Joyful surprises at Family Camp 2020

Dear Gwynn Valley Campers, Parents, and Friends, 

2020 was the first summer in Gwynn Valley’s 85 years that we did not host a traditional camp program. We really missed our campers and staff and all the JOY that normally fills our valley and makes summer feel like summer! As you know – every challenge brings new opportunities – and for the 2020 summer that was Family Camp. After making the difficult decision to cancel our summer sessions due to the pandemic, we worked creatively to come up with a program that would reach our GV community and continue our mission as best as possible. While we missed our campers and staff terribly, we ultimately feel that hosting family camp was the best choice. 

We were surprised and delighted by the positive impact family camp had on not just the children but the adults as well! Although families have been spending a LOT of time together, as you probably know more hours together does not necessarily mean more connection. What we heard from our families was that the opportunity to come to camp where they could slow down and spend high quality time together was invaluable. Being outdoors and not having to worry about what was for dinner or who would do the dishes gave families an opportunity to truly relax and live in the moment. Of course, time spent immersed in the natural world really helps with this too – and it’s easy to spend all your time outside when you’re at Gwynn Valley! 

Having families here at camp also gave us the chance to learn more about how program can happen while managing for the risk of COVID. We are very happy to report a COVID-free summer (whoo!) thanks in no small part to the incredible summer medical team who helped us roll out new procedures as well as public health resources from our local health department all the way up to the CDC and the American Camp Association. Being able to test out new policies with a smaller group on site has made us feel more confident and ready to welcome larger numbers of campers and staff on site next summer. 

While we plan to run camp for our campers in 2021 and can’t wait to welcome them back to Gwynn Valley, we have heard from many folks who want more family camp!! We are looking into ways to possibly offer family camp weekends in the future. We saw first-hand what a powerful experience it was for families to have this fun and quality time together. We want to build more opportunities for family connection into the future.

Stay healthy everyone!

Until We Meet Again in 2021

Dear Gwynn Valley Families, 

We want to thank you for your patience, support, and love over the past several months as we’ve all been trying to imagine how camp might fit in with this pandemic. As we get closer to summer, no words can express the sadness we feel as we announce the closure of all 2020 camp sessions, including Day Camp, as well as the 85th reunion. 

Knowing how much our campers and staff look forward to their time at Gwynn Valley, we considered all possible options for how camp might run this summer. In reviewing all of the information released by the state, the CDC, and the American Camp Association, and dialoguing with public health and medical professionals, we were struck by the multitude of ways that the camp experience would be limited. We ultimately felt that the quality of program and community experience that you know and love would be too greatly impacted by managing the health and safety risks associated with coronavirus. Camp is about community, friendships, and relationship building, and we do not want to sacrifice these core tenets that make camp the magical place it is. 

Allowing Space to Grieve and Hope

As the days lengthen and warm, we struggle to imagine not welcoming campers and staff to Gwynn Valley. It is incredibly sad for us to think about empty cabins, a vacant dining hall,  and quiet trails. We will miss you terribly this summer! We know you must be heartbroken as we are. 

Remember that the camp experience builds resilience, and this moment affords us opportunities for growth. We will come together again to celebrate the many special moments of camp in 2021, campfires, singing, fellowship, Tajar Ball, adventures, and more. This summer, we will continue to reach out to our families to help keep the spirit of Gwynn Valley alive in each of you. We hope your family will embrace the values of Gwynn Valley by getting outside, being kind to others, and celebrating the simple joys that can be found in each day. And until we meet again, may God continue to hold you in the palm of his hand.

Financial Logistics

We want to reassure our families whose sessions have closed that we are committed to working with you to either roll over tuition paid, provide a refund, or a combination of the two depending on what is best for your individual family. In conjunction with any of the refund options above, you may elect to allocate a portion of your refund or tuition rollover as a donation to the Gwynn Valley Campership Foundation. The Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, so your donation is tax deductible. 

About Gwynn Valley Campship Foundation Donations

We believe strongly that camp should be made available to children across socio-economic lines. The Gwynn Valley Campership Foundation, an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit, helps realize this value by providing scholarships to campers. In 2019, the Campership Foundation allocated $37,000 in scholarship funds, and an additional $100,000 of Gwynn Valley’s operational budget supported camper financial aid. This funding may be more important than ever for the 2021 summer, since we anticipate that the year ahead will bring financial hardship for many in our country. 

How Can We Help? 

We imagine you may have questions or may just want to say hi and talk. If so, please feel free to call or email us. We are holding each member of our Gwynn Valley community in our hearts. 

Our best to you and your family,

Anne and Grant (Owners and Directors)
Maggie (Director)

Session Closure Announcement (A+B Sessions)

Closing our June Sessions

As we enter May, no words can express the sadness we feel as we announce the closure of our June sessions (June 6 – 26: Main Camp A+B, Mountainside MS1A+B, Riverside 1, and Young Leaders 1). Knowing how much all of us need camp right now, we explored many options to be able to open in June. After considering Governor Cooper’s three-phase reopening plan and dialoguing with numerous medical and camping professionals, we believe this difficult decision is the right one for our campers, staff, and community.  

Closing our June sessions was an extremely difficult decision to make, and we know you must be as heartbroken as we are. It is hard to imagine not greeting our staff in May and welcoming our first campers to Gwynn Valley on June 6. Canceling sessions has both an emotional and financial toll for camp, and we suspect many of you are facing hardships equal to or greater than ours. 

What about the rest of the summer? 

The State of North Carolina, the CDC, and the American Camp Association are working to release guidelines and recommendations for camps, which we hope to see in the next two weeks. These guidelines may or may not allow for the operation of camp later in the summer. As we all know, opening camp will depend on many factors relating to the pandemic. 

Our sincere hope is that the forthcoming guidelines will permit us to host at least a portion of our summer. We will continue to make decisions based on recommendations from the CDC and the NCDHHS, current information, and what we feel is best for our campers and staff.  If there are to be any further changes to 2020 summer sessions, we will let families know with as much notice as possible.

Staying Positive

The top scientists worldwide are working on treatments and a vaccine for coronavirus, and we are all doing our part to help decrease the spread of this illness. Although it feels far away right now, we will gather together in community again. One of the great life skills learned at camp is resilience, and this pandemic is giving us many opportunities to discover new ways to meet our mission. If you haven’t already, we hope you’ll celebrate the simple joy of singing camp songs by joining one of our virtual “singing in the lodge” sessions or participating in other online camp programs that will be offered this spring and summer. If there is a part of camp that you or your campers especially enjoy, let us know! We’ll see if there is a way to show or involve you remotely.

Financial Logistics

We want to reassure our families whose sessions just closed that we are committed to working with you to either roll over tuition paid, provide a refund, or a combination of the two depending on what is best for your individual family. 

In conjunction with any of the refund options above, you may elect to allocate a portion of your refund or tuition rollover as a donation to the Gwynn Valley Campership Foundation. The Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, so your donation is tax deductible.

About Gwynn Valley Campership Foundation Donations

We believe strongly that camp should be made available to children across socio-economic lines. The Gwynn Valley Campership Foundation, an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit, helps realize this value by providing scholarships to campers. In 2019, the Campership Foundation allocated $37,000 in scholarship funds, and an additional $100,000 of Gwynn Valley’s operational budget supported camper financial aid. This funding may be more important than ever for the 2021 summer, since we anticipate that the year ahead will bring financial hardship for many in our country.

How Can We Help?

We imagine you may have questions. If so, please feel free to call or email us. We appreciate your patience as we move through this process and thank you for your support. We are holding each member of our Gwynn Valley community in our hearts. 

Our best to you and your family,
Anne and Grant (Owners and Directors)
Maggie (Director)

COVID-19 Camp Update (April 10, 2020)

Dear Gwynn Valley Families,

We are thinking about all our camper families and staff who live in so many different places both near and far and the challenges we are all facing as we respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. We hope you are well, focusing on taking good care of yourselves and your community, and enjoying the time with your family during this difficult situation. As humans, we weren’t made to social distance and not be able to hug our friends and family, but this virus calls us all to do our part. In these uncertain times, we are called to show courage, kindness, resilience, and patience – all character traits that we strive to help our campers develop. 

Will camp run this summer? When can you expect to know more? 

Two very stressful issues for people to deal with are unpredictability and the lack of control which COVID-19 has brought to all of our lives. We, like you, are grappling with these challenges daily. As April rolls on, we are practicing patience and learning to wait. As we move into May, we hope to know more about this disease and whether the social distancing and Stay-at-Home mandates from this spring will allow us to have a semi-normal summer. 

While we remain eager and committed to preparing for a full summer, we will do what is necessary to protect the health and safety of our campers and staff as this has always been our top priority. We will rely on those closer to the knowledge base of this pandemic to assist us in our decision making. We expect that the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, along with the CDC, will provide guidance as we move closer to summer. Gwynn Valley is an accredited  member of the American Camp Association; the ACA is also providing camps with expert advice and resources for the months ahead. In the absence of clear guidance for the whole summer, we hope to make any cancellation decisions on a session by session basis. We will continue to communicate with our families about any changes or modifications as soon as we have information to share. 

Covid-19 Modified Refund Policy

In the event we have to cancel your child’s session due to COVID-19, or if you have to cancel your child’s session due to required school attendance or illness related to COVID-19, our refund policy will be as follows:

  1. We will refund 50% of your paid tuition and roll the other 50% into the 2021 season OR you may elect to roll 100% of your tuition to 2021. 
  2. If your child will have “aged out” of camp for our 2021 season or they are unable to attend camp in 2021, we will refund 100% of your tuition. 

Our preference would be for our families to roll over all or part of their tuition to 2021. We love our campers and hope to have them back at camp for another summer of fun and enrichment! This would also help Gwynn Valley with our cash flow as our income is all based on the summer season and we have families on payroll, operating costs, and other expenses that will continue.  

Gwynn Valley has been a summer camp for boys and girls since 1935 and operated during the polio outbreak, World War II, and many other difficult times in our nation. We are dedicated to partnering with our GV families and alumni in preserving this community that fosters personal challenge, a connection to nature, and the simple joys of childhood. We will get through these difficult times together and come out stronger and more resilient.

We appreciate your patience, flexibility, and support as we collectively work to get this virus under control so that we can gather in community. Please let your children know we are thinking about them, miss them, and hope to greet them in the field this summer.

Our best to you and your family,

Anne and Grant (Owners and Directors)
Maggie (Director)