Developing Strong Friendships

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As I write, my window captures our mountain’s silhouette of 5000 and 6000’ peaks, darkened by the vanishing sunlight that has created that orange to blue night sky.  It’s been a great couple of days here for our D Session campers and older programs.  Laughter and joy has abounded as returning campers came back to the valley to welcome those new to GV.  The song, “Make New Friends” was certainly evident in all areas of camp.  We have campers who will be here for three week sessions on Mountainside, Riverside and of course Young Leaders.  Two and three week sessions in my mind are the optimal time that provides a good dose of camp life that is a stepping stone for so many things in children’s lives.  You really become a part of the overall camp community in a two or three week session.

On opening Day we all gathered for lunch around noon and from there went to various activities preprogramed for our first day at camp.  Everyone completed their swim assessments at the pool and it was a perfect day to cool off.  Campers have jumped right into Discovery activities and afternoon sign-ups with fun program such as Tie Dye, Crafts, Swimming, Fine Arts, Camping Skills and Nature, Sports, Mill, Climbing, Horses, Archery, Pottery, Mountain Biking, Blacksmithing, Kayaking, Weaving, Lake Fun, and more.

Mountainside is getting to know one another and has played many group games and participed in their minis which consists of canoeing, kayaking, hiking, biking, and climbing.  Their group of 50 campers holds their own evening programs at the MS Shelter.  Riversiders are in TN on their first adventure component, climbing and will be back on Thursday of this week.  They wasted no time getting outdoors and learning the “ropes”.

Today, we celebrated International Day, learning about Ireland, Spain, and Israel. We had delicious food with breakfast from Israel, a Spanish lunch of Paella, and an Irish dinner of roast chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, homemade rolls, and broccoli and carrots with Banana and whipped cream pie for dessert! We learned Israeli games, heard Irish stories, danced a jig, and learned the Flamenco. It was a very cultural day to say the least. I’m sure everyone will sleep well tonight and may even dream about leprechauns.

Gwynn Valley has many returners each season and there are always new campers to our program.  Whether our campers are returning after many years or brand new, one of our goals here is developing stronger friendships.  For many obvious reasons friendships are vital for children.  There is a direct connection between the quality and quantity of a child’s relationships and their cooperation, productivity, happiness, and success here at camp and at home.  Camp is a great place to reconnect with old friends and certainly make new ones.  As a director I hear every year about campers who have bonded in our sessions and stay in touch and or visit with one another from distant cities.

Friendships happen for a reason because we create circles at camp to share in our camp relations.  We circle up for friendship, to learn from one another, to focus, to eat together, and to teach and guide campers’ lives in positive ways with peers and adults.   Mountainside circles up before every meal under our grove of hemlock trees behind the Lodge and after circling, make their way into the dining room.   Camp really brings people together from different parts of our state, our country and even other countries.  We’ve all used the term “circle of friends” and it’s so true here at camp.