Nary a Raindrop Today!

Dear Parents and Friends,

It was a great day a camp today with nary a raindrop in sight.  The temperatures stayed very cool today and even at the farm it was quite a nice day.  With little shade there it can get hot.  I was down there this afternoon as children were pulling carrots out of the ground and hauling buckets of them back to the pack shed.  There is something special about harvesting food and it’s even more exciting when it comes from underneath the soil.  We rarely see carrots with their tops in the store so it’s a treat to view the whole plant.  One has to slightly pull away the dirt just at the surface to make sure it’s mature enough (large enough) to come out of the ground.  They are covered in a layer of soil and will be washed and prepared by our cooks to go on the table over the next several days.  Tonight there were cooked carrots in our vegetable medley, roasted potatoes and fresh salad all from the garden, as well as a delicious pork loin.  To top it off, chocolate pudding with real whipped cream and a graham cracker crust was devoured.

After that huge dinner, I had to take a nice long walk after dinner to help Dancing Waters get a fire going.  It’s been very wet over the past week and it’s hard to get a cooking fire going.  They were camped at Indian Cave campsite which is next to Carson Creek and is one of my favorite places at camp.  They were chowing down on hot dogs (the other red meat) when I left and everyone was happy as a clam.

As I roamed program today I spent a little time with the climbers and mountain biking.  We have a man named Christian Jackson that comes to train our staff before campers arrive.  He’s a mountain bike instructor who trains instructors certified through PMBI (Professional Mountain Bikers Instructors Assoc.) Christian is also a professor at Applachian State and has children who attend GV.  After staff training he and his wife work in our program and he provides more hands own training during our A session going out with Main Camp and Mountainside to ride with staff and campers.  His skills and teaching talents have made a significant impact on our instructors here and I can already see it in our program.  Peter, an old camper – now staff member, was working with the campers to lift their front wheel off the ground in order to hop and roll over small objects.  You could tell he had been schooled by our Master Teacher!  Children will try and pick up things on their own and it’s even better with proper instruction.

As mentioned above I went to the climbing wall today.  Climbing is a great activity at camp and probably most of us have a healthy respect for heights or even an aversion to them.  Climbing is a great way to test our limits and see what we can achieve.  There’s a great deal of trust that is developed between the belayer (counselor) and the climber.  While physical safety is what we think about when we climb there’s also the emotional safety aspect that is critical piece.   There’s also the psychological risk and the social risk.  The psychological risk is the fear of falling.   To help alleviate some of the trepidation, our staff talks about strength of the harness, rope and all the equipment we use in climbing activities.   We want to appeal to the camper’s rational side and perhaps let them all pull on a rope and test it in their own way.  We talk with them about kilo newtons, which is how equipment is rated.

Sometimes emotion is much more powerful  than rationale.  We support the climber through the whole experience.   The more they feel that the belayer is holding them they more they trust.  We get them to lean back in their harness and see that they will not drop if they’re not holding on to the holds on the wall.  This helps to prepare them for the next attempt to possibly go higher or try a harder wall on the tower.   The sociological risk is the fear of failure or ridicule in front of others.   We as staff support each and every endeavor and they will have a chance to try again if they don’t reach the top.  We also teach our campers on the ground to support those who are climbing.  Sometimes your best friend or new friend is your greatest ally in helping you reach the top.  Addressing the psychological fears and the sociological fears is called Challenge by Choice here at camp.  There’s no pressure to reach the top, only encouragement and reassurance.  This approach helps in working with each individual participant to help them set their own goals and set their minds toward “I can vs I can’t”.  I think we learn as much by acknowledging our limits as we do by pushing our limits.  Challenge by choice allows us to know in a good and safe way what we’re really challenged by and expand our comfort levels.

Tonight after dinner was “twilight play” when many activities that operate during the day are available after our meal.  It’s a great time to play a game, swim, go for a longer hike, create, climb, paddle a kayak, sing some camp songs, try your hand at blacksmithing, ride a horse or bike and on and on.  Twilight is such a great time of the day for so many reasons.  We get a food boost at dinner after an already full day and then off for more adventures and things to try.   For a second dessert, we experienced a beautiful sunset tonight where you couldn’t tell where the sky and mountains meet.  See enclosed pic!  We’re having fun so stay tuned!

A Few Showers and a Great Day!

Dear Parents and Friends,


It was a cool start to our day today and one that makes us all appreciate living life outdoors.  There’s no air conditioning at camp and the only electronics are in the office and the staff living room.  It makes life much simpler.  I left our Lodge tonight after an evening with some of our Brookside cabins that were Mountain Dancing.  It’s certainly not an activity that many campers participate in outside of camp, but it allows everyone to participate and have a good time.  There’s no forced dancing with a member of the opposite gender but there are some dances we call mixers where you dance with many others.  There are always a few that don’t want to go hand in hand when we promenade but are willing to slap hands for the Patty Cake Polka.  Challenge by choice is one of our sayings at camp and that goes for Mountain Dancing as well.  Boys and girls at the Brookside age will one day discover one another soon enough and the awkward shyness will disappear and as parents we will wish for the simpler subtleties of  childhood.  All that aside, we had a great time and it was fun to teach them some more sophisticated dances since they were older.  Saturday night we’ll entertain the Hillside crowd and simpler dances for our youngest campers.

I traveled around to many activities today watching and using my video and still camera to get a glimpse into our first day of Discovery.   We had a few showers this afternoon but nothing halted the progress of afternoon activities.  We are good with showers of rain but not the thunder and lightening that sometimes accompanies our water falling from the sky or sky juice as we call it at our tables in the dining room.

Everyone got assigned to their tables today at lunch which is always new for many.  We start off with three meals with our cabin group and at lunch on the first full day we sit with our assigned tables.  Food is great at GV and table conversation should be equally so.  Claire (one of my fellow staff at the table) asked everyone to introduce themselves while also stating if they could have a super power, what would it be.  Many conversations blossomed forth from the beginning and we were off and running with a table full of strangers, soon to become eating buddies and table friends.  Food is probably the best venue for sharing conversation and it’s important to engage everyone.

Later this afternoon I stopped by the pool where I found several of the Playhouse girls taking swim lessons.  With the showers and cooler weather some were shivering but happy when they exited the pool.  Camp’s pool is a positive place to learn your place in the water, with a gradually sloping run toward the deep end (5 feet).  It’s a great pool for learning to swim and by the end of the session all the girls had gone off the slide in the shallow end.  Courage and learning to leave comfort zones happen daily and easily here at camp.  We encourage children to try something difficult everyday, stepping in and out of their comfort zone.  The actual risk we have calculated is really different from their perceived risk they see.  This all plays into building confidence and independence as they venture forth into new surroundings and activities.

All of this is helpful in the developmental needs of children.  Going away to camp give children the opportunity to test limits, forge new relationships, gain independence, solve problems and develop a strong sense of self.  While we are no substitute for parents, I do believe camp is uniquely suited to meet many of the needs to build on the framework of making the best children into the best adults.   We’re partnering with you to create great experiences for our new campers of Session B.  Thanks for sending them to GV and stay tuned!

Session B Opening Day!

Dear Parents and Friends,

Opening Day for B Session was the best.  Thank you dropping off many returning campers as well as new campers to Gwynn Valley.  We know everyone will have a great time over the next couple of weeks.   After a good lunch we presented activity skits for our morning “Discovery” programs to help campers decide what they wanted to take over the days ahead for their morning activities.  There is much to choose from between our morning and afternoon program times.  Over the course of 6 days of Discovery, they have 4 activities in the morning and two different ones each afternoon.  For those new to GV, morning sign-ups are for building skills and afternoons more for the experience, possibly adding to those skills and trying new things.  Swim assessments were scheduled this afternoon along with activities.  It takes a while to get through all those swimmers but it’s worth it and allows us to determine which campers need some help with their strokes.  After sign-ups our major activities in Main Camp were up and running. Activities offered this afternoon were Pottery, Sports, Fine Arts, Mill, Horseback Riding, Crafts, Swimming, Camping Skills and Nature, Climbing, and Farm.  Activities just for today were pre-assigned and get children right into the flow and tomorrow we start on the choices they made today.  Many more activities are scheduled for tomorrow.

Tonight’s dinner was noodles and marinara sauce along with fresh baked bread, broccoli, and salad from our farm and a giant cookie for each table in the dining room.  Campers sit as cabin groups until tomorrow at lunch and then we all go to different tables and you get a chance to sit with folks that are not in your cabin.   After dinner there were after supper activities and then all campers attend our first campfire for the session.  There were several skits and of course music and a get acquainted campfire for all of Maincamp.

Mountainside had their closing ceremony tonight. Anne and I went up to the MS shelter to honor them and their time at GV.  Several  of those campers have been at  camp for as many as 8 years.  We gave out blankets for 4 years, plaques for 5 years and a compass for eight years which we’re starting this summer.  We’ve got a great staff up on Mountainside this summer and I think it was a super session.     Thank you for sharing your Mountainside campers with us for the last 10 days.  I think they’ve had great experience and we look forward to having them back next year, either back on Mountainside or in our Riverside program.

As morning activities kick off tomorrow know that your children are learning and “living the GV dream” as one camper said.  This is our 82nd year of providing a camp experiences for children.  Camp takes children to a new level of community life experiences new things that can’t be repeated in other life situations.  Campers have a chance to make choices and become independent in their time with us.  Camp creates a sense of confidence and resilience.  Camp also offers a sense of belonging to something that is greater than oneself where we still practice the GV values of simplicity, acceptance, a strong connection to the natural world and in a non-competitive setting.  We’re looking forward to B Session and all it’s good times.  Stay Tuned!

A Session Closing! Have a Great Rest of the Summer!

Dear Parents & Friends,

Thank you for a great ending to our A Session today. We’ve had a wonderful time with your children and will carry lots of good memories from those children that were here for the one week session.  Soon you will receive a link to an evaluation that we are hoping you will participate in.   We appreciate you taking the time to help us keep Gwynn Valley an outstanding program.

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 a good bit from “playing outside which produces growing inside”.  From all of us, thanks again for sharing your children with for A Session.  Be sure and check out the video that we saw last night of highlights from the session.  Just click on the link below.  Hope to see you next year!

Last Full Day of A and a Great Session!

Dear Parents and Friends,

It’s been a full day at camp and unfortunately the last full day Session A.  We just finished our evening campfire program which is always called Friendship Campfire on the last night of camp.  It’s been a super session and we celebrated by showing many of the pictures that you all have been viewing this week.  Our camp photographers Sara and Jacob, have done a great job with capturing your children over the past 6 days.  Anne and I appreciate our staff who have guided and cared for your children this week and made sure that their experience at Gwynn Valley was one that will bring about great memories of the good times we all had.

Tonight’s campfire allowed our campers to take part in some songs and also be the audience for our GV thespians as they performed several stories, dances and songs.  We also recognized those who have attended camp for more than one year and especially those who have been here 4 years or more.  We’ve been quite fortunate with the weather this week even though rain has come each afternoon over the past several days.  The timing was good because it seemed to fall right around rest hour or during lunch.  It’s been great for our garden and provided beautiful sunsets each evening.

Mountainside began their adventures today and will be out until Saturday evening and then back to camp.  Mountainside bikers were riding trails in Dupont State Forest; Pioneers were dropped off near the Pink Beds and were headed for Otter Hole tomorrow; Climbers were up in Pisgah at Looking Glass Rock; and Paddlers were warming up on the mighty French Broad today and will be on the Green tomorrow.      Riverside was back in camp today and also spending some quality down time after their 4 days climbing in Tennessee.   I spent a little time with them on the lake today  to hone their skills and see what they’ve retained from previous paddling adventures here at camp.  They will take off to ply the rivers again on Sunday.

Backing up a bit in the day, we held pillowcase day at the pool where campers can bring their pillowcases and learn how to make them into a float.  Everyone in camp comes to the pool.  All campers had sign-ups this morning since our Discovery’s were over.  All activities were open and many campers got to do things on the last day to complete their Tajar Card.   We had our traditional pizza night with brownies for supper and everyone was stuffed.  Homemade crust and delicious salad from the farm.

It’s been a great session and the children have made lots of new friends, explored the world around them, and learned that “I can” is much more powerful than “I can’t”.  As I circulate through camp each day I witness the magic that is played out by those who are experiencing new things for the first time.  I’ve seen children turn from shy to talkative with our table family, show resilience in tackling new challenges, and push themselves in ways that helps to raise the bar for future endeavors.  Camp is a stepping stone for life skills and building a sense of confidence in an outdoor world.  All of this has happened without the aid of screens or other distractions in this short session that will end tomorrow.  In an environment created just for them, they’ve learned real life skills, developed self-esteem, and gained a sense of independence and community.  By playing, exploring nature, conquering new heights, and becoming part of a camp family, they have created some memorable moments this week.   I call it creating Camp DNA.

As you arrive tomorrow morning to pick up your A session campers, we look forward to seeing you and hope you will hear many wonderful stories over the next few days from camp.  Remember that cabin meetings are 10:30 and Campfire is at 11:00.  This session is always full of lots of new campers.  Seven days is such a short amount of time in our adult world but to many of our first year campers it is perfect for their first experience.  We wish we could keep them longer but it’s good to leave a place when the timing is right and you want to come back.  Gwynn Valley is 82 years old this summer and we hope to see everyone back again for another year of the simple joys of childhood.  Stay tuned!

The Tajar’s Birthday!

Today happens to be a very special day at Gwynn Valley. It’s the Tajar’s birthday! No one knows for sure how old the Tajar is, but he has been around Gwynn Valley for a long, long time. For those of you who haven’t heard about him yet… The Tajar is part tiger, part jaguar, and part badger. The Tajar is a very curious creature who lives in an old tree somewhere near camp. He is really a very nice guy, always willing to listen to a story or help carry firewood or do anything you ask. But sometimes when the moon is just right or it happens to be his birthday… the Tajar can become full of folly! Today was one of those days. On their way to the dining hall this morning, campers discovered a kayak on the green, canoe paddles spelling “TAJAR” on the Green, yellow waterfront tubes all over the green, and too many little bits of folly to count! I saw many wide eyes and astonished camper faces walking to the dining hall this morning and plenty of giggles. After breakfast all the non-cabin staff set camp right again and we carried on with morning activities and a mostly normal day.

What a beautiful day it was at Gwynn Valley! Although we had a few rain showers after lunch and during dinner, we enjoyed another sunny, warm, beautiful day at camp. Even with the rain, all of our activities were in full swing. Most activities carry on unless there is a threat of thunder and lightning. Many places around camp have ‘natural umbrellas’ like the hemlock trees where our climbers ascend to the very top and the many leafy trees that shade our creeks where the Camping Skills and Nature group were searching for salamanders and crawdads. Other places have man-made roofs like our crafts areas, our climbing tower, the Lodge (where we do fine arts), the Mill, etc. And of course all our waterfront activities don’t mind if it rains because they are already getting wet!

This evening we had a big birthday party for the Tajar. Everyone dressed up in costumes so that the timid Tajar might also be able to dress up and join us for an evening of fun. We started with a big cook out: hamburgers, hot dogs, watermelon, coleslaw, potato salad… it was a feast! Then we had a big carnival style party with hay rides, face painting, guessing games, darts, a strong man competition, bubbles, darts, corn hole, and a slip’n’slide. There were lots of other games and quite a bit of dancing as well. At the carnival campers also enjoyed some ice cream, made from scratch cookies from our kitchen, and homegrown popcorn. Everyone had a big time and when we closed down for the night campers left happy and ready for bed.

Our Older Programs, Mountainside and Riverside, are on the move today and tomorrow. Today, Riverside returned safely from four days of climbing in Tennessee just in time for dinner and Tajar Ball. The Riverside crew was all smiles and excitement telling me about the walls they climbed, the waterfall pool they swam in, and the deep water soloing they tried out at Foster Falls. Riverside is a smaller community of 10-12 campers and they spend 4 days out of every 7 in the field either rock climbing, white water canoeing or backpacking. It’s always a treat to have Riverside back in camp and to hear about their experiences in the wild.

Mountainside is bigger and slightly younger group of 40 campers. That group has spent the last 5 days in camp sampling the different adventure options (mountain biking, rock climbing, white water canoeing, and backpacking). Each member of the Mountainside community picks one of the four adventures to specialize in. Tomorrow morning, each adventure group of roughly 10 campers will head their separate ways for 3 days and then the group will come back together to close out the session. Each group is ready and excited to head out tomorrow morning! The Young Leaders will also be heading out on an adventure tomorrow as they travel away from camp to raft the Nolichucky River. I can’t wait to hear about their trip when they return to camp around dinner time tomorrow.

Tomorrow will be the last full day in camp for our A session campers. I’m sure our A session parents are excited to see their children in person and hear about the week from their perspective. Hopefully these short stories from the blog and the wonderful photos that Sarah and Jacob have been uploading will tide you over for the next 36 hours… If you haven’t seen the photos yet, be sure to check those out through your CampMinder account!

A Little Sun, A Little Rain!

Dear Parents and Friends,

We had a beautiful morning here at camp and the afternoon was filled with some showers.  Rain is fine at camp but we did have a little thunder going on.  With that rain came some bigger thunder and I’m sure your children will tell you about our Thorguard system here.  It’s a lightening detection system that we’ve had for about 5 years.  It really takes the guess work out of trying to predict the weather.  When Thor goes off (15 second major horn blast) we get indoors.  We wait until it clears and that is signaled by three five second blasts.  It’s much more accurate than me or my staff sitting in front of a computer watching radar which is about 10 minutes behind what we’re experiencing.  It’s actually saved us time in the long run and used throughout the US by the NFL, Little League of America, many golf courses, multiple colleges and universities and many camps.  Just another way to keep things tight and caring for your children.

I spent some time at horseback riding this morning watching Kerrie and her crew and your children atop the noble beasts of the ring.  Horses are big and I’ve never been a fan.  My wife has ridden all her life and we used to own several horses.  It’s just not my cup of tea.  I’m always amazed how just a little pressure with the knee or foot and flick of the reins can control the animal.  It takes confidence to ride and many of these children were gaining that today as they walked and trotted around the ring.  Those with less experience had a leader with them and those with more were amazing.   They were working on balance, heels down and getting your bottom off the saddle.  It was ok to hold to the reins and the horses mane as they balanced.  I never knew that horses couldn’t feel when their mane was being pulled on unlike our own hair.  At camp we’re learning every day.

I also spent some time with Camping Skills as they worked on fire building at one of our covered shelters.  It contains 4 little fire-rings that can accommodate three people each and each group built their own fire.  It was interesting to watch and help them with the delicate aspects of getting a fire going.  In the initial stages it is truly a delicate process and so much can play into whether it builds on itself or dies out.  Fuel too big, timing of the breath and where to blow, the right tinder and constantly feeding its tenuous nature play into success or failure.  The good news is that we learn and everyone gets a blaze going after a few try’s.

I hope that your children are enjoying the food.  We’ve had three super meals today starting with fresh made cinnamon buns and all the trimmings this morning.  At lunch was chili and baked potatoes with salad, cheese, sour cream and sautéed mushrooms you could add as a side.  One boy at my table was not too sure about the chili at the beginning of the meal and ate 5 helpings.  Another had never added sour cream to his chili and loved it.  We’re pushing boundaries here folks.  With that, one of my own children has always been a picky eater, so yes, there are some who struggle with our camp fare.  Most however, love it as I do and I feel like I’m eating out every meal.  I tell them, “you can’t buy food like this”!  Tonight we had baked herb chicken, orzo pasta, salad, fresh sautéed vegis from the garden and homemade rolls.

Good Form for Creek Hiking!

Another fun activity that happens often at camp is our creek hikes, mostly up Carson Creek which is the large creek that flows through the center of camp.  The creek water is cooler than our lake or pool and they step cautiously from rock to rock as the sunlight and shade provide a visual backdrop overhead.  All the while there’s the gentle and constant roar of the water gushing by them rolling and tumbling over rocks and boulders.  The creek runs the length of camp and is one of our treasures that has endless possibilities for exploration.  All of camp’s water sources feed into it from the tiniest springs to the bigger creeks and come from all directions on the property.  Hiking up the creek through the many waterfalls makes you feel as though you could be in deepest depths of Pisgah National Forest, but you’re just a few minutes from Main Camp.  Creek hiking is a staple here and everyone learns to keep three points of contact when walking upstream over the big slippery rocks.

Tonight was our third night for campouts and several cabins are out there settled in their sleeping bags or huddled around the fire listening to a story being read to them or enjoying a s’mores before a visit from the sandman.  After sleeping several nights in an open air cabin sleeping in a shelter is not too different.  Children who have never slept “outdoors” before should have a good first experience and not one that leaves them with some doubt about camping.  Those of us who live here and work here are used to the cacophony of crickets, frogs, peepers, and birds at night.  For the child that lives in an air conditioned quiet home it’s quite different.  Campers I think get used to those sounds and soon it becomes part of the background.  Rain on the cabin tin roofs is pleasant unless it’s a downpour and then it’s loud.  The weather looks good for sleeping tonight.  No rain and cooler.  Along with the sounds will be lightening bugs and we’ve seen a few already.  Mountainside was out on the Gatehouse Green tonight catching them and just having fun.

I think they are both enjoying this!

The week is beginning to fly by and it seems that the first couple of days went by very slowly and now everything is moving faster as the session progresses.  It’s hard to slow camp down but we do manage to do so.  Mealtime provides a relaxed time for good food and conversation at the table.  Conversations can range from what super power would you like to possess to what pets you have.  I like listening to children tell their own stories and watching their eyes light up in the process.  Another example of the simple joys at GV.  Stay tuned!

Sun, Shade & Water = Fun!

Another great day here at camp started a little cloudy but the sun broke through early afternoon.  Even when it’s hot outside we seem to have a great deal of shade to cancel out the heat.  I would say about 90% of our trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding are shaded.  It’s a great piece of property with lots of water to help cool things down as well.  Activities for B day of Discovery this morning, came off without a hitch and campers had a chance to take their other two morning activities. Mountainside continued their day participating in two more of their mini adventures and decided tonight which adventure they will tackle.  Today concluded their four minis and they have all tried mountain biking, pioneering, climbing, and canoeing. They looked great out on the lake learning their pry and draw strokes, learning to paddle tandem and practicing their teamwork. I went up to their campfire a couple of nights ago which is right next to Carson Creek.  The Mountainside Cove is a great spot to live and play in as you will see. Riverside is having good weather at Foster Falls on their second day of rock climbing.

The WaterMat !

Another third of Main Camp camped out tonight and fixed dinner over an open fire.  It was the perfect night for sleeping under the stars with no rain and lots of dry wood to collect in the forest.  Actually the campers and staff sleep in shelters that are three sided platforms up off the ground. It can be difficult to get a fire going when it’s been raining but I’m sure they all had a roaring fire in no time.  Good food served outdoors and topped off with smores ends the perfect evening for some who are may be going on their first camp-out.  When we camp out a camp we smell of wood smoke and smores.  Black smudges on small faces spell good things around the fire and an evening of camaraderie with one’s cabin mates.  Showers are a welcome way to enter the land of camp civilization again.

For the past couple of days our WaterMat on the Lake has been a popular activity.  We’ve had 2 of these previously and this is our third and most durable.  They are so much fun and you can get as many as 15 or 20 small folks on it at once.  Everyone wears a PFD (personal floatation device) and it’s quite fun to run the length and perform your best jump into the lake.  It builds confidence for those who have never been in deep water on a lake.  When one can’t see the bottom it can be a little intimidating.  The WaterMat is like a floating island sanctuary for those needing that safe place above the fishes and turtles.

Our wonderful days give way again to the cool of evening and we topped off the evening with Mountain Dancing in the Lodge.  Debbie played the piano and I called the dances as she played.  We danced the Bluebird Dance, Virginia Reel, Sasha (a Russian Folkdance) and Going to Kentucky.  There was a lot of laughter and fun had by everyone. It’s a full day here at camp and my guess would be if our campers were puppies, they would just sleep in a big pile in the middle of the cabin floor.  We’ve all been there and it’s such a good feeling to sleep that well.  Rest and good food is the cure for almost anything.  Top that off with fun programs and you’ve created the perfect recipe.  We hope you have pleasant dreams whether you’re home or afar.   Stay tuned!

Day Two – Discovery and More!

Dear Parents and Friends,

Another great day with beautiful sunny skies today at GV!  We started our Discovery activities and there was so much to offer including: Mountain Biking, Climbing, Whitewater Kayaks, Camping Skills, Fire Building, Outdoor Cooking, Shelters, Weaving, Candle Making, Gourds, Kumihimo, Pottery, Farm, Mill, Appalachian Tall Tales, Appalachian Music and Dance, Horses, Nature, Archery, Soccer, Creek Hiking, SUP Boarding and Water Quidditch. Those were just this morning.  The afternoon brought almost as many activities but a bit more concentrated, like hunting for salamanders under the Lodge.  I know it sounds a bit sketchy, but you can walk under the building and “Forget Me Not Stream” runs under the Lodge and empties into the Lake.  It’s a great habitat for crayfish and sallies.  Our morning was cool and the soccer field has a lot of shade which promotes the perfect “pitch” for playing hard when it’s hot everywhere else.  Near the soccer field is one of our mountain bike skills areas and is right next to the climbing wall.  Bikers were warming up on the skills area and climbers were ascending the wall with Main Camp on two sides and Mountainside occupying the harder of the three sides.  They (MS), are getting ready for their adventures by trying each of the four adventures they will chose from later in the week.

Riverside took off early this morning to begin their climbing component at Foster Falls in Tennessee.  With the hot weather, climbing near the bottom of a waterfall is a good place to be.  I’m sure they will take advantage of daily swim opportunities. Main camp held after supper activities and then we had about a third of camp camping out tonight.  Another third joined Debbie and me in the Lodge for some Mountain Dancing.  The remaining third of Main Camp played Border Patrol which is a spy stealth type game.  Young Leaders held their own campfire in the Pavilion and the theme there was Leadership.  Each YL’er spent some time writing about leadership in their own lives.

It was a full day and I could just see it at dinner as some campers got some food in them and just slowed down to a crawl.  I’m betting that most everyone is lights out asleep after the day we’ve had.   You can bet that dreams will be vivid and imaginations will play heavily into our sleep world.  Camp is such a big outdoor place and creates so much in our brains as we take in the smells, sounds and touches of nature.  It’s sensory multiplied and our minds and bodies are going all the time in our active human powered world here at camp.  Creativity is the process of realizing our imagination with action. It sets the processes in motion that bring a new idea to life.  Most of us think of imagination and creativity in terms of entertainment or the arts, but creative people use their resourcefulness in any situation, starting at a very young age. Pretending and make-believe comes naturally to children, who create whole worlds in the blink of an eye. Pretending is where children first learn to engage their imagination and express their creativity.  Children who are encouraged in imaginative play, making art, or solving problems and puzzles are more likely to use this creative thinking with confidence as they grow.  In every field of work or study, imagination and creativity are assets to growth, positive change, and success. We’ve all heard the phrase, “think outside the box?” Creativity and imagination are essential to being more collaborative, open, and accepting of others. I believe that this allows children to see the big picture, learn to take initiative, and find a way to get things done when no one else can find a solution.

Learning to explode and lift your front wheel

We start this right away by simple things like handing a child a piece of wood and some string to make their name tag.  Simplicity breeds creativity at camp.  In our techno world we need more imagination and all the things that keep children age appropriate.  The good life at GV and the simple joys of childhood – you can’t beat it.  Stay tuned!

Mountainside at the Wall!


Opening Day “A Session”!

Dear Parents and Friends,

We hope that you’ve either had a safe journey home or at another destination of your choice and relaxing on this Sat. night.  What a great opening day we’ve had.  We just finished our campfire for the evening with some Tajar Tales and just getting to know one another a little better.  Dinner was amazing with pasta and marinara sauce along with fresh salad from the garden, broccoli from the garden, fresh baked bread sticks and of course our opening night dessert of a giant cookie for each cabin (chocolate chip no less).  What a bonus eating in our brand new dining room and this was our first meal with everyone together in the our new facility.  Just after lunch today, we went to our Lodge to learn about the many activities you can sign up for during the session.  Those will start tomorrow morning and we’ll be off and running on our regular schedule.  Today we ran activities all afternoon to spark that fire and keep the momentum going after arrivals.  Climbing, Swimming, Fine Arts, Crafts, Mill, Tie-Dye, Pottery, Horses, and Lake Fun were all filled by your sons and daughters on Main Camp getting their camp legs and a taste of more to come.  Mountainside and Riverside did their own games and activities this afternoon and soon they will begin their adventures taking to the rivers, rocks, trails and single track that beckons their adventurous spirit.  Our Young Leaders group and SIT’s also spent a day doing some storming, forming and norming as they got to know what was ahead for them.  Both groups were in our field that has a wonderful view of our Pisgah range.  The silhouette of the mountains is a reminder of our long days here at camp that are full of wonder, discovery, new challenges and the many chances to expand ones world while here.

As stated above, campers came to the Lodge just after lunch to sing and learn about all the program offerings available.  After many activity skits there was some time to reflect on what they wanted to sign up for.  They chose six activities and will end up with four for the week ahead.   These are called Discovery’s and you will have two each morning every other day.  In the afternoon campers chose each day what they would like to tackle in the PM.  The choices are endless and each day there are different offerings.  We also spent time today getting all campers swim assessed.  It’s important to know their skill level in the water so we can teach them if they are not good swimmers and which activities require better skills.

I made my way to the Farm, Horses, Pottery, Swimming, Climbing, Archery, Crafts, Riverside and Mountainside to check in with our staff and new campers.  I’m a MD at camp (Mobile Director) and try to get around to each activity every other day.  It helps to keep my pulse on the program and as well as take a long a camera for video and pictures.   Riverside will be heading out early tomorrow morning and Mountainside will be starting their mini-adventures here at camp.  Riversider’s will be going to Tennessee for their climbing component to a place called Foster Falls.  It’s well known to our staff and we’ve been using it for about 5 years.  They were in “ground school” this afternoon to learn and relearn their climbing knots, how to tie into a harness and climbing commands for their 4 day trip.  Lots of teaching by staff and everyone was helping one another to gain those skills for the days ahead.

No matter what program your child or children are in, thank you for sending us this great group of camper’s.  We’re excited to have them and know that camp does a world of good for children.  Camp is such a great experience and helps in forming some of those necessary skills we use throughout life.  Being outdoors is so good for our brains getting away from technology helps to develop and get back some basic and simple skills that we’re slowly losing.  We come to camp to “unplug to connect” with one another and our incredible natural environs.  Camp helps to develop a sense of self without parents in what we call the simple joys of childhood. Camp reveals so much each day and opportunities abound. Guided by a mature staff makes it even more worthwhile.  We’re aiming high for the days ahead as we get to know your children.  Stay tuned, there’s more to come!

Cabin Aching Legs