Another Day of Opportunity

Dear Gwynn Valley Familes and Friends,

We are happy to report that our dining hall was full again this morning! All 11 cook out and camp out groups from last night made it back to downtown GV in time for breakfast this morning. Breakfast was abuzz with tales of fire building, s’more making, star gazing, and how well/poorly everyone slept in their camp out shelters. Following a delicious and filling breakfast of biscuits, cheddar cheese, scrambled eggs, fruit, cereal, milk and AJ (apple juice), everyone headed out to their 2nd B Day of Morning Discoveries with full bellies. As I walked around filming this morning, I witnessed many excellent moments of teaching. Filming is a wonderful way to observe campers and staff in activities because it allows you to enter and observe program in a way that doesn’t disrupt the flow of the lesson. Down at the stables, many of our campers were working on riding off lead in the ring. Archers were learning how to control their aim by trying to hit cards and milk jugs that were added to the targets they practiced with on Day 1. Our climbers were in the hemlock trees today instead of at the tower for exposure to a new kind of climbing. Mountain bikers progressed from open field and basic hill work to some of the single track trails we have here on camp property. In Outdoor Living Skills (OLS) our campers learned about dutch oven cooking and made a delicious pot of baked macaroni and cheese! Of course, this is just a glimpse of what we had going on. There were also campers weaving in crafts, paddling in kayaks, writing a musical to be performed later this session, making wind chimes and wheel throwing in pottery, milking goats down at the farm, and much more!!

Today was our first day of Open Houses, which is when we have leadership staff and program leaders visit cabin groups in their camp homes (the cabins) while cabin counselors take a 30 minute break to refresh themselves or prepare for program. During Open House, the visitors ask campers about camp life, cabin life, and their counselors. On a serious level, this gives campers the opportunity to discuss matters of concern with adults who are not directly involved with their cabin. On a fun level, this gives our staff who don’t live in a cabin the opportunity to hear about all the fun things going on in cabin life! Today, I had a Open House with our youngest boys cabin, Echo. Those boys are so much fun and they are having a BALL at camp! We heard a lot about their camp out last night, their ukelele-playing SIT, and the water gun ninja who sometime stop by on afternoons when they’re headed to the pool.

After a delicious lunch of tomato soup, cheese & ham toasties, fresh green salad, corn, fruit, and sky juice, we all went outside to shuck the corn picked by this morning’s farm crew. This time of year, we shuck corn almost every day after lunch. It’s just part of our daily routine: lunch, hand washing, corn shucking, and then singing with Debbie! After singing, campers watched skits to learn about their afternoon activity options and then signed up for afternoon activities. We had a few tubing trips going out and lots of campers out at the waterfront trying to beat the heat. A crew of brave and curious campers caught and learned how to fillet fish with Miller Zeke. I later heard that the best part was cooking the fish over the Mill fire and learning how delicious a fresh trout can taste with a bit of salt and pepper and a squirt of lemon juice on top! Not all campers love fish, but Zeke estimates that 19 out of the 20 campers who signed up tried it and liked it. The Tajar Times was also a popular activity this afternoon. One of our staff parents this session, Rick Brown (RB), is a newspaper editor for the 49 weeks each year that he isn’t at Gwynn Valley. When he is here at camp, the Tajar Times goes from a standard camp newspaper to a daily publication with a well-deserved collection of rabid readers.

This evening we all enjoyed more delicious food to include baked trout, succotash, green salad, dinner rolls, and roasted potatoes. Instead of coming together as a whole camp group after dinner, we split into smaller groups. A few cabin groups were camping out in shelters on Gwynn Valley’s property. The remaining Brookside campers learned some Mountain Dances with Debbie, our Music Director, and Jordan, our Brookside Head Counselor. Those Mountainside cabins who camped out last night had a chance to go down to the farm and pick potatoes (a Mountainside tradition!) and play with the baby goats and piglets. The remaining Hillside campers sat on the hill in front of Mountain View and Playhouse cabins to listen to a few Tajar Tales. For those of you at home who don’t know, the Tajar is a friend of ours here at camp who is part badger, part tiger, and part jaguar. The Tajar is very friendly and full of folly, but he’s also very, very shy so we don’t see him much. Tonight we heard the story of the first Tajar Ball, which is a tradition that lives on today at camp. Many Hillside campers chose to stay after Tajar Tales to watch the sunset. You could see cabin groups spread out in small clusters having outdoor friendship circles as the sky faded from blue to orange and pink and purple. As the darkness started to settle and the fireflies started to come out, the groups got up one by one to make their way up the hill to their cozy cabins and inviting beds. All the Gwynn Valley campers are now sound asleep, dreaming of what tomorrow will hold.