Dear Parents and Friends,
Today was a very special day at Gwynn Valley. We celebrated the countries of New Zealand and South Africa all day long by eating their national dishes, enjoying skits before meals, singing national anthems, and of course having our whole evening program devoted to children’s stories, dances, and songs from these countries. Our kitchen crew relishes the opportunity to partner with international staff to bring traditional meals to life in our dining hall. We try to make kid friendly versions of foreign foods, and campers often discover that different can means really tasty. I know that every camper at my table found at least 1 new food that they really liked! For breakfast we had a traditional South African pap or porridge made of corn, which tasted a lot like grits. There were all sorts of toppings to add to the grits including sausage, baked beans, and tomato jam. To round out the meal we also had rusks, which is kind of like biscotti made from corn. Much like biscotti, South African rusks are usually dipped in coffee or tea, specifically rooibos (or redbush) tea. Lunch was also a South African meal; we enjoyed Bobotie, yellow rice, mango chutney, sliced bread, and watermelon. Bobotie is South Africa’s version of shepherds pie with ground beef below and egg on top. For dinner we circumnavigated the southern hemisphere and landed in New Zealand for fish & chips with sides of peas, carrots, and fresh green salad. Pavlova for dessert rounded out a day of delicious new foods for our campers!
Today was also special because our Mountainside and Riverside campers returned from their 4 day trips know as Adventures. These older programs have been in session since July 23rd, and have been working toward this week’s trip for some time. The Mountainside group split into four groups of campers participating in four different activities across Western North Carolina. Although campers did encounter some weather while out in the field, they all came home safe, warm, dry and FULL of stories! The bikers spent the last 4 days biking around Dupont State Forest, enjoying the single track as well as the wonderful waterfalls and swimming holes. Paddlers set up a base-camp and traveled to the Lower Green, French Broad & Tuckaseegee rivers. Pioneers backpacked along the Mountains to Sea trail in Pisgah National Forest, celebrating wonderful views and enjoying a few wild blueberries along the way. Climbers spent most of their time at Linville Gorge where they managed to stay unbelievably dry given the rain that all other groups encountered. This group was able to climb every day as it only rained in the evenings and overnight. Riverside, who has already spend 4 days each rock climbing and white water canoeing, spent the last 4 days backpacking in Pisgah as well. This group had a great time and enjoyed their time together exploring the beauty of our nearby wild places.
Of course, Main Camp programming went on as normal throughout the day. We did experience periods of rain in camp, but all activities carried on as normal. This morning campers went to their 2nd meeting for B-day discoveries, where they continued with the curriculum they started in Tuesday’s classes. This afternoon we had a wide range of sign up activities on offer. All the staples were there: mountain biking, fire building, Tajar Times (our daily news publication), horseback riding, archery, stand up paddle boards, blacksmithing, etc… there were a few unique activities this afternoon as well. Nature and Waterfront joined forces for Lake Critters: a snorkeling activity that taught about the ecology of our lake. The Grist Mill ran a 2 hour dutch oven cooking activity where campers made a cobbler over the mill fire. Waterfront offered a creek hike to Connesstee falls, the waterfall on Gwynn Valley property. Crafts introduced some new activities today with felt making and beaded wind dancers that proved very popular. And the farm was made extra special today by the calf who was born overnight! Campers squealed with delight when they met this young calf who was less than 24 hours old and already over 50 lbs.
Tomorrow is sure to be another exciting day at Gwynn Valley. We will be celebrating the Tajar’s birthday, so who knows what sort of silliness and fun our campers might encounter! You can rest assured that there will be lots of costumes and a very fun birthday party where our whole camp community will celebrate the Tajar.