A Perfect Opening of D Session!

Dear Families and Friends,

Today was our opening day of D and what an incredible day it was! Skies were blue and the cool mountain air was perfect for greeting campers and parents alike. As campers eagerly learned the names of their counselors and fellow cabinmates, there was a joyous feeling all around. Opening days are always wonderful times for old friends to reconnect and new friendships to bloom. Campers arriving at the same time will often cheer as they learn the person next to them will be in the same cabin for the session! 

After a morning of making new friends and settling into their cabins, campers were ready for activities! The day warmed up and was perfect weather for a swim! Luckily, every camper gets a chance to enjoy the Lake or Pool on opening day for a quick swim assessment. After cooling off, campers were able to enjoy other activities as a cabin group such as horseback riding, visiting the Farm, cooking at the Mill, shooting a bow and arrow in Archery, and many more! These are just a taste of the sign-ups that will be offered for campers during the session! 

As Main Camp spent the afternoon playing and trying out different activities, our Young Leaders got to know each other by playing different team building games lead by their counselors and head counselor! These campers will spend the next three weeks growing as leaders with leadership trainings as well as participating in the joys camp has to offer! 
Our Riversiders immediately went back to school… Belay school that is, for their climbing adventure which they will leave on tomorrow! These campers will spend the next four days climbing in Tennessee and bonding as a group. It’s always fun seeing the campers come back from their first trip, ready for more adventures and full of laughter!

Mountainside got to try out some Mini-Adventure challenges today which introduced them to the 5 adventures they will get to choose from later in the session. These activities include canoeing, climbing, earth skills, biking, and backpacking and each is filled with different challenges and adventure! Campers will go on four different mini-adventures, and will ultimately choose one for their four-day adventure later in the session! 

As camp gathered for dinner, cabins groups enjoyed a bit more time together by eating as a group for dinner. We always enjoy a delicious opening night meal of pasta, homemade Bolognese sauce, broccoli, and salad (both of which are grown from the farm)! As a special treat and welcome to camp, cabins enjoy a giant cookie decorated with their cabin name! It’s the perfect welcome home treat and gives everyone a yummy boost before playing for a bit longer during After Supper Activities! 

After After Supper Activities, cabins gathered at the Lodge and joined all of camp with an opening campfire. Campers learned the states and countries that everyone had traveled from, the years they had been there, and what they did today! The evening ended with a Tajar Tale, which is a story about our mischievous and mystical creature the Tajar who lives here at camp. He’s a kind and silly fellow and has lots of stories of his folly that we often share, we even celebrate his birthday later in the session at the Tajar ball! As campfire came to a close, campers were quietly dismissed back to their cabins as they listened to the song “Sheep May Safely Graze” which has been played every night for the last 41 years of camp by our pianist Debbie. 

Today has truly been an incredible day, filled with friendship, laughter, and the simple joys of childhood. As I sit here watching the sunset over the Blue Ridge Mountains, I am so grateful for the time we get to spend at camp and for you all who share your campers with us each year. We hope you all enjoy time to recharge over the next few weeks and take time to cherish the simple joys of your own days. 

Sunny days and sad goodbyes!

Dear Parents, Family, and Friends,

It’s hard to believe that we are already at the closing night of C session! Here at camp the days are long, but the weeks are short. To be honest, the years are short as well. For many of the campers we recognized this evening at Friendship Campfire, I can remember their first Gwynn Valley summer 4, 8, or 10 years ago. Young Leaders performed a song this evening that reflects this sentiment. It’s a re-write of a Taylor Swift song (The Best Day), originally written and performed Kate Willingham, who was the Blue Ridge Counselor for these same girls 5 years ago in 2014. Even though Kate is no longer at camp, they remembered the song all these years later and re-wrote it to fit their 2019 experience.  Here’s a sample of the lyrics: 

I’m 16 now and can’t believe how time could go so fast
It’s been 10 years since I first started here, it’s in my past
I’m worried I’ve forgotten everything, I’ll get lost and roam
But I can see the lake and lodge and I know that I’m home

Now I know why the trees change in the fall
I know my counselors were on my side, even when I was wrong
And I love Anne and Grant for giving me their eyes
Staying back and watching me shine and
I didn’t know if they know, so I’m taking this chance to say
That I had the best day at camp today
I had the best day at camp today 

After honoring all our campers for their various years here at camp, our Young Leaders were honored for their leadership and service to camp this session. The Young Leaders program is designed to help ease the passage from camper to staff member, and to commemorate this milestone, we presented each Young Leader with a 2019 staff t-shirt. We hope that many of these young men and women will be future SITs and counselors! 

At Friendship Campfire, we also watched an amazing that our videography team put together, in addition to a slideshow with some of the photos taken. Please enjoy the video for a taste of what we’ve been up to for the last few weeks! 

Today wasn’t all about goodbyes though. The morning was action packed with sign ups and Main Camp Adventure Trips (MCATs) in biking, climbing, kayaking, and camping skills! We like to offer our Main Campers a taste of off-camp adventure to help with their transition into the Older Programs (Mountainside and Riverside) that are more adventure focused. On camp, we offered lots of great sign ups including trail rides for horses, water color painting, archery, slip and swim (a pottery favorite), and a birthday party for the Mill! Our Mountainside campers did sign ups as well and enjoyed some chill time on the lake as a whole community. 

In the afternoon, cabins kept busy with packing and a last trip to the pool for pillowcase day! The hot afternoon sun was the perfect invitation to go down the water slide or play ultimate waterball with your cabin mates. Campers who signed up for the Fine Arts Discovery also attended rehearsal for the performance shared with Main Camp this evening. This creative group put on a wonderful mash up fairy tale story as well as an original tale about the protective powers of the Tajar at Gwynn Valley. If you plan to attend the closing campfire tomorrow morning, you’ll see at least one of these original musical numbers! 

Tomorrow when you arrive, your children will be waiting for you in their cabins.  At 10:30 there will be cabin friendship circles in the Main Camp cabins as well Closing Campfires for our Older Programs: Mountainside at the MS Lodge, Riverside in the Center, and Young Leaders in the Lodge.  At 11:00 am, we’ll host a Main Camp Closing Campfire in the Lodge for parents, friends and campers. After this, family and friends are welcome to join us for our farm buffet lunch. 

Thank you for sharing your children with us for these past 3 weeks or 10 days. We’ve had a wonderful session and hope to see all of these children back again next summer!!

Making Memories!

Dear Parents & Friends,

We just finished our Tajar Ball celebration and the skies cleared just before the Ball.  Usually, we eat on the lawn of the Green in front of the Dining Room, but thundershowers kept us inside and celebratory none the less.  As many of you know Tajar Ball happens two nights before each session ends except for C-1 which gets to celebrate the 4th of July during their time with us.  The Ball ushers in characters and costumes of every variety and it’s a lot of fun with all the games, good food and a giant waterslide that captures all who defy its watery jaws.  You will no doubt see many photos from the ball all capturing the delight and joy that is effervescent in this, our next to last evening at GV for Session C, C-2. 

It’s also celebratory because all our Adventurers returned to camp today.  Mountainside and Riverside returned home after being out for 4 days in the woods, on the rivers, climbing, earth skilling, and biking.  Faces glowed even though slightly smudged with a little dirt and grit, but the right kind of grit that gets you through some challenges.  Other than a few mosquito bites here and there everyone returned in good shape, stronger, leaner, and more determined to see a challenge through. 

I spent yesterday with Mountainside on the Tuckaseegee River and we spent 5 hours plying the river with those campers on a hot sunny day.  We ferried, S turned, eddied out, peeled out and swam and jumped off rocks to cool ourselves between rapids.  They returned to the Tuck again today to reach for a higher level of achievement including the infamous Snickers Challenge eddy near the end of the run.  As of this writing, I hadn’t heard if any of our crew made it. 

Bikers rolled throughout the 100 miles of trails in Dupont State Forest including some of my favorites like Ridge Line and Turkey Knob Extension.  Our climbers started their adventure at Rumbling Bald and then followed the twisty rope roadways to Linville Gorge which has any and all possibilities for climbing along with wonderful sunsets and big sky views.  Primitive Skillers camped just outside Dupont and tried their hand at a host of handy craft skills that most of our country’s population possessed 200 years ago.  Backpackers started their ascent of Black Balsam and then like ants on the ridge made their way all the way to Pisgah Inn and beyond just under the shadow of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  High and mighty views were bountiful. 

Riverside completed their last outdoor component and backpacked from Black Balsam to the Davidson River Campground via the Art Loeb Trail.  They are a tight group and have the makings of wonderful staff in a few years. 

These days that have passed have created more than just memories.  The impressions of camp last a long time and are never really forgotten.  Something will trigger a thought or memory of a meal, turning over your boat at the end of Double Drop or the ring you made at Blacksmithing, a new friend from far away and the sounds of camp.  These are the “simple joys” as we call them.   

Tonight as we were breaking down Tajar Ball I was nearby one of our girl’s cabins.  One of our staff is leaving at the end of this session to be with her family and getting ready to return to college.  She began her camp experience many years ago as a camper in Playhouse and has over the years been through every age and program at GV.  As the evening closed in she quietly viewed SIT’s and Young Leaders taking a last turn on the waterslide and I could tell she was seeing herself out there just a few years ago in her camp career.  I could see a slight smile on her face as memories raced through her mind.  Family and life were calling, but parting from camp would be hard.  Her introspective space was broken by one of her campers needing some attention after a long day.   I too was having my own memory of this staffer as a young camper here, and now a grown woman warmly providing for that child as she had been provided for.  What a wonderful circle that exists here.  We both were feeling a sense of accomplishment for what Gwynn Valley has given to her and now what she is giving back.  Friends, that is pure JOY!

Tomorrow is another day of opportunity and our Main Camp campers will be heading out to climb, paddle, bike, and hike to culminate their time here before the session ends.  We’ll see what memories will be created tomorrow as our younger campers take on a little grit and get a little dirty having fun and learning along the way.  Life is good at GV! Stay tuned!   

Twilight Play, Adventures, and More!

Dear Families and Friends,

We have enjoyed another great day at camp! Campers worked hard on their final morning of A day Discoveries! The third day of discoveries is always exciting as campers have had a chance to master the area they’re in. Be it finishing a challenging project in crafts, overcoming fears on the ropes course, or proudly sharing the victory of a successful wet exit in kayaking, there are many memory-making moments on these mornings! 

The afternoon was met with as much joy and excitement as morning discoveries, campers were able to choose from a multitude of sign-ups, including making and racing corn boats down the stream with the Mill, ultimate frisbee at sports, and playing games on horseback down at the stables. An exciting aspect of sign-ups towards the end of the session is that campers have already had a chance to try many different activities, and often challenge themselves to try something new. If a camper hasn’t gone to the farm yet, they’ll eagerly sign-up knowing it’s one of the last chances they’ll have to pick veggies and play with the baby animals (including the new baby goats)!

We ended the day on Main Camp with Twilight play, where campers get another hour-long activity to enjoy! With a beautiful sunset and lots of happy campers playing all around camp, it was a perfect way to end the day. 

As Main Camp enjoyed their day, both our Riverside and Mountainside groups continued on day 3 of their 4-day adventures! The Riverside and Mountainside backpackers neared the final few miles of their hikes, while the canoers and climbers focused on more challenging rivers and rock faces having two days experience under their belts. Our Earth Skills campers are surely masters of many nature skills by now, having ample opportunities to learn survival skills and outdoor crafts. We know that our campers will be reluctant to end their journeys tomorrow, but they will be excitedly greeted by us all and will get to celebrate the Tajar’s birthday as a welcome back! 

  As the days fly by and the end of the session draws close, we are remembering to enjoy the little moments that make camp special. We are grateful for the memories and friendships that are made here each summer and for you all who share your incredible campers with us each year. 

A Farm Filled Day

Dear Parents, Family, and friends,

Each day is important and fun at Gwynn Valley but today really seemed to take the cake, carrot cake to be precise. It started with an amazing breakfast of fresh baked apricot cranberry scones with pork sausage, scrambled eggs, and mixed fruit. Following breakfast, campers moved to their B day discoveries. With a morning on the waterfront, making candles at the bong tree, all the way down to the farm, it was an exciting morning of skill building and Fun! Though I think the area of camp which was having the most fun today would have to be the farm. This is due to the long awaited arrival of three baby goats yesterday afternoon, and farm campfire. After 5 long weeks of anticipation the roar of excitement for the goats could be heard all around camp. 

While the baby goats weren’t ready for human interaction in the morning, as they need 24 hours after they are born to bond with mom, campers in the afternoon were able to sign up and play with them. And while we did have a storm burst in the afternoon which set off our Thorguard lightning system, our campers and staff took shelter in lightning safe buildings. This resulted in an extended activity time, which pushed dinner back by a bit. There are many ways we appreciate our staff here at camp, and one way we show our appreciation for our support staff is allowing them to get off site as a group to go to dinner.When they do this, our campers and other program staff sit as cabin groups to enjoy a picnic supper. After our picnic, there was time to play.

But the highlight of today had to be the Farm Campfire. It was an amazing experience where we had a live band made up for Shelley, our office manager, Kevin, our director of older programs, Conor, a cabin counselor, and a special appearance of Josh, a staff alumni. Probably what took the metaphorical cake had to be Dale. Dale is the mastermind behind the farm and started the program back in the 1980s. He told us two funny stories and showed us a native Western Carolina way of clogging. Campers and staff were also given the opportunity to stand up and dance along to the band as they sang “Home Grown Tomatoes” and were taught the Cotton Eyed Joe by Farmer Kimmy. With all of these exciting moments of campfire, it’s hard to tell which was the favorite: the band, dancing, listening to Dale tell stories, watch him clog, or get treated to homemade carrot cake. 

It has been one long, Farm Fun filled day here at Gwynn Valley and we hope that you have as many laughs as we have. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s blog!

Moon Landing Special Day!

Dear Families and Friends,

Today was another SPECIAL day here at Gwynn Valley. Each Special Day has a unique theme … today we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Moon Landing with a day filled with intergalactic fun and creativity! It’s amazing to celebrate such a monumental part of history with so many campers, and even more amazing with the knowledge that the moon landing was shown live at Gwynn Valley 50 years ago! I can only imagine the memories and letters campers at the time had when retelling the incredible moment in history. 

Special Day is always a treat, as it allows cabins to spend more time together during the day. Cabins had the morning to visit over 20 different team-building stations all themed around space activities. They visited the Lake for part of the morning, challenging themselves on a floating obstacle course, or tried to make it to the moon on a sinking canoe with the whole cabin! They also enjoyed dry activities all of which incorporated some intergalactic theme. Some cabins challenged their communication skills with a blindfolded obstacle course they had to lead their counselors through. Other cabins enjoyed a very non-competitive game of blackhole tag! Our Young Leaders always have time to shine on Special Days. Today they transformed the Lodge into the Moon! Campers entered and took off on a spaceship where they encountered aliens who stole away their fuel tanks to get back to Earth. To make it home cabins solved puzzles, jumped through hoops, and eventually defeated the aliens to make it out. There was so much joy brought to campers by this activity and it was incredible to see the Young Leaders bring the activity they had created to life!

After the morning activities, we enjoyed an extended rest hour where campers and counselors had a chance to rest from a busy morning. The afternoon was a bit different, with special choice-based space activities. Despite a few sun showers this afternoon, the weather held and kids were able to play. Campers were able to choose 2 different activities for the afternoon, except for those who explored moon territory on a 2-hour hike to the rock! Other activities offered were constellation cross-stitch, asteroid toss castle ball, Moon shoot archery, Moon alien pinch pots, and more! Campers had a blast and were so excited about the theme. It’s really true that no matter how old you are, everyone loves space! 

After activities, everyone went back to their cabins to change into their Vesper whites. The theme was God’s Peace and Understanding, and campers and counselors shared beautiful songs and readings. It was such a delight to see so many cabin groups performing together, such a great reminder of the friendships that are able to develop here at camp. 

Main Camp was certainly busy, and to add to the excitement, we bid a safe farewell to our Mountainsiders and Riversiders as both groups headed off on their four-day adventures! Riverside is leaving for their hiking adventure, while Mountainside adventure groups will be either biking, hiking, paddling, climbing, or on earth skills. We are so proud of the hard work these campers have done to prepare for these trips, and are confident that they will have amazing adventures. We can’t wait to hear their stories and experiences when they come back! 

Thank you all for sharing your incredible campers with us. We are so grateful for the adventures we get to share, and the stellar memories we get to make every day. 

A Great Day at Camp!

Dear Families and Friends, 

​What a great day we had here at Gwynn Valley! With plenty of activities, some packing for our older programs, and a special guest, it was a fun-filled day! We started the morning with delicious homemade corn muffins, sausage, eggs, and fruit! A delicious and energizing start to a full day for everyone. As discoveries were enjoyed by our Main Campers, our Riversiders and Mountainsiders packed for the 4-day adventures that they will be embarking on tomorrow! Riversider will be departing on their third and final adventure where they’ll be hiking part of the Art Loeb trail. On Mountainside, campers also spent the day packing, enjoying calm activities, and resting up before they head off on either climbing, hiking, earth skills, paddling, or biking adventures. 

Our Young Leaders assisted in leading discoveries in the morning and participated in leadership training in the afternoon. These trainings are lead by various leadership staff on camp and focus on different key leadership concepts. Today’s was about synergy and the importance of a strong group dynamic. 

We enjoyed an extra-long rest hour today thanks to a few scattered thunderstorms in the area. As soon as we got the all-clear, afternoon activities proceeded as normal and campers enjoyed their sign-ups feeling recharged and ready!

Tonight was our Special Guest campfire, where we welcome Puppeteer and ATL native, Jake Krakovsky to camp for a presentation and performance about puppets! Jake and his puppet friend Phil taught us about the history of puppetry, puppets used in different cultures, the various types of puppets, and his experiences as a puppeteer! Almost all of camp was there to see his show, and every cabin, from playhouse to Joe Pye enjoyed the performance! Jake was also a camper here and his sister Sloan is one of the Mountainside Logistics this summer! It’s always exciting to see how former campers have grown up and where life has taken them. Jake was commenting on the nostalgia he was feeling listening to Debbie’s music and walking around camp. There are so many special moments at camp that we all carry with us over the years. 

We hope that you all have your own special memories of Gwynn Valley that bring you peace and joy. We will certainly be making more memories over the next few days as adventures will depart and Special Day arrives!

A Wonderful Day for the Books

Dear Parents, Families, and Friends,

It’s been another fun filled day at camp. Our campers started the day with their first B day discoveries. For our C campers these activities differed from their first four activities in C1. Offering different activities allows our C2 campers to have a full range of choices, and for our C campers to experience something new or build on their skills from C1. Campers were able to choose from a variety of options like Navy Seals, Farm and Mill, Candle Making, Basket Weaving, forging wands in Blacksmithing, Wheel Throwing in Pottery, and so much more! 

After such an action packed morning lunch was a welcome sight. The kitchen made a delicious baked potato bar with potatoes from our farm, chili, fresh broccoli, and a refreshing fruit salad. At the table I was sitting at many of the campers couldn’t get enough of the chili. It always amazes me just how much food we consume and how little waste there is. One of the many reasons why I love working at Gwynn Valley is how all of our staff are aware of the impact we have on the world around us. Our kitchen makes sure the food we consume comes from local producers and we try and make sure there is little food waste.Speaking of local produce, down at our own Farm this morning campers and staff picked so much corn that after lunch everyone from campers to leadership got to shuck four pieces of corn each! It’s astounding that we harvested and shucked around 800 ears of corn all in the course of one morning. The campers LOVE shucking corn so much that I hear some asking if they can shuck more than the required number for that day. 

During afternoon sign-up activities our campers heard the rumble of thunder that threatened to set off our Thorguard lightning detection system. Luckily the lighting stayed away and our afternoon activities weren’t affected, so camp carried on as normal. We could hear the children on the lake, saw the focus on campers’ faces as they released their arrows from their bows at the archery range, and smelled the smoke that rose from the Mill’s fire pit as they made Johnny Cakes. It’s so much fun hearing about every camper’s experience and how they each took away something different from the same activity. 

Following a delicious dinner of homemade chicken pot pie and after supper activities our C2 cabins gathered in the Lodge for Mountain Dancing lead by our Brookside Headcounselor,  Lauren with accompaniment from our Music Director, Debbie. Meanwhile our C cabins went back into the dining hall for a lively game of BINGO with special guest appearances by some wacky Bingo champions. Whilst Main Camp danced and played BINGO, Mountainsiders enjoyed a picnic on the green, celebrating their Midsummer Night. After the banquet they played games of their own on the Gatehouse Green. It was such a thrill being able to listen to the laughter of children in the lodge as they swung their partners in a circle, and campers yelling out “BINGO!”

One of the many joys of being a camper or working at Gwynn Valley is the knowledge that no matter the expectations that are placed on an individual outside of camp, everyone is free to let their inner child out to play whilst they are here. From singing “Humpty Dumpty” at the top of your lungs before meals, participating in a skit during campfire, to Mountain Dancing in the Lodge everyone is accepted and welcomed into the GV family. No matter where you go in life, how you change, or what you learn, the GV family will always be here. 

New Zealand and Spain International Day!

Dear Families and Friends,

Kia Ora and Hola! Today was International Day at Gwynn Valley and we were able to learn about New Zealand and Spain! One of the best parts of Gwynn Valley is the staff and campers who join us from all over the country and the world. This summer we are fortunate to have 5 staff from all over New Zealand, and one of our SITs from Spain! Each International Day allows the staff to share their homes, introduce us to new and delicious food, and excite us about the wealth of cultures around the world. 

We started the morning with a Spanish breakfast consisting of Spanish Omelettes, homemade bread with tomato sauce, sausage, and mixed fruits. One of the many reasons I love International Days at camp is the opportunity to experience foods from all over the world, and this breakfast did not disappoint! It was a great start to the morning and prepared us for the first day of Discoveries on Main Camp! 

Campers learned the four activities that they will visit three times each over the next six days. These Discoveries allow the campers a deeper dive into the activities offered to challenge and develop their skills. Some discoveries offered this session were climbing, traditional bead weaving, acting, and several more. 

Our Mountainsiders challenged themselves with another training day for their respective adventures. The Earth Skills campers built shelters in the woods, while paddlers went on the Green river! It was a busy day for these campers, all of whom are getting more and more ready for the start of their adventures on Sunday!

As everyone finished their mornings and gathered for lunch, campers were greeted in Maori (a language of the indigenous Maori people of New Zealand) and enjoyed a delicious Kiwi picnic-style lunch of sausage, bread, pesto salad, and chicken nibbles (which looked suspiciously like chicken wings to us Americans). It was a delicious meal and lead to many more conversations and questions about Kiwi culture and foods!

The afternoon was spent enjoying afternoon signups where campers participated in activities like blacksmithing, whitewater kayaking, pottery, and even performing a skit for the International Day campfire!
Our Riversiders spent the morning working on a service project around camp, and the afternoon on a creek hike! These awesome campers certainly stay busy regardless of them being on or off camp.

Young Leaders spent the morning working their discoveries, and in the afternoon had a chance to climb on the rock wall! They also met to plan an activity they will run during Special Day on Sunday!

The day flew by, and before we knew it dinner had arrived. We had a New Zealand specialty of Fish and Chips, Corn Dogs (who knew they at them in NZ too?), grilled pineapple, and salad. For dessert, we enjoyed Ambrosia, a delicious Kiwi dessert consisting of sweet yogurt, marshmallow fluff, berries, and chocolate chips. Everyone at my table finished dinner happy, full, and eager to visit New Zealand!. 

After dinner and After Supper Activities, all of camp gathered in the Lodge for International Campfire. We started the evening with a Flamenco dance and a presentation about Spain! We then boarded a flight to New Zealand where we traveled to cities across both islands including Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, and Christchurch. We enjoyed a traditional gumboot (rain boot) throwing competition, were treated to a song by NZ native, Lorde, and even saw the Haka performed by the All Blacks rugby team. We finished the night with a song from our Kiwi staff as campers were dismissed for bed. It was a wonderful day to celebrate and learn about two incredible countries. Thank you all for sharing your campers with us, goodnight, Buenas noches, and pai te po from all of us at Gwynn Valley!

C-2 Opening as C Dances On!

Dear Parents and Friends,

It’s been a great day to open our C-2 Session and thanks for bringing your children to camp this morning.  Everyone is in their cabins after a great first day here in the Valley.  Old Mr. Sol shined throughout the day and into the evening.  No rain again today but we may get some needed relief tomorrow.  C-2 campers signed up for activities today and will begin their Morning Discoveries tomorrow.  They chose four which will meet every other day -2 each day and of course in the afternoon free choice for everyone for our 2 activity periods in the afternoon.  All C-2 campers went right into assigned programs for just this afternoon which included a swim assessment.  We don’t waste too much time around here and like to get right into it. 

We also received our new table assignments tonight and were discussing what everyone was looking forward to doing here at camp.  Climbing was high on my table’s list as was Blacksmithing.  The Climbing Wall has been a hot ticket this summer due to our addition of two new Auto Belays systems on the intermediate wall.  Usually, our climbers are belayed by a climbing staff member from the ground.  The Auto Belays are hung over the climbs and retract automatically as the climber ascends the wall and then when they decide to descend it gently lowers them back to their starting point.  This has been a great addition to our program and I’ve been researching these units for a couple of years.  True Blue is the company name if you want to check them out.  The company has over 16,000 of these in operation all over our country.  We send them off to be inspected each year as well as perform a daily and thorough weekly inspection on them. 

The other hot ticket has also been anything water over the last couple of weeks.  From creek hiking, the Water Mat (Scream Machine), swim lessons for beginners at the pool, the rope swing, sit on top kayaks, SUP Boards, Whitewater Canoeing for Mountainside and Riverside, Whitewater Kayaking for Main Camp, and the Traverse Line all keep us cool on these hot days.  I spent two days on the river on Monday and Tuesday with our Main Camp kayakers and our Mountainside Canoers.  The kayakers will be going out on the Green next week and Mountainside will begin their paddling adventures on Sunday. 

Riverside returned today after spending 4 days out paddling.  They ended their week on the Nantahala where the water temp year-round is just plain cold.  Only a couple of boats went into the drink and they were all smiles at dinner tonight.  Riverside and Mountainside joined Debbie (our piano magician), Kevin on fiddle and me calling in the Lodge for some good ole Mountain Dancing.  They danced continuously for over an hour with lots of laughter, swinging and hand clapping.  These groups love anything social so a chance to come together in a fun community event is like having a huge piece of your favorite cake with all the trimmings.  Mountainside and Riverside is a great age at camp and I feel these programs bring out the sparkle in these campers.  It’s perfect for challenge, the social interaction without screens, and gaining new skills under the guidance of staff who excel in their particular areas. 

Whether you were a new arrival today or a veteran camper from C-1 we are looking forward to this next 10 days.  If you’re a new camper to Gwynn Valley, we welcome you and know you will have many opportunities to make new friends, experience many new activities, and live the camp life where memories are made for a lifetime.  We’re so glad you’re here!  Stay tuned!