First Day of Discovery!

Dear Parents & Friends,

A great day at GV started early and cool this morning.  Many campers and staff wore their sweatshirts to breakfast this morning and well into mid morning as the sun reached its long rays into camp by 11 to heat up our mountain hideaway.  I was doing some video of campers creek hiking on Carson Creek today not too far from Mountainside and you’d think you might be in the middle of Pisgah National Forest.  We’re so lucky to have the abundance of water on our land and Carson Creek runs right through the middle and length of camp feeding our lake and of course the energy for the Mill.  We only have about  300 acres but it’s varied land with lots of terrain features like coves, rock faces and little gorges to explore.  Our Web of Life crew and Outdoor Living Skills groups were taking advantage of that all day.

This morning we started our Discovery activities where campers work on skills.  They had two activities in the AM and will take two different ones tomorrow morning on the “B” day.  “A” day will resume again Wed. and of course afternoons are for free signups and you can take whatever you like.  I think when we think of camp we first focus in on activities.  They are important, but to me the most important aspect of camp are the friendships you make.  The people and relationships you encounter is the essence of camp.  Age is not a factor here and we see that at our tables each day as we gather to partake of that great GV food we consume.  Like all other tables, I have a variety of ages at the table and we talk about everything under the sun.  It takes a meal or two but things get very comfortable very quickly at the table setting.  I’m sure this occurs in the cabin as well.  Even though the counselors are quite a bit older they really don’t seem like parents when you’re a camper.  (Even though we tell them they are and use the Latin term – en loco parentis – in place of the parent.) As a parent, I can say that counselors are much cooler than parents.  It doesn’t take long before the campers see this and it helps these young fledging parent counselors to gain the respect and camper approval in such a short time.  It takes us longer as parents and we’re not cool all the time, just sometimes.

One of the other great outcomes of camp are the memories.  We hear that a lot from our staff who were campers here.  I call this Camp DNA, whether it’s a song, a friend, a special moment from an activity, getting to the top of climbing wall or making your first pot on the wheel.  These events come with satisfaction and an ability to keep that little memory for a long time.  Good memories are created and good things happen to us when we’re outdoors more and it’s a healthier existence.  When children play outside they are more adept at learning new concepts and thinking is clearer.  Our outdoor environment also enhances communication whether it’s one on one or one on many with those around us.  Adults and campers are a part of your world and you’re not drawn into the hypnotic world of screens.  Camp reconnects us with the real world of where food comes from, what is poison about poison ivy and how to avoid it, catching a tadpole almost at the stage of being a frog, learning to handle a real mountain bike not a virtual one, cooking over an open fire and more basic, learning how to build a fire.  It’s camp, it’s real, it’s fun, and it’s growth!

Our first full day was filled with growth.  There was nothing too special about it and tomorrow will have a bit more to offer as we settle into the week.  Campouts will start tomorrow night and many cabins will be camping out at one of our many outposts where fire becomes your friend and smores never tasted better after a meal cooked over the fire.  Those cabins who stay behind will be doing some Mountain Dancing.  I was talking with our Sports Leader, Josh, earlier this evening.  He’s an Aussie and was teaching cricket in one of the activity periods this afternoon.  The campers loved it but it was hard for those who play baseball to adapt to a different way of batting.  It’s good to stretch ourselves and learn some new tricks.  There’s always teachable moments at camp and we’re always learning, all of us! Stay tuned!