Camp Is Just Around the Corner and the Outcomes Are Many!

Say “foget about it”, in your best Tony Soprano accent and put all that snow, sleet and cold temps behind you and bring in the new life and warm winds of Spring!  Our daffodils have come and are waning and some trees are just starting to bud out.  Our annual visitors, two mated Canadian geese, have taken up residence at the lake along with a lonely wood duck of some sort.  Potatoes are in the ground as well as onions, lettuce and other vegetables are being planted at the farm.  The girls on Brookside will have a totally renovated shower house among other improvements.  We are looking forward to a great summer at camp for 2015 and you should as well.

Summer Camp is the kid “happy place” where you don’t have to worry about anything except why can’t I take all the activities each and every day.  It’s a chance to unplug and re-plug into the outdoors and live a simpler lifestyle with new friends, learning new skills, meeting a whole new set of camp parents – your counselors.  I think you would all agree that camp is the place that fills a role that school and parents can’t.  Children make their own decisions, set and achieve goals, try new things, understand a sense of belonging to a group larger than oneself (cabin, activity & table), develop grit, resilience, confidence and the list goes on. IMG_7726

Summer camp is also a healthy environment.  Exercise is a part of any child’s life of play here, and camp is a natural provider of constant, safe, imaginative physical play. This brings opportunities for every camper’s intellect and imagination to get plenty of exercise at the same time.

Children at coed camps learn how to relate with members of the other gender as friends and equals. Skills of social interaction are creative and independent but stay in keeping with each child’s family teachings. Guided by adult friends and capable role models, our counselors, campers get a valuable chance to apply what they have been taught at home in a larger social world.  This is what we call “Partnering With Parents”.

Campers grow to find and be themselves, in a natural setting that gently challenges a child to newer and higher standards for their own behavior. The daily camp existence has activities that encourage perseverance, listening skills, teamwork, and the ability to recognize similarities and appreciate differences in each individual. If it’s a camp like Gwynn Valley where there is a strong emphasis on nature or that has farm animals, children get even more opportunities to relate with the creatures of the natural worlds around us. Self discovery can become a habit that lasts a lifetime.  IMG_2737 5

Over the years when we’ve sent our end of session survey’s, parents have commented on the biggest benefits gained from a camping experience here at Gwynn Valley.  I just wanted to share some of these with you and this is my top 20 list, give or take a few.  These are in no certain order.

Learned life skills that will translate to entering high school and college

Came home willing to try more foods

Exposure to different cultures, nationalities, and languages

Made a lot of new friends and they stay in touch

More social

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More thoughtful

Had mentors (counselors) who were great role models

Really enjoyed learning new outdoor skills and camping

Learned to live with others

Came home and was more responsible

You could see and feel the confidence of completing the session and the Mountainside experience

Was able to see and understand other’s perspectives

Ability to take chances and leave his comfort zone

More confidence in schoolwork and sports

Camp was a true sense of accomplishment on their own with supporting letters from home

A new appreciation of the natural setting around our house

Being a role model for younger siblings

Having positive male and female role models closer to their age than we are

Has learned to self advocate at school and in other social situations

Able to pursue independent interests

More expressive

Comes home tired but totally energized about the experience

 

Without a doubt camp does a world of good and we hope you will be a part of our world of good here at Gwynn Valley in 2015.  See you soon!

Good Camp Counseling is Good Parenting!

Most of you may be wondering what to expect of your camper’s counselors.  It’s an important question as we care for your most prized possession.  We are only as good as our staff.  I can be the best director in campville, have the finest facility and program, but if I don’t hire the best staff to guide and nurture the campers, I have failed.  Good camp counseling provides the same values that you expect at home.  It’s packaged a little bit different and has a cast of many who work each and every day with your child.  Staff are talented, they’re fun, patient, energetic, kind, and very cool in the eyes of your child.  Great camp counselors follow these simple rules of thumb as they go about their daily work:

They are consistent disciplinarians.  This is certainly not their easiest task.  They know the guidelines at camp and know they will be challenged by campers.  This consistency will help mold campers ideas of what is fair and just and they will see this daily, whether choosing teams for a game or delving out jobs for cabin cleanup.  Both cabin counselors will be a true team on what is appropriate so there’s no “good cop/bad cop”.

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The “Golden Rule” reigns at camp.  Treating campers with kindness and patience will show compassion.  In turn their behavior as a counselor, will cause campers to treat others in the same fashion.  Politeness and manners in our culture are important when so many people interact on a daily basis.  Camp is a great place to extend the hand of civilized behavior with one another and again it pays forward.

Be available for talk time, because children need to have conversation just as much as we do.  Listening is critical here and after listening, passing along information that may be a future lesson for life.  The conversation could range from favorite ice cream flavors to asking about their most memorable vacation and where they’ve traveled.  Children also need to know their opinions count and in so doing our staff learn even more about their personality.  At camp we have talk time every night in the cabin after campfire and it’s called friendship circle.  While this is a much more organized way to get a feel for the camper’s day, any cabin time should be talk time.  Activity and meal times are also great times to get to know campers.  Many years ago when I worked for Outward Bound we started with six days on the Deschutes River in Oregon.  The two staff leading the trip paddled the oar/equipment boat and the students paddled the 4 man rafts (usually three rafts per group).  Each day we would spend time taking one student at a time on the oar raft to just talk and get to know that person better.  By the time our river component ended, our 21 day course had benefited from that special time bonding with our students and it made a huge impact on the rest of our course.

Set a good example.  Much of what our staff do at camp is copied by the children.  What they say, how they treat one another, how they dress, what words they choose, and more are noticed at camp by someone and likely many! Campers might not seem to be paying attention or watching our staff but they are, from up close and afar.  Good behavior is expected here and our staff are an extension of you the parent at home.  I challenge my staff and ask, would you make that comment or decision if the parent were standing there next to you or if I was standing there next to you. IMG_8045

Lastly – our staff unplug in the presence of campers and during the activity times when children are around.  Phones, tablets and ipods cannot be used in the cabin and only have restricted use in certain parts of camp at certain times.  You will not see a counselor talking on their cell phone as they stroll through camp.  Children need to see that their counselors are not dominated by electronic devices but are users of other equipment at camp like bikes, pottery wheels, carabiners, horse reins, bows, and a gentle hand when dealing with a baby farm animal.

Our staff begin receiving these value based messages in preparation for entering our child centered world early in the Spring and when staff training comes in late May, we re-emphasize the importance of good parenting at camp and why their role as a counselor is so crucial in our setting.  In the end I see that children really remember their counselors more than anything else at camp.  They may have had fun on the climbing wall but it was that counselor who talked them through the difficult section and praised their resilience for getting to the top.  That memory is what I call creating “Camp DNA” or good camp memories.  Our staff play the vital role in that Camp DNA.  We strive to partner with parents in creating the best possible camp experience that we can here at Gwynn Valley.  Stay tuned!

It’s Camp, It’s Real, It’s Fun and It’s Growth!

As I prepare for a promotion trip in the later part of this month, technology comes to mind. Years ago on one of my trips to do a home show in Washington, DC, I was stubbornly still using Google Maps that I had printed out and I took several copies of the areas I was traveling in to navigate my way to the shows and also where I was staying. I got royally lost trying to get from DC to Bethesda during rush hour traffic and in the waning light of the evening hopelessly trying to read those paper maps. After just barely making it to my show, I went on-line that night and ordered a Garmin GPS. Wow! What a revelation after its first use and I never looked back. This year as I travel I have recently put our camp video on my i-phone with the help of my tech-savvy friends and work colleagues. In between these events I have stumbled and bungled my way through and around many technological advances that have crept into my baby boomer lifestyle. My children have educated Anne and me in the many ways of “tech” and together we survive the onslaught of living in a screen based world.

I recently read an article that asked, how would you feel if you were asked to turn in your mobile phone while entering a national park? Would it help you connect more deeply with nature? That’s exactly what New Forest National Park in Great Britain has done, as they’ve jumped on the anti-technology bandwagon. The park has installed a “Tech Creche” locker system to gather and safely lock away the mobile phones of its visitors.

There’s a great ad on TV these days that shows a whole family engrossed in their screen of choice sitting at home on a beautiful day. They hear a knock at the door and it’s a bear along with many other animals of the forest who take the family hostage, throw them in a van and whisk them off to a wild place where they can connect with something way more magnificent that the multi-chip device that rules their existence. This and other ads can be found on www.discovertheforest.org.

My youngest son is working on his Eagle Scout project and he’s used technology to pin point GPS coordinates to place river mile markers on the French Broad River. In the old days this would have been a lot more challenging without Google Earth. I suppose that only time will tell as we get deeper into the how technology affects our daily lives. The positives are certainly positive and the negatives are many.

This is where camp comes in. For 8 days, 2 weeks or 3 weeks a camper attends Gwynn Valley and has no relationship with any kind of screen. It’s one-on-one or one-on-many communication with those around you. Adults and campers talk with you and you’re not drawn into the hypnotic world of a large or small screen. If you’re distracted it’s probably because you see someone at camp participating in something that you would like to try. Camp reconnects us with the real world of where food comes from, what is poison about poison ivy and how to avoid the allergic reaction, catching a giant tadpole almost at the stage of being a frog, learning to handle a real mountain bike not a virtual one, cooking over an open fire and more basic, learning how to build that fire. You can’t do all this in any other way. It’s camp, it’s real, it’s fun, and it’s growth and the kind of growth that makes for strong and resilient young folks. Camp is a stepping stone to greater things in life that can’t be provided by parents or school. As they get older children will have plenty of time to take in and learn all the positive things that can be accomplished with technology. Everyone needs to unplug, so come join us this summer and have your cup overflow with all the wonderful aspects of being outdoors. For a “positive virtual” look at camp check out this video: http://vimeo.com/114361671

Happy Holidays and New “You Rock” Video!

Happy Holidays Everyone,

We hope your holiday preparations are going well and you and your family are looking forward to this wonderful part of the year. One of my goals for the end of the year is to really slow down and get the most of these days ahead. We do the same thing at camp sometimes. We get on a roll and everything is moving so fast that we suddenly realize that we need to apply the brakes. Camp moves at a fast pace and it’s hard to slow down a moving train. Children get tired and they need good rest and time to just recharge those batteries. When we do put the brakes on it’s rewarding to see how a bit of unstructured free-play and some rest can rejuvenate everyone and bring a sense of well-being to our home away from home. We all need this in our lives and it’s especially hard this time of year to slow that train down.

With the holiday season also comes the aspects of ceremony and tradition. We have a lot of tradition here at camp. Traditions of camp vary from events in the summer to cabin photos that campers receive in the winter. Several years ago a counselor, named Tyler Swain, produced a video for us called “You Rock”. It still stands as an iconic piece for us and is on our website. I can’t even remember when the video was created, but it was time for an updated version. We thought about trying to work with that same theme with new footage but you can’t always build on some things that are done so well the first time. We have created a new version with an short beginning similar to the last “You Rock”, but then it departs and speaks to 2014 and a glimpse of our magical summer past. Many thanks to my co-workers who critiqued my work and also Emery Ford who introduced me to the song used and added some footage from a piece she did this summer for Session B. We may or may not put this on our website but you can certainly view it on Vimeo as well as our Facebook page for Gwynn Valley. Here’s the link. http://vimeo.com/114361671

As another year comes to an end, I highlight the things for which I am grateful, but what are those things, really? In this season of thanks, I am grateful for my family who is there for each other, I have a nice home, income, an active life of activities, a system of positive beliefs and much more. At camp one of our values is simplicity and the older I get the more I want things to be simple. I’ve accumulated enough “stuff” in my life that I really don’t need much more, especially gadgets and outdoor toys. However, every now and then I do envy a new mountain bike or boat, but then I see my friend Robert Dye (one of our whitewater instructors who teaches at the local college) making his own sea kayak and that friends, is simplicity. I’m also grateful for the association I’ve had with the many families that come to camp and all the children that have attended Gwynn Valley. I also include the fact that I wake up each morning to another beautiful day in paradise to accomplish good things along with my fellow workers in keeping Gwynn Valley a great place for children to attend.

In this season of giving, the gift of a camp experience is different than adding more “stuff” to the accumulation pile. Camp is a great gift for a child and the camp experience is one that is not forgotten and does not come from a screen. It’s an active, hands on event that propels the camper to new heights of self worth, resilience and time away to grow on one’s own without parents.

So… enjoy the video link listed above and all it stands for. Give thanks, slow down and have a wonderful Holiday Season with those who surround you. Best to you and yours from all of us.

Re-Wilding Your Child!

 

We just completed a great summer here at Gwynn Valley. This was all made possible by the great staff that guided your children and the fact that you as parents sent us wonderful groups of children this summer. We hope you are hearing stories from camp that will create great memories for summers to come. Camp plays an important role in children’s lives that can’t be repeated in most homes or at school. We believe that a camp experience is part of an overall whole education of the child as they grow and mature.

I recently read an interesting article in Outside Magazine called “We Don’t Need No Education”. Double negatives aside, it was an interesting read on how one set of parents living in rural Vermont are “unschooling” their children. The two boys, ages 9 and 12 (typical GV aged boys) don’t attend traditional school and don’t participate in a regular home school type education. The boy’s father dropped out of school at 16 due to “traditional education boredom” and has made a decent life for himself and his family. He did get his GED and spent several semester’s in Vermont’s State University system. They own a small farm in Vermont and spend much of their time tending their farm, living a sustainable lifestyle and the dad has just written a book: Home Grown: Adventures in Parenting Off the Beaten Path, Unschooling, and Reconnecting with the Natural World. He blogs at benhewitt.net.

He and his wife advocate that the boys experience living life on the farm as a form of traditional education. They utilize their math skills in many different ways and with dad being a writer, I’m sure he watches how they speak, read and write. When their first son reached the age of 5 they tried some home school methods observed from the Waldorf curriculum. That didn’t work with that son andthe moment we quit trying to teach our son anything was the moment he started really learning”. The article goes on to talk about some of the folks who have influenced this type of educational philosophy that the parents have embraced. Really the most interesting part of the article is the day to day life the two boys lead and how their strong connection with the natural world and relating that to some traditional education themes of the 3 R’s.

Very few of us have taken this path with our own children and the vast majority are doing fine in the traditional educational system. As a person who is fairly close to nature and the out-of-doors, it’s exciting to read about the day to day lives of these boys. There are many children who would love to live this lifestyle. It is the ideal classroom in many ways. Several years ago we took a family vacation to the Virgin Islands and stayed in a campground on the beach at St. Johns with our 4 children. We decided to charter a sailboat through friend of a friend and had a wonderful time being out on the ocean for a day dropping anchor in deserted coves, swimming and living the tropical life. The owner of the boat invited us all over later that evening and told us that he his wife and two sons had built the boat we were on that day and sailed with their sons throughout the world and visited ports all over the globe.  The boys got their education on that boat and on dry land when in port, but neither attended any type of formal school until college. Now both sons are quite successful in practicing medicine and law and doing well. A happy ending, but obviously not for everyone.

This is where a good camp experience is so important in rounding out a child’s world. After sitting in a traditional classroom a good portion of the year, camp “re-wilds” your child. At camp we are learning new skills each day, challenging oneself, sometimes failing and trying again if you want, and living in a small community where you have to pull your weight and be responsible to multiple groups where you’re not the center of attention. I can say this having been an only child. (Maybe that’s one reason why I own a camp.) Camp does a world of good for children and exposes them to some of the aspects that these two boys from the article are experiencing in their rural unschooled life in Vermont. Unstructured free-play is something every child needs and our meadows and woods are the perfect environment for that to happen in. Campers become acclimatized to the outdoor world that we’ve grown farther away from while spending too much time looking at screens. They begin to see how important the WEB of LIFE is and add to that, a few trips to the farm really hones in on where our food comes from and how important it is to eat a balanced non processed food diet.

All this and more at Gwynn Valley allows children to develop under the watchful eye of those who are not parents. As parents, we are pretty cool but not as cool as those counselors at camp. These are the folks that lead us on adventures and teach us where the clay comes from that forms into a pinch pot, why we need to treat drinking water in the woods, learning a knot that may one day be useful in a whole different way than climbing, learning that Jewel Weed is a good remedy for itchy bug bites, and certainly but not finally introducing us to activities and hobbies that we can do for the rest of our lives. The Simple Joys of Childhood really fits us and our program. We are pleased to be entering our 80th year of operation and look forward to serving many children for years to come. Thank you again for sharing your children with us. We look forward to seeing you again next summer at Gwynn Valley.

See You Soon!

Camp is right around the corner and what a summer we have in store. As I write many of our staff are here and training in various disciplines. Our adventure staff training started Sunday and life guard training and wilderness first aid has completed their coursework. More first aid and CPR sessions begin tomorrow.  Paddlers, climbers, mountain bikers and backpackers were all out today on various terrain to become familiar with the resources of our forest lands and how we roll. The rest of our staff are slated to arrive on Friday and so begins a week of all staff training and the almost best part of the summer. Of course, the best part comes when our first campers arrive on June 7th. We had many of them visit with us last weekend for our annual Open House. Families came from Charleston, West Virginia, Wilmington, Charlotte, Raleigh, Atlanta, Tennessee, and many other far and near locations.

One of our camp values is diversity and we have a diverse and wonderful staff here that will be guiding and leading your children. It’s also good for the children to be with other children from all over our GV nation. Building relationships is the essence of camp. Put that together with a great program and you’ve got a recipe for success. Children are good at making friends and camp really promotes friendships that are new and sometimes long lasting.  It’s fun to meet people that aren’t from your neighborhood, school, city, state or country.

You are giving your child the opportunity to live and thrive without being with you and under your scrutiny. The growth in confidence and independence happens at camp because you are not there. You are also giving your child the gift of magical childhood memories — dirt, adventure, stories, skills, music, and joke-filled days and nights spent with friends outdoors, under the stars, and around the campfire. These childhood memories will last forever. And, as Michael Thompson, PhD, so eloquently states, “Our best childhood memories do not include adults.” Camp is the perfect getaway for a child. It’s a break from the pressures and stress of competitive sports, school, and you. Our kids need a break from our well-intentioned involvement in their lives. They also need other mentors in their lives that come in the form of counselors and activity leaders like those here at camp. Lastly, camp provides children the chance to unplug and connect to the real “facebook” of life.

So…don’t ever question your decision to send your children to camp. You will miss them, they will mostly likely miss you and you will both be the better for it. Camp has a value that in many ways is priceless and cannot be measured. Your gift of camp to them and our gift of creating great memories (camp DNA) is a dynamite combination. We are partnering with you to create great experiences and great people. We look forward to seeing you soon!

Grant

5 “Dangerous” Things Parents Should Do to Their Children – Dr. Jim Taylor

Interesting article from Dr. Taylor and most of these things we’ve incorporated into our program here at camp. 

I thoroughly enjoyed Gever Tully’s TED video of “5 Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Kids Do” and agree with his thesis that parents these days are far too protective of their children.  Paradoxically, in parents’ well-intentioned attempts at protecting their children from harm, they actually leave them less prepared for the real dangers that your kids will face later in life.

I also concur that exposing kids to a little danger can be beneficial to their development. Exposure to what are for them risky experiences, such as using power tools, fire, or a pocket knife, can build confidence, resilience, competence, respect, and responsibility, as well as develop cognitive, emotional, and motor skills that will help children as they transition into adulthood.

Of course, it’s easy for Mr. Tully to make this argument when he doesn’t have kids; he doesn’t have the hard-wired “protect your children to ensure their survival” instinct kick in at the first sign of danger.

Though exposing children to Mr. Tully’s tangible dangers offers many benefits, I would argue that the dangers that he wants you to expose them to are far less threatening than they actually are because the potentially harmful consequences are immediate and will surely be mitigated by a watchful—though hopefully not overly intrusive—parent.

In contrast, I would suggest that you can do five things to your children that are far more “dangerous,” yet will have a far greater impact on them as they develop.

Give Your Children Conditional Love

Here is a statement that will be truly heretic to today’s “parent-industrial complex”: Conditional love is good! Like most things in life, unconditional and conditional love are neither good nor bad; it is what you do with them that makes them so.

I’m not talking about what we as parents feel; of course, we always love our children no matter what they do. But rather what children perceive, and I believe that they do perceive loss of love. They don’t know the difference between disapproval and withheld love.

Conditional love that is used to threaten or control your children is bad, for example, when you use what I call outcome love, in which you make your love conditional on your children’s success or failure in school, sports, etc.

Love is your most powerful tool for influencing your children. Rewarding your children—love is really the ultimate form of reward—regardless of their behavior robs them of one of their most important lessons, namely, that their actions have consequences. What more powerful inducement to good action is there for your children than their perceived threat of losing your love?

You can instill healthy values and behavior, such as respect, responsibility, compassion, and generosity, by giving praise—offering love—when your children demonstrate these and showing disapproval—withholding love—when your children don’t demonstrate these values.

Don’t Praise Your Children

“Good job!” is the most common praise you hear parents giving kids. Yet, it is lazy and worthless praise. The reality is that children don’t need to be told “good job!” when they’ve done something well; it’s self-evident.

The purpose of praise is to encourage children to continue to engage in positive behaviors. So, if you’re going to praise them, be specific, for example, “You worked really hard on that school project!”, so they see that their great effort is what led to their success.

Unfortunately, many parents have been misguided by the “self-esteem movement,” which has told them that the way to build their children’s self-esteem is to tell them how good they are at everything. But, research has shown that students who are lavished with praise were more cautious in their responses to questions, had less confidence in their answers, were less persistent in difficult assignments, and less willing to share their ideas.

Children develop a sense of competence by experiencing success, not by being told they are successful.

Let Your Children Fail

Fear of failure among children is epidemic in America today. At the heart of fear of failure is the belief that if children fail, bad things will happen, for example, they will disappoint their parents, experience embarrassment or shame, or feel worthless. In a culture of “never good enough” and an economic landscape filled with uncertainty, parents are terrified of their children failing.

Yet, by protecting your children from failure, you are making it less likely that they will succeed. The reality is that the most successful people in all walks of life have failed frequently and monumentally on the way to success. Only by failing can your children learn essential life lessons, such as resilience, perseverance, and problem solving, that will ultimately lead them to success.

Let Your Children Feel Bad

As a parent, you hate it when your children feel bad. It tugs at your heart strings when they are afraid, disappointed, or sad. Your natural tendency is to try to make them feel better as quickly as possible by soothing, placating, assuaging, or distracting them from their ill feelings. Yet, in doing so, you rob them of the opportunity to experience, learn from, and, ultimately, master their emotional life.

When you don’t allow your children to experience their emotions, you prevent them from understanding them and figuring out how to deal with them in a constructive way in the future. Your children need to be able to just sit with their unpleasant emotions and ask “Why do I feel so bad?” and “What can I do to get over feeling this way?”

Don’t Give Your Children Your iPhone

Expediency is one of the most dangerous words in parenting. It means doing what is easiest for you, not what is best for your children. You now have more ways than ever to keep your kids entertained and out of your hair. We have truly reached new heights (or should I say depths) thanks to the iPhone, the Swiss Army knife of parental expediency, for dealing with bored or cantankerous children.

What are the ramifications of children who aren’t left to their own devices (no pun intended) when they don’t have anything to do? Your children may become literally addicted to technology because its frequent use triggers the same neurochemical activity brain as do drugs and gambling.

Children are deprived of the opportunity to get out of their doldrums on their own. And they will struggle when they get bored later in life in the classroom or office. Children may also not learn that sometimes they have to be respectful of others and need to just sit and wait until their parents finish what they are doing.

In conclusion, I encourage you to expose your children to the risky experiences that Mr. Tully advocates. More importantly, though, I urge you to expose your children to truly “dangerous” experiences such as conditional love, no praise, failure, bad feelings, and boredom. These treacherous encounters will surely serve your children well as they begin to experience the many perils that lie ahead in their lives.

 

 

Camp Shows in Your Area Are Coming Soon!

PARENTS AND CAMPERS!!! Check our website travel page for upcoming shows all across the Gwynn Valley map. We’ve put together some great video highlights from every session of our 2013 summer that we will show at each of our camp parties. (See sample below). Join us and bring a friend who might be interested in camp and meet with Grant, Anne, Maggie or Andy in a city near you. Hope to see you out on the road. Link for travel schedule is:
http://www.gwynnvalley.com/contact-us/travel-schedule/

Gwynn Valley Sample of Camp Highlights from E Session from Gwynn Valley on Vimeo.

Kids Mountain Bike Race at Gwynn Valley 9/7/13

GWYNN VALLEY MOUNTAIN BIKING CAMPERS AND PARENTS – JOIN US SEPT. 7TH!

Don’t miss the 2013 CYMBL Race here at Gwynn Valley on Sept. 7th. Last year we had over 70 kids riding in various age categories coming from 4 different states.  We’re second on the cross country series this year among 5 different races here in Western NC.  All ages under 6 up to 18. We’ll be riding our single track trail across the road from camp which is appropriate for all ages.  Sorry parents, no category for you.  Stay the weekend in our area and take in some fantastic riding in Dupont State Forest or Pisgah National Forest.  See the CYMBL website and watch the video below.

http://www.cymbl.org/

https://vimeo.com/47935230

CAMP TIPS FOR PARENTS

As we get closer to our camp season it’s important to follow these suggestions as you begin to make a decision about coming to camp and preparing for a summer of fun and learning.  If you’re coming for the first time or maybe back to camp these tips will help you and your child to enhance their experience.  

1. Involve your child in making the decision as to going to camp where he or she might choose to go.  Ultimately you will make that decision based on the research that you all do together but most of the time they are attracted to the same camp you as a parent have chosen.  That might include a shopping trip to get that new sleeping bag or swim trunks or a good book to take with them.

2.  Find a camp that matches your families values whether it be religious values, competitiveness, program offerings or any number of choices that are out there.  Never hesitate to call and speak to us to discuss the camp’s values and philosophy and tell us about your son or daughter.   I feel there is a camp for every child, so find the best one for your camper.  

3.  Spend practice time away from home with friends or relatives.  Children who are able to be away from parents are more likely to have success in a camp environment.  Several sleepover nights without contact from you will help them cope in new surroundings.  If your child is interested but hesitant, sometimes it is helpful to see if any of their friends are also attending which will provide more security at first.  If possible, a visit or tour of the camp will help familiarize your child with the site, dining room, and cabins which will provide more security on the first day.  Gwynn Valley hosts tours year round, so contact us about a tour with your family.  
 
4.  Utilize a calendar and give the child a chance to mentally prepare for camp.  They should know the dates and discuss with you how long before camp starts.  It’s also good to have them experience the time they will be away from home on that same calendar.  If they are going away for a two week session, mark a two week period on the calendar to give them a feel just how long that two weeks really is.  It’s not camp but it does help them understand the time frame and how long a session lasts.  

5.  It is OK to talk about homesickness with children.  Over 80% of children experience homesickness and talking about it before the camp season is one of the best ways to cope with it, should it crop up at camp.  There are things they will miss from home but on the flip side those are the things that they love about home.  Camp cannot replace those things that they may miss but we can offer them a myriad of activities and times they will love as well.  If they do become homesick you’ve talked with them about some things they can focus on to help them get through those sad times and ways to look forward to all the great things that camp has to offer.  Remember they will have their camp parents (counselors) to talk to while there and make sure they know they can talk about it with someone at camp.  

6.  Complete the health form honestly.  Make sure the camp knows medical information about your child that will help them with a successful experience at camp.  Medications, allergies, bedwetting issues, and any other special information about your child will help the directors and staff  to best support your child while at camp.  If your child takes helpful medications for any condition consult your physician and the camp before taking a holiday from those meds.  It may affect their experience and socialization with fellow campers and staff.  Other information that you feel is important and is not a part of health form questionnaire should be attached to the form or to the camper’s application so the directors and leadership staff can become aware of this information.  

7.  Label everything your child brings to camp.  Lost and found confounds camp directors and we spend a lot of time getting children’s clothing and camp possessions back to them.  Labeled clothing, towels, flashlights and essentially everything makes lost and lost become lost and found.  

8.  Contact with your child is important even in short sessions.  Gwynn Valley allows parents to drop postcards and letters off on opening day so the child will have some mail as they begin their session.  We also accept emails and faxes from home and relatives and in longer sessions your letters are welcomed news from home.  It’s fun to send pictures, cartoons, jokes and clippings from their favorite sports page.  Always say that you know they are having the time of their lives and don’t start your correspondence with “We miss you so much”.  Also, have them correspond with you.  Some parents use a simple fill in the blank format for younger campers:  
The best part of my day today was  ________________.  My favorite meal so far at camp has been __________________.  You get the idea.  For younger and older campers you should supply stamped self addressed envelopes to help them get that note in the mail.  Remember there is so much to do at camp and so little time to write home. If you don’t get letters they are having the time of their life.     

9.  Never promise your child that you will pick them up if they are homesick.  Homesickness is normal and remember you want to set your child up for success.  Reassure them that you will be there on closing day and can’t wait to see and hear all about camp. If you are concerned about homesickness, discuss it with us and see how we handle those situations.  

10.  Know that you’re child is having a wonderful experience at camp and that Gwynn Valley is helping your child to reclaim and foster the beauty, wonder, and innocence of childhood is a beautiful and nurturing environment.  Our world is free of technology and we get back to the simple joys of being a child.  You’ll also be able to view pictures taken each day at camp and I will be writing a daily blog to give you insight into each and every day.