Beyond the Summer: Gwynn Valley Staff Updates is a series of blog posts to help share the stories of our amazing staff when they’re not here at Gwynn Valley. This blog celebrates the professional and personal successes of our staff and tells the stories of the journeys along the way. In some cases, their time at Gwynn Valley sets the path, sending our staff on travels to visit places they wouldn’t have had the connection or courage to visit before or on career paths they didn’t yet know were their calling. In other cases, the experience as a Gwynn Valley staff member offers enrichment, helping hone their teamwork and communication skills as they move on to a predetermined field. For all staff, Gwynn Valley is a special place and we want to celebrate the stories of the exceptional people who make the summer experience possible for our campers.
While most of our summer staff at Gwynn Valley are American, many of our staff members, both international and American, will take time and travel after camp. These travels can range from going to the beach with fellow staff member to going across the country to see landmarks like the Grand Canyon, or to visit California, or New York. Sometimes these travels can be for short periods of time, but often they are for more extended trips.
One staff member is currently working in Italy as an au pair. She served as one of our Young Leader counselors for the past two summers. “I am currently living in Imperia, Italy working as an au pair for a beautiful family along the coast. I watch and nanny two little girls, a four year old and a one year old. I’ve been diving into culinary arts as well as music and visual arts- and simply walking around taking in all the architecture (and eating pasta everyday). My time as a counselor at Gwynn Valley allowed me the window into what it looks like to travel the world alone and even with friends. I didn’t know it was a possible reality until I saw friends at camp living out their goals of traveling as well. Camp taught me just how capable I am, and can be! With the opening of this opportunity I definitely don’t plan on standing still any time soon. There’s too much to do! I’m taking it one day at a time and reminding myself to give thanks in abundance.” – Shelby
Another staff member is working in Costa Rica. She spent seven years as a camper at Gwynn Valley, and served as a staff member for four years. During the summer of 2018 she worked as the Riverside Logistics person, where she organized the RS trips, participated in the adventures (climbing, canoeing, and backpacking). In this role, Yacova served as a leader making sure all campers and fellow staff had an enjoyable experience. She wrote me about her current time in Costa Rica:
“Within the past few months, I have had the opportunity to work and live in the community of San Luis, Costa Rica. I am currently working as a Resident Naturalist at EcoLodge San Luis, a research, education, and tourist facility run by The University of Georgia. On the day-to-day, I lead tours and talks on tropical ecology, sustainability, and the local flora and fauna of this part of Costa Rica. Additionally, I am a part of social sustainability research and have spearheaded a literacy initiative with the local elementary schools. I have been SO thankful to have the experiences, values, and connections from GV as a foundation for my time here in Costa Rica. I find myself sharing stories of summers in the Blue Ridge mountains; feeling nostalgic for all that Gwynn Valley has provided for my life: songs of simple joys, an overall sense of mindfulness, and a love and appreciation for the natural world.” – Yacova
We are so happy for our staff members to explore the world and are able to share their time at camp with the people they meet, and are able to call upon their experiences, and memories at camp in their current adventures. We are excited to share what our staff are currently doing, did, and plan on doing in the future.