A Beautiful “B Day” by Emma Thames

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Tuesday, June 15th dawned bright and with a refreshing mountain-crisp edge. Breakfast was burritos with egg, fresh seasonal fruit, and cereal (some tables got lucky with the ever-popular Raisin Bran!). Today, camp saw a very full day of fun and activities! This was a “B” day, meaning Main Campers rotated to another two morning discoveries from the ones they had had yesterday. Some cabins got to try paddling with Grant in tandem canoes, while others rotated through the farm and mill, or learned crafts like blacksmithing or wheel throwing. Adventure activities like climbing and mountain biking are also on offer. After 2 hours of learning and discovering, whether it be basketmaking or playing soccer, main campers head back to cabins for “cabin time” before lunch–which, today, was a delicious chicken pasta primavera chock full of squash and zucchini, roasted broccoli, and more seasonal fruit. Everyone was conscious of drinking lots of water as the day heated up!

The afternoon was no less full than the morning, with campers getting to choose their PM activities. Sign ups are preceded by brief (and often hilarious) skits by program leaders and counselors, and then campers swarm up with their Tajar cards to be written down for activities. Some of the choices today included making tiny critters in pottery, going on down to Mountainside with the waterfront staff to chill in the creek, sit-on-top kayak frisbee, learning archery and shooting for a bulls-eye, stretching their mountain biking muscles on the farm trail, and even making hooks in blacksmithing. The farm and mill were of course offered as well for a taste of the way our farm-to-table ethos makes its way into our everyday lives. Campers visiting the farm can harvest lettuce, potatoes, and corn later in the summer. Campers at the mill get the experience of processing corn from shucking to shelling to grinding, and then eating! Miller Elsa makes Johnny cakes on her superb fire every day, and the smoke wafting down from the gristmill smells divine and reminds me of the great food we eat here at camp, as well as the ways in which campers get to be involved in the learning, growing, and community processes of Gwynn Valley. 

After PM sign ups ended, everyone headed back to the cabin to freshen up and came back down to Downtown GV at the clanging of the bell. Supper started a little later because the meatloaf was being cooked with extra tender love and care, of course! Singing was a raucous and fun affair, and the moose song continues to be a popular dining hall refrain across all cabins! Dinner was delicious and enjoyed by all (some of the campers at my table expressed that this was their first time trying meatloaf! And they liked it!). A farm fresh salad with beets was complemented with home baked dinner rolls and butter (always a favorite), and seasoned roasted potatoes. Plates were cleared in record time.

After Supper Activities continue to be a sweet GV tradition and a great way for children to engage in free play with their peers and friends. Games on the Green is especially popular and changes every night–tonight saw some exciting games of tag and a wheelbarrow race! Thunderball is a crowd favorite, and the “Jedi training station” is up and running. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the popularity of friendship bracelets, of course! The friendship bracelets activity meets on the rock wall, and our crafty campers supervise the games on the green happening next to them as they knot away. Campers line up behind the spools of colorful thread after dinner to snip off lengths and knot them in complicated ways. Camp wouldn’t  be complete without the dozens of campers who have the works-in-progress tied on their water bottles and braid them constantly! A surefire way to identify your Gwynn Valley camper is the bracelets up and down their arms. It’s a great way to give a handmade gift to a friend and share a pattern you’ve learned!

Evening program was split tonight between our older Brookside campers, and our younger Hillside campers. Brookside split off by cabin group and spent time roasting marshmallows at various cookout locations across camp before heading off to bed, while the Hillsiders performed cabin skits in the lodge to showcase the unique personality and makeup of each cabin. Fires for Brooksiders were made ahead of time by our fearless program leaders, who got them nice and toasty for the campers to arrive, so cabins could relax and spend some time bonding outside before heading to bed under a rosy sunset. Hillsiders in the lodge were sent to bed with the tranquil lullaby “Sheep may Safely Graze” played by Debbie’s talented hands. Walking quietly under the rushing millrace as the lullaby gently makes its way across downtown GV at twilight is a sweet memory so many campers from years past have, and one we are so happy to continue to share with campers as they do their evening programs in the Lodge. 

Several cabins were camping out, and enjoyed a lovely, cloud-free sky as they cooked their hot dogs, quesadillas, or pizzas over an open fire (followed by s’mores, of course!) The sounds of bullfrogs, cicadas, crickets, and the many streams and creeks across camp are best experienced outdoors on nights like tonight, and the three cabins camping out will definitely be lulled to sleep by our beautiful campus.

Mountainside opening day is tomorrow, and we look forward to welcoming our newest batch of campers to Gwynn Valley, even as we continue with the swing of Main Camp B Session! MS1B will be a great time as we welcome campers from their extended camp hiatus. Riverside campers were out on an adventure today–their third day of paddling. They finish up paddling and come back to camp tomorrow, where they will get some classic camp activities like tie-dye and pottery before they head out for backpacking on June 20th. Their days are chock full of learning, traveling, and doing something challenging each day.

The adventures await!