Campouts and Adventure Programs Start Their Adventures!

Dear Parents & Friends,

As we complete our second day of activities the weather has shined and so have our campers. We’ve got everyone participating in new Discovery activities this morning for the first time and I spent the morning walking around shooting some video and taking pics on my travels. Mountain biking was learning how to use their brakes, as many children aren’t used to two brakes on the handlebars. Both are needed for mountain biking with our hilly terrain and need to sometimes stop fast. From there it was on to the climbing tower where first time climbers and a few veterans were learning the ropes, how to tie knots and signals for climbing. Whether you’re on the wall, real rock or tree climbing, you should have a command of the communication that occurs between the belayer (counselor holding you safe) and you the climber. Wearing a helmet is a must in all climbing situations. There are several other activities at camp that require helmets including whitewater paddling, horseback riding, biking, and of course as mentioned above any type of climbing.

Outdoor Living Skills was cooking this morning at Smores Heaven (one of our shelters on the property). Besides helping to get a fire going they were cooking tin foil banana boats and learning the different ways to start a fire. Banana boats are peeled bananas sliced down the middle and filled with chocolate chips, then wrapped back up in their peel and tin foil, then cooked over hot coals. While boats were melting those chips Catherine showed campers how to start a fire using a nine volt (transistor battery) and steel wool. It’s a fascinating process if you’ve never done it. Just make sure you don’t have the steel wool exposed to the terminals on top before you are ready to proceed. Minutes later everyone unrolled their boats and it suddenly became very quiet as everyone enjoyed their morning snack.

As the wheel turns at the Mill, we are taken back in history to a time when life was simpler and we’re still reliving some of the old ways by grinding our camp corn there. The Mill was built in the 1890’s and most of the building still stands as renovations have taken place through the years. Campers learn where the water comes from and how it powers the wheel that turns the Mill. They grind dried corn from the corn crib and turn it in to grits and corn meal. While a group grinds and sifts what they’ve ground, another group fishes from the small pond below the Mill. The trout we catch, we eventually eat as part of our farm to table meal that is furnished by the camp. Fish and cornbread from the Mill, cabbage and other vegetables from the Farm. Campers shucked fresh corn today after lunch and we’ll have that for dinner tonight. Nothing could be better than fresh corn on the cob.

Mountainside and Riverside programs took off today and went in many different directions. Our dining room is a little emptier for the next 4 days with 52 campers plus staff out of camp. Mountainside bikers went to Dupont State Forest, Climbers headed over to Linville Gorge, Hikers went up into Pisgah National Forest near Shining Rock and Paddlers headed to the Green River. Riverside is on their last outdoor component of the summer and will be hiking on the Mountains to Sea Trail here in our area. Mountainside and Riverside are small programs with 40 and 12 campers respectively. Both programs focus on a smaller age group so campers really get to know one another within their programs. I saw two boys from Mountainside walking with their arms around each other’s shoulder this morning and saying goodbye because they were going on different adventures. It was nice to see the friendship they’ve developed from different parts of the country and different ethnic backgrounds. Relationships and making friends is what I consider to be the essence of camp. Some people make friends at camp and stay friends for life. I had two visitors come by this morning who are now good friends and met at another camp where I worked many years ago. One was one of my campers and the other one a young staff member we hired when she was 17. They’ve remained in touch through the years through a friendship that started at camp.

We just finished our evening of Mountain Dancing with half the camp. The other half of our cabins are on campouts scattered throughout the property. Just before the dance I visited with Echo boys and Mountain View girls who were camped at Pioneer 1 and Pioneer 2. The campsites are on the way to Connestee Falls and are several hundred yards apart. You would think you’re in deepest Pisgah but you’re actually only about 2 minutes from Main Camp. Everyone camps out at least once every session. The sites are three sided shelters with a wood floor and built up off the ground. Each site has a fire ring to cook over which is how they make their dinner. And of course there are always smores. This will be the first time some of our campers have camped out and for many the first time they have camped out without parents. It’s good to stretch oneself a bit while at camp. Miss Mary said that campers should do something difficult every day. She was obviously talking about building resilience and grit. It’s all a part of being at camp.   Stay tuned!