Cloudy Skies and Sunny Faces by Emma Thames

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Though the threat of thunderstorms loomed over our valley all day, activities went on all day without a hitch across our programs. This morning saw Main Camp going through their A-Day discoveries after breakfast. The waterfront is a particularly popular spot throughout these hot summer days, and hearing the joyful splashing and playing of children on the lake and throughout Downtown GV underscores the nurturing and supportive environment our counselors and program leaders create here. A brief morning sprinkle didn’t deter our campers from learning about campsite building, kayaking, making pinatas, or even horseback riding! The lunchtime bell rang and children swarmed back to the dining hall to eat. We were served hot beef hoagies, sliced oranges, and fresh farm corn. Our delicious meals are the epitome of farm to table, with campers involved all along the way! From farm morning discoveries and afternoon sign-ups where children have the chance to interact with animals and pick the vegetables we will later eat, to mill sign-ups where the corn is shucked, shelled and ground, campers are learning all about the ways in which we are connected to the land around us. Farm fresh cornbread and corn on the cob is a perennial summertime favorite, partially because we know how much work goes into it!

Afternoon sign ups were held in the dining hall and the lodge. Afterwards, half of the campers shucked corn on the basketball field–this can be time consuming, but the old adage stays true: “many hands make light work!” We love that about our GV community. After Rest Hour, campers came down for a peach smoothie snack and then dispersed to their various activities after the bell was rung. Very popular today (and every day!) was crafts. Campers could learn how to make woven potholders in Shady Grove, or tiny critters and pinch pots in the Pottery Shop. The Crafts program runs several sign ups every day, from tie-dye with Messy Crafts to 2 pottery activities and usually a fiber arts craft in Shady Grove. It can be so rewarding for campers to see their skills progressions unfold on a physical object as something they designed, created, and can now bring home.

In the afternoon, our older programs were busy preparing to leave for adventures. Both Riverside and Mountainside take 4-day adventures in C Session, and those take a lot of planning! Food forms were checked, food bins filled, and campers began health checks and packing for their excursions. Mountainside will send out 5 separate adventure groups with around 8-12 campers each, making for an excellent ratio for experiential education here in Western North Carolina. Riverside sends out one adventure at a time with all campers going, making for a group of 12. This helps them bond as a while group and really build on their shared experiences. The staff are invested in making sure the campers are taking initiative and ownership in their adventures, which really adds to the individual growth each child experiences here at camp–from making decisions about cooking meals to learning navigational skills on the trails and rivers, campers are asked to take an active role in their own camp experience. The goal is to imbue each child with a sense of confidence that they will carry with them throughout their lives. While we will certainly miss the presence of our older campers here on main camp, we look forward to the adventures, stories, and growth they will bring back. 

Evening program was a little special tonight! Frank McConnell, a local musician and storyteller, filled up our lodge with the sounds of hammer dulcimer and raucous clapping as campers “square-danced” in place. Mountainside joined Main camp for the evening program tonight before their send off activities up on their side of camp. Main camp cabins got to walk back to their cabins in a beautiful blue twilight, ready for a good night’s rest and another day of learning and playing tomorrow.