Happy Summer Solstice (Even though we didn’t see the sun)!

Dear Parents and Friends,

It’s been another great day at camp and happy summer Solstice.  It is the longest day of the year and we just finished our Solstice campfire where campers traveled to 4 different stations to learn and participate in this fun and ancient evening.   Backing up to the morning we had some rain today but none that chased us inside or even required a raincoat.  Even with the weather we hit the trails at GV going in all directions by foot, hoof and bike.  Campers from all over camp traversed our many trails as well as walked the creeks and hiked many paths.  Our 300 plus acres are full of wonder and beauty.  No matter where you go on the property you will find something that is interesting.  A keen eye and sometimes silent footsteps take you even closer to the miracles of nature around us.  I met our mountain bikers this afternoon on the long trail above camp which can be hiked, run, horse ridden or mountain biked.  It’s suitable for all four.  There were beautiful scarves being made in Arts and Crafts this afternoon.  They were out drying, full of color and varied in design.  Our kayakers are getting ready for a river trip which will happen next week.  You’ll see two kinds of kayaks at GV.  The sit-on-tops are easy to paddle and maintain a straight line with little effort and even the smallest camper can paddle them.  The whitewater kayaks are hard to keep in a straight line and if you turn over you have to either roll it back up or wet exit which is what they are working on now.   Those who feel comfortable with their wet exits and have learned to handle their boats on the lake will be going off site for a trip, most likely to the French Broad which is in our backyard.  Near the end of the session we’ll perhaps have a trip to the Green River which is about an hour away and is a little bigger water.

Despite our cool and drizzly weather, the waterfront was a popular place today.  There is someone almost always on the zip line when the waterfront is open.  It’s a great ride and everyone’s challenge is to perform a Spiderman (hanging upside down) while zipping.  Harder than it looks!  We’ll try and get some photos.  Another popular component at the lake this summer is the rope swing and the tension traverse.  It’s just a few inches over the water and you walk the cable holding on to a long rope that is attached to the top of the rope swing.   The farther out you get the more difficult it is and very few campers or staff have made it all the way to the opposite bank.

Soccer and archery rounded out the morning on the sports pitch.  There’s at least one soccer game every day at camp and more often there’s more than one.  After all it is the world’s #1 sport (behind ACC Basketball).  Pottery, while not a sport, does take a fair amount of coordination.  I’ve been in camping a long time and haven’t yet been able to master the proper throwing of a pot on the wheel. I suppose it takes practice just like everything else. That being said there were lots of pinch pots and slab pots being made today, which is what I need to stick to.

Our Riverside group  came home today after 4 days of paddling.  They ended their paddling component on the Nantahala, a swift and cold river about two hours from here.  The year round temperature of the water hovers around 48 – 50 degrees.  They had a great day on the river hitting lots of eddies and playing in spots like “surfing rapid”.  Everyone had showered and eaten by dinner and I’m sure they will sleep like tired puppies tonight.   One of the nice aspects of our new dining room is that we have plenty of room for Riverside to eat with us now.  When they’re in camp they eat along with Main Camp and Mountainside.  We also welcomed a new batch of Mountainsider’s today and they had an afternoon and evening of get acquainted games and challenges.

At camp, some kids practice sports, some practice instruments, and some practice their belly flops.  One thing that ALL campers practice is independence!  Gwynn Valley provides a nurturing and safe environment for kids to face challenges on their own, and that can be incredibly constructive to a child’s character, resilience and grit.  Author and psychologist Michael Thompson, PhD, put it this way: “I think camp is the best emotional preparation for a successful college experience, because you practice being on your own, keeping track of your clothes; you practice living in a community and getting along with challenging roommates — all of the skills you need for true independence.”

When campers can draw upon an experience of overcoming a challenge on their own, it gives them a positive memory to draw from when facing future obstacles; say, preparing for that really big math test or interviewing for that first job.  Camp provides a world of good, each and every day here at GV.  Stay tuned!