Every Day is Special Day

As special as camp always is, the past few days have given a little something extra! The Summer Solstice on June 21st marked the longest day of the calendar year, and what better way to take advantage of the extra minutes of daylight than spending every second soaking up the sun splashing on the water mat, hiking to a waterfall, playing with newly hatched ducklings, and catching fireflies as they flicker and glimmer across our Gatehouse Green. After a great day of camp activities, we celebrated the Summer Solstice here with a special Evening Program, where all of camp joined together in front of the office as Ruby, our Camping Skills and Nature Program Leader, taught us all about what this day represents and the beautiful majesty that is our home here on Planet Earth. Technically, the Summer Solstice represents the start of the astronomical summer. Of course, our summer began long ago, but we’ll let Mother Nature have this one! For many cultures and traditions, the summer solstice has represented a time to set new goals and intentions, and we were able to have some moments in the amber glow of dusk to do just that. 

Parents provide feedback at the end of every summer to us for us to read over and reflect upon. As I’ve read through parents’ comments about their campers’ experiences, one of the recurring themes and notes straight from the campers’ mouths is something along the lines of “At Gwynn Valley, I feel free to be myself.” These comments warm our hearts everytime we read them, and throughout the summer I try to find examples of what they mean so that we can ensure that experience for every child. Everytime I watch campers Mountain Dancing or running through the lush grass as the sun is setting over the Blue Ridge Mountains chasing fireflies (or lightning bugs, depending on where you’re from) with their new friends, I see what they mean. I know that these are just some of those times where they can just be themselves – free, joyful, and full of childlike wonder. We’ve been in for a particularly special treat this summer, as the Blue Ghost fireflies have been particularly effervescent. Blue Ghost fireflies are in this area, and this area of the world and this time of year only, which is just another way that Gwynn Valley is truly a magical place. 

We had Special Day on Main Camp on Sunday, which kicked off with a delicious pancake breakfast and sleep in morning. Afterwards, to camp’s shock and dismay, Vector, a devious henchman, ran through our Dining Hall and announced that he had stolen the moon from the sky! Gru and his yellow minions were exceptionally worried, but luckily they had a plan to get the moon back. With the help of our campers, we were able to successfully complete an obstacle course and series of challenges across camp with the goal of collecting bananas as prizes. These bananas were then used to power up Gru’s shrink ray so that he could shrink the moon and steal the moon back! (It makes sense if you don’t think about it). So as you look out at the moon tonight, be sure to take a moment of gratitude to your campers for helping to return the moon back to its proper place!

While Special Day may technically be only one day at camp, truly every day here is a “special day,” and campers and staff are always finding ways to turn what would be an ordinary day into a dear memory. As an example, my own table has taken it upon itself to play charades at meal times as a fun game to pass the time. Some of the most creative acting choices I’ve seen from campers have included a purple dinosaur egg, a bottle of hot sauce, and a piece of bread – admittedly, that one took us a long time to guess. From the whimsical skits to the gorgeous environment, the silly games to the loving embraces of friends, we are so lucky that every day at GV truly is a “Special Day.”