Dear Parents & Friends,
I’m constantly amazed by the children we have here at camp. I think they are more articulate and seem to know so much more than I did at say 8, 9, or 10. Children have more access to outside stimuli and every kind of screen has the potential for so many types of information whether relevant or not. Frankly, I learn a lot about children by talking to them at the table. We spend a fair amount time eating at camp and it’s quality time. You can usually tell pretty quickly who is not used to sitting at the table and having conversation. It doesn’t take long to establish this habit at camp because hundreds of us are doing it all at the same time. This broad list of topics and conversations are endless. Some campers just plop right down and start talking while others need sometimes several meals together to warm up to new folks at their table and new adults. We changed tables yesterday so everyone came to lunch and greeted new table groups. As in a typical family you have many personality types and this makes it fun for me. Our table family is usually 7 or 8 campers and 2-3 adult counselor types.
Even though the campers seem older they are still children. They need nurturing at camp just like they do at home. I was helping a little girl this morning who was just trying to squeeze in too much; finish her pottery project, get to the next activity and most likely didn’t eat enough breakfast. She just melted down and really needed some time to decompress and know that everything was going to work out, and it did and soon she and Anne were off to her next activity – climbing! As an adult I sometimes fritz over the same things- trying to fit too much into a short amount of time. Camp goes at a regular daily pace and it’s like hopping on a moving train sometimes. You’re running down boarding platform, your suitcase comes open and all your clothes come flying out and you just want to stop but you don’t want to miss the train or the next activity. It’s ok at camp, because there will be another train coming along shortly and you’ll have plenty of friends that will be on that next train and more stops along the way to take advantage of. Life moves quickly and children’s lives seemed to have tripled in speed since I grew up.
This is why I think camp is so good for children. Even though our days are full, it has a consistent routine, much like you’ve created at home. Camp is a safe and nurturing environment where children can fail, pick themselves up, try again and gain the confidence to succeed in any number of ways. There’s always a mentor to help them along the way and to encourage them in their decisions. Camp provides experiences that promote self confidence and growth. Research has shown that parents, camp staff and campers report significant growth in areas including leadership, independence, social comfort, developing strong values and learning decision making skills from the camp experience.
My personal biggest outcome for children is based on building relationships in the camp experience. Making new friends at camp is one of those jackpot bonus aspects found at camp. Living, working and playing together 24/7 allows us to achieve a greater view of acceptance of those around us. By the way, acceptance is one of our four values here at GV. Living in our cabins, eating at our tables and attending activities with lot of different people soon make us realize that we are not the center of the universe and cooperative and collaborative living is essential. This is achieved throughout the day in teachable moments and in a nurturing and fun way.
Traditional organized camping is over a 150 years old and has become a part of the fabric of America. It should be available for all children if they want it. It’s been a success for that long because it’s an extension of the teaching classroom and offers the child another way to learn and build relationships. Those two things right there are great but there’s more. Camp encourages a respect and love of our natural world. Just look how many children have been touched by the farm and our attention to nature here at Gwynn Valley. It’s hard to unplug in this world but GV plugs them into a world without screens that is real, imaginative, scientific, and creates a direct relationship to their world. Camp also keeps us physically active. It’s a place where can you play all day, eat healthy food, feel good about yourself and go to bed tired, fulfilled and happy as a clam. Then wake up and do it all over again.
Today was another one of those days. I think you probably get the picture after viewing the photos each day and even then the photos can’t quite do it justice. Today’s weather was perfect with no rain and just a couple of little thunder claps off in the distance. Mountainside left for adventures this morning the Main Camp Bikers went to Dupont State Forest today to ride the rolling single track there. Dupont contains over 100 miles of biking trails and is a paradise for the beginning and advanced biker. We held signups for all day today and children enjoyed choosing all four activities today. To top off the day we had a little celebration of the summer solstice (longest day of the year) with a whimsical touch and a campfire on the Gatehouse Green looking out toward Pisgah. It’s a kids life here at GV and we’re living the dream! Stay tuned!