First full day at Gwynn Valley is full of SUN!

Dear Parents and Friends,

What a full day we have had here at Gwynn Valley! The day seemed to last forever and pass before our eyes in a second all at the same time. We packed the last 14 hours full of laughter, new experiences, and joyful moments that will become memories in the minds of our great camp community.

The morning dawned foggy and cool. Many campers woke up early (because that’s what happens when you sleep in a new bed!) so almost every cabin came to breakfast showered and well dressed with cabin chores already complete…. an amazing feat that may not happen again this session. A warm breakfast of eggs, bacon, homemade wholewheat biscuits, and fruit helped to warm us up from the inside out. As breakfast finished, the clouds began to clear to make way for a sunny morning of activities.

In addition to being the first full day of camp, today also marked the first day of Morning Discoveries. These are the activities that campers select to build skills over the course of their week here. The morning was a flurry of active learning as campers headed off to climbing, horses, farm, mill, batik, dance, soccer, archery, mountain biking, pottery, weaving, creek hiking, kayaking, outdoor living skills, and more! The archers managed a few bulls eyes after the initial practice shots, but even those who didn’t snag a bulls eye managed to get closer to the middle as the lesson went on. Every potter I saw had muddy hands and happy faces; they were working on making wind chimes to take home at the end of the session. The very enthusiastic kayakers were working on their wet exits and forward strokes up until the last second of the lesson. Batik makers were learning about the powers of wax & dye and how to use each medium to create their masterpiece. Farmers split their time between harvesting veggies and meeting the newest babies on the farm (so far 16 calves, 5 goat kids & 20 or so chicks). Farm folks also got to milk a mama goat and collect eggs from the chicken coop. Everyone was plugged into activities where they were meeting new friends and learning new skills!

Morning activities finished up around 12:15, after which games on the green, knockout, and thunderball carried us over into lunch. Campers had been sitting together by cabin group up to this point, but at lunch everyone was assigned to their new tables where they will sit for the rest of the week. Campers and staff from all over camp are mixed up into groups of 7-8 campers and 3-4 staff so that we can get to know more people in our camp community. After the initial moments of confusion, everyone found their new tables and tucked into a lunch of taco salad complete with ground beef, beans, lettuce, tomato, onion, sour cream and cheese. Oh, and banana for dessert! It was one of those lunches where you could hear and audible drop in volume after everyone had been served. This momentary lull marks the point in time when hungry people abandon conversations to tuck into the first bite of a well earned lunch.

After lunch we headed over to singing in the lodge. Campers sang a few songs with Debbie accompanying them on the piano before moving into sign up skits. Every afternoon, program staff and counselors put on a 20 second “commercial” of the activities on offer for the afternoon, so that campers can visualize all the options. After skits, campers chose the activities and then head off to cabins for rest hour (only rest 45 minutes today). The sunshine continued into the afternoon, making waterfront activities very popular. Both the pool and the lake were packed with campers swimming, splashing, zipping, paddling, cannon balling, and having a great time! Nearby, the millers caught a few fish in the shade of the mill pond. Bikers could be seen zipping around the camp trails and then taking a looong drink at the water fountain. There was also a very special friendship bracelet making tutorial on offer by our head weaver, Rachel, and I saw many fabulous bracelets in progress. Tajar Times (our daily camp newspaper) also had a great turn out this afternoon. I can’t wait to see what our curious reporters documented when our next edition comes out tomorrow!

Dinner was a delicious chicken stir fry with rice & orzo both on offer (grain lovers had a choice!) plus salad and cantaloupe. The evening meal was a buzz of conversation as table groups discussed their afternoons and got to know each other better. My table decided to speak only in pirate accents for the second half of the meal, which made everyone giggle in between bites of stir fry. All in all, another delicious meal shared with lovely people that should keep our bellies full until breakfast.

Our evening program was another night of introductory cabin skits. Half the cabins went last night and the other half went tonight. There were lots of excellent songs, funny skits, and outlandish costumes. It was a great example of the creativity and imagination that is the hallmark of a child’s mind. It is so wonderful to have the opportunity to hear every single person’s name said out loud on stage over the course of our two nights of skits. It seems a small thing, but it really helps to get to know everyone. After skits, we sang a few songs to wind down and everyone made their way back to their cabins with the last rays of sunlight falling across the green. The Secret Serenaders started with our youngest cabin at 9:15 and made their way through camp by 9:45. I can only imagine that campers fell fast asleep after a long day of playing in the sun. Hopefully they’ll all sleep right to the wake up bell tomorrow, refreshed and ready to do it all over again!