Dear Parents & Friends,
We felt it was a smooth drop off today for the opening of our C/C-1, Mountainside and Riverside sessions. Riverside was out on the Gatehouse lawn doing some games and group dynamics with their cluster of 12. I was headed to another part of camp earlier today and heard them coming down the trail from their cabins. They were chattering away and there’s no lack of personality in this group. I don’t think they will be sneaking up on any wildlife when hiking down the trail. I’m looking forward to hearing more from their adventures and may even join them on the paddling portion. They will leave tomorrow for Foster Falls to engage in their first adventure component, which is climbing.
We got right into camp after lunch and everyone assembled in the Lodge to choose their activities and begin their life here for the next 10 days or three weeks. Making decisions on their own is a great exercise for these youngsters and they’ll get a choice of 4 different activities for the morning and then a couple more each afternoon. The morning is for skills and learning in focused activities and the afternoon can be more carefree but working on skills as well. After sign-ups everyone was off to activities. I checked in on Sports and they were playing a new game at camp we just learned about through one of our International Days last session. It’s called Gaelic Football and you can use your hands and your feet. To use your hands you have to play the ball into your hands by letting it roll up your foot or receive a hand or foot pass in the air from another player. If it hits the ground you play it on the ground as you do regular soccer. We play the touch version here at camp. If you’re touched the ball goes to the ground. Here’s a link to some exciting play. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TEAbWrdB9XU The campers were loving it. It’s fast with lots of action and you can use your hands.
Other activities that I visited today were pottery, tie dye, the Mill, Shady Grove Arts Arena and the pool. Farm was going strong offering all things growing including lots of baby animals. And… Mama Pig has not had her babies yet, so there’s a chance that it might happen in the days ahead. Horseback was taking the campers on rides around the ring and trails nearby. Mountain biking was also using the trails but only those appointed to single track and our skills course.
Mountainside was getting acquainted today and they will begin the mini-adventures tomorrow. The MS groups will try 4 activities over the week ahead focused on paddling, climbing, mt. biking and pioneering. Then they make their choices and begin their training for the adventures ahead.
Camp has behind it our super counselors who are out there living and working with your children every day. There is no secret formula that we can pass on to our staff but using what we convey to them during staff training and their own skills we approach the counseling task using the three C’s. The first and most important aspect is being CALM. It is very easy for anyone to remain calm when things are easy. As a counselor, the main test is to also remain calm in the midst of lots of children and the organized chaos that 8 or 10 campers can create. By remaining calm, you will be able to solve issues in an intelligent manner and your campers will want to emulate you in the future. When you lose your sense of calmness, much of what you try to tell your kids doesn’t have any impact on them. CARE is the other C in this formula. Gwynn Valley is known for its nurturing nature and we try and provide that same nurturing atmosphere that you do at home. We express our care for the things that we value and would want to uphold and strengthen in the lives of our campers. CONSISTENCY is the other main ingredient in working with campers effectively. Routines and structure at camp are just as important as they are at home with some leeway and a ton more fun. The structure of camp is ongoing but it’s sometimes challenging to maintain that structure. This also relates to behavior and being responsible and accountable in our little communities of campers (cabins, tables, and activities).
There’s also that unstructured but supervised freeplay that children all need and we’re good at that. We talk about the Zone of Awareness with staff – eyes and ears on and engaged. Camp only gets better as the days pass, because we have good folks working with and guiding your children. But… let’s not hurry it. We’ve only just begun so stay tuned!