A Great Day to be a Camper!

Dear Families and Friends, 

Every day is a great day at Gwynn Valley, and today was no exception. We started the morning with a delicious breakfast of grits, sausage crumble, and fruit. It was such a delicious meal that we all applauded the kitchen afterward showing just how much we had all enjoyed it. After a delicious breakfast that left everyone happy, cabin groups went back to prepare for their morning activities. Main Camp finished up discoveries, finalizing any projects they had made over the week and practicing the advanced skills they had learned in activities like horseback riding, Jr. Lifeguarding, and Weaving. Our Farm and Mill Discoveries had the best of both worlds getting to play with baby animals for one hour, and making popcorn the second! 

Mountainside spent the morning in their own sign-ups, tie-dying, playing games on the Mountainside green, and doing some calmer activities like yoga and stretching! Riverside spent the first half of their day training for their paddling adventure and chilling on the Lake. They will leave for their next adventure on Monday and will be training for most of the day on Sunday. These campers sure stay busy and are already eager for the next big trip! With so much excitement heading their way, they were sure to enjoy a calm afternoon at pottery, crafting and creating. 

In the afternoon both Main Camp and Mountainside participated in sign-ups. Some Mountainsiders went to the farm to visit the baby animals and pick veggies, while others made crafts in Shady Grove. Other activities offered included a game of sharks and dolphins in kayaking, making name tags in blacksmithing, and churning butter from scratch at the Mill! 

It was a delight to include Mountainside in our Main Camp sign-ups, and they returned the favor by inviting Brookside over for a Mountainside visit during Campfire. This is a chance for Brooksiders to see Mountainside, hear first-hand experiences from current Mountainsiders, and imagine themselves participating in Mountainside! 

Our Hillsiders danced the night away at Mountain Dancing! This is something we do every session for our campers and is always a highlight. With music played by Debbie and Grant calling the songs, it’s a guaranteed night of laughter and fun. 

As the evening came to an end, campers left their activities with high spirits. They will enjoy a sleep in tomorrow for Special Day, something that all of camp is excited about! Thank you all for sharing your campers with us, they make every day special. 

A perfect day at GV for all!

Dear Families and Friends, 

What a wonderful day at Gwynn Valley! Today was filled with adventure and reunions, as well as incredible weather that made it a truly spectacular day! Main Camp spent the morning in their third day of A Day Discoveries. These campers have now spent three mornings growing their skills, making incredible crafts, and gaining new knowledge. Tomorrow campers will enjoy their final day of discoveries and will continue to challenge themselves with am sign-ups next week! The weather was sunny and had brisk mountain air that made every activity even more fun. 

In the afternoon, campers hiked to The Rock, participated in a one-match fire building challenge, and played tag-a-thon in sports to name a few! The weather was perfect and allowed for even more fun during the afternoon. 

Mountainside participated in their third day of mini-adventures, with only one more mini to try, these campers will soon choose their final adventure! Young Leaders left camp early this morning to go rafting on the Nantahala River. This is a tradition for every Young Leader group and is always eagerly anticipated. Our Young Leaders arrived at Camp with hilarious stories, smiling faces, and a need for a well-deserved rest hour! 

We were thrilled to welcome back our Riversiders from their adventure, climbing in Tennessee! These campers have spent the last four days camping in the woods and climbing up rock faces. They had an extra-special welcome back, as one of the campers had celebrated a birthday during the trip and had a cake for everyone to enjoy! 

After a delicious dinner, campers had After Supper Activities, choosing from a variety of activities such as parachute games on the green, Thunderball, and friendship bracelets. This is such a wonderful time of the day as campers have their final burst of energy that they can get out in an activity of their choice. It’s a gift to see campers running around and laughing outside, these are the moments where the simple joys of childhood are easily cherished. 

When the bell rang for the end of activities, campers lined up for campfire. Main Camp played Bingo and Trivia, they were quizzed in GV song lyrics, challenged to dance-offs for the counselors, and many more hilarious adventures. Mountainside had their own Twilight Play tonight, getting a chance to kayak on the lake, shoot archery, or make candles at crafts to name a few. Young Leaders also participated in a few Main Camp activities, getting their own evening at blacksmithing and pottery! While the rest of camp played, Riverside enjoyed a much deserved night of rest and relaxation. All around it was a great day for all, thank you for sharing your campers with us, we are so grateful for them each and every day! 

A magical GV day wraps up with Twilight Play

Dear Parents and Friends,

I’m not sure how your day was back home, but here at camp… Today was practically perfect in every way! From weather to food to activities, many of the campers I spoke to said today was THE best day yet of the session! 

The weather was gorgeous with a cool morning and blue, sunny skies all day. There were lots of sweatshirts this morning to combat the morning chill, but by the time activities rolled around all the mist had burned off and the strong sun was enticing campers to jump in the lake! We’ll have another cool evening tonight with temperatures dipping down into the upper 50s. Don’t worry parents – we’ve reminded campers (and counselors!) to pull out sleeping bags and gather extra blankets to put on beds, ensuring that campers wake up tomorrow morning feeling cozy and refreshed after a good night’s sleep in our natural mountain air conditioning! 

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Unlike the weather, we do have a bit more control over our food choices through menu planning and an amazing kitchen staff! Today our kitchen team was spot-on in both their planning and delivery; campers at my table told me that the food today was their favorite so far. We had bagels, sausage, eggs, cereal, and fruit for breakfast; followed by stir fry, edamame, rice, and cut apples for lunch; and finally sloppy joes, cowboy fries, broccoli, and salad for dinner. Coconut cream pie was the cherry on top to round out our day of delicious eating. Meal times at camp are so important for nourishment of the body but also the soul. Meals are served family style with an assigned ‘table family’ eating together 3 meals a day for a week or so at a time. This tradition offers our community members a moment to slow down and focus on conversation and connection through shared food. This practice is as old as humanity, but in our busy world today we don’t always have or make time to eat slowly in the company of others. I realize it’s impractical to spend so much time eating this way outside of the summer-camp bubble, so I relish the opportunity to be present with campers and fellow staff in this precious and important daily ritual. 

Activities were smooth today as well with happy campers everywhere you look. Campers are a few days into their morning discoveries, so walking around camp this morning you could really see the progress they’ve been making on crafts projects or fine arts performances or preparing for a kayaking river trip. The wide array of choices for sign ups this afternoon offered a fresh opportunity to try something new or go back to a beloved activity. The farm has been exceptionally popular lately with all the recent baby animal arrivals. Baby goats, piglets, ducklings, calves, and chicks are pretty hard to beat, and with 14+ animals born in the last week there’s a big pull to head down to the farm each afternoon and meet our new friends! 

After dinner tonight, Main Camp campers who weren’t camping out participated in Twilight Play. Twilight Play is a loooooong version of After Supper Activities, with a dozen activities offered for a 75 – 90 minute activity period right after dinner. Activities tonight included free play at the lake, advanced archery with compound bows, bracelet making in Shady Grove, a sunset hike to the rock, candle making at Messy Crafts, the tower swing at the Challenge Course, and many more. Camper favorites of the night were wiffle ball (universally seen as a big hit!) with over 25 campers, and a popcorn bar at the Mill that included savory spices and sweet toppings for campers to make unique popcorn flavor combinations. At ‘Popcorn & Stories’ campers sat around the fire listening to and telling stories while enjoying their one-of-a-kind popcorn flavor concoctions. One camper told me: ‘It was better than going to the movies!’ 

Up on Mountainside, the middle schoolers were really getting back to the simple joys of camp with a classic campfire evening. All 50 campers gathered around the fire ring up on the Mountainside Green for an evening of singing, story telling, and even a few magic tricks by Kevin. Campers laughed and sang until the fireflies came out, telling them it was time to get some rest. Tomorrow will be the final day of Mini-Adventures for Mountainside. By tomorrow evening, each camper will have tried all five adventure activities (biking, climbing, canoeing, hiking, and earth skills) and will be ready to make a decision about which adventure they want to pursue for their four-day trip later this session. 

Riverside continues to enjoy good weather on their climbing trip in Foster Falls, TN. We look forward to having them back at camp tomorrow evening and hearing more about their trip! Young Leaders will also be going on an adventure tomorrow for a day of rafting on Section 3 of the Chattooga River.

The fun never stops here at camp! Tune in tomorrow for more news from this little oasis in the NC mountains.

Another Perfect Day at Gwynn Valley

Dear Parents and Friends,

Our morning started out very cool with temps hovering around the mid 50’s. Everyone was advised to use their sleeping bag as a comforter last night. Tonight may prove to be more of the same. No rain today and hardly a cloud in the sky which looks good for the days ahead. The evening turned out nice and we participated in an all camp game for after supper activities. The fun quotient is always evident when the weather shines like it did today. It just rounds out all the wonderful aspects of a day at camp. Our game tonight was called the Super Hero Game and we were trying to foil the evil villainess who stole camps dessert. Sounds easy but with evil minions running around camp it was no small task. Our dinner of beef stew, green beans, fresh bread, salad and potatoes we were fueled to the gills for our adventures throughout camp. At our table I asked who experienced something brand new today and most responded to that with: creek hiking, building a one match fire, wet exit in a kayak with a skirt on, tree climbing, weaving on the looms, etc. I also asked what they were most looking forward to in the week ahead: their campout, rock climbing trip out of camp, Tajar Ball, tie-dye, and more. There is always something to look forward to at camp. Each cabin usually keeps a calendar of events so the children know what’s coming up in camp. There’s a good bit on our schedule each day and every day has a significant event for someone or sometimes for everyone. Tomorrow night is Twilight Play which is a longer after supper period almost like an extra period during the day. 

Tree climbers were working on their belaying skills and providing vocal support for those climbing in the trees just next to the Gatehouse. Everyone climbs trees at some point in their life but few get to experience the thrill of climbing to sixty feet right up the trunk of a hemlock tree. The views of camp and the distant mountains are wonderful. There’s a whole other world up that high and it makes you want to fly or live at that altitude. I scampered up ahead of the children to take some photos and shoot some video from the high perch. 

Right next door is our 1890’s Grist Mill, (yes, that’s when it was built). Our miller campers were grinding corn and sifting it into cornmeal and grits. The cornmeal in our muffins today at breakfast was ground at the Mill several days ago. Not much has changed in those 125 plus years at the Mill. Everything is done by hand. The Mill this afternoon hosted two one hour sessions of fresh corn roasting. You could have an ear with just butter and salt, an African corn mix or a Mexican corn mix. From all reviews the experience was delicious. 

In the afternoons there’s usually several sports games going on. Thunderball is certainly a favorite. We started playing Thunderball about 9 years ago here at camp. It’s a game that came over from Israel and is a form of dodge ball with the exception that you don’t actually pick the ball up and throw it. You slap it with your hand or fist and try to get others out by hitting their legs from the knees down. Sometimes I think there are campers that would play all day long and never tire of this game. Of course our other most popular game here is soccer. There’s rarely a day that goes by where there’s not a bit of fotball that’s played. Archery is another sport at camp that’s very popular. Our sports crew have done a good job of teaching and providing archery for many campers. It’s like Thunderball in its appeal to children. 

Other camp activities that make us move are the Swurfer Swing, the Rope Swing, and 9 Square in the Air. All three are crowd pleasers. The Swurfer was invented in Charleston and I saw one at a camp home show several years ago and knew it would be a hit at camp. You stand on it instead of sitting. Several years ago we added a rope swing to the lake for some air time before you hit the water. Kevin brought a game to camp called Jedi Training Center which uses a soft rubber ball on a long string tied overhead and batons for aiming the swinging ball at other Jedi’s. It takes skill to stay on your perch and also dodge the moving ball. There is also the Tension Traverse which is a difficult challenge for most and few make it across the lake. I learned about 9 Square at a national conference and played for a couple of hours inside a hotel ball room with all adults. It’s fast moving fun for all ages.

As stated above, there is always something new for campers every day. It’s akin to going to your favorite candy store and picking just what candy you want to sample today. This candy is actually good for you and makes you smarter, stronger, more agile, eager, resilient, and most of all it’s fun. You also get to share it with your friends. Our outdoor play is mostly structured and it’s so much fun to play outdoors all day, sleep under the stars as several cabins are doing this evening and cook dinner over an open fire. It’s just good for the body and soul.

Outdoor play increases attention span. Often children who have difficulty with pen and paper tasks or sitting still for long periods of times are significantly more successful after time spent outside. Outdoor play is imaginative. Because there are no labels, no pre-conceived ideas and fewer rules, children must create the world around them. In this type of play, children use their imagination in ways they don’t when playing inside. We’re playing outside and growing inside here at Gwynn Valley! Stay tuned!

A Magical UK Day!

Dear Families and Friends, 

What a day! Today was International day at camp and we spent it learning about and celebrating the United Kingdom. International days are a chance to learn about the culture, food, and people who join us during the summer! 

We started the morning with a magical surprise. Our dining hall was transformed into Hogwarts, complete with floating candles, hanging sconces, and Hogwarts house placements. We met Harry Potter and even had a visit from the Queen of England–all before breakfast! One of the best parts of international days is the food. Our international staff love bringing a taste of home to the Gwynn Valley dining hall, and we love getting to try new food from around the world. For breakfast, we enjoyed a “Full English” complete with English muffins, baked beans, bacon, scrambled eggs, and melon. It was a delicious start to an exciting day!

The morning was spent in B Day Discoveries. Campers have now had a chance to try out all four of their discoveries which they will have two more days each to experience. As Main Camp enjoyed activities such as singing and dancing, canoeing with Grant, and farm/mill, Mountainsiders were on their second day of mini-adventures. These are full days where campers get to try out each adventure offered before choosing one to embark on for four days later in the session.

As lunch neared, we were treated to a few rain showers that helped to cool off the heat of the past few days as well as fully transform the atmosphere into a genuine UK experience. Counselors from the UK were thanking the skies for a bit of grey which made it feel even more like home. For lunch, we enjoyed a classic dish called “toad in the hole” which is sausage baked into Yorkshire pudding. We also enjoyed some crisps (chips), fruit, and peas and carrots, a truly English meal! 

Our Riversiders are still climbing away in Tennessee, enjoying the second day of their four-day adventure. 

The afternoon was spent in sign-ups for Main Camp. Campers were able to make wands in Blacksmithing, or play Water Quidditch at the Waterfront–just to name a few Harry Potter themed activities for the day. Even with a few scattered showers, it was a fun-filled afternoon! 
As our Main Campers played, our Young Leaders participated in their second leadership training. They will have seven of these trainings throughout the session which will allow them to grow and develop as leaders and as a group. 

Dinner was a delight for everyone as we all dug into cottage pie (similar to shepherd’s pie), salad, mixed veggies, and corn (all grown from the farm), and Jelly Roly Polys with custard for dessert. It was delicious, and many campers agreed that based on food alone, the UK was on their lists of places to visit! 

Our main event for the day was our campfire which was a celebration of the UK. It was held in the Lodge and hosted by James Corden who introduced us to a variety of stars from the UK including Queen, The Spice Girls, Adele, Ed Sheeran, One Direction, and Peppa Pig! It was an exciting night filled with dances, UK facts, and a fantastic skit from a few of our campers. Everyone was dismissed by the UK staff singing “Let it Be” and smiles were on every face after an exciting evening! 

The First Full Day of D

Dear Parents, Family, and Friends,

Today was the first full day of D session, and what a full day it was. Campers started off the day with delicious and filling breakfast of homemade whole wheat biscuits, pit ham, sliced cheese, fresh local peaches, and homemade peach jam. This gave everyone energy for their first day of discoveries. For those who don’t know, discoveries are four activities which campers will do every morning while they are here at camp. These activities were chosen yesterday afternoon and are focused on a progression of skills, whether that’s making a rug in weaving, canoeing with Grant, writing and practicing for the play, or climbing, there’s something for everyone. 

After a full morning of 2 of their 4 discoveries, campers and counselors went down to the dining hall to find out which table they will sit at for the first week. These table assignments are a mix of boys and girls, along with the various ages of campers, and staff program work areas. By having this mix campers are able to meet a variety of people in camp. And while the community of people we sit with makes the food a meal, the food is equally important. We had chicken gyros, yellow rice, sauteed veggies from our farm, and fresh fruit. Following lunch everyone headed out to the basketball court to shuck some corn. We grow, harvest, shuck, and eat thousands of ears of corn each year. Everyone was encouraged to shuck four ears each before they headed into the Lodge for some singing and afternoon sign-ups. 

With such a busy morning, the extended rest hour due to our Thor Guard Lightning detector gave campers extra time to recharge their energy supply for their afternoon activities. Once Thor gave the all clear some campers went to horseback riding, others to biking, and more to climbing just to name a few. It was such fun seeing campers zoom by on their bikes, riding on the various trails we have on property, or take aim at an eight inch target at the archery range. It always astounds me at how quickly children can be absorbed in a task and the amount of focus they can put into a project or activity that an adult may decide isn’t worth the energy, time, or focus. 

During After Supper Activities, Thor went off again, which sent Hillsiders back to the dining hall and the Brookesiders to the Lodge. In the Dining Hall our Hillside Head Counselor, Daniel, read out a few stories from the Tajar Tales with the help of various counselors to act out what was happening. It was so fun watching the counselors pretend to be mattresses or Mr. Camp Director scolding the Tajar had pulled some mischief, and even better, to listen to the campers laugh at seeing their counselors make the stories come to life. Over in the Lodge, our Brookesiders got to Mountain Dance. For those of you who don’t know, mountain dancing is similar to square dancing. 

While all of this was going on, several cabins were on their campouts. All cabins will campout one night while they are here and this opportunity gives cabins the time to bond with each other over the dinner they will cook over an open fire, and s’mores. The light rain we did have during this time hardly had an impact on these cabins, as most were already done eating their fill, and for the one cabin who hadn’t yet gotten their fire started, headed back to the Pavillion to cook their dinner. 

After such a fun day with many firsts, campers were ready to head back to their cabins for some much deserved and needed sleep. While I sit here, I can’t help but appreciate everything camp has to offer, both for our campers and for our staff. Outside of camp, the rain and lightning may cause one to head inside and turn on a TV or perhaps it has no effect on you because you were already watching a movie, but at camp, the day carries on. And in the event where activities are put on hold or extended, campers are then able to bond with each other, make friends, play games, and enjoy the simple joys of childhood. Stay tuned tomorrow for another blog!

A Perfect Opening of D Session!

Dear Families and Friends,

Today was our opening day of D and what an incredible day it was! Skies were blue and the cool mountain air was perfect for greeting campers and parents alike. As campers eagerly learned the names of their counselors and fellow cabinmates, there was a joyous feeling all around. Opening days are always wonderful times for old friends to reconnect and new friendships to bloom. Campers arriving at the same time will often cheer as they learn the person next to them will be in the same cabin for the session! 

After a morning of making new friends and settling into their cabins, campers were ready for activities! The day warmed up and was perfect weather for a swim! Luckily, every camper gets a chance to enjoy the Lake or Pool on opening day for a quick swim assessment. After cooling off, campers were able to enjoy other activities as a cabin group such as horseback riding, visiting the Farm, cooking at the Mill, shooting a bow and arrow in Archery, and many more! These are just a taste of the sign-ups that will be offered for campers during the session! 

As Main Camp spent the afternoon playing and trying out different activities, our Young Leaders got to know each other by playing different team building games lead by their counselors and head counselor! These campers will spend the next three weeks growing as leaders with leadership trainings as well as participating in the joys camp has to offer! 
Our Riversiders immediately went back to school… Belay school that is, for their climbing adventure which they will leave on tomorrow! These campers will spend the next four days climbing in Tennessee and bonding as a group. It’s always fun seeing the campers come back from their first trip, ready for more adventures and full of laughter!

Mountainside got to try out some Mini-Adventure challenges today which introduced them to the 5 adventures they will get to choose from later in the session. These activities include canoeing, climbing, earth skills, biking, and backpacking and each is filled with different challenges and adventure! Campers will go on four different mini-adventures, and will ultimately choose one for their four-day adventure later in the session! 

As camp gathered for dinner, cabins groups enjoyed a bit more time together by eating as a group for dinner. We always enjoy a delicious opening night meal of pasta, homemade Bolognese sauce, broccoli, and salad (both of which are grown from the farm)! As a special treat and welcome to camp, cabins enjoy a giant cookie decorated with their cabin name! It’s the perfect welcome home treat and gives everyone a yummy boost before playing for a bit longer during After Supper Activities! 

After After Supper Activities, cabins gathered at the Lodge and joined all of camp with an opening campfire. Campers learned the states and countries that everyone had traveled from, the years they had been there, and what they did today! The evening ended with a Tajar Tale, which is a story about our mischievous and mystical creature the Tajar who lives here at camp. He’s a kind and silly fellow and has lots of stories of his folly that we often share, we even celebrate his birthday later in the session at the Tajar ball! As campfire came to a close, campers were quietly dismissed back to their cabins as they listened to the song “Sheep May Safely Graze” which has been played every night for the last 41 years of camp by our pianist Debbie. 

Today has truly been an incredible day, filled with friendship, laughter, and the simple joys of childhood. As I sit here watching the sunset over the Blue Ridge Mountains, I am so grateful for the time we get to spend at camp and for you all who share your campers with us each year. We hope you all enjoy time to recharge over the next few weeks and take time to cherish the simple joys of your own days. 

Sunny days and sad goodbyes!

Dear Parents, Family, and Friends,

It’s hard to believe that we are already at the closing night of C session! Here at camp the days are long, but the weeks are short. To be honest, the years are short as well. For many of the campers we recognized this evening at Friendship Campfire, I can remember their first Gwynn Valley summer 4, 8, or 10 years ago. Young Leaders performed a song this evening that reflects this sentiment. It’s a re-write of a Taylor Swift song (The Best Day), originally written and performed Kate Willingham, who was the Blue Ridge Counselor for these same girls 5 years ago in 2014. Even though Kate is no longer at camp, they remembered the song all these years later and re-wrote it to fit their 2019 experience.  Here’s a sample of the lyrics: 

I’m 16 now and can’t believe how time could go so fast
It’s been 10 years since I first started here, it’s in my past
I’m worried I’ve forgotten everything, I’ll get lost and roam
But I can see the lake and lodge and I know that I’m home

Now I know why the trees change in the fall
I know my counselors were on my side, even when I was wrong
And I love Anne and Grant for giving me their eyes
Staying back and watching me shine and
I didn’t know if they know, so I’m taking this chance to say
That I had the best day at camp today
I had the best day at camp today 

After honoring all our campers for their various years here at camp, our Young Leaders were honored for their leadership and service to camp this session. The Young Leaders program is designed to help ease the passage from camper to staff member, and to commemorate this milestone, we presented each Young Leader with a 2019 staff t-shirt. We hope that many of these young men and women will be future SITs and counselors! 

At Friendship Campfire, we also watched an amazing that our videography team put together, in addition to a slideshow with some of the photos taken. Please enjoy the video for a taste of what we’ve been up to for the last few weeks! 

Today wasn’t all about goodbyes though. The morning was action packed with sign ups and Main Camp Adventure Trips (MCATs) in biking, climbing, kayaking, and camping skills! We like to offer our Main Campers a taste of off-camp adventure to help with their transition into the Older Programs (Mountainside and Riverside) that are more adventure focused. On camp, we offered lots of great sign ups including trail rides for horses, water color painting, archery, slip and swim (a pottery favorite), and a birthday party for the Mill! Our Mountainside campers did sign ups as well and enjoyed some chill time on the lake as a whole community. 

In the afternoon, cabins kept busy with packing and a last trip to the pool for pillowcase day! The hot afternoon sun was the perfect invitation to go down the water slide or play ultimate waterball with your cabin mates. Campers who signed up for the Fine Arts Discovery also attended rehearsal for the performance shared with Main Camp this evening. This creative group put on a wonderful mash up fairy tale story as well as an original tale about the protective powers of the Tajar at Gwynn Valley. If you plan to attend the closing campfire tomorrow morning, you’ll see at least one of these original musical numbers! 

Tomorrow when you arrive, your children will be waiting for you in their cabins.  At 10:30 there will be cabin friendship circles in the Main Camp cabins as well Closing Campfires for our Older Programs: Mountainside at the MS Lodge, Riverside in the Center, and Young Leaders in the Lodge.  At 11:00 am, we’ll host a Main Camp Closing Campfire in the Lodge for parents, friends and campers. After this, family and friends are welcome to join us for our farm buffet lunch. 

Thank you for sharing your children with us for these past 3 weeks or 10 days. We’ve had a wonderful session and hope to see all of these children back again next summer!!

Making Memories!

Dear Parents & Friends,

We just finished our Tajar Ball celebration and the skies cleared just before the Ball.  Usually, we eat on the lawn of the Green in front of the Dining Room, but thundershowers kept us inside and celebratory none the less.  As many of you know Tajar Ball happens two nights before each session ends except for C-1 which gets to celebrate the 4th of July during their time with us.  The Ball ushers in characters and costumes of every variety and it’s a lot of fun with all the games, good food and a giant waterslide that captures all who defy its watery jaws.  You will no doubt see many photos from the ball all capturing the delight and joy that is effervescent in this, our next to last evening at GV for Session C, C-2. 

It’s also celebratory because all our Adventurers returned to camp today.  Mountainside and Riverside returned home after being out for 4 days in the woods, on the rivers, climbing, earth skilling, and biking.  Faces glowed even though slightly smudged with a little dirt and grit, but the right kind of grit that gets you through some challenges.  Other than a few mosquito bites here and there everyone returned in good shape, stronger, leaner, and more determined to see a challenge through. 

I spent yesterday with Mountainside on the Tuckaseegee River and we spent 5 hours plying the river with those campers on a hot sunny day.  We ferried, S turned, eddied out, peeled out and swam and jumped off rocks to cool ourselves between rapids.  They returned to the Tuck again today to reach for a higher level of achievement including the infamous Snickers Challenge eddy near the end of the run.  As of this writing, I hadn’t heard if any of our crew made it. 

Bikers rolled throughout the 100 miles of trails in Dupont State Forest including some of my favorites like Ridge Line and Turkey Knob Extension.  Our climbers started their adventure at Rumbling Bald and then followed the twisty rope roadways to Linville Gorge which has any and all possibilities for climbing along with wonderful sunsets and big sky views.  Primitive Skillers camped just outside Dupont and tried their hand at a host of handy craft skills that most of our country’s population possessed 200 years ago.  Backpackers started their ascent of Black Balsam and then like ants on the ridge made their way all the way to Pisgah Inn and beyond just under the shadow of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  High and mighty views were bountiful. 

Riverside completed their last outdoor component and backpacked from Black Balsam to the Davidson River Campground via the Art Loeb Trail.  They are a tight group and have the makings of wonderful staff in a few years. 

These days that have passed have created more than just memories.  The impressions of camp last a long time and are never really forgotten.  Something will trigger a thought or memory of a meal, turning over your boat at the end of Double Drop or the ring you made at Blacksmithing, a new friend from far away and the sounds of camp.  These are the “simple joys” as we call them.   

Tonight as we were breaking down Tajar Ball I was nearby one of our girl’s cabins.  One of our staff is leaving at the end of this session to be with her family and getting ready to return to college.  She began her camp experience many years ago as a camper in Playhouse and has over the years been through every age and program at GV.  As the evening closed in she quietly viewed SIT’s and Young Leaders taking a last turn on the waterslide and I could tell she was seeing herself out there just a few years ago in her camp career.  I could see a slight smile on her face as memories raced through her mind.  Family and life were calling, but parting from camp would be hard.  Her introspective space was broken by one of her campers needing some attention after a long day.   I too was having my own memory of this staffer as a young camper here, and now a grown woman warmly providing for that child as she had been provided for.  What a wonderful circle that exists here.  We both were feeling a sense of accomplishment for what Gwynn Valley has given to her and now what she is giving back.  Friends, that is pure JOY!

Tomorrow is another day of opportunity and our Main Camp campers will be heading out to climb, paddle, bike, and hike to culminate their time here before the session ends.  We’ll see what memories will be created tomorrow as our younger campers take on a little grit and get a little dirty having fun and learning along the way.  Life is good at GV! Stay tuned!   

Twilight Play, Adventures, and More!

Dear Families and Friends,

We have enjoyed another great day at camp! Campers worked hard on their final morning of A day Discoveries! The third day of discoveries is always exciting as campers have had a chance to master the area they’re in. Be it finishing a challenging project in crafts, overcoming fears on the ropes course, or proudly sharing the victory of a successful wet exit in kayaking, there are many memory-making moments on these mornings! 

The afternoon was met with as much joy and excitement as morning discoveries, campers were able to choose from a multitude of sign-ups, including making and racing corn boats down the stream with the Mill, ultimate frisbee at sports, and playing games on horseback down at the stables. An exciting aspect of sign-ups towards the end of the session is that campers have already had a chance to try many different activities, and often challenge themselves to try something new. If a camper hasn’t gone to the farm yet, they’ll eagerly sign-up knowing it’s one of the last chances they’ll have to pick veggies and play with the baby animals (including the new baby goats)!

We ended the day on Main Camp with Twilight play, where campers get another hour-long activity to enjoy! With a beautiful sunset and lots of happy campers playing all around camp, it was a perfect way to end the day. 

As Main Camp enjoyed their day, both our Riverside and Mountainside groups continued on day 3 of their 4-day adventures! The Riverside and Mountainside backpackers neared the final few miles of their hikes, while the canoers and climbers focused on more challenging rivers and rock faces having two days experience under their belts. Our Earth Skills campers are surely masters of many nature skills by now, having ample opportunities to learn survival skills and outdoor crafts. We know that our campers will be reluctant to end their journeys tomorrow, but they will be excitedly greeted by us all and will get to celebrate the Tajar’s birthday as a welcome back! 

  As the days fly by and the end of the session draws close, we are remembering to enjoy the little moments that make camp special. We are grateful for the memories and friendships that are made here each summer and for you all who share your incredible campers with us each year.