A Few Showers Didn’t Chase the Fun Away!

Dear Parents & Friends,

Even though it was a little overcast today we started our first day of Discovery. Despite a few showers, mostly while we ate lunch, the rain didn’t deter our movement and action in getting everyone into day one. I spent the morning going to many activities and watching staff begin their day and begin their program with instructions and getting the campers familiar with the lay of the land in program. I spoke with one or two parents yesterday about learning styles and how some children learn by doing or watching and some learn through auditory or reading directions. It was interesting to check in on different activities and watch as our staff got the ball rolling with their different teaching styles. I started at the waterfront where staff were teaching their Jr. Lifeguarding activity. They were learning to toss a throw line in the water. Coiling the rope is key because it should play out in a fashion that provides maximum distance to reach your targeted person. The campers were doing a good job with their tosses but coiling the rope was a challenge. From there I went to our Kayakers who were learning to wet exit for the first time. The instructor is right there standing in 4 feet of water and the first couple of times when the camper flips the boat over, they right the boat for the camper to provide that sense of confidence that they are right there. This is done without a spray skirt. Next is flipping over with a skirt and banging three times on the boat and pulling your spray skirt and then popping out on the surface. Wearing a PFD helps as its buoyancy brings you right up. Some are beating on the side of the boat even before they are upside down. Trust and faith in oneself doesn’t come easy when you’re upside down underwater. 99% of the time there is a breakthrough and an awakening to yes, I will be ok, just relax and find that strap and pull it. It’s a process to observe and see the growth.

Also at the waterfront Matt B. is teaching diving off the dock. Don’t worry, our dock is only inches off the water and Matt is 5 meter diver and he’s well aware of water depths and teaching campers foundation skills. His teaching curriculum is teaching campers how to control their bodies when entering the water. They begin by learning to roll dive from a kneeling / squatting position. Should be fun to observe over the next several days.

Camp is very physical and we’re doing lots of physical things from riding a bike to crossing a wire suspended over water. That’s called the Tension Traverse and it’s a fun and challenging part of our waterfront. Every child in camp should try this because it will build character and get you to do something that you normally don’t do, you use a lot of balance, many different muscles, and it really helps you to focus. Everyone who tries it starts off smiling and laughing about it and then it happens; the smile goes away and the game face comes out as you start to focus on trying to move your feet across a tight wire by only holding on to a rope. I’ve seen this in climbing, paddling, mountain biking and yes, even in arts and crafts. One of my other visits to program this morning was the Pottery Shop and Yanderside, another arts area. One camper had his tongue out while trying to score the clay and join it to the mated piece that he had just cut. Such concentration is really neat to see in children.   And the best thing about camp is that if you don’t score your pottery just right, or don’t make it across the Tension Traverse, or get to the top of the wall, you’ll get another try and can build on what you’ve just done and learned.

I joined a mountain biking groups this afternoon and watched as campers rode multispeed bikes as well as coaster free brakes for the first time. Children adapt very easily and I think at camp they tend to build on their successes and learn from their failures quite easily. The instructors were explaining the art of shifting gears and how to maintain a cadence. Analogous to this it’s a complex world out there and we need to understand about how our gears can be utilized in life. When to peddle faster, when to slow down and when to try and be consistent and keep a constant speed are all part of using our personal gears. I had fun riding with the campers today and seeing them gain some skills like riding in the attack position and learning to ride in an ever decreasing sized circle.   By the end of an hour we were able to ride some of the single track here at camp. I think we left them hungry for more. I know I wanted to ride some more but had to move on. Getting out into program helps keep in touch with pulse of camp. I think I would die on the vine if I couldn’t do this. I’m just not that kind of director.

We continued our cabin skits tonight at campfire and by now all campers are snuggled in after their first full day of Gwynn Valley. We hope it was a good one and there’s more to come. Stay tuned!