Better Weather Ahead But Still The Fun Quotient Exists!

Dear Parents and Friends,

Our day was cool this morning with a rain shower just before rest hour today.  The evening turned out nice and we participated in an all-camp game for after supper activities.  Despite our weather, the fun quotient continues.   Our game tonight was called the Color Game where each team (cabin) had to collect 6 primary colors.  Sounds easy but with trolls, pixies, and leprechauns running around camp it was no small task.   Our dinner of BBQ chicken, cornbread muffins, succotash, honey butter, salad, rice and black-eyed peas fueled our needs and sent us scurrying all over camp.  At our table, I asked who experienced something brand new today and most responded to that with creek hiking, 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 the 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.

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 tonight 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 exception to that is our fancy ice cream maker that runs off the water-powered mill wheel.  You guessed it, it churns almost perfect ice cream every time and any flavor you can think of.  There is also fishing at the Mill as well as outdoor cookery.

Also on my travels today, I stopped by the Bong Tree to see candles being made.  These were dip candles and it does take some patience but well worth it.  You actually start with just a wick and in a while, after multiple dips, you begin to see your candle grow and increase in size.  There are many colors and scents to add to the mix.

In the afternoons there are usually several sports games going on.  Thunderball is certainly a favorite.  We started playing Thunderball about 8 years ago here at camp.  It’s a game that came over from Israel and is a form of dodgeball 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 it this year.  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.  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 ballroom 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 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!