Growing Up, But Not Too Fast

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We had another beautiful morning today and by midday the sun was warm with some cloud cover and a lovely breeze blowing.  We celebrated our last international day of the summer today focused on Kenya and Pakistan and the food was delicious! Our Mountainside and Riverside groups are into their second night of being out of camp.  We heard from several of them and everyone is doing fine.  We had some storms yesterday afternoon but everyone did well and fortunately, we didn’t get the strong winds that they had called for but did get some heavy rain and lightning.The whitewater paddlers went to the Tuckasegee River today and are returning to the Tuck tomorrow. They hope to end their adventure by paddling the Nantahala River on Thursday.  They had some rain as they paddled the Green River yesterday but paddlers usually get wet and stay wet so it doesn’t matter.  When you’re surrounded by moving water all day a little rain doesn’t faze you.  Even on paddling trips we make sure campers are wearing paddling jackets and staying warm.  It’s just part of taking care of oneself and others in chilly or rainy weather conditions. The bikers had two good days of riding in Dupont and it is reported that they are strong bikers!

Today was the second day of Discovery or B day and campers were trying out two more activities for the first time this morning.  I went to the climbing tower to shoot some footage of those little spiders moving up the wall.  I also visited with the mountain bikers as they made their way around camp.  The climbers and bikers were learning knots to knobby tires. Dr. David had a course set up on the Green to help with shifting and braking all while pedaling.  Most of our campers probably don’t spend a lot of time on a bike so riding in areas with uneven ground can be challenging.  Climbers will test themselves on our trees tomorrow and scale some of our Hemlocks just next to the lake.

Going to the Mill is like stepping back in time, because the Mill was built in 1890.  That’s a long time ago and trying to relate what life was like then and how it’s changed from our Mill of today.  It was, I’m sure, a community and still is. The Mill was where folks brought their grain to be ground, caught up with the local news, and spent some time with friends.  You might even engage one another in a friendly game of checkers or a story.  While at the Mill there are many implements and artifacts from that era including corn husk dolls and toys made from corn cobs.  It was a simple life. The campers inside the Mill learned about the dried corn they would be grinding, how to take it off the cob and then how to “process” it after it had been ground up.  It is a many stepped system that they go through to reach the final products of corn meal, grits, and chicken feed which goes back to the farm. We consume the cornmeal and grits here at camp and have delicious cornbread!.  We learned about the weevils and the moths that live by eating the dried corn and how to get rid of those.  Of course the Mill puts on a different face when it offers ice cream making which it will later this week. There are two large churns that are powered by the water wheel. Needless to say, this is a fun and popular activity.

While near the Mill this morning I visited the weavers up in Shady Grove.  We have 11 floor looms that campers can create intricate patterns on.  They use a combination of their own designs and also the levers and foot pedals of the loom to design their pieces.  It’s a methodical pace that takes patience and focus and the final product is very nice.  Another craft that campers love is pottery. They have been busy at the pot shop making bird whistles, tea cups, and other creations, plus learning how to center and throw a pot. We have big wheels and have purchased mini wheels this summer which have been extremely popular! It’s actually easier to center and throw on a mini wheel.  

Working with your hands and learning handicrafts is very satisfying.  It might come in the form of building your first fire or creating a piece of tapestry on the loom.  We live in such a mechanical world and technology surrounds us.  It’s nice to involve ourselves in activities that are “human powered” with simpler approaches to an end result.

Camp gets children outside for most of their day.  While our buildings have walls many are open to the fresh air and sounds and sights of nature.  Playing and learning outdoors increases one’s appetite for curiosity.  Walking up stream in a creek to discover the small animals that live there can set in motion questions and imagining that can lead to lots of personal discovery. It also helps us to not fear the unknown and creates wonder and awe and a sense of place in our ecosystem.    

Camp helps children feel in control of their lives. Children who experience themselves as competent will be better problem solvers in new situations long after their laundry is cleaned and the smells of the campfire forgotten. The goal here is to encourage a child’s sense of self, their perception that they have some say over daily activities at a camp. They learn to fix problems when they happen.  They learn to self-advocate.  They learn that their world is manageable with some help.  Camp is simply a great place for children to take a good bite out of growing up, but not too fast.