Festive Days and a Little Haze!

Dear Parents & Friends,

My guess is some of you watch our weather here on most days.  We had threatening skies all afternoon but it never dampened our spirits for the Tajar’s birthday.  We started our day with several trips out of camp – climbers and several other groups of Mountainside.  The climbers headed to Looking Glass to the North Side which has some overhanging features that protect the climbers from the rain.  They had a great day exploring that part of the “Glass” which is one of many giant granite domes in Pisgah.

I spent the afternoon with the Mountainside paddlers and we hit the might French Broad just near the confluence of the Davidson River and the FB.  Cooler clear water fell into our laps from the Davidson where we stopped to swim and practice our whitewater swim technique (nose and toes up and feet downstream.  There are three places on the mile and half run where we practice running moves like ferrying, S turns and peel outs.  The group had a great day and no one a dunking in the river.  All other groups faired well and in getting ready for the adventure coming up on Monday.  They have another training day on Friday as Session comes to a conclusion.  Those of you with campers in Main Camp and Mountainside probably will not see your Mountainsider that day. 

While the morning was beautiful the afternoon thundered and grumbled and showered a bit.  You might say that it was a good day to curl up and read a book but not here at GV.  That would not fit our philosophy that Mary Gwynn created many years ago, which was “do something difficult every day”.  That something might be different for everyone.  Camp is a place where you can really stretch your legs and failure which sometimes occurs is a good thing.  It’s ok to struggle a bit here in our camp world.  You get lots of chances to recreate whatever it was you were doing.  Sometimes that involves recreating yourself and learning about yourself more fully and honestly.  There’s a big support system here and it’s in place to help campers step up to the next level.  Camp is a great place to build resilience and confidence.  You don’t have to make it to the top of the wall but we would like to see you go higher and try harder than you did the time before.  Encouragement from peers and our staff enables campers to do some great things on their own.  Outcomes are important and we want those outcomes to be building blocks for the future. 

Camp is also all about building relationships with one another.  Defining relationship skills is both straightforward and complex. On the surface, relationship skills is an umbrella term we use to define ways we seek, form, and maintain healthy and supportive connections with other people. “According to Deci and Ryan’s (2000) Self-Determination Theory, feeling connected to others, which they call a sense of relatedness, is a basic human need; people are wired for human connection and we are at our best when we have healthy relationships in our lives. We can see the power of healthy relationships in the earliest stages of life (check out a fascinating episode of NPR’s podcast Hidden Brain, where host Shankar Vedantam explores new research about babies and how they develop relationship skills: NPR.org/2018/11/19/669319079/radio-replay-bringing-up-baby) and what happens when young children do not have the opportunity to practice developing healthy relationships with others.”  ”The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) identifies relationship skills as one of five competencies that characterize social-emotional learning. Relationship skills, according to this framework, enable a young person to “communicate clearly, listen well, cooperate with others, resist inappropriate social pressure, negotiate conflict constructively, and seek and offer help when needed” (CASEL, 2019).”

I saw that in evidence today on the river as tandem boating teams needed to communicate to navigate the waters and talk with one another as they tried different maneuvers.  We really see this everywhere at camp, in table groups, cabin groups, program groups, and just a simple game or sharing an activity at camp.  Learning how to do new things together brings children together and provides a sense of belonging.  We all feel good when someone crosses the Traverse Line over the lake and as hard as it is, we all want to make that accomplishment.  The POWER of camp is something we’re always trying to improve on as we celebrate individual strengths as well as relational connections. 

But, enough about outcomes and serious topics and more about our day.  We had so much FUN tonight at Tajar Ball.  Usually, it’s held on the Athletic Field but with the unpredictable weather, we held some events indoors and out.  There were all kinds of games there plus and an appetizing array of dessert.  Our meal was cookout style with dogs, burgers, beans, chips, coleslaw, and watermelon.  Music played and people paraded and danced and tried all kinds of creative challenges.   Even though it rained and boomed overhead we held on to the giant waterslide overnight and will program it in tomorrow for those who missed out because of weather.  Tomorrow will be a full day and we are expecting some more showers.   We will do our best to chase those raindrops away.  I’m not looking forward to this session ending because we have a wonderful group of your children!  We will see you too soon.  Stay tuned!