Barbara Whitmire – Retiring to Move on to New Adventures!

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Barbara’s office is right in the middle of our overall camp office, known as the Gatehouse.  It’s a good location because she has been involved in many aspects of Gwynn Valley and knows so much about our operation.  Although she planned to retire at the end of December, she decided to work through January to close our fiscal year. This act of service is just one example of her dedication to her work and to this magical place, Gwynn Valley Camp. So the 2023 books are closed, W-2’s are completed, and Barbara has officially retired after 32 years of service and is opening a new door in her life.

Barbara was born and raised here in Transylvania County and has a love of all wild lands and the many ways one can enjoy those lands.  We’ve all met those people whose glass is perpetually half full, but it’s rare to know someone whose glass is always full.  She has been an active lifestyle person all of her life, and she doesn’t intend to change that in retirement.  Service has also always been important to her; she became involved  in and volunteered with our local county rescue organization, getting certified as an EMT during that time period. She was also involved with Search and Rescue for many years.  Early on in her adult life, she taught water aerobics and movement/exercise classes in our county. Barbara has taught our staff wilderness first aid along with CPR each season.  Hiking, mountain biking, road biking, running, swimming, and paddling are hobbies that continue to take her into the back roads, trails, and waterways. Her two children, as well as her two grandchildren, have always been at the center of her life. She has made it a priority to share her love of the great outdoors with them and is eager to spend more time with them through travel and other adventures.

When Barbara participates in one of the above activities, she does it with gusto.  She would say that she is not that fast, but I know from riding with her that she isn’t that slow and can go all day and then some.  She just kind of grinds on without showing the effects of an all day ride, hike, or paddle. She started running marathons many years ago and has completed around 30 marathons, competing locally and in farther locations like Boston, the Marine Corp Marathon in DC, Kiawah Island, and she has run the Grandfather Mountain Marathon over 20 times. Not to limit herself, she competed in some triathlons, biathlons, and numerous adventure races to round out her talents.  On a weekly basis, Barbara mountain bikes with her son and swims or hikes with her granddaughter, weather permitting. She has hiked in Glacier and traveled to many places with her daughter. She has road biked in the annual Assault on the Carolinas 100k ride for years with her partner, Steve. Needless to say, she is an inspiration for all who have worked or recreated with her.

The work ethic and energy that has been such an integral part of this organization doesn’t stop at the trailhead but continues into the office. Barbara’s work  has required a good deal of time at her desk, paying bills, doing payroll, keeping up with our budget, doing IT work, answering phones, managing our office, and talking with parents, staff, and those who want to know more about the Gwynn Valley camp experience. While being a business and office guru has been invaluable to camp, she also brings an extensive knowledge of the local area. Having spent a significant amount of time exploring Pisgah and Dupont, she can often provide better information about these trails than a guidebook. Her excellent knowledge of the area allows her to provide guidance when planning day hikes, backpacking trips, day paddles, and mountain biking routes for our camper groups. She is always eager to share her extensive knowledge with staff who lead our many trips out of camp. Her positive attitude and extensive understanding of camp operations will be greatly missed by all who have had the pleasure of working with her.

So yes, Barbara is retiring, but not in the true sense of the word. She will still be out there at five in the morning for a run or bike. Besides all her hobbies and activities, she will continue to help her father and others in her family.  She loves to travel and plans to visit new and exciting places. Several years ago, she went with Steve and Dale, our Farm Manager, to New Zealand to hike and bike the Old Ghost Trail on the South Island. She has biked and sea kayaked in British Columbia with Steve and her daughter and in many locations in the US.  When she and Steve hit the road, you can bet there are bikes, boats and running shoes ready for use.  She does her research and always manages to eke out some adventure time on every trip.  She may even jump in and help Steve with his growing new business, “Just the Little Things” which centers around household repairs, HVAC, plumbing, and more. Look out, Steve, you may be working some extra hours and then coming home to hit the trail for a bike or run.

When you’ve worked somewhere for so long, you leave a space, knowledge, and skills that will be hard to fill. Her positive outlook on life and her interests in others at work and their lives will also leave a void.  I think she will be just fine leaving her desk life at Gwynn Valley. We wish Barbara the best and are so grateful for all of her dedication and hard work to uphold the mission of Gwynn Valley for so many years. We hope she thoroughly enjoys retirement and all of the new adventures and experiences waiting to greet her.