Open House, Good Food and Twilight Play!

Dear Parents & Friends,

Here at Gwynn Valley we are at the end of another busy and beautiful day. It was another hot day today but a breeze seem to cool us throughout the afternoon heat.  We got a little drizzle during the dinner hour tonight which helped to cool things off.  Several cabins were again camping out tonight and cooking dinner over an open fire.  Every cabin at camp goes on a campout regardless of age.  Our campout shelters are built up off the ground and are closed in on three sides with a shed roof.  All have campfire circles for cooking and hanging out around the campfire and several are close to or on the main creek (Carson Creek) that runs through camp.  It’s such a good experience for these children to camp out with their cabins.  For many of them it will be their first time and possibly first time cooking over a fire.  Meals are simple so please don’t think that they are cutting up vegetables and sautéing them or anything fancy.  It’s usually pan pizza, quesadillas or hot dogs.  Once they get to Mountainside and Riverside meals become a lot more sophisticated.

Today was our second 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. This gives campers the opportunity to discuss matters of all kinds with adults who are not directly involved in cabin life. It’s a great way to find out if counselors are doing a good job in the cabin, because children will let you know if they aren’t.  It also gives us lots of great ideas about how to make Gwynn Valley better. One of my favorite questions to ask is “What is one thing you would never change about Gwynn Valley and one thing you thing we could change to make Gwynn Valley better?” Sometimes we hear suggested changes such as “Make the pool warmer!” or “Serve dessert every day!” Today I visited Mountain View and everyone was having a great time so far at camp.  They are looking forward to their campout on Sat. and love their counselors.  Most of the girls are returners to camp and we also had a couple of first timers.

Speaking of desserts… we had chocolate pie at dinner this evening.  That was on top of meatloaf, mashed potatoes, salad from our garden and squash from the garden.  In fact all those items came from the GV farm.  I hope you all know that we do raise our own beef here at camp and if children ask we do tell them, but not many think about that frankly.  Our kitchen team continues to serve creative, crowd pleasing meals 3 times each day. For breakfast this morning we had a breakfast bread that had carrots and zucchini in it, but it was disguised and everyone loved it.  That along with eggs, apple juice and a variety of cereals and yogurt hit the spot.  For lunch we had BLT’s and pasta salad, fruit and something else good that I can’t remember.

I also spent a part of this morning in a tree filming our tree climbers going for it as they made their way to the top our two hemlock trees near the office.  Hopefully we can get a video out with that included in the next few days.  What a great perch to see campers gaining skills, pushing themselves and feeling the exhilaration of making it to the top.

This evening for campfire we had Twilight Play, which is an extended program period after dinner. We offered up a number of activities including mountain biking, hike to the rock, horseback riding, archery, candles, popcorn making at the mill, pottery, sunset swim at the lake, and many more. Campers often ask to keep playing as we wrap up after supper activities, so it’s a real treat for them to keep on playing for another 30 – 40 minutes. We wrapped up around 8:30PM, about when our evening program normally finishes in the lodge.

In yesterday’s musings, I spoke about our teachers teaching and here’s a link to a video that I put together yesterday.

Teachable Moments

In the world of Older Programs… Riverside returned from 4 days of climbing at Foster Falls, TN. They encountered a little rain, but still managed to climb every day and loved swimming in the pool at the base of the falls. They were glad for warm showers back at camp this evening and they are looking forward to a few days on camp before they head out paddling on Monday. Mountainside groups went on their 3rd of 4 Mini-Adventures. Two groups were off camp paddling and pioneering in Dupont State Park while the other two groups climbed and mountain biked here on property.

Tomorrow is another day of opportunity, and after a full day like we’ve had, that camp bunk feels so good and I would say that most will sleep till  the bell tomorrow morning.  Good dreams had by all.  Stay tuned!