Dear Gwynn Valley Friends,
These are exciting times here in the Valley. Registration has opened for our 2017 season for campers and staff. After some time off, we’re all back in the office and ready for some great changes coming to camp starting this fall. As we all know, camp has a long history and many children and adults have come through the doors of Gwynn Valley in the last 81 years. As we celebrate another great summer and our past, we also must look to envision our future. We recognize our strengths in working with young people and partnering with parents to create great experiences for children and teens. In order to offer quality programs we must keep our site up to date and viable as well.
Many of you know that we are in the process of razing our Dining Room/Kitchen/Upper Dwellings building. The Upper Dwellings building has occupied our site since the early 1900’s when Camp Connestee for Girls was in operation. Since that time many additions and renovations have been added to that existing structure. It has housed everyone from Miss Mary Gwynn to members of the leadership team over the years. The downstairs has also acted as a “staff living room/counselor lounge”. In the past 30 plus years, the building has expanded and more renovations, rooflines and facilities have been added. Last year we began to take a look at our dining room and its aging roof that has been leaking and needed to be replaced. Dale and his staff and professional contractors have re-roofed and patched it for years. Due to the low pitch and ceiling height, the dining room has been very warm. The kitchen, where our wonderful food is prepared each day also was a hot environment in which to work and has shown its age and space limitations in recent times.
Through discussions with architects and contractors it became evident that any work would be fruitless in trying to tie into existing rooflines and structures. The age and structural integrity of the existing buildings was not going to support a new renovation. Building code, as it relates to living structures that are attached to kitchens have also changed and the two require a great deal of work to make them safe for all parties involved. At that point, it became evident that a total remake of the site was needed. “Livability and workability” are concepts we embraced as we began to look to the future. We wanted the design of the new building to be enduring, economically vibrant, efficient, functional, aesthetically pleasing and a comfortable place to add to the quality of life here at camp. With these things in mind we began to move forward in the project for the new center of “downtown GV”. The project will encompass our dining room, kitchen, program office, a covered outdoor pavilion with a fireplace and a staff living room. Living quarters from the upper dwellings will be built in another location.
It’s never easy to give up something that carries so many memories and has been at the center of camp for so long. Change does not always come easy and we’ve heard many people express their sentiments about the project. Camp’s site and buildings have been updated a lot in 20 years. It is time to redesign this facility to work better with our numbers and our program. The new design will bring so many good things to the table in the next chapter of Gwynn Valley. Creating a new building also means creating a design that blends into our rustic setting. This will be an important part of the process as we make our way into the construction phase. Sustainability has always been an important part of our philosophy and we are working with electricians, lighting experts, plumbers and builders to utilize every means we can to save energy. Post and beam rafters will accentuate the inside of the Dining Room and adjacent pavilion that will reach toward our waterfront. The pavilion will offer a safe space for bad weather as well as a great meeting spot for evening programs and special times. Final drawings and designs are beautiful. This opportunity will also allow us to put our overhead power line underground that has spanned the Green for many years. While we’ve lost a few trees, planting new ones will give us a chance to strategically place them where we need shade as well as open up our view to the Blue Ridge off to the West and North of camp. Pathways will remain similar to what they are now and gathering areas for meals will be similar to what they have been in the past. Downtown GV will be virtually the same, with a welcoming doorway for planning program and to partake of the wonderful food that has been a tradition at Gwynn Valley.
While exciting things are taking place just down the path, we’re also working on revamping our website. Look for some great new ways to view Gwynn Valley on your computer, tablet and phone.
In October and November, we will be out on the road promoting camp, seeing our alumni and meeting prospective families. Look for a gathering near you and bring a friend. We’re excited about camp and the changes for 2017. Stay tuned for updates and pictures from our project.