B Session Closing – Thanks for a Great Session!

Dear Parents & Friends,

Thank you for a great ending to our B Session today. We’ve had a wonderful time for the two 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 two weeks.  Hope to see you next year!

Here’s the video link for B Session Highlights:  B Session Highlights

 

Grant & Anne

Final Full Day of B Session!

Dear Parents and Friends,

We just finished Friendship campfire and everyone is headed back to their cabin.  Our day started with rain but by lunch, it was the perfect day for being outdoors and active with camp.  Due to the rain, we had to cancel several trips including kayaking, climbing, and biking.  Each group made up for it in different ways.  The river levels have just been a little too high lately with all the moisture.  Hikers and Nature Nuts went up into Pisgah and explored and had a great time.  Tonight’s meal was fresh made pizza, salad, grapes and topped off with brownies.  Many slices of pizza were devoured and camp’s pizza is as good as any you can find or make.  There was plenty for everyone including some specialty pizza like kale and mushrooms, vegi, and some other flavors.  Eating here is a highlight of every meal.  We spend time together at the table and don’t just eat and run.  There’s always time for good conversation and finding out more about each person in our small table groups.

Even though our trips were canceled we held sign-ups this morning and those in Main Camp enjoyed their last sign-up for the session.  The afternoon was filled with packing and of course pillowcase day where everyone goes to the pool and takes their pillowcase along.  You get it wet and fill it with air – voilà, you have a floatation device.  It was the perfect day to be at the pool and everyone enjoyed their last swim.

Friendship campfire included Anne, me and Maggie presenting blankets and plaques to our 4 & 5-year campers as well as recognizing those who have been here for 6,7,8,9 and 10 years.  Our 8 and 10-year campers receive a compass for 8 years and a stool for 10 years.  Throughout life, we are seeking and finding our way.  There are things that draw us in certain directions and as the First Nation people believed, it is our destiny to travel the medicine wheel or the compass.  We hope our campers always seek good direction and are able to call upon their internal compasses (their heart) to lead them in good ways.10-yearar campers have been at camp a long time and have reached for many heights with their experiences and adventures in our programs.  We should never stop reaching and when we need help there are those close by to usually assist.  Sometimes just a step up means a lot, so we provided them with a simple stool to lift them higher as a symbolic gesture.  This stool was patterned after one I made in the 7th grade that Anne and I still use.  It’s located in our pantry and helps us to reach and attain things we can’t normally gain access to.  It’s been a seat and stool for our children and now our grandchildren.  Several staff even go beyond the 10 year mark because they started as campers.

Campfire concluded with campers and staff viewing photos that you all have seen these past 12 days.  We will make the video available to you tomorrow so don’t forget to watch when you arrive home.

As you arrive tomorrow friendship circles will be in each cabin at 10:30 unless you’re on Mountainside and Riverside and they will conduct their campfire for parents at the same time.  Our final campfire for Main Camp will be at 11:00 in the Lodge and you’re welcome to stay and have some delicious GV farm food at 12:00.  Thanks for sending us such great children.  We’ve had a wonderful session! Travel safely and we are expecting a beautiful sunny day tomorrow.  It may be a little on the warm side.  Stay tuned!

 

Tajar Ball – Mountainside / Riverside Return!

Dear Parents and Friends,

Another cool morning gave way to afternoon showers but a wonderful day again at camp.  It was our last full day of programming and it started out with a bang.  The Tajar was full of folly last night and left much evidence of his mischief as we arrived at breakfast.  There were kayaks in the hand washing sinks and inner tubes spelling his name out on the Green.  Teacups were hanging from trees as well as a few bikes that seemed to be a little out of place as well. This all set the stage for a super Tajar Ball that just ended a little while ago.  Games and stations filled the soccer field and everyone was there including Mountainside and Riverside, both of whom returned from their adventures today.  On our final full day tomorrow, it will be nice to have everyone back together.

I spent most of the day bouncing from program to program starting at the Mill (where they were making ice cream) this morning and then visiting with pottery, weaving and the Bong Tree, where campers were tie-dying.  From there it was on to Nature and Camping Skills with campers learning about our variety of trees here and Camping Skills were trying their hand at the finer points of setting up a tarp.  Later in the afternoon after a delicious lunch of mac and cheese, salad, broccoli from the garden and freshly baked bread, the clouds rolled in and we spent a little time in the Lodge, Dining room and Pavilion playing games, Thunderball and listening to stories.  The sun came out just before our cookout dinner to set the stage for Tajar Ball.

As reported earlier Mountainside and Riverside returned today from their adventures and all is well.  All groups were back by Tajar Ball and enjoyed the cookout, games and a carnival on the soccer field.  From all indications, trips went very well and you’ll get a full report on the closing day.  Coming back to camp after several days in the woods is always fun.  I’m not sure it all sinks in until after you leave to go home.  Sometimes I think for some of our older campers their experience and the processing of that experience really carries forward and provides some lasting memories and experiences.

We hope that some of what we do as a community for one another rubs off and that your campers bring some of camp home.  Rituals like clearing the table, declaring a rose, bud and thorn for the day, sharing, and being kind to new people we meet are all part of camp life here at camp.   Our values are simple and our approach to outdoor education is based on the hope of self-realization and personal development.  These teachable moments are all around at camp and especially out in the field where these young people just returned from their adventures.  Some more Main Camp campers will be venturing out again tomorrow to climb at Looking Glass, bike at Dupont State Forest and kayak on the French Broad.  Looking Glass is a huge rock dome located just off 276 in Pisgah National Forest.  When you’re on most of the climbs on the Glass it feels like you have the heavens and horizon in your hands.  Sky and earth are vast as one looks out for miles at nothing but layered green rolling mountains in all directions.

Our Tajar Ball picnic was served on the Pavilion and everyone ate in the Dining Room because of the wet ground.  Campers and staff come to the Tajar Ball in masquerade.  There are a host of characters and it’s a time to play, dance, eat and try all kinds of games.  Traditionally we have a cookout with burgers and dogs with all the trimmings, chips and watermelon.  After everyone has eaten, it’s off to the soccer field to try your hand at a multitude of games and carnival-like events to participate in.  There’s ice cream, cookies and music if you want to dance and play games at the same time.  There’s even a giant mountainous water slide which most everyone ends up slip-sliding to the pool at the bottom.  We play the Macarena at the end of the Tajar Ball and we must have had 90% of camp out there to dance and close things down.  It’s a good way to celebrate the next to last night of camp.  There’s structure on the field in the form of games and things to do but it’s nice to have the campers choose their evening participation and travel the soccer field wherever they want.  Free play is important and I think after a structured day of activities it’s nice to run around and have a bit of freedom.  Events and stations are varied and there’s something for everyone.  No child is left without a chance to fun it up.

As we wind down our session, you may find that your camper will come home tired and full of camp.  Memories and experiences may come slow or fast and certain things at home may spark more camp moments.  Our aim is growing your child through outdoor living, building collaborative relationships, stretching oneself and creating resilience in them as they lay new foundations here at GV.   We had a blast today and I’m sure the Tajar was pleased with all the fun and folly we had.  Stay tuned!

Celebrating Poland and Ireland!

Greetings from Gwynn Valley!

Every Tuesday we celebrate a different country or group of countries, and this week is no exception! International days involve sharing culture, food, language, and traditions from our international friends. Last week was UK today, which included staff representatives from England, Scotland, and Wales. Today we celebrated the Republic of Ireland and Poland, which includes a Main Camp cabin counselor, and staff members from our Kitchen Crew and Grounds Crew Team.

As always, the food was incredible! At lunch we enjoyed Polish Pierogies, which were eaten with bacon and sauteed onions, along with cucumber salad, green salad, and fruit salad! Many campers at my table said it was the first time they had ever tried pierogies, and all but 1 said they would definitely order them if they ever saw them on a restaurant menu. Our lunch time meal was accompanied by a soundtrack of Disney songs with Polish words. Campers loved hearing familiar music and trying to pick out Polish words they might understand from translating all the English lyrics they know by heart. At dinner we enjoyed Irish Coddle Stew, braised cabbage, green beans, hearty oatmeal bread, and apple crumble for dessert. The soup was very well received as afternoon rain had cooled off the air temperature to be just right for a bowl of warm soup.

Did you know that in the 1400’s mustaches were illegal in Ireland? We learned this and many other things about our two featured countries at our Evening Program in the lodge. Our staff from Poland and Ireland worked with our Fine Arts Program leader, Haley, to share Polish and Irish folk tales. The staff also taught us a few Polish words so that we can be conversational on our next trip to Warsaw. Finally, we wrapped up the evening by learning how to property pronounce Irish names. Josh (from Ireland) had us all laughing at the silliness of comparing different accents and slang words!

Our first Main Camp Biking Trip also went out of camp today. The group of 10 managed to miss most of the rain we had here at Gwynn Valley, though we were only 12 miles apart. Campers enjoyed biking around in the beautiful state forest that is home to over 100 miles of single track, but the big trip highlight was definitely Ridgeline Trail. This trail is widely revered for it’s seemingly endless ‘flowly’ downhill that is challenging but not too technical for bikers who are still developing their skills.

Riverside returned from their backpacking trip today with many stories of challenging trails, amazing views, and delicious food eaten around a campfire. They also got lucky with weather; the biggest rain they encountered came as they arrived at Butter Gap which has a permanent structure that provided coverage for the group at just the right time. Mountainside will return from their various trips tomorrow, and we can’t wait to hear from them as well! Pictures from all those trips out of camp will be posted online in the coming days.

Tomorrow is the Tajar’s birthday so there is sure to be lots of exciting news to share! Tune in tomorrow evening for photos and updates.

Thunder, Hot Metal and Dragons -somewhere there’s a connection!

Dear Parents & Friends,

It’s been an exciting day here at camp.  It was a cool morning working its way into a hot steamy afternoon and a big thunderstorm just before dinner tonight.  It was a good night to attend the theatre and that’s exactly what we did.  The day was perfect for almost any kind of water activity.  Rope swing, zip line, and tension traverse were quite the hit today before the showers rolled in about 5:00.

You can also escape from the sun by stomping through the creeks and springs here on our property looking for the rarest of the rare, the speckled fin warble snapper.  Now I’ve never seen one, but the old fellers say they live in all our creeks and streams and are quick as a cat and like to leap out of the water and right over your head.  That’s what they were looking for today in Camping Skills and Nature.  Our predominately forested land is a mega shaded area where bikers, climbers, and young explorers search for the rarest of rare and can escape from the midday heat.

Of course, if you like hot activities, blacksmithing takes it cues from the legends of molten and bent metal, Scotty, Sarah, and Riley.  They are soot-faced happy teachers who take our children on a journey not made by the average Joe and Susie camper.  How often does a child have the opportunity to use tools that are meant to shape hot metal in order to sculpt it into fine art or a useful device.  That’s why we wear leather aprons, gloves, safety glasses and closed toed shoes.  It’s exciting and adventurous.

On the artistic side of camp, I did mention the play tonight which was called the Paper Bag Princess.  Anne and I remember reading the book to our daughters when they were young.  I had forgotten the story until tonight and it’s a moving tale about a princess who plans on marrying Prince Ronald, who is practically perfect. However, a dragon arrives who destroys her castle, kidnaps Ronald, and burns all her clothes, so she must look for something to wear, and her only option is a paper bag. Elizabeth follows the dragon and Ronald, and seeking to rescue her fiancé, challenges the dragon to burn forests with fire and to fly around the world. The dragon completes the tasks but after flying around the world a second time becomes tired and falls asleep. Elizabeth rescues Ronald, who is ungrateful and tells her to return when she looks more like a princess. Elizabeth calls Ronald out for his ungratefulness, rejects him as a worthless bum and goes dancing off into the sunset to live her own life.  It’s a good example of the recent movie themes that have been coming out lately relating to “Girl Power” (Wonder Woman and the latest Star Wars Movies).  Debbie, our pianist wrote the music which included some cute songs and of course our campers did a great job of acting.  Kudos to Haley for her directing.

Another endeavor that captures campers imagination is our own Tajar Times Newspaper.  I just read the June 22nd edition tonight after dinner.  It contains some great articles about everything from our Farm to How to Weave on Cardboard Loom to 10 Questions You Probably Can’t Answer (like Who Invented Smiling and Why Can’t You Tickle Yourself?) These reporters and writers are just beginning their stunning career writing for the Times!

More of the same and more await your children tomorrow in our land of simple joys!  Stay tuned!

Camps Values and How It Changed the Monkey Kingdom!

Dear Parents & Friends,

Happy Sunday to all and here at camp it was “Special Day”, which always bring us together for a camp-wide game.  Well almost everyone as Riverside took off today for their backpacking segment.  They are on the Art Loeb Trail which starts just around the peak of Cold Mountain and yes it’s the same “Cold Mountain” of book fame.  The trail runs over 35 miles down the Davidson River Campground.  Mountainside was busy packing and performing last minute checks on their gear and food for the start of their adventures tomorrow.  More on that in the next blog.

Our Special Day had a “Rumble in the Jungle” theme that featured a Monkey King and his band of hooligans, who were a bit greedy and demanded that Gwynn Valley round up all the jewels in the jungle and turn them over to him.  Gathering all the jewels in the GV Monkey Kingdom was no small task and there were many obstacles both large and small along the way.  Some took brains, some took brawn and all took teamwork and collaborative thinking.  Each time a challenge was approached, members had to help one another to secure as many jewels as possible which they gathered along on their adventures.  After a full day of every cabin group taking on many challenges, the hour of reckoning came at dinner.  The Monkey King and his henchmen came into the Dining Room and demanded to see what had been gathered.  The cabin groups collectively gave up their jewels to this fearsome figure of a Leader.  So many jewels were collected by the cabin groups that the hardened heart of the Monkey King softened when he realized how much the people of the Kingdom worked hard to gather the jewels and save their kingdom.  He was overwhelmed and he almost melted with compassion and gratefulness.  He summoned his crew together and from then on fairness, acceptance, simple joys, non competitive behavior and love of the land were the values of his new outlook on being the Monkey King!  Once again goodness wins out!

It was truly and fun morning and afternoon as campers and staff got wet, ran obstacles, traveled all over camp proper and did so in the spirit of working collectively. Scott, our Logistics guy this summer, put all this together and it was brilliant.  The creative juices were flowing today and the weather was equally as nice.  There were a few rumbles but they didn’t materialize until just after dinner.

We held our Sunday Worship service after dinner and there was lots of camper involvement along with some staff, Young Leaders and individual campers and cabin groups.  After Sunday Service and all children were nestled and tucked in their beds, we hold what’s called “Staff Rec”.  It’s good food and lots of it and two different groups come so that there is always someone in the cabin and supervising the sleeping children.  We also watched England and Panama’s World Cup game which was televised this morning early.

Camp is dynamic and always on the move and the underlying structure is proof of that.  Children were tired at the end of the day and it’s good to be that tired and sleep like a rock.  I will certainly do that tonight myself.  This week is a big week and lots going on off-site and certainly here at GV.  Stay tuned!

Adventures Ahead for Mountainside and Riverside!

Greetings from Gwynn Valley,

We’ve had another gorgeous day at Gwynn Valley, which wrapped up with one the most beautiful sunsets yet of the summer! As I watched the sky turn pink this evening, I’m reminded of all the simple joys that make up a day at camp. From laughter around the dinner table to catching fireflies with your cabin group, each day at camp is jam packet with magical moments that form the memories of an amazing summer.

In Main Camp today, campers wrapped up their last day of Discoveries! This marked the 3rd visit to their B day activity areas and the end of their project or skill progression. With sign up activities in both the morning and afternoon next week, some campers will choose to build on the foundations they laid in their discoveries this week. For example, everyone who participated in the Fine Arts Discovery will continue to visit Fine Arts for rehearsal or set building until their performance on Monday evening. For those who participated in adventure activities (climbing, biking, kayaking and camping skills + nature) there will be opportunities for off camp trips next week. For other campers, they’ll use all the sign up periods next week to explore new activities they haven’t yet had the chance to try out. The fun and learning doesn’t end when discoveries do!!

Riverside had a busy day preparing for their upcoming backpacking trip. Those campers will depart tomorrow morning for 4 days of hiking in nearby Pisgah National Forest. After their previous climbing and canoeing trips, campers are feeling confident in their campsite management and are both nervous and excited about the added challenge of carrying everything they will need on their backs. These campers will return to GV in 4 days with many great stories and pictures to share from their days in the field.

On Mountainside, the Adventure Fairy delivered adventure placements overnight and campers woke up to find a note for each of them posted on the clothes line of their cabin. Nearly every camper was placed in their 1st choice adventure, and mountainside campers were buzzing with excitement about placements! They were also busy with preparations for their trips which will depart Gwynn Valley on Monday morning. Mountainside campers also had some time to play this morning during sign ups, which included craft activities like  tie dye as well as more active options like soccer on the MS green.

This evening, Mountainside welcomed all of Brookside up to the Mountainside Green for the Brookside-Mountainside visit! During this time, the two groups play traditionally ‘mountainside’ games like predator + prey and ships + sailors. After a few games, Brookside cabins split up into small groups with both camper and staff representatives from the Mountainside program. Brookside campers learned about some of the main differences in the older programs, namely the community focus and the adventures. We also talked about some of the ways you stay connected to Main Camp when you are part of the older programs during meal times and through visits to program areas like the farm or crafts. Brookside campers asked great questions and it was fun to see Mountainside campers step into a peer-mentor role as they advised their younger friends.

Tomorrow is SPECIAL DAY in camp! We sleep in an extra 30 minutes and serve pancakes for breakfast…. and more importantly there are themed activities all day long that follow a totally wacky and different schedule. Special days are always action packed with lots of fun, new games and activities for campers. We balance out the day with a quieter evening program: Vespers. Campers won’t know the theme until breakfast… so I guess you’ll have to wait until tomorrow’s blog post (or photographs) to learn theme as well!

Stay tuned for more news tomorrow.

Building Bridges in Many Ways!

Dear Parents & Friends,

A spectacular day here at GV with typical early summer weather, low 80’s and a constant breeze blowing all day long.  We had a short shower just during dinner, but Mr. sun came out and it’s back to beautiful.  Tomorrow is the last day of Discovery activity and all next week we have sign-ups both morning and afternoon.  We’ll also be running trips out of camp next week for many adventure activities.  More on that later.

With the perfect weather came great chances to get in some last minute skills as well as try something new in the afternoon today.  Several campers received their Junior Life Guard certs today which is a ticket to one day taking on the next challenge level when they’re old enough.  In the climbing realm, we opened up our Arborist Climbing today for Discovery as well as the afternoon.  It’s one of the more difficult aspects of our climbing program so ask your child if they participated.

Not difficult at all was chowing down at the Mill where campers made their first Johnny Cakes with lots of butter and honey to round out that Pioneer treat.  Our horses didn’t get treats, but they were treated by a great bunch of riders in the ring this morning and afternoon.  Riding is one of those activities that is not my favorite.  Put me in almost any adventure situation but don’t mount me on a horse.  I prefer the mountain bike which is lighter, easier to control and you don’t have to feed it.  I admire these campers who can control and feel comfortable on a horse.

I spent a good portion of the afternoon working with our Riverside group is reworking one of our Mountain Bike trails and building a bridge.  They are an outstanding bunch and we had fun together and hopefully learned a few things in the process.  We had to first get a dead locust tree that was hung and suspended between two other trees to use as the truss or girders for the bridge.  The butt of the log was on the ground so we rigged up a Z drag (3 to 1 mechanical advantage).  It worked beautifully and the tree came down to be cut into the correct length.   Next was digging out a placement for each end of girders and leveling them and last was screwing the two by sixes into the girders for the decking.  This may have been the first time that some of these campers had used a peavey, mattock or Pulaski, McLeod, or an impact driver.  A shovel was also in the mix and I’m sure they’ve had some experience in knowing the correct end of it.  They did a great job and we were all a little hot and sweaty at the end of the two hours it took to get everything in place.  I should have taken some pics with my phone but it’s hard when you’re out in the woods and away from screens.  Frankly, I didn’t think about it.  The simple joys win out again.

Spending the afternoon outdoors with nice kids reminds me why I love this job.  For them, this was just a filler and segue to their next adventure.  It’s really about the whole process and not about the adventures or the relationship building, or the learned skills. It’s about all of our small groups: cabin, table, program etc. and spending quality time together learning about one another, themselves and new ways of living and having fun.  All this and more under the blue skies, the rainy afternoons, and star and moonlight nights and the watchful eyes of many adults is a great way to spend 10 days or three weeks at GV.  I love it and hope they are as well. Stay tuned!

Summer Solstice!

Dear Parents & Friends,

When was the last time you milked a cow or goat or fed a baby calf?  For many of us, maybe never or perhaps just a few times.  For these campers here at camp it happens every day.  Like clockwork, these animals need nurturing and care and they get the best.  Few farmers have the time to devote to a few calves much less one.  These calves get lots of attention and are loved all through the day.  I think the calves get as much satisfaction as the campers.  Our farm makes it possible to experience so much hands-on farm fun which the average child wouldn’t get to do or be a part of.  Picking food that you will eat later that day or week is special and priceless.  We talk about our food a good bit and I hope you see why.  It’s not so much the end result but the process of farm to table.  Agriculture for human consumption rates high as we plan for our future and this planet.  I would like to think that we’re maybe perking some interest in campers who one day might devote their lives to feeding our world.  It’s a big job and will need lots of smart and dedicated people to tackle world food consumption.  We have a great batch of those here with us now.

I talked earlier in the week about how being outdoors enhances learning.  It’s bound to calm you down and make you more attentive to the many roots that run deep, are connected, and relational.   A woman named Darcy teaches our Camping Skills and Nature activity.  I could spend the day exploring with her because there is so much out there to see.

We definitely know that nature greatly benefits the overall mental health of children. Studies have proven the effects of playing in nature, being away from the “screen life”, collaborative living, positive role modeling, under-scheduling instead of over-scheduling, gaining resiliency and much more.  Each year we all see the effects of the complicated choices and lifestyles that children are exposed to.  Some of those choices pull them in directions that aren’t always what’s best for their own mental and physical well being.  Camp is a haven where they can thrive, guided by young adult role models through their camp journey and toward positive measurable outcomes.

The American Camp Association recently published an article on Anxiety and the Importance of Play: An Interview with Shimi Kang, MD.  Just click on the title and you’ll be taken to the article.  After reading this, I think it’s something you as parents would be interested in.

As many of you know today was the longest day of the year.  It was a pretty day at camp with a thundershower right during rest hour and was timed perfectly for camp’s schedule.  We all celebrated the Solstice tonight on the Gatehouse Green looking out toward our Blue Ridge Mountains.  There were stories, songs, skits and time together in this beautiful place.  Mountainside went down to the farm tonight and Riverside joined our Solstice Celebration and was the last to leave the sunset and the fire we had in the middle of the field.  Although a bit cloudy we could still make out the lines and layers of mountains reaching to the Parkway Peaks.  We’re all reaching out here to try new things and better understand our outdoor world and how we are so connected to it.  Stay tuned!

A Beautiful Day Filled With Critters, Art, and Movement (when is camp not moving!?)

Dear Parents & Friends,

I was truly a spectacular day here at camp.  No rain and hot this afternoon and the weather was great.  Every single activity was enjoying our dry day and water activities were at the top of the heap for appeal.    Even our nature and camping group took to the water trying to find crawfish under the Lodge Creek (Forget-Me-Not Stream).  It’s one of the coolest places to be on a hot day.  Anything water as stated above was working for a lot of people.  Archers were in the shade for a while this morning but that changed.  Despite the bright shining sun, several campers shot playing cards for bullseyes. I know for a fact I couldn’t hit a card from the distance they were shooting.

Blacksmithing is a hot skill held under a shaded shelter and all “smithy’s” were enjoying their creations making fire strikers and various other metal pieces of art and function.  Some of our mountain bike single track traces an area near Blacksmithing so it’s also a good sport to seek out in the shade.  Kayakers and SUP boarders were on the water first thing this morning and the kayakers are getting ready for a river trip next week.  Everyone is getting over their wet exits and moving toward paddling with a spray skirt.  That can be a tough transition for some and it’s easy to understand that you don’t want to be upside down attached to a boat in the water.  It’s good to relax and make sure you go through the steps of feeling for the combing of cockpit till to come to your grab loop and pull it while slowly pushing off with your arms.  Your PFD will bring you right to the surface.

Our arts arena was on full display today with “gourds” taking on a new life through art, weaving projects growing by the minute on looms, and all the colors of the rainbow and designs coming alive in tye dye.  The arena for arts may have been plentiful, but camp critters were a hit also.  This morning Camping Skills and Nature came upon a Ringneck snake which they captured for just today. Many children could see this harmless and unique creature.  The campers named him “Stinky” because they put off a pungent odor when they are nervous or scared.  Everyone got to hold Stinky who wanted to.  Just after lunch I was over working on boats and noticed some staff peering into the water nearby.  They were watching one of our two lake turtles (we think both males) wrestling in the water.  We took this opportunity to snag a net and capture one of them.  Normally they are extremely shy and you can’t even get within 20 feet of them before they swim away.  They were so preoccupied that they didn’t see the future of life outside of the GV lake.  We put him a 50 gallons trashcan and let all the campers at afternoon change over check him out.  Afterward, a couple of staff carted him off to the river just down the road.  It was a banner day for critters.

Tonight was Twilight Play here at camp.  This is when we open many of our activities for about an hour and fifteen minutes after supper.  It’s a long and cool time of the to enjoy life at camp and certain aspects of the program.  There were active, passive, artistic, fun, challenging, and just plain free-play.   Unstructured free-play is one of the greatest parts of camp.  There is always and should be time for this in a child’s life.  We live in such a structured environment with tight schedules.  Free-play involves all the imagination and creativity that children can muster and boundaries are there just for safety.  I came upon Riverside tonight enjoying some games and just chilling throwing the Frisbee around and hanging out.  Hangout time at camp is necessary, especially for our older campers.  After returning from four days of paddling they needed that time to wind down and relax.  I hope you all at home are getting some unstructured free play while your children are with us! Stay tuned!