Another Perfect Day at Gwynn Valley

Dear Parents and Friends,

Our morning started out very cool with temps hovering around the mid 50’s. Everyone was advised to use their sleeping bag as a comforter last night. Tonight may prove to be more of the same. No rain today and hardly a cloud in the sky which looks good for the days ahead. The evening turned out nice and we participated in an all camp game for after supper activities. The fun quotient is always evident when the weather shines like it did today. It just rounds out all the wonderful aspects of a day at camp. Our game tonight was called the Super Hero Game and we were trying to foil the evil villainess who stole camps dessert. Sounds easy but with evil minions running around camp it was no small task. Our dinner of beef stew, green beans, fresh bread, salad and potatoes we were fueled to the gills for our adventures throughout camp. At our table I asked who experienced something brand new today and most responded to that with: creek hiking, building a one match fire, wet exit in a kayak with a skirt on, tree climbing, weaving on the looms, etc. I also asked what they were most looking forward to in the week ahead: their campout, rock climbing trip out of camp, Tajar Ball, tie-dye, and more. There is always something to look forward to at camp. Each cabin usually keeps a calendar of events so the children know what’s coming up in camp. There’s a good bit on our schedule each day and every day has a significant event for someone or sometimes for everyone. Tomorrow night is Twilight Play which is a longer after supper period almost like an extra period during the day. 

Tree climbers were working on their belaying skills and providing vocal support for those climbing in the trees just next to the Gatehouse. Everyone climbs trees at some point in their life but few get to experience the thrill of climbing to sixty feet right up the trunk of a hemlock tree. The views of camp and the distant mountains are wonderful. There’s a whole other world up that high and it makes you want to fly or live at that altitude. I scampered up ahead of the children to take some photos and shoot some video from the high perch. 

Right next door is our 1890’s Grist Mill, (yes, that’s when it was built). Our miller campers were grinding corn and sifting it into cornmeal and grits. The cornmeal in our muffins today at breakfast was ground at the Mill several days ago. Not much has changed in those 125 plus years at the Mill. Everything is done by hand. The Mill this afternoon hosted two one hour sessions of fresh corn roasting. You could have an ear with just butter and salt, an African corn mix or a Mexican corn mix. From all reviews the experience was delicious. 

In the afternoons there’s usually several sports games going on. Thunderball is certainly a favorite. We started playing Thunderball about 9 years ago here at camp. It’s a game that came over from Israel and is a form of dodge ball with the exception that you don’t actually pick the ball up and throw it. You slap it with your hand or fist and try to get others out by hitting their legs from the knees down. Sometimes I think there are campers that would play all day long and never tire of this game. Of course our other most popular game here is soccer. There’s rarely a day that goes by where there’s not a bit of fotball that’s played. Archery is another sport at camp that’s very popular. Our sports crew have done a good job of teaching and providing archery for many campers. It’s like Thunderball in its appeal to children. 

Other camp activities that make us move are the Swurfer Swing, the Rope Swing, and 9 Square in the Air. All three are crowd pleasers. The Swurfer was invented in Charleston and I saw one at a camp home show several years ago and knew it would be a hit at camp. You stand on it instead of sitting. Several years ago we added a rope swing to the lake for some air time before you hit the water. Kevin brought a game to camp called Jedi Training Center which uses a soft rubber ball on a long string tied overhead and batons for aiming the swinging ball at other Jedi’s. It takes skill to stay on your perch and also dodge the moving ball. There is also the Tension Traverse which is a difficult challenge for most and few make it across the lake. I learned about 9 Square at a national conference and played for a couple of hours inside a hotel ball room with all adults. It’s fast moving fun for all ages.

As stated above, there is always something new for campers every day. It’s akin to going to your favorite candy store and picking just what candy you want to sample today. This candy is actually good for you and makes you smarter, stronger, more agile, eager, resilient, and most of all it’s fun. You also get to share it with your friends. Our outdoor play is mostly structured and it’s so much fun to play outdoors all day, sleep under the stars as several cabins are doing this evening and cook dinner over an open fire. It’s just good for the body and soul.

Outdoor play increases attention span. Often children who have difficulty with pen and paper tasks or sitting still for long periods of times are significantly more successful after time spent outside. Outdoor play is imaginative. Because there are no labels, no pre-conceived ideas and fewer rules, children must create the world around them. In this type of play, children use their imagination in ways they don’t when playing inside. We’re playing outside and growing inside here at Gwynn Valley! Stay tuned!