Foundation Day for Teaching Discovery!

Dear Parents & Friends,

It was a beautiful day to start our Discovery activities.  The water activities felt great because it was hot and sunny.  I spent the morning visiting a few activities and watching staff begin their day and begin their program with instructions and getting the campers familiar with the foundations of program.  It was interesting to check in on different activities and watch as our staff got the ball rolling with their different teaching styles.

I started at the waterfront where staff were teaching a variety of activities.  Kayakers were learning to wet exit for the first time.  The instructor is right there standing in 4 feet of water and the first couple of times when the camper flips the boat over, they right the boat for the camper to provide that sense of confidence that they are right there.  This is done without a spray skirt.  Next is flipping over with a skirt and banging three times on the boat and pulling your spray skirt and then popping out on the surface.  Wearing a PFD helps as its buoyancy brings you right up.  Some are beating on the side of the boat even before they are upside down.  Trust and faith in oneself doesn’t come easy when you’re upside down underwater.  99% of the time there is a breakthrough and an awakening to yes, I will be ok, just relax and find that strap and pull it.  It’s a process to observe and see the growth.

Eliza is teaching stand up paddle boarding on the lake and it’s a different type of paddling.  Our little kayaks are easy to paddle because you have a double bladed paddle and it’s easy to correct with a blade on both sides.  With a SUP board you have only one blade but you can paddle on both sides which is discouraged in regular tandem canoeing.

Camp is very physical and we’re doing lots of physical things from riding a bike to crossing a wire suspended over water .  That’s called the Tension Traverse and it’s a fun and challenging part of our waterfront.  Every child in camp should try this because it’s fun, gets you to do something that you normally don’t do, use a lot of balance, many different muscles, and it really helps you to focus.  Everyone who tries it starts off smiling and laughing about it and then it happens; the smile goes away and the game face comes out as you start to focus on trying to move your feet across a tight wire by only holding on to a rope.  I’ve seen this in climbing, paddling, mountain biking and yes, even in arts and crafts.

One of my other visits to program this morning was the Pottery Shop and Yanderside, two other arts areas.  One camper had his tongue out while trying to score the clay and join it to the mated piece that he had just cut.  Such concentration is really neat to see in children.   And the best thing about camp is that if you don’t score your pottery just right, or don’t make it across the Tension Traverse, or get to the top of the wall, you’ll get another try and can build on what you’ve just done and learned.

I visited with a mountain biking group this afternoon and watched as campers rode multispeed bikes as well as hand brakes for the first time.  Children adapt very easily and I think at camp they tend to build on their successes and learn from their failures quite easily.   The instructors were explaining the art of shifting gears and how to maintain a cadence.  Analogous to this is our complex world out there and we need to understand about how our gears can be utilized in life.  When to peddle faster, when to slow down and when to try and be consistent and keep a constant speed are all part of using our personal gears.  I had fun seeing these campers gain confidence and skills today, like riding in the attack position and learning to ride in an ever decreasing sized circle.   By the end of an hour they were riding our skills course which is a bit more challenging than riding around the soccer field.  I think it left them hungry for more.

Getting out into program helps keep in touch with pulse of camp.  I think I would wither on the vine if I couldn’t do this.  I’m just not that kind of director.  We continued our cabin skits tonight at campfire and by now all campers are snuggled in their beds after their first full day of Gwynn Valley.  It  was a good one and there’s more to come.  Stay tuned!