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!

Registration is Open for Gwynn Valley Family Camp 2020!

We are excited to offer a new way to experience the magic and wonder of Gwynn Valley Camp as a family! Although guidelines, restrictions, and recommendations  by the CDC, ACA, NCDHHS, and our county would have limited our ability to operate our traditional summer camp program while fulfilling our mission, we do feel we can offer a smaller “family camp” that will allow members of our camp community to come to Gwynn Valley, get outside, savor the cool mountain air, and enjoy some camp activities while maintaining physical distance. Spaces are limited, so register today!

For more information, please read through the following sections. Review of the COVID-19 Health and Safety Information is required before enrollment can be confirmed.

  1. Family Camp -Basic Information
  2. Family Camp – Packing list
  3. COVID-19 Health and Safety Guidelines
  4. Family Camp FAQs
  5. How to Register for Family Camp

Family Camp – Basic Information

Dates and rates

Family camp at Gwynn Valley will run for six sessions this summer from June 28-August 6. These camps are being offered as an all-inclusive, 5-day, 4-night experience (running from Sunday through Thursday) for a maximum of thirteen families per week. The cost is $650 per person, with a minimum price per family of $1500. This fee covers accommodation in a camp cabin, three meals a day, and fun program activities!


Live like a camper for the week and enjoy cool mountain air in your own private screened-in cabin. Each family will be housed in a single cabin with its own half-bathroom (sinks with cold water only and toilets). For showers, each cabin will have access to a showerhouse that’s just a short walk away. 

  • Cabins are screened in and have electricity, but no air conditioning.
  • Most cabins have 3 single beds and 4 or 5 bunk beds. Camp mattresses on average are a luxurious 3.5” thick. It’s not glamping, nor camping…it’s camp!
  • We ask that you bring your own bedding and towels. All beds will fit regular twin-sized sheets.
  • Cabins have a tin roof, which can be loud in a rainstorm. 


Take a break from cooking and dish-washing. Amazing, scratch-made meals prepared with farm-fresh ingredients are a hallmark of Gwynn Valley, and family camp is your opportunity to enjoy them. In order to promote physical distancing, you and your family will be assigned your own table in our spacious dining hall for the duration of your session. Gwynn Valley staff will set tables and deliver food while wearing face coverings and gloves.

Travel to Camp

Unfortunately, all Family Camp attendees must be able to drive themselves to camp. Due to risk of exposure, we ask that families not fly into or out of our area.

Arrivals and Departures

Arrival time is between 2 pm and 5 pm on Sunday for each session.

Departure time is 11 am on Thursday for each session.

Schedule and activities

“Choosing your activities” is an important part of Gwynn Valley’s culture, and family camp will be no different. Each day will include several activity periods with plenty of fun options families can select. We’ve given a lot of thought to which activities can be done while maintaining physical distance and high levels of sanitation, and we’re excited to offer the following:

  • Swimming at the pool and lake
  • Paddling on the lake (canoes, sit-on-top kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards)
  • Farm
  • Mountain biking
  • Climbing wall
  • Archery
  • Crafts 
  • Camping skills and nature 
  • Horse care/grooming
  • Hikes
  • Court games: Thunderball, volleyball, basketball, nine-square, Jedi Training Center

Sample schedule:

7:30 – 8:30: Coffee / tea available
8:30: Breakfast
9:45 – 12:15: Morning activities
12:45: Lunch
2:30 – 5:00: Afternoon activities
5:00: Family time
6:00: Dinner 
7:00: After Supper Activities and choose tomorrow’s activities
7:45: Evening program or campfire time
9:30: Quiet time at camp

More information

Each evening we’ll check in with each family about their activity choices for the following day. All members of a family are NOT required to attend each activity period (this is an opportunity for some downtime!), though children must be accompanied at all activities by at least one adult.

For everyone’s safety, instructors and participants must maintain physical distancing during activities. When adequate physical distancing is not possible, face coverings may be required. Between each activity period, instructors will clean the activity area and equipment according to CDC standards. For more complete information, see the information about our COVID-19 health and safety guidelines.

What to bring

In general, each family should bring:

Bedding/linens. Mountain nights can be cool, so make sure you have a thick blanket or sleeping bag!

A rain jacket or poncho for each person. The weather can change VERY quickly in the mountains of western North Carolina, and afternoon thunderstorms are common.

Enough clothing and toiletries for the duration of your stay.

A water bottle for each person so everyone can stay hydrated.

We will supply gear for the activities we are staffing (biking, climbing, etc.) but we also encourage families to bring personal adventure equipment such as kayaks and paddles, road bikes, and mountain bikes (don’t forget helmets – they’re required when biking at GV). Bikes and boats can be used at GV and/or on your own at lots of nearby rivers, roads, and trails away from camp!

Face coverings for each family member over 2 years old, for times when physical distancing is impossible or impractical.

Please note that parents will be responsible for keeping and administering all medications to their children.

For more information, see this complete packing list.

COVID-19 Health and Safety Guidelines

To promote the health and safety of families and staff, please read this section thoroughly and contact our office with any questions you may have.

Your well-being is very important to us. You are required to review our health and safety  recommendations below before arriving at Gwynn Valley Camp.

We have taken reasonable additional measures in an effort to reduce exposure to COVID-19 for all of the Gwynn Valley Camp community. COVID-19 is an extremely contagious disease that can lead to severe illness and death. An inherent risk* of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any place where people are present. While any person is at risk of potential exposure, senior citizens and guests with underlying medical conditions are especially vulnerable according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

By coming to Gwynn Valley Camp you are voluntarily assuming all risks related to exposure to COVID-19 and any other communicable disease.

The safety of our camp families and staff is always our highest priority. For months now, in addition to our normal summer preparations, we’ve been closely monitoring government and industry directives regarding coronavirus. Gwynn Valley will be following and implementing all applicable North Carolina and Transylvania County requirements regarding COVID-19, and to do so we have developed the following Gwynn Valley COVID-19 Health and Safety Guidelines. All guests and staff are required to follow these guidelines while at Gwynn Valley. These may change with little advance notice, and in order to continue operating we will have to modify our protocols accordingly, or we may need to cancel a session.

 *An inherent risk is a risk that cannot be eliminated. 

What is Gwynn Valley doing?

Sanitizing cabins. Each cabin will be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized between sessions. During sessions, it will be your family’s responsibility to keep the cabin clean and sanitized (Gwynn Valley staff will not enter cabins during family camp). Cleaning supplies will be provided in your cabin.

Sanitizing public bathrooms. As much as practical, we ask that families use the bathroom in their cabin. There are limited public bathrooms in Gwynn Valley, and we will clean these bathrooms several times a day. 

Scheduling and sanitizing showerhouses. Showerhouses will be designated as either male or female, and will be used by only one family at a time. Families will sign up on a registration sheet for shower times. Showerhouses will be cleaned and sanitized several times each day. Showerhouses will have spray bottles of disinfectant; we ask that everyone using a shower spray commonly touched surfaces as they depart.

Sanitizing high-touch objects and surfaces in areas such as the dining hall, pool, waterfront, and other activity areas several times each day. 

Providing hand washing sinks and hand sanitizer. There are hand washing sinks outside the dining room, at the Farm, at the Stables, and in all bathrooms. We will provide hand sanitizer at the pool, waterfront, and other activity areas around camp where handwashing is not readily available.

Sanitizing activity areas. Between each activity period, instructors will sanitize commonly touched surfaces and shared equipment at the activity area according to CDC standards.

Staff physical distancing and face coverings. Gwynn Valley instructors will maintain physical distancing between themselves and participants. When this is impossible or impractical, face coverings may be required. 

Health screenings

BEFORE CAMP: We will email you a health screening questionnaire prior to your family camp session. Please complete the form for all guests who will be attending.

AT CAMP: All families and staff will be screened when they arrive at camp. If anyone in your family does not meet our health screening criteria upon arrival, you will be asked to be seen by a doctor in order to be cleared to participate in the program. All families will be asked to self-screen daily and report fever or any other COVID-19 symptoms to a director.

STAFF SCREENING: All Gwynn Valley staff will be screened daily for COVID-19 symptoms. If any staff member shows signs of possible COVID-19 infection, they will be quarantined and tested per state and local regulations.

What we ask you to do

Wait. Appropriate physical distancing (6 feet apart) is necessary between all non-family members. Family groups will be seated at least 6 feet from other families during mealtimes, campfires, and other group activities. It is each parent’s responsibility to ensure that their children maintain this distancing. For this reason, one parent must accompany all children throughout your stay.

Wear. Facial masks or coverings should be worn when it is difficult to maintain social distancing, especially indoors. Activity instructors will be wearing masks when appropriate and staff will be required to wear a mask when serving food.

We will require families to wear masks at camp if:

  • They present with COVID-like symptoms that cannot be attributed to another illness.
  • At any activity where social distancing with the instructor is not possible due to safety equipment.

Wash. Frequent hand-washing is essential. It is important for each guest to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds using soap and water. If soap and water is not available, use hand sanitizer. Wash your hands before eating food, after leaving the dining hall, upon entering your cabin, after contacting frequently touched surfaces, after using the restroom, after using shared equipment, and after coughing/sneezing/blowing your nose. We also recommend that you wash or sanitize your hands prior to entering and while leaving any activity area.

Avoid activities that involve close contact or sharing objects with those outside of your family. These include basketball, volleyball, thunderball, nine-square, Jedi Training Center, ultimate frisbee, soccer, etc.

Respect the risk tolerance of the most cautious individual in our community. Although you may be living in a state or county with more relaxed protections around COVID-19 and social distancing, we are aiming to create an environment that accommodates families with a wide range of risk tolerances. Consider that some people may be in contact with higher risk individuals in their lives back home and/or may work in an environment such as a hospital or nursing home where introducing COVID-19 could be life threatening.

Responding to COVID-19 symptoms before, during, or after camp 

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19: fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea. Please see the CDC website for a complete list of symptoms as well as a ‘self-checker’ guide.

BEFORE CAMP: We ask all families to screen for symptoms and take temperatures before arrival. If you or a family member develops symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19, we ask that you cancel your family camp stay. We will issue you a full refund or reschedule you to another family camp session later in the summer if spaces are available.

DURING CAMP: Parents and guardians are expected to monitor their family members for COVID-19 symptoms daily. If anyone in your family starts to exhibit COVID-19 symptoms, please notify a camp director immediately and have everyone in your family quarantine in your cabin until you can make arrangements to drive home as soon as possible. A refund will be prorated and issued to your family the unused portion of the family camp fees you paid.

AFTER CAMP: If anyone in your family starts to exhibit COVID-19 symptoms or tests positive within 14 days after attending family camp, we request that you contact us to let us know.

First aid and medical treatment at Family Camp

General first aid supplies will be provided as needed from first aid kits in cabins and at activity areas. Although we may have a nurse or physician on site, the Health Hut will not be open or staffed during your stay. Should you need medical treatment, we will refer you to local medical facilities.

Family Camp FAQs

Will there be child care?

Unfortunately, no. In an effort to promote the health and safety of everyone involved, children must be accompanied by at least one adult from their family at all times.

Can I bring pets?

No. The logistics and dynamics of life at camp make it impractical for Gwynn Valley to host pets. Please leave your furry friends at home.

Can our family visit with other families?

Definitely! However, to minimize the possibility of disease transmission, we encourage all guests to maintain adequate physical distancing throughout their stay. This includes staying at least six feet away from other families (including children) as you’re socializing, minimizing time spent with other people in spaces with limited ventilation, and not visiting another family’s cabins.

I know that GV is normally a “screen-free environment.” Can adults and children use phones or laptops during family camp?

One of our goals for family camp is to create a space where folks can be fully present and connected with the people and land around them. It’s a wonderful opportunity to unplug! We understand that some parents may need to work while attending Family Camp or may use their phones to take photos, but please try to embody our technology-free and screen-free philosophy whenever possible.

Is there cell phone reception at Gwynn Valley?

Yes. AT&T has good coverage at GV and there is service in many areas of camp. Verizon tends to work fairly well, but reception can be spotty.

If I need to use my laptop, is there wi-fi and a place I can work?

Yes. If you need to access wi-fi and/or use your laptop or tablet, the best place to do it is at your family’s assigned table in the dining hall. Most tables do NOT have access to a charging port so we recommend charging your laptop in your cabin. There is no wi-fi reception in cabins.

Can you accommodate my family’s dietary restrictions?

Probably. We regularly offer dairy free and gluten free options as well as vegetarian alternatives. We can also work with some severe food allergies. If you have questions about dietary needs, please contact our office.  In the registration form there’s a space where you can tell us about your family’s dietary needs. 

Can we bring our own snacks and adult beverages?

Yes. We will provide the following: three meals a day in our dining hall, coffee and tea in the morning, and snacks at your table in the dining hall periodically throughout the day. If you would like your own drinks, snacks, or adult beverages, please plan on bringing them.

IMPORTANT REMINDER: Mice, raccoons, and other critters are attracted by food, and we prefer that they stay OUTSIDE of cabins and NOT eat your food! So, if you bring food into your cabin, PLEASE STORE ALL FOOD (and food waste/wrappers/trash) IN HARD-SIDED CONTAINERS. We will provide a plastic “snack bin” in each cabin for this purpose. You’re welcome to bring your own cooler to store your snacks and beverages (and keep them cold), or you can store food in your car and retrieve items as needed.

Anyone consuming alcoholic beverages at Gwynn Valley must be 21 or older. You may not participate in any GV program activities after consuming any adult beverage. Please drink responsibly.

Can our family leave Gwynn Valley while camp is in session?

Of course! After all, this is your vacation, and you’re welcome to spend it however you want. For instance, you could head into Brevard late on Monday afternoon to eat at a favorite restaurant, or wake up early Tuesday morning and drive to an overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway to watch sunrise, or leave right after breakfast on Wednesday to spend the day biking in Dupont. There are dozens of good options. We’ll have recommendations and maps about great hikes, bike rides, swimming holes, waterfalls, and other outdoor attractions. 

If you DO choose to leave Gwynn Valley during family camp, we respectfully request that you maintain good hygiene and physical distancing practices to reduce the risk of exposure to your family, as well as other families and staff at Gwynn Valley when you return.

What fun activities can we do outside Gwynn Valley before, during, or after Family Camp?

Western North Carolina has endless opportunities for adventure and enjoyment! Within a short drive from Gwynn Valley there are dozens of state and national forests, restaurants, breweries, and unique stores. Opportunities abound for hiking, mountain biking, road cycling, climbing, tubing, rafting, and more in parks and forests such as Pisgah, Dupont, Gorges, Caesar’s Head, Chimney Rock (plus rivers such as the French Broad, Tuckasegee, Green, Nantahala, and Pigeon).

Currently, North Carolina is in Phase 2 of our COVID-19 reopening. Many restaurants are open for take-out, and some have limited eat-in dining; reservations are required. In Phase 3, more restaurants and shops will likely open. The following sites have the best up-to-date information on closures and offerings:

  1. – A great site for all the wonderful offerings in our county including local restaurants.
  2. – A regional site that covers area attractions, Asheville restaurants/breweries, and more.
  3. – Henderson County and regional offerings more specific to Hendersonville. Includes Hendersonville restaurant information.

Will there be airport pick ups available?

Unfortunately, all Family Camp attendees must be able to drive themselves to camp. Due to risk of exposure, we ask that families not fly into or out of our area.

Family Camp Guidelines and Reminders

  1. Quiet hours are from 9:30pm to 8:00 am.
  2. Parents/guardians are responsible for the supervision of their children at all times.
  3. Pets, tobacco products, firearms, and illegal substances are not allowed.
  4. Smoking is prohibited at Gwynn Valley.
  5. Swimming at the pool and swimming and boating at the GV lake are only allowed when a lifeguard is on duty.
  6. A PFD must be worn at all times in the lake, except by lifeguards performing distance swims.
  7. Anyone riding a bike on Gwynn Valley property must wear a helmet.
  8. Alcohol is permitted in accordance with all North Carolina state laws. Anyone consuming alcoholic beverages must be 21 or older. Please drink responsibly. You may not participate in program activities after consuming any adult beverage.

Registration Information

How do I register my family for camp?!

APPLY ONLINE: Please complete the online application. Once submitted, you will receive an email to confirm that your application was received. 

PHONE CALL WITH CAMP: We will call you within 3 business days to confirm your place in the desired session and discuss payment options.

ENROLLMENT CONFIRMATION: Once your registration is confirmed and payment is arranged over the phone, we’ll send you an enrollment confirmation email and financial statement.

Payment options

Families can pay by check, e-check, credit card, or by using tuition rollover credits from the 2020 summer. 

Wait list for family camp

In an effort to maintain appropriate distancing and protections on camp, we are limiting each session of Family Camp to 13 families. Once a session is filled, we will run a wait list. Should a space become available in a session you are waitlisted for, we will move down the list to offer openings to waitlisted families. 

Cancellation and refund policies

If government regulations change and we have to cancel your week of family camp, or if any member of your family exhibits COVID-19 symptoms or tests positive prior to family camp (meaning your family will be unable to attend), we will issue you a full refund.

If you need to cancel due to a family emergency and we are unable to fill your space, the loss will be shared equally by the family and camp.

If you have to cancel for any other reason, a refund will only be issued if we are able to fill your space, minus a $200 non-refundable processing fee.