Happy New Year!

It’s another very cold day here at camp but compared to other parts of the nation we might even be having a heat wave. I love the cold weather and all of our leftover snow here at camp (see pics from earlier news). The weekend before the holidays brought 8 inches of snow that has lingered in the form of hard packed snow and ice. We celebrated a Gwynn Valley white Christmas this year and it’s been a while since that has happened. Our family just returned from a short vacation to visit with relatives near and far over the Holiday week. Our travels took us to central NC and then up to Summit, NJ where Anne’s sister lives. They are just a short distance from NYC which is always filled with a different kind of adventure than we’re used to living here in our small town environment. It’s always so fascinating to spend time in the city after our rural existence here in Brevard. While I don’t care for the city and its crowds and traffic, I do feel a draw when I’m that close to such a cultural center and that window to so many different aspects of life. We took in a Broadway play and sampled some of NYCs finest ethnic foods. My girls were into the shopping scene so the boys just sort of waited and watched in the wings. Our time in the city was brief but full, as we took in so much of that side of life. Even though we have the farm here at camp, there is something primitive and even educational about watching a truck unload its contents of pig carcasses with heads intact in the midst of Chinatown. That scene was ironic based on listening to Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle book on tape as we drove up and back on our trip.

After our Big Apple experience, we then went with our relatives out to a small house they have in western NJ near the Delaware Water Gap and the Appalachian Trail. The cold weather up north had frozen their pond next to the house with foot thick ice, which offered the chance to ice skate. There were only 2 sets of small skates but we spent the better part of that evening and the next day clearing snow off the ice and watching the children glide across our outdoor rink. For me that was the best part of the trip, being outdoors and sampling all the aspects of holiday magic with family.

It’s an adventure for us to venture into the city and have all the aspects of humanity right at your fingertips just like it’s an adventure for our campers to come to Gwynn Valley and have all the aspects of our outdoor life at your disposal. Both add value and appreciation to the lives we live and I’m so thankful to be able to have those city experiences. It’s always nice to come home as well. For me, sharing these kind of experiences with my family is what truly makes it memorable. That is one of the finest aspects of our just passed Holiday Season. Whatever your faith and whether you celebrate the observance of Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, celebrating with family is the best.

We’ll soon be out promoting camp and hope to see you at one our home shows.  Check our travel schedule on the “News Page” to see where we’ll be coming over the weeks ahead.

We here at camp wish the best for you and your family for the coming year and hope to have you join us this summer where the simple joys of childhood come first at Gwynn Valley.

Happy New Year to you and yours!

Snow at Gwynn Valley!

“Season’s Best”

We got our first snow fall this past Friday Dec. 18th.  Here at camp we got a little over 8 inches of the white stuff.  As I sit in my office the ground is still covered and the snow shows no signs of going anywhere.  My guess is that our mountains will show a white Christmas for the 25th.  It was snowing so hard on Friday I had to wait and take photos on Sat. morning.  I’ve put some pictures up to accompany this note so enjoy.  Some of the shots were taken while we were feeding horses that day and others were taken as we hiked around camp.  Fresh deer tracks were everywhere that day as they foraged for what they could find to eat with snow covering the ground.

After the first of the year we’ll hit the road again to promote camp so please check out our travel schedule on the news page.  We hope to see you at one of our home shows over the next couple of months.

From all of us to all of you, here’s hoping you and your family have a wonderful holiday season filled with peace and joy!            Grant

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feeding time

feeding time

Water, Smiles and Paddlers

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Water has been falling from the sky since mid September and it feels like it’s a tropical rain forest here at Gwynn Valley in western North Carolina.  The temps will fall tomorrow night and we’ll have some high 30’s in the evening over the weekend.  As those temps fall over the next few days let’s look at those smiling sunny faces from the summer while we were out paddling and wishing for more water.  GV is a great place for a young camper to enter the realm of whitewater and moving water.  We have boats of all shapes, sizes  and designs and those that accommodate 2 paddlers or 1 depending on your choice of driving an SUV or a sports car.  The sports car is a kayak.  These shots were taken on the paddler 5

French Broad over near Wilson Rd. and that section of river is a great place for learning all the basic moves that beginner paddlers should know once they’ve made the leap from the lake strokes to the river.  From there it’s on to the Green River and beyond.  Make Gwynn Valley a destination if you’re looking for the best camp for boys and girls in western NC.   Coming to a town near you, check out our travel schedule and come see our new camp video.  Bring a friend!  Stay tuned!

New Video and Transitioning into Fall

Fall is officially here in our western North Carolina mountains.  I’m never glad to see summer pass because I love the warm weather.  It always takes me several days to get used to wearing long pants and jackets.  The other night I found myself at a soccer game and feeling like I needed to be sitting on one of those bench heaters they use up in Green Bay during football season.  Leaves are just starting to turn with the dogwoods leading the charge.  We had a very wet September and usually October is a dryer month.  All equipment is put away, water is being turned off and off season projects are well under way.

We’re getting lots of applications and today we’re going through the applications for Riverside.  For those of you new to Gwynn Valley, Riverside is our oldest girls and boys camp program.  They participate in rock climbing, backpacking and whitewater canoeing over the three week session they are here.   All of these activities and more can be experienced in our Main Camp and Mountainside programs.  Check out the web site under camp “Activities” to learn more.  In the next couple of weeks we’ll be heading out to start our annual promo tour.  Look for a card that will come in the mail to announce a show in your area or go to the “News” page and click on “Travel Schedule”.  Even if you’ve been to camp before we would love to have you join us at one of our home shows.  We’ll have a new camp video to show that is being completed this weekend.  Along with it will be all the summer slide shows from the end of each session.  Come to one of our shows and bring a friend.  We would love to see you there!

Find your counselor and be the first to email me (grant@gwynnvalley.com) with their full name, and cabin to win a GV T-shirt!

Find your counselor and be the first to email me (grant@gwynnvalley.com) with their full name, and cabin to win a GV T-shirt!


If you are reading the camp news for the first time there’s more in our archives.  You might also check out the camp map that was completed last spring.  It’s a new look at Gwynn Valley through the eyes of our nephew, Chad Rush, who lives and works in NYC.  He’s a rendering artist and knows Gwynn Valley quite well because he and wife were married here.  We’re in the process of reprinting our brochure this fall so Chad’s map will also be a part of the new brochure.

Fall is a good time for changes and we hope that you and your family are transitioning into the next season with some positive changes.  Good things and simple joys for campers happen right here each summer at Gwynn Valley in Brevard, North Carolina.   Stay tuned!

Staff Renewal and Development

On Monday, Tues. and Wed. of this week four of us attended the Southeast American Camping Assoc.  Conference in Hilton Head, SC.  It was hard to stay focused on the meeting content in such a tough venue but the three days were packed with speakers and sessions that provided fodder for the future here at camp.  It was also a reaffirming time for our year round staff as we found that our work is right on target with the goals of our national organization as well as the industry at large.  Andy, our assistant director brought us the “Fish philosophy” last summer and also invited the Fish folks to be represented at the conference to present one of the keynotes as well as a conference session.  If you’re not familiar with the “Fish philosophy” it’s simply: Choose Your Attitude; Play; Make Their Day; and Be Present.  Through those four interconnected practices, a staff member can certainly make a huge difference in a child’s experience here at camp.  I won’t go into a lot of detail but if you’re interested in learning more about the “Fish philosophy” go to www.charthouse.com “to catch the energy and release the potential”.   The energy and potential is certainly a match for the camp environment.

As a director and one who in totally invested in camp experiences for children, we are doing so much more that just having children come to experience Gwynn Valley for a session.  I believe we are truly in the business of youth development.  A camp experience can be a transformational experience for a child in our environment.  I don’t however, think that transformation takes place here.  I think it takes place back home after a child has had some time to reflect on the camp experience.  It was once said that the experience alone is not the teacher, but rather it’s the reflection of the experience.test for web

One of our speakers talked about how there’s so much that bombards children these days and through his work with kids it’s hard for them to focus and just get into the flow of life as one of his students described.  My mind went to that wonderful scene in “Finding Nemo” where Nemo was invited to join with the turtles and ride the flow or current and just enjoy the simple aspects of that ride; much like enjoying the simple joys here at Gwynn Valley.   It’s coming to an environment that is unplugged where you feel the response of the boat from the paddle by doing that forward sweep stroke.  It’s clasping your hands around a turning ball of clay to form and shape it by slight simple movements of your hands.  Most of all, it is knowing that your counselor is there and present with you to guide you through the camp experience.

I hope that many of you have had some time to reflect on your camp experiences and share them with your siblings, parents and friends.  Speaking of sharing, we will soon be sharing our message of Gwynn Valley by hitting the recruitment trail.  Look for our promo schedule under this news page soon, as we travel to a town near you.  Stay tuned!

Hamish’s Visit

For those of you that were here this summer when the piglets were born, you may remember that Hamish the pig was the lone survivor.  He received a good deal of attention from campers as well as his other mom, Arrington, who worked down at the farm.  Hamish is still around the farm and he’s still “hamming” it up.  Sorry about that Hamish, as I know you like to “hog” the limelight.  Well, Arrington came for a visit the other day.  She’s working in a nearby school and had some time off.  She went straight to the farm, picked up Hamish (not literally), and the two of them trotted  up to the office to visit with us.  It was a real treat.  The incredible Mr. “H” has grown quite a bit and lacked no amount of shyness as he got right to work rooting out new territory in and around the office grounds.  We wanted to visit with Arrington in the office but even though pigs are pretty bright, our fair porker has not been house trained.  So we visited with the two of them just outside in the yard.  Those of you that don’t know Jeff may not know that he’s in charge of GV’s grounds and we dared not let on that Hamish went right to work excavating around the office yard.  If the Tajar was watching that afternoon, he was probably relieved to have someone else take the heat for a while.  As you know, that Tajar can get into a lot of mischief.  Well not on this day.  The afternoon belonged to Hamish.  Hamish covered himself with fresh dirt as we talked and used his nose like a miniature backhoe to look for who knows what. IMG_819411 smaller After a while he looked a little bored and I think somehow communicated with Arrington that it was time to go back to the farm. There was food there and of course Hamish is all about food. We had a nice visit and hoped to see him soon, perhaps on his own ground. If you want to send Hamish a greeting, just make it care of mail@gwynnvalley.com. He loves fan mail and is still trying to figure out all those headlines that read something to the affect of “swine flew”.  After all, what pig doesn’t want to fly. And that’s the way it is here at Gwynn Valley. Stay tuned!

Only 355 Days Until Camp!

Dear Parents & Friends,

Anne, the kids and I just returned  Monday from a relaxing week at the beach and we’re setting the stage to crank up for the new year here at Gwynn Valley.  Thanks so much for sharing your children with us this summer.  Each session brought all the joy that comes with their arrival and experience here at Gwynn Valley.  As we begin preparations for our 75th year, a true milestone, I’m reminded of the simple joys that were realized here at camp this summer.  Many experiences are savored and accomplishments are made while at camp but for me the thing that tops the list is building human relationships.  Coming to camp not knowing anyone and making new friends that could last a lifetime is priceless.  Or coming to camp with your friends from last year and rekindling the friendship in a wonderful and creative environment.  The other aspect of a camp experience starts with counselors.  They set the stage in so many ways for the campers experience and life in the cabin is the building block to move out into program.  Staff are creating “camp DNA” as they embed great memoires in the recesses of campers brains.  IMG_6507Camp also encourages exploration and a camper who is curious loves to explore and enhance their experience here, will no doubt become a leader.  The camp community nurtures and facilitates those willing to approach healthy risks; those willing to try, fail, and try again; and those who understand the value of working together to accomplish the greater good.  That greater good comes back in full circle to that daily interaction with other campers and staff; to a place that is unplugged where conversation is real and not from a screen, keyboard or  text.  What better place for a child and the simple joys of Gwynn Valley!

Stay tuned!