Tajar Ball and Adventurers Return!

Dear Parents & Friends,

Tajar Ball just ended and the sun is down on a wonderful GV day.  In a matter of minutes over half of the camp will be drifting off to dreamland and reliving moments and minutes from our day, week and session.  Camp is a lot like a good dream in that a lot of your friends are there and you’re all part of a grand adventure usually depicted outdoors.  The outdoor component is what makes it.  Our outdoor world here at camp is the springboard for feeding the creative and imaginative mind of a child.  A recent article in the NT Times discusses the advantages for children that are physically active, spend time in nature and spend less time with screens.  Here’s the link:  Writing Prescriptions to Play Outdoors

Except for the time we eat and sleep most of our day here at camp is spent outside.  Tonight’s dinner was outside for the Tajar Ball cookout.  The whole camp ate on the Green next to Lodge and afterward, everyone attended the ball.  It’s the Tajar’s birthday every last Wed. of the session.  As you might guess with so many B-day celebrations the Tajar is quite old…. and yet, he is as spry as a kid in a candy store without their parents.  Except that, his craving is not candy, but fun.   And FUN we did have tonight!  There were giant bubbles floating around the carnival atmosphere, a giant water slide, hayrides around camp, numerous games to play, a slack line to test your balance, a soccer shootout, face painting, hair braiding, putt-putt golf, the swurfer swing and did I say ice cream and cookies after a dinner of burgers, hot dogs, beans, watermelon and chips and all washed down with ice-cold lemonade.  A lot can happen in just a few short hours at camp.

Let’s not forget the last day of Discovery this morning and of course, there were signups this afternoon.  All activities were enjoying a warm sunny day all day long with not a drop of rain.  It was a magical day for the Tajar and for all of camp.  It was also the day that Riverside and Mountainside returned from their adventures.  Stories were being shared, bodies had been stretched, campers were displaying wiser outdoor knowledge, clothes and bodies needed a scrub and our overall community of siblings, friends, and staff was back together.

I love today although it is a long day after so much going on and so much to experience.  But, that’s how life is, isn’t it?  Our paddlers can relate to the river as a metaphor.  Blue skies and calm water can speed up as the river bed drops and encounters rocks and twists and turns.  We look for those safe places called eddies.  Peeling out of those safe places we enter another rapid where steering around obstacles is all we can focus on at the time.  Done safely and correctly we eventually collect ourselves and enjoy the calm pools at the bottom of that fast current.  You could probably take all of the RS and MS adventures and create great metaphors and life lessons for each one.

More adventures for Main Camp will take place tomorrow with our kayakers, hikers, bikers, and climbers.  My hope is that you will hear the memories of camp and you will appreciate how much we can grow in just 10 days or 3 weeks.  Take some time to read the above article and get outside yourself.  You’ll feel better for it.  Stay tuned!

International Day Celebration for Spain, Columbia, Mexico and the Netherlands!

Dear Parents & Friends,

We celebrated International Day here at camp.  Four countries were represented: Mexico, Spain, Columbia, and the Netherlands.  Food today has been out of this world with foods from all four countries.  Breakfast started us off with huevos chorizo, (scrambled eggs), Tamales wrapped in corn husks, Plantanos Fritos (Fried Plantains), and hot cocoa.

I needed to get out to work that breakfast off, so I spent time at Arborist climbing.  They tackle our two giant poplar trees right in front of the Gatehouse.  Instead of climbing the tree, you climb the rope connected to the tree.  This method is used by an arborist, so as not to harm the tree.  It’s challenging and fulfilling as you slowly inch your way up the rope.  We don’t use mechanical ascenders, but knots called the distal hitch, which grabs the rope under pressure and releases when not under pressure.  There’s a safety belay for this, so never fear.

On the water side of things today our kayakers went to the Green today to tackle the mighty rapids of Big Corky, Little Nantahala, The Ledges, and Sunday Ledge or Surfer’s Paradise.  Lake paddling transition to the river can be challenging and everyone really grew from the experience.  Several boats went over and it was good that the group spent some time working on T rescues and other self-help techniques if one has to wet exit.  Time was spent learning to ferry, peel out and enter eddy’s which is essential on any form of moving water.  The Green River is a great river to start on and has a forgiving pool at the end of challenging sections.

The Mill was preparing to make Johnny Cakes this morning and they were in the midst of that when I followed the horseback crew up the trails to get some footage of them riding in our shady forest land.  They were following one of our single track trails that run up near the top of our property on the NE side.  It was fun to see our riders using a trail that traditionally is used by the bikers.  It’s a steady climb and then an equally steady descent.  Our advanced riders got to take advantage of this and they deserve it.

I visited with the weavers on the way back.  They were working with plain strips of cloth that they thread through their weaving to give it a look that you will see at pickup on Friday.  If you meet Pamela or Tamara, ask about this technique that they started this year.  It’s simple and very creative and also beautiful.

Creek hiking went out twice today – once this morning with younger campers and once this afternoon with those who went the distance all the way to Connestee Falls.  It’s a spectacular creek hike because you’re in the creek the whole time and culminates at the Falls.  There are several swimming holes along the way to cool off in.  It was a hot morning so the pool was a welcome relief.  Every creek hike emphasizes three points of contact with the stream surface because rocks and water can be a little slippery.  I love going on creek hikes because it makes you feel like you’re in deepest Pisgah and there could be a giant hellbender just at your feet.  We’ve seen them before and know they are there.  If you’ve never seen one, they are just a giant salamander and quite ancient looking.  They live in most of our large and rocky cold water streams here in WNC.

Mountainside and Riverside will be finishing up their adventures tomorrow and coming home tomorrow afternoon.  No news is good news from them.  They will be walking out, riding their last ride, climbing their last climb, paddling their last river tomorrow and hopefully starting a fire by friction in our damp environs.  By this time tomorrow night, they will have showered and ready for our traditional Tajar Ball.  Can’t wait to have them back in camp.  They will have stories to tell.

We had a brief shower just before dinner tonight and it really cooled things off.  Dinner fare celebrated Holland and we had sausages with mashed potatoes and carrots, green peas, salad, mustard, cheese for the potatoes and a delicious dessert that I can’t remember what it was called.  It was delicious, none the less.    It’s nice to celebrate our different nationalities each week here at camp.  I always learn so much from our international staff.  Stay Tuned!

 

Twilight Play is a Blast!

Dear Parents and Friends,

It is a beautiful sunset here tonight and as you can guess that made for a great day.  We were supposed to get thunderstorms most of the day today but it sprinkled one time and was sunny and partly cloudy all afternoon.  This afternoon several cabins went “off program” on creek hiking, 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 with a 20% chance of rain.  For those cabins who stayed in the normal program today, we ran a wide range of sign-ups including making Johnny Cakes 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.

Tonight after dinner was Twilight Play which is always a hit here at camp.  You’re able to take almost any activity and it’s like a regular period during the day.  Campers love it because they’ve just refueled from dinner and it’s in the cool of the evening.  The lake was open for a variety of activities including the traverse line.  Only about 1 in 40 campers make it across and it’s challenging.  It’s a new challenge for most and it’s ok to not make it.  A good many campers choose to play capture the flag tonight.  I led a whiffle ball game where you only needed 2 outs to retire the side and no strikeouts.  It was fast paced and many runs were scored.  No one really knew the score when we ended.  Each camper probably batted at least 25 times so it was action plus.  There were a few double plays and lots of balls hit over the outfielders head.  When you connect with a whiffle ball it can go places.  There were many activities offered this evening and one is a favorite called the tower swing and it is just plain fun.  You’re hooked into a harness and connected to the climbing tower by a long rope.  Your friends pull you toward the top of the swing and with a small rope looped through a carabiner, you decide when you want to swing.  It’s a thrill and a rush when you let go.

New experiences give our minds a fresh start by awakening the need to focus and push ourselves a bit and face some trepidations.  Everything at camp is challenge by choice and campers can always opt out.    When children arrive at camp they are surrounded by new people, a new place 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!

It’s been another full day here at camp and there’s so much to tell you, but of course, I’ll leave most of that to your children.  There’s a lot of bonding here at camp and I feel that camp is based on building relationships through experiences that we have with each other.  In most all of our cabins, children’s bodies and minds are slowing down as they think and dream about their day and imagine what tomorrow might bring.  Stay tuned!

World Cup and More!

Dear Parents & Friends,

Vive la France and congratulations to the French nation for winning the World Cup today.  If you are a soccer fan, and we have many of them here, you surely were aware that the finals of World Cup were happening.  I don’t ever recall so many parents asking if we would be showing the game.  We did show it even though it had already been played a couple of hours before.  So no one was a spoiler today, we turned off the internet for staff and asked everyone on staff not to check their phones.  Most were working all day so that was next to impossible.  I recorded it at home and brought it over around 1:30 to show after lunch through rest hour.

Even better our Special Day theme was World Cup which included many stations that campers visited throughout the morning.  There were, of course, soccer games happening all day.  There was even soccer water polo at the pool, World Cup Photo Booth, Soccer Skills Training, Flag Decorating and much more.  For those that didn’t want to watch the game, there was Thunderball, more 8 a side soccer, and arts and crafts going on throughout the afternoon.  It’s amazing how much soccer (futbol) has grown since Anne and I have been at camp.  At least half our campers play or have played.  The sport is actually how I became involved in camping which is a long story.

One of our staff members is from France so it was nice for him to be cheered on by most of the camp.  There were a few Croatia fans and I can understand that.  They’ve never been to a world cup final and they are a small country that’s been through several splits and formations as late as the early 1900’s.  With a population of just over 4 million it was hard not to pull for them.  I understand their coastline is beautiful.

For you non-soccer fans, the news at camp is that Mountainside and Riverside took off for their adventures today.  Mountainside went in five different directions for their five adventures and Riverside tackled the backpacking trail known as the Foothills Trail.  Both groups will be out until Wed.  Coming up this week will also be Main Camp adventures for kayaking, mountain biking, hiking, and climbing.  We’ll keep you posted on those.  I can hardly believe we’re already into the third week of our long session and halfway through our C-2 session.

While we were thinking very internationally today as it related to the game, I sometimes feel like Gwynn Valley is its own little country.  There is so much going on and lots of behind the scenes work.  We have our small little democracy, our infrastructure including good health care, our department of transportation and housing, our agricultural system in place, food distribution center, education department also encompassing counseling, a ministry of recreation and adventure, and a strong cabinet who advises and works toward the betterment of camp.  There are two presidents –one woman and one man and several vice presidents equally representing the genders.  We also have a balanced budget and a healthy economy.  Our population is very young and healthy which makes for a vibrant economy and lots of fun (good for the body and soul). I know it’s a stretch but it’s fun to think in these terms. We’re not ready to declare our independence at this point but we certainly can declare that camp is a great place to be.  Stay tuned!

The perfect day at Gwynn Valley!

Dear Gwynn Valley Parents and Friends,

Today was another perfect camp day! Campers continued to build skills and learn more deeply about their Discovery activities this morning on our 2nd A-day. As I walked around camp, I saw progress on many crafts in process like pottery vessels and needlepoint projects. Kevin has been working on teaching rolls to our level 2 kayakers this week, and they are making great strides as the prepare for their Lower Green trip next week. Archers worked on hitting cards and milk jugs – an intermediary step before the moving targets they’ll take on at the end of their discovery progression. Each group I visited was playing and making the most of the experiential learning model we love so much at camp – allowing campers to learn by doing and experimenting.

 

This afternoon we had some great sign up activities on offer including tree climbing, trail rides for bikers, shibori scarves and tie dye in crafts, playing with newborn piglets at the farm, and so much more! Some of our advanced horseback riders took a special trip over to the Hunt Farm where they spent 2 hours working on cantering skills and riding in a wide open setting. After the ride, I checked in with a few of those campers who told me riding at the Hunt Farm was the rose of their week! I love hearing about afternoons like that.

This evening we had many small programs around camp for various groups. Six Main Camp cabin groups were on their weekly campout around camp. While camping out, each cabin hikes to one of the permanent shelters around camp, cooks dinner over an open fire, and spends the evening building community over a shared outdoor experience. This time is often a session highlight for many campers, marking a moment when the group could play freely and come together without other distractions.

Those Main Camp cabins not on campouts were split into a few different groups for Mountain Dancing, Tajar Tales, and Fire Time (an abbreviated version of a campout where cabin groups build fires and roast marshmellows and sing songs or tell stories around a campfire with a small group of campers). These smaller group evening programs are a nice contrast to the full-camp evening programs we have been enjoying for the last few nights like Farm Campfire and the C Session Musical performance.

Mountainside and Riverside also had their own smaller evening programs. After preparing physically all day by organizing and packing food and gear for their upcoming 4 day trips, the evening was devoted to preparing mentally and emotionally for the upcoming adventures. Mountainside campers discussed hopes and fears with their smaller adventure groups and ended the evening gathered around a fire pit on the gatehouse green for their community send off ceremony. It was a picture perfect scene with campers seated around the fire in the big grassy field you may have parked in on opening day with the sun setting behind the mountains to the west and fire fire flies slowly waking to to big campers good night. I wish I had a picture to share with you, but you’ll just have to use your imagination for now and for the next four days while these groups are out of camp. No news is good news while these groups are away adventuring. We’ll have lots of stories and photos to share when Mountainside and Riverside return to camp on Wednesday, July 18.

Tomorrow is a SPECIAL DAY in camp, which means the day will have it’s own theme and special set of activities. Some are speculating that they day may have something to do with the World Camp Final which takes place tomorrow. Many campers and staff are excited to learn the outcome of tomorrow’s game, especially Maxime, our counselor from France! You’ll have to tune in tomorrow to find out for sure how Special Day will be spent.

Horton hatches an egg (among other joys!)

Dear Camper Families and Friends,

Today was one of those perfect camp days where the sun was shining all day long and every where you looked campers were having fun and learning alongside their friends! Mountainside and Riverside are both in camp for a few days, so our dining hall feels full and our community complete. Both groups spend the day doing enjoying some more classic camp activities like crafts, sports, etc. On Sunday, both groups will head out for 4 days in the field. Riverside will be backpacking (their 3rd and final adventure) and Mountainside will split into 5 different adventure groups (rock climbing, mountain biking, white water canoeing, backpacking and earth skills).

We had so many great activities running today in Main Camp throughout the morning and afternoon. The pool and lake were both full of campers taking advantage of the amazing weather. One waterfront group this afternoon was lucky enough to creek hike up to Connesstee Falls, moving through the water and searching for wildlife all long the way. In sports, campers shot bullseyes at archery and learned to play cricket as part of our World Sports discovery. This afternoon we offered Capture the Flag as a sign up – this activity is a favorite and always draws huge numbers! The Farm was very popular today as well – I think our farm campfire last night as well as the new piglet arrivals will help the farm continue to draw big crowds this session. Crafts were very popular as well with campers throwing on the wheel in pottery, making dream catchers in at Yanderside, learning how to needle point in Shady Grove, and making hooks and bottle openers at The Forge. It always amazing me to watch campers using their creative minds to make beautiful things. I’m sure you’ll get to see it too when they head home 1 week from today!

      

 

Program areas sometimes do combination activities, which campers and staff both love because it keeps activity choices feeling fresh. Some classic examples of cross over activities are leaf print medallions (Nature + Pottery), bikayathon (Biking + Kayaking), and Tubihimo (Waterfront + Crafts). But today… we ran a cross over activity I could have never imagined. One of the things I love most about camp are the surprises, and truly this is a re-mix I could not have dreamed up. Today, for the first time ever in Gwynn Valley history, we ran a 2 hour sign up called SMORESES. Campers went on a 1 hour trail ride on horseback to a camp out site where they tested their fire building skills with our camping skills instructor (Darcy) and enjoyed some well earned s’mores. The name alone makes it feel like a keeper, but after the rave reviews I heard from campers at dinner, I’m convinced this is a special mash up activity that should be run again at some point!

 

Tonight our amazing Fine Arts Team performed the C session musical for all of Main Camp! Witty lyrics written by Debbie and the campers, paired with some great costumes and charismatic kids made for a really entertaining evening.  These campers and staff have been working hard for the last 2 weeks to make this production a success and their hard work really showed trough. Through song and dance, they told the story of Horton, an elephant who finds himself in the awkward position of caring for and hatching the egg of a bird, while its mother steals away on vacation. Horton, the kind elephant, endures terrible weather, the ridicule from his jungle friends, and many other challenges….but through it all Horton stays committed to caring for and loving this mysterious little bird egg. When the egg finally hatches, the baby creature that emerges is an ‘elephant-bird’ with features that resemble both his biological mother (the bird) and Horton (the elephant who filled in for a time en loco parentis). As I watched from the back of the lodge, looking over the shoulders of all the campers and staff members in our community, I thought about all the adults that step in at various points and shape a child through their adolescent journey. Having watched many of my former campers grow up to be current staff members, I reflected on how those connections and experiences from their days as campers show up on the other end as young adults. I am humbled and filled with awe when I think about the trust that you bestow on us – the Gwynn Valley community – to embrace your children and take care of them for 10 days or 3 weeks or more. We recognize the magnitude of this gift and, just like Horton, we promise to do everything in our power to care for these precious eggs here at camp!

First Day of Discovery!

Dear Parents & Friends,

Welcome to another day of GV news and what’s happening at camp.  Certainly way too much to write about.  Our day started off pretty normal like most camp days; beautiful weather, cool temps, and everyone ready to start their Discovery activities this morning.  I elected to spend some time with our young mountain bikers for most of the morning.  Our beginner intermediate group warmed up near the soccer field and then went to the Green to learn their gearing, peddling uphill, attack position and peddling out of the saddle.  This was all done using cones and peddling on grass back and forth uphill and downhill.  By the end of the period, almost everyone was able to complete the course without dabbing (putting a foot down).  Our next lesson will be shifting your weight for different situations and taking on some level single track here at camp.

Our second group of riders was either veterans from last year or from the previous session.  We went straight to the trail after doing bike checks.  We broke the trail down into segments and even walked it before we mounted up and tested our skills.  We placed staff along the trail at various points to help with spotting in case anyone started to tumble.  Learning to move quicker in a tricky spot going up and downhill helps with the overall balance.  Slow is good and we stress know your limits but sometimes a bit of acceleration helps with balance.  After challenging ourselves going uphill through various obstacles then it was all downhill to home and the biking shed.

Just at the end of lunch, we had a shower come through with a lot of rain and a little thunder.  Our Thorguard system gave us a chance to stay in the dining room, play some games, hear a story and hold sign-ups for the afternoon.  We used most of our rest hour but since it was the first full day of camp and everyone is pretty rested.  The afternoon activities were fun for all with lots going on at the waterfront.  Camping skills and Nature made fire starters in hopes of using them tomorrow when they’ll need to build fires.  The Nature side of that group dissected owl pellets which are pretty interesting.  After an owl eats the small rodents, birds, and bugs that are a part of its nightly diet, its stomach cannot digest the fur, bones, teeth, feathers, and insect shells from that food. These “extra” parts are formed into a tight PELLET inside the owl and are then are later SPIT UP by the owl. Darci orders these and we don’t find them here at GV although I’m sure they are in the woods.

The Mill was grinding corn today and making cornmeal as well as cooking up some Johnny Cakes.  Not far from the Mill there was Felting going on at arts and crafts.  We have three very talented women working with our children.  Tamara was felting, Pamela was weaving, and Daisy was working with dyes and colors all creating some amazing outcomes.

After dinner and After Supper Activities, we held FARM CAMPFIRE in the Lodge.  It was hilarious as usual with storytelling, music, skits, a carrot eating contest, goat bridges, chicken dancing, and clogging.  All this was topped off with Granny’s carrot cake for all of camp.  I have been remiss by not telling you that our piglets were born on Tues. morning early as you can see by the above pics.  I think there are 8 or 9 at this juncture.  Mountainside and Riverside came to campfire tonight as well and we had a blast.  It’s a one-time offering during the summer and a special evening. To tell the truth, every evening is special here.  Camp is happy, fun, and challenging in all the good ways.  Camp helps to build character, resilience and is a stepping stone for parts of life to come.  We encourage children to value their uniqueness and to understand and appreciate their part in the larger community.  Camp gives kids a world of good!  Stay tuned!

Opening Day of C-2 and Off to a Great Start!

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.  Those campers who are here for three weeks had signups this morning while the new campers were arriving. With 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 opportunities as well.  Afternoons are one time activities offered each day. 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, Blacksmithing, Weaving, Survival School, Mountain Biking, Pottery, Weaving, Needlepoint, Material Marbling, Camping Skills & Nature, Kayaking, 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 the bright sunny weather until just before dinner a little thunder made us look skyward but it soon passed.  Our lightening detector Thorguard didn’t go off, which meant the coast was clear.  Our Thor system doesn’t go off after campers go to bed or until about 8:00 in the morning. It does, however, alert us in sleep and quiet times with a strobe light that can be seen in the middle 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, Farm, and Horses. We all received new table assignments tonight for dinner and I’m with a great group of campers and staff at table 4.  We don’t have any new campers at our table, but campers of different ages don’t usually know one another.  We took some time to find out about where everyone lives, if they have a pet and how their day went so far.  One of Gwynn Valley’s values is Acceptance and I feel we do a great job embracing new people into the fold here at GV.  We are a no put-down zone and really give everyone a chance to be who they are.  Anne does a great job of placement and making sure that not too many friends are together to form cliques in cabins.

While technology does not rank as a priority here at camp, I must admit that we did allow our young soccer enthusiasts a chance to watch the England-Croatia match today.  We gave children the choice of using their rest hour and one activity period to see the second half.  We have quite a few English staff and unfortunately, they did not win the match.  We do however have a French counselor who is very excited that France is in the Finals.

Mountainside continues their training days tomorrow, going into 4 different directions to get ready for their adventures starting on Sunday.   As I write Mountainside is out on the Gatehouse Green soaking up our view and participating in what we call Mid Summer’s Night Dream.  It’s held before they go off of adventures and has been a ceremony and fun part of the program for a long time.  Riverside returned from their river component today after having spent 4 days paddling.

As our evening closed down, our new campers came to the Lodge for some stories and songs and our C campers played a little BINGO in the Dining Room.    It was the perfect thing for each group.  After both campfires cabin groups got together to hold their nightly friendship circle which is every night in the cabin.  We’ll talk about that later.

As you know we take lots of photos each day here at camp and know that you as parents and friends are 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 with your children. 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!

C Session, World Cup, and Ice Cream ( All Good Things )!

Dear Parents and Friends,

Our wonderful C-1 campers have departed and we are down to those terrific C Session children.  It’s a special day for them because our numbers are reduced and there are fewer folks here.  Afternoon programs went very well with everyone involved with sign-ups and choosing their favorites for the afternoon.  The day dawned clear this morning and the temps rose to the perfect level for all water activities and really anything else that was happening in activities.

Our Mountainside crew had their first training day which meant that the 5 skills groups went toward working in the area of their chosen adventure.  Paddlers spent time on the lake and then headed to section 0 of the French Broad.  Climbers went to Looking Glass to scale the granite walls of friction and eyebrows there.  Hikers/backpackers made the long but well worth journey to the top of the parkway peaking out at just over 6000 feet to Black Balsam.  It’s one of my favorite places in our area and once you’re on top the views all around are spectacular.  Bikers stayed on the property to refine their two-wheel skills and to prepare for Dupont where their adventure will take place.  Earth Skills also stayed on property at Fox Den, their home away from home, where refining the finer points of making fire to making rope will help them achieve much awareness of the natural world around them.

Mountainside is a great group and Anne and I had dinner tonight with some of the campers from  Sommerset, Laurel Wood, and Sunrise.  What a delightful group of girls and my prediction is that a good many of them will be on staff one day.  It’s really fun to see them grow up, stretch themselves and develop such good character as they have (thanks to your work at home parents!)  I’d like to think we add the sprinkles to that recipe that makes it fun and partner with you.

Riverside is still out there paddling today and will be out one more day before they make the trek home.  They too are being stretched by the water dynamic and what a great metaphor for life.  We all go through rapids, find safe and secure places in eddies, and hit those calm stretches that usually give way to more rapids and riffles.  Living life is certainly not all calm water and it has its different class rapids.  There’s much to be learned when we ply the rivers around here.  As a quote, I once heard, “Go to where you feel the most alive; I say the river”.

Tonight we’re watching a movie and some are watching the soccer game that was played today between France and Belgium.  After dinner, we had lots of ice-cream and then started the game and movie.  This has been a tradition for us for a while and it’s special this year to have the World Cup at the same time.

Tomorrow new campers arrive and we welcome them to our wonderful little community.  It was a great day at camp for so many reasons!  Stay tuned!

C-1 Closing and C Marches On!

Dear Parents & Friends of C-1 Campers,

Thank you for a great ending to our C-1 Session today. We’ve had a wonderful time for the 10-day 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 us for two weeks.  Hope to see you next year!

Grant & Anne

PS – Those campers who are C Session and still with us are having a great day.  We’ll have news and updates from them this evening.  Stay tuned!