.  They’ve been paddling on the Green, Tuckaseegee, and Nantahala Rivers this week. We are thrilled to have Riverside with us for a few days before they head out backpacking on Sunday! Mountainsider’s also had a homecoming of sorts at dinner. Today was a MS Training Day, so bikers, paddlers, pioneers, and climbers spent all day out of camp training for their Adventures which will begin on Sunday as well! I think having such an active day made our dinner of chicken, rice, garden fresh salad, garden broccoli and fresh bread.

The farm is really in ‘full-bloom’ during C session.   Just this week campers have harvested sweet corn, potatoes, beans, carrots, cabbage, more corn, lettuce, tomatoes, squash, zucchini, blueberries, and more corn. There are also many baby animals requiring love, attention, and possibly a bottle feeding with each camper visit: piglets, goat kids, and calves. Our campfire tonight was brought to you by the Farm and was a lot of fun.  Farmer Dale told some stories and clogged, the Needle Nose Vise Grips played several songs and there was a corn shucking/eating contest.  Chuck the Chicken, who wanted to be a rooster was another story along with  a new version of the three little pigs.  One last highlight of the evening was homemade carrot cake for everyone at intermission.

I was out with Mountainside paddlers all day today and we ran a part of the French Broad not far from camp.  There is one good rapid where we “stayed and played”.  Not literally but they did learn a good deal about water dynamics and what makes an eddy and how rocks can disguise themselves into pillows and what is a downstream V and an upstream V.  Lots to remember for this bunch but they are getting it.  I think paddling is the toughest adventure skill to learn, because you’re with a partner and you’re learning a skill that is not easy.  You’re not tethered to a rope and you have another dynamic of the water pushing you where you usually don’t want to go.  They will make big gains over the days ahead.

There’s been talk for several years of summer learning loss from an academic standpoint and some critics want to do away with traditional summer vacations.  I strongly disagree, obviously from a business standpoint, but also children need to learn in different ways and not just in traditional class rooms.  Learning math skills is very important and learning to paddle a boat with partner rates high on the “emotional intelligence quotient” that camp provides.  The community life of camp is hard to beat.  Spending time away from video games, social media and television help them to make personal connections with others and engage in new environments.   I feel that the outcomes from summer camp greatly enhance your academic life on the traditional school end.    Recent studies found that the average child between the ages of 8-18 spends 45 hours a week interacting with electronic media.  Being outdoors and breathing in fresh air during activities makes people feel great. It cleanses their lungs and improves blood circulation throughout the body, resulting in increased energy levels and an overall euphoric feeling for a “natural high.” And there’s the exercise factor! Physical activity builds self-esteem and motivation at every age.  An outdoors camp lets children reconnect with nature. The exposure to new habitats and creatures encourages children’s instinctive fascination with science and nature and opens up their world to new ways of thinking about the world around them.  Camps get children out in the field and out of their comfort zone, exposing them to new experiences they may never have dreamed of and perhaps spark a new interest that lasts beyond their week(s) at camp.

I’m a believer in camp and I thank you for sharing your children with us.  We hope you see that growth and outcomes when they return home.  Stay tuned!

C-2 Opening on a Perfect Day!

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, Stables and throughout camp as well as live in cabins with campers. Those campers who are here for three weeks had signups this morning while the new campers were arriving. With a bit over 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, Standup Paddle Boards, Horseback Riding, Climbing (three kinds), Nature,  Candles, Soccer, Fine Arts Musical, Weaving, Junior Lifeguarding, Mountain Biking, Pottery, Weaving, Needlepoint, Material Marbling, Camping Skills, Jackson Kayaks and Soccer.  Lots of choices and lots of things to do!

It was a beautiful day to open C-2 and we sailed through the afternoon with bright sunny weather.  It was warm but we have ways of staying “cool”.  For those rare times we have thunder storms, camp has a “vigilant eye on the sky” which is our Thor Guard lightening detector system. It’s a system we installed several years ago and has been worth its weight in gold.  A series of 6 horns alerts everyone on the property 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. The horns don’t go off at night but a strobe flashes that you can see from Downtown GV (center 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, Archery, Climbing, Lake Fun, Tye Dye, 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 woodworking program we’re running. We’re using hand tools to make simple stools that the campers can take home with them. Camp has a lot of lumber that we salvage from trees we have to cut.  The tops of the stools are white pine and the 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 we just started fitting the legs onto the stool tops.  Next will be finishing and sanding.

Mountainside continues their training days tomorrow and I’ll be heading out with their paddlers to the French Broad to help “broaden” their paddling skills. 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 a range of activities from challenging situations to unstructured supervised free play. We really value our staff and appreciate the work they put in 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 benefit from being in their cabins and activities.  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 one of many activities here at GV.  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 doing that at home. Stay tuned!

Session C-1 Closes and C Keeps on Rolling!

Dear Parents & Friends,

As our C-1 session campers left today we still have our C session campers rolling right along and having signups all day today.  Mountainside started their training days today to get 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.  The Tuck to the Nanty is a good stepping stone and it’s easily within their reach.  We can’t wait to hear the stories from their adventures and look forward to having them back in camp.

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 in 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.

This afternoon at the the Mill they were making corn flower to put in cookie dough ice cream for later this week.  The horses got their daily workout in the ring and out on our many trails.    Bikers stayed in the cool shade of single track trails today and campers were seen making Kumihimo with their feet in the creek.  Our SUP boards have gotten a lot of use this summer and all we need are some waves.

For those of you that still have children in camp, tonight is special.  We had ice cream on the Green and showed a movie in the Lodge.  The movie is a throwback of Finding Nemo since Finding Dory just came out.  It should be an early night and then up in the morning regular time and off to activities for those C campers.

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 child’s life is expanded by “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.

PS  For those of you who haven’t seen all the videos we put up during C, C-1 – here they are:

Session C Beginnings

Teachable Moments

C,C-1 Highlight Reel

Last Full Day of C-1 and What a Day We Had!

Dear Parents & Friends,

We’re winding down for our C-1 Session and many of you are picking up your children tomorrow.  It’s been a hot dry session until just around dinner time tonight when we got some “good rain” to cool us off and water our garden at the farm.  Our head counselors, Jordan and Dan just sent everyone on their way after a rousing campfire for our last night with our C-1er’s.  Our Fine Arts group put on two short plays both with a similar theme that was anti-technology and pro-GV.  In both cases there was a villainous figure who wanted to rule the world, make lots of money and cut down all the trees.  I can’t imagine Gwynn Valley without shade and neither could our young playwrights.  Anne and I also recognized our campers who had been a camp for 4 and 5 years.  Afterward we looked at a short video created today that is linked here.

More highlights from C, C-1 Session

Several trips went out of camp today and everyone came back with miles of smiles.  Hikers went up into Pisgah and visited the Fish Hatchery and bikers went to Dupont and rode Ridgeline which is probably the best trail in Western NC.  Our Kayakers paddled on the mighty Green River and came home with many whitewater tales of tumultuous fun.  Our climbers went out to Looking Glass today to scale its granite walls and got home just before it rained up there.  These trips are a culmination of building skills throughout camp in each activity.  Our main camp training provides a solid foundation for expeditionary learning outside the “nest”.  Taking on new environs, relying on the skills you’ve learned at camp, taking it to the next level and pushing yourself a little harder than you’ve done before, creates new found confidence and stepping stones for greater things to come.

This afternoon while our C campers went to regular signups, our C-1 campers began to pack for tomorrow’s departure and then went to what we call pillowcase day where it’s a final swim with your cabin and taking along your pillowcase and learning how to make it float.  I will leave the details of this magical transformation to be told to you by your children.  It’s another simple skill we learn at camp.

We also ate our last meals together as a table group during tonight’s dinner.  We will eat by cabins in the morning and for lunch and dinner tomorrow.  Meal times are special because you get to be with a whole new group of people.  Our table has been a lot of fun and we’ve had lots of laughs and many conversations.  I don’t think I’ve ever talked about food so much in my life.  Most of the campers at my table were good eaters and a couple of them were on picky side of food, however they stretched their palate’s a bit.  The table is a great place to see other’s your age eating different foods and not just the adults.  There’s that, “maybe I might like this if she’s eating it”.  No peer pressure but certainly a sense of self challenge and discovery for all kinds of good food.  We have 4 folks in our Kitchen who are studying at Johnson and Wales Culinary School in Charlotte and Megan, one of chefs here, is a pastry chef at the school.  You can bet that all of our breads and desserts have been incredible.

It’s been a wonderful session and we are looking forward to greeting you tomorrow morning and having you reunite with your children.  We hope they will consider a longer session next summer and join us for perhaps 2 weeks.  I have heard many of them say that they miss their parents but don’t want to leave camp.  We will certainly miss them.  Stay tuned and see you soon!

“Special Day!”

Dear Parents & Friends,

What a day at camp!  It was the perfect day to get wet and our “special day” theme was Under the Sea.  “Special day” here is where we don’t run normal programming and all the activity leaders have the day off.  We just finished our Vespers campfire and the theme was God’s Creation.  That’s a broad topic and as you might expect there were a variety of thoughts, songs, and words passed along by campers and staff alike.  On Sunday’s we rise 30 minutes later in the morning which is nice and everyone gets a bit more rest.  Pancakes and fresh fruit with bacon was on the menu and there is no substitute for pancakes, except maybe French Toast.

Under the Sea Friends!

Under the Sea Friends!

The Under the Sea theme of “special day” had 10 different stations that campers rotated through during the morning and afternoon.  It was a good day to get wet and there were lots of opportunities to do so.  Everyone wore their bathing suits and stayed hydrated in the morning and afternoon.  My personal favorites were the slip and slides and The Titanic.


One of two water slides at Special Day!

One of two water slides at Special Day!

Riverside left today and will be out through Wed. evening.  Looking forward to checking in with them and I may join the paddlers on one of their river days.  We’ll see if they make it and they’ll have to work hard between now and then to muster the strokes and strut their stuff on the Green and Tuck.

Tonight is staff appreciation night or what we call staff rec.  It’s a chance to socialize and share some really good food.  I’m putting this to bed early so I can be there to honor our staff.  They do a great job working day in and day out with your children.  Stay tuned!