Campfire on the Gatehouse Green and the Importance of Freeplay!

Dear Parents & Friends,

Campfire is over and it was held in our field outside the Gatehouse looking toward the mountains.  We have one of the best long views in camping.  Our field looks right up to the Blue Ridge Parkway which at that point is just over 6000 feet.  Our elevation at camp is around 2200 feet.  Most mornings we’re socked in by fog because we’re in the French Broad River Valley.  It quickly burns off and lifts as it did this morning turning out to be a sunny day.  We held Outdoor Living Skills and Web of Life campfire in our field and it was perfect.  A nice sunset created the backdrop for a number of activities on the Gatehouse Green.  Our thespians acted in two Native American stories, one about the wind and one about coyote and the moon.  Both stories were performed by campers.

We also talked about the farm and how much it means to our program here to eat such fresh foods.  The average American receives their food no sooner than two weeks after it is harvestedand most of the time a bit longer.  Here at GV we can pick items in the morning and have them for dinner that night.  We are getting the full nutritional value by consuming it sooner, according to what agronomists are telling us.  You’ll notice some pictures from the Farm today showing children blowing into strange green tubes.  These are from squash plants and you can actually play them and some do sound like a horn.  Carrots were the hot item at the farm today.  Gotta eat more carrots for the eyes.

Campfire tonight also included Cindy, who runs our waterfront, reading the story of “The Lorax”.  That’s one of my favorite Seuss stories.   Then there was what we call at camp unstructured freeplay which is something that children need more of.  Our lives are so organized running hither and thither.  We allowed about 30 minutes of just running around the field playing games doing what they do naturally being children.  Many were rolling/tumbling down the hill, others playing tag, others engaging their counselors in their freeplay.

Our campfire was in the same field that hosts our Archery activity.  What is it about bows and arrows that children love?  It’s one of those projectile sports that boys and girls love to participate in.  When done properly and with good equipment it can be challenging.  Whenever Archery is open there’s always a crowd there.   More sophisticated but equally as old is our Weaving activity that happens in Shady Grove, one  of our arts buildings.  Several years ago we purchase quite a few weaving looms and it’s really paid off.  Some very beautiful things come out of Weaving and hopefully you’ll see some of those results.   The Arts department also churned out some beautiful scarves today.  You parents may be the recipients of some of these treasures.

Throwing your first pot on the wheel.

The lake is always a good place to be and today was no exception.  It’s been hot and it looks to be hotter tomorrow.  I hope you’ve all seen the video that was put up earlier today with all kinds of activities.  On a hot day there is nothing better than a creek hike which happened again today in afternoon sign-ups.  Some campers who went with me yesterday went again today to enjoy the cool water and shaded banks.  Truthfully folks, our mountain streams are at risk because of a small bug called the wooly adelgid.  This very small invasive from Asia has impacted over 50% of our native hemlock trees and because many of them grow next to streams, this will have a big impact on water temperatures, trout populations, erosion, shade and other factors here in WNC.  We will lose between 50 to 80% of our hemlocks on the GV property.  We’ve treated many of our larger trees in the main camp proper but those outside the campus will suffer.  Hopefully we’ll be able to salvage some timber from these and at least reap some small benefit.  The creek here is just spectacular and is one of our best, coolest things going at camp.  Campers of all ages enjoy it from Hillside to Riverside.  The video doesn’t come close to doing justice to that hike which culminates at the base of Connesstee Falls.

Mountainside continues their mini-adventures tomorrow and Riverside is in to their 3rd day of climbing in Linville Gorge.  Mountainside went to the farm tonight while Main Camp attended campfire.  Everyone had a blast and they were quite helpful.  It’s a great time of the day to be at the farm.

It’s never a dull moment here at camp and some group is always exploring and enjoying one of the many activities we provide.  We hope your evening has been as pleasant as ours and don’t forget to just go out into your yard and lie down in the grass and look up at the trees.  It’s good for the soul and who knows, you might even feel a twinge of childlike mischief.  Stay tuned!

PS   If you haven’t seen today’s video, check it out.