Happy Canada and South Africa Day!

Dear Camper Families and Friends,

Following our tradition of International Tuesdays, today we celebrated our campers and staff from Canada and South Africa through song, activities, food, and a whole campfire devoted to those countries. Once again, our kitchen team knocked it out of the park with an incredible trio of meals. For breakfast we had Canadian bacon and scrambled eggs along with some fruit and carrot bread. At lunch, we had a South African braai or barbecue including boerewors (sausage), garlic bread, potato salad, pears, and fresh green salad from the farm. At dinner we had a traditional dish called Bobotie, rice, peas, carrots, salad, and mango chutney. As a bonus we enjoyed a Melktert with carmelized peaches for dessert!

Of course, we heard a few songs, national anthems and pre-meal blessings in other languages throughout the day, but our real dose of culture came at campfire. As with the meals, we started with Canada. Jeff who works at Gwynn Valley year round managing our site and farm taught us about our mysterious northern neighbor. We started with an introduction to Canadian slang. Our translator explained loonies, toonies, toques, and poutine and many other vernacular concepts to all of us who know surprisingly little about Canada. Jeff also gave us an ice hockey lesson and had a mini shoot-out with a few counselor volunteers. A promotional video showing the beautiful Candian scenery wrapped up part 1 of our campfire. South Africa began part 2 with a virtual tour of the country including various scenic or culturally important locals. We learned about rugby and football (soccer!) and we even got to go on safari! We learned that all of the ‘Big 5’ can be found in South Africa as we saw and heard roaring lions, trumpeting elephants, buffalos lurking in long grass, rhinos standing stately under a thorn tree, leopards prowling in the gathering darkness… We ended the night with a popular song in Afrikans and an all camp dance party!

Outside of all our international celebration, we had a pretty ‘normal’ camp day. This morning our campers attended Day 2 of morning discoveries. This was the first class period for all B day groups, so groups just got their feet wet with skill sets in new activity areas. In the afternoon we ran a wide array of sign up options including corn cob creations at the mill; shibori scarves, pottery glazing, and kumihimi at crafts; mountain biking on the main camp trail; zip line, traverse line, tubing, creek hiking and pool free swim through our waterfront team; belay school for our older climbers; fire starters with Outdoor Living Skills; building fairy houses at Web of Life; and many others that I am now forgetting! The farm was a popular spot as always; crowds seem to be growing as we approach our piglet due date! Today at the farm we picked over 350 ears of corn and 280 pounds of potatoes plus a few carrots and other veggies. The Laurel of Asheville published an article today about the Gwynn Valley Farm, which includes some interesting information about its history. Follow this link to learn more about how our program has grown over the last 30+ years and all that Dale (our farm manager) has done to nurture this wonderful part of camp.

In the world of older programs, Mountainside completed their second day of mini-adventures. Our paddlers and pioneers both went into Dupont to utilize the incredible resources in the state park we are lucky to have right down the road! Paddlers spent the day learning strokes and playing canoe games out at Lake Julia. Pioneers hiked to a few waterfalls and practiced fire building (and dessert making!) as an after lunch treat in the field. Mountain bikers and rock climbers utilized the many resources we have on camp property. Climbers spent the morning at the tower and then headed up to The Rock for an afternoon of climbing on a true rock face. The Mountain bikers rode started with the basics up on the Mountainside Green and progress through our skills course, basic trails, and eventually worked up to the Main Camp Trail, also known as the Lost Cove Trail. Riverside continues to have a great time climbing in Tennessee. We look forward to welcoming them back to camp on Thursday and hearing more about their adventures.

I can see a full moon hanging large outside my window so it must be time for bed. If you’re reading this post tonight, have a look out your window and you’ll see the same bright moon that all our campers enjoyed before bed this evening.