Dear Campers, Parents & Friends,

Even though it’s a fairly warm day here at camp, true winter has been with us for a while.  Leaves have been gathered, hydrangea’s have been trimmed and many projects have been started in preparation for the coming summer.  We here at camp hope that you and your family are doing well during this festive and special time of year.  We’ve been fortunate to connect with many of our campers and families on our camp promotion trips up until Thanksgiving.  Those will resume again as the new year begins so look for us in a city or area near you.  We’ll be showing our new video,  which premiered in the fall.  Just this past week we went live with the video on the camp website.  If you haven’t had time to check it out, do so.  You might see someone you know.  There are also other videos from the summer if you click on the “You Rock” video at the bottom right side of the page.  Once it plays you find a few more scenes from our super 2011 summer.

Staffing is going very well and at this point we have over 85 of our outstanding staff from last summer who have committed for the summer of 2012.  We’ve been interviewing some new folks who will round out the excellent staff ranks for the summer.  If you know of a wonderful  young man or woman who is keen on working with children please send them our way.  You can never have too many good staff.

As many of you know one of Gwynn Valley’s values is simplicity.  With all the hustle and bustle of this time of year, don’t forget to stop and give thanks for all that we have, for family, for friends, for faith, for good health and for places like Gwynn Valley.  Anne and recently placed a metal sign above our doorway in the kitchen leading into our family room that is just the word “Believe”.  There are all kinds of magnetic additions you can add to it depending on the season.  It’s inspirational for our family in so many ways.  Just remember to start that “Believing” process by believing in yourself.  I think that Gwynn Valley provides children the simple act of believing in themselves and going forward to gain other life building skills that camp teaches.

At every camp closing our staff sings the song “The Irish Blessing”.  It’s a great way to end our sessions and I think the words speak for themselves.

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be ever at your back.
May the sunshine warm upon your face,
And the rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again.
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.

May the peace of the season touch your lives in simple ways!


A home show presentation near you..

Gwynn Valley Camp is on the road!  Our camp shows are hosted by camper families and are for returning campers, alumni, and anyone interested in learning about camp.  These gatherings are a great way to speak to others who have attended camp and an opportunity to meet one of our Directors.  Come find out more about camp at a home show near you and watch our new DVD from the 2011 summer!  Check out our travel schedule for the next several months.  Check back often as we continue to update and add to the schedule for November, January, and February.


Friendship at Camp!

Making new friends at camp is one of those bonus aspects found under “the benefits of camp”.  Some friendships that last a lifetime start right here during the summer.  The other benefits are numerous to just mention a few.  Traditional organized camping is in its 150th year and has become a part of the fabric of America.  There’s a camp out there for everyone and each and every child should be able to have this opportunity if they want it.  It’s been a success for that long because it’s an extension of the teaching classroom and offers the child another way to learn and build relationships.  Those two things right there are great but there’s more.  Camp is a safe and nurturing environment where children can fail, pick themselves up, try again and gain the confidence to succeed in any number of ways.  There’s always a mentor to help them along the way and to encourage them in their decisions.  Camp provides experiences that promote self confidence and growth.  Research has shown that parents, camp staff and campers report significant growth in areas including leadership, independence, social comfort, developing strong values and learning decision making skills from the camp experience.  Camp encourages a respect and love of our natural world.  Just look how many children have been touched by the farm and our attention to nature here at Gwynn Valley.  It’s hard to unplug in this world but GV plugs them into a world without screens that is real, imaginative, scientific, and creates a direct relationship to their world.  Camp also keeps us physically active.  Where can you play all day, eat healthy food, feel good about yourself and go to bed tired, fulfilled and happy as a clam….,then wake up and do it all over again.  What gave me these thoughts today was a picture sent to me by a parent who was hosting a weekend gathering of girls who lived together in Indian Paintbrush Riverside II, 2010.  They all got together in Chapel Hill for some friendship and reliving great memories of camp.  You go girls! Thank you for continuing to burn the flame of friendship created here at Gwynn Valley. 

When is my child ready for summer camp?

Every parent wants their child’s first stay away from home to be successful and a good first summer camp experience can be a springboard to so many other positive aspects in their lives.  When will my child be ready for an overnight camp, is a question often asked as families explore residential camping.    Children are ready to attend camp at different ages depending upon their emotional maturity, interest in camp, and level of personal independence. Some are ready at the age of 5 or 6 (finishing kindergarten) and others meet with more success if they wait until age 8-10. Much depends on the child and the parents.  I’ve seen many children who would like to attend camp but mom and dad are not ready.  The reverse is also true.  Take your cue from your children. In many cases they’re able to determine their readiness before a parent does. If they’re interested and excited about the possibility, it’s a good chance they’re ready.  Always involve your child in the decision making process.  Look over the camp brochure with your child and visit the web site to gauge their reaction and enthusiasm.

Has your child spent a night or two with a friend or relative? Children who are able to be away from parents are more likely to be good candidates for an overnight camp experience. If your child is interested but hesitant, sometimes it is helpful to see if any of his or her 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.

How responsible and independent is your child? Can they keep track of their own things, tie their shoes and change their clothes.  Is your child able to seek help from other adults or authority figures?  There are always counselors and adults available at camp to help, guide, and mentor but the one on one attention will be less than when dealing with just mom or dad. Each child is different and even if you were eager to go to overnight camp at the age of nine, that doesn’t necessarily mean your child will when they turn the same age. If they are uncomfortable spending one night at a friend’s without calling you, they are not ready for overnight camp.  Don’t base your decision on their friends or their parents.

Consider sending your child for a shorter session for their first time at overnight camp. First time campers should be able to find a program that has a 5 to 10 day session.  Leave them hungry for more by not overdoing it and make that first experience a success.  While your child is at camp, your correspondence with them by letter or email should be upbeat and positive (….know you’re having a great time and hoping you’re making lots of new friends and having fun!).  Never promise your child that you will pick them up if they are homesick.  Homesickness is normal and 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 the camp director and see how they handle those situations.

You know your child best and what makes them happy. It’s good for children to experience some challenge and camp is a good safe provider for that.  A positive family attitude, discussions about the camp schedule, activities and food, along with gentle encouragement that missing home is “ok” will usually provide your child the tools needed to make the camp transition a valuable growth experience.  Camp creates great memories for you and your child and with good preparation and timing that first overnight stay should be a wonderful experience.

Grant Bullard- Director

Gwynn Valley Camp –


Our road trips to promote camp are coming to an end over the next couple of weeks.  I’ve seen a lot of new faces and many old campers from those trips throughout the southeast.  Andy has also been on the road and just returned from Tennessee and Kentucky.  We greeted many prospective camper families, dispensed lots of Gwynn Valley Camp brochures, answered many questions and given out a whole bunch of Gwynn Valley raised on the farm honest to goodness popcorn.  I was down in Bluffton, SC at the home of Abby Freed,  who hosted a show at their home.  As I was setting up and getting ready for the home show, she took some of that Gwynn Valley popcorn and popped it in the microwave.  It was a great idea and a wonderful way to bring our farm program into the discussion.

After one of the road trips I was cleaning out my car and noticed a couple of ears that had tumbled out of the basket and ended up in the back of my car.  I took them inside and decided that I would have some.  Rather than using the micro wave, I thought I’d pop the corn the old fashioned way, in a pan over the stove.  I had a blue ear and yellow ear.  With a little salt and butter it tasted delicious.  As I ate it, I noticed that the blue corn was really a whiter color than the yellow corn.  I’ve taken a picture to prove it.  The yellow popcorn has a yellow tint to it and the blue is as white as snow.  You’d think that it would be kind of a bluish color but it’s white.  Just goes to show that you can’t judge a book by its cover.  I’ve heard that somewhere before.  We’ll have plenty left over for the summer so check it out or try it at home if you haven’t popped your corn from one of our home shows.   Stay tuned!

Paving the Way!

There is that great adage that says, “those who precede us”.  Well in this case it’s a big brother.  One of the true joys of camp is sharing it with a sibling.  Many stories are told at the dinner table about life as a camper and younger siblings usually have to wait to experience it for themselves.  Just imagine if you were 4, 5, or 6 and had listened to all the great stories that come home each year.  We have a good many siblings who attend camp each year and in many cases it’s an older brother or sister who has paved the way here at Gwynn Valley Camp. I’ve seen younger siblings on opening day cry when their big bro or sis and says goodbye at the cabin.  It’s not so much because they’ll miss them, but because they had those oral traditions passed down and want that experience for themselves.  And yes, they do miss them when their gone.

It’s fun to go to camp with your sibling.  You can have your own experience or you can make it a point to see one another a little each day.  Maybe you might want to eat at the same table together.  I can be a lot of fun.  You might even be able to take a few activities together because there’s a lot to choose from each and every day.  Last night I was in Alexandria, Va with the Robinson Family who hosted our show.  Sammy and William are both going to camp this summer and Sam has paved the way for William.  William is psyched to sink his first year teeth into camp and experience some of what big brother has. The next best thing is bring one of your friends.  So….bring a brother, sister or friend and experience the simple joys of summer camp in the beautiful North Carolina Mountains.