One of the great things about ringing in the New Year is a renewed sense of purpose, an opportunity to set goals, and look toward the future while appreciating and being grateful for the past year. It’s a time to reflect and to think about change, growth, and what we have learned.
Gwynn Valley’s new, beautiful, timber frame dining room and kitchen in 2017 was a wonderful change. For the first time, all of camp including Riverside, Young Leaders, and Day Camp were all able to dine together at the same time. Due to the additional space, we are excited about the opportunity to grow Mountainside by one cabin in 2018. By adding a cabin and 5th adventure, more campers will be able to participate in a program that helps young teenagers develop a new sense of confidence, competence, community skills, and an even deeper appreciation of the natural world. To lead this group and our other older programs, we are really excited to welcome Kevin MacDonald who will be serving as GV’s Program Director and Adventure Coordinator.
Kevin comes to Gwynn Valley as a passionate outdoor educator who has spent many years in the field and the classroom, teaching children and adults. He and his wife McNeill are moving from Virginia where they ran a nonprofit educational center related to nature connection, environmental stewardship, self-reliance, sustainability, and community development. Through the years, Kevin has led wilderness adventure trips for several other western NC outdoor programs/camps both in our mountains and the Pacific Northwest. He has also led trips abroad to Thailand where community service, adventure, language studies and life skills were a focus for the groups in his charge.
His formal education during college provided him with a degree in art from Houghton College in New York with concentrations in drawing and ceramics. While pursuing his degree in art, he studied in England, Tanzania, Honduras and Italy. During and after college, he pursued his desire in the outdoor worlds of paddling, climbing, mountaineering, caving, backpacking and a bit of mountain biking. He is an accomplished paddler and loves the world of primitive skills (fire by friction, plant identification, buckskin tanning, flint knapping and more). He makes a bit of magic, juggles, and tells stories as well as plays the fiddle and can call dances.
We are pleased to have him join our year round team and excited about his skills and talent that fit with our mission here at camp. As Assistant Director, Kevin will be overseeing our program and guiding our staff in the care and teaching of our campers as well as working with children in areas where his own skills will shine.
Kevin understands the transformative power of a positive experience at camp and in the outdoors for today’s youth. “During the dozens of outdoor expeditions I’ve led with teenagers, I’ve seen firsthand the profound growth that occurs when people participate in wilderness adventure. I’ve seen timid, apprehensive kids become decisive, confident, resilient leaders as they paddle rivers, climb rocks, and explore caves. I’ve seen groups of strangers become effective teams – and communities of friends – as they hike mountain trails, make camp in the rain, and tell stories around crackling fires. For cultivating the best in people, there’s nothing better than the beauty, complexity, and authenticity of the natural world.
We are very excited to have him on board and know you will welcome Kevin to our thriving program.
As stated above, we are grateful for a wonderful 2017 summer and are working on making 2018 even better. As we get excited about the New Year, the goals we have set, and our mission, we are thankful that you continue to allow Gwynn Valley to nurture your children by building character and relationships in a community that fosters personal challenge, a connection to nature, and the simple joys of childhood.
Happy New Year!
Stayed tuned for more exciting news about program, staff, and new construction!