Herding Children and Herding Sheep!

Dear Parents and Friends,

It’s been an amazing day here.  I started my day getting over to work early and spent time in the office so I could get out into program today.  I can say it was well worth it.  I first checked in on the Main Camp Bikers who were fitting bikes and helmets as well as going over all the procedures for beginning their Discovery.  We have 3 different trails at camp and one skills course.  Before we send them out on the trail or skills course we spend a lot of time with the basics of using hand brakes, gearing and shifting and riding positions.  Today they just rode around camp and worked on slight hills and shifting gears in thick grass.  If anyone comes off the bike, it’s a pretty cushy fall.

Climbers were also doing foundation work in teaching how to put on your harness, helmet and tying the figure eight follow-through.  Knot neatness is important because “a not neat knot, is a knot not needed”.  It didn’t take long to learn the knot for tying into the harness and soon they were on the climbing wall like little spider monkeys.  I also went by arts and crafts where they were working on Shibori or silk scarves that are tie-dyed to form different patterns.  Next door was pottery, so I checked on them as they made their first pinch pots.  There were lots of different sizes and designs that you may see after they are glazed and fired later in the week.  Outdoor Living Skills was learning to set up tarps and will be working this week on fire building, how to pack your backpack and what to take along with you including easy food fixings for the trail.  There’s not a camper out there that doesn’t like to build their own fire.  In rainy weather it’s a real skill to learn.  So far the conditions have been good over the last couple of days.

We all were assigned new tables today at lunch and we had a delicious meal of burritos with all the trimmings.  The campers were comparing it Mo’s.  I have a great table with lots of talkative children which is great.  They initiate conversation and all are very friendly to one another even though it’s the first time they’ve ever met.  My co-table-counselors work at the Farm and run the presses for the Tajar Times, our camp newspaper.  I mentioned last night that life at camp starts in the cabin and works its way out.  Bonding with your cabin is important and bonding with your table group and your Discovery group is equally true.  You get to meet a lot of different folks with these groupings and it’s good for all of us to get to know folks older and younger than we are.

I also got to spend about an hour and a half working with the Mountainside paddlers from 11:30 til 1:00 today.  They leave on adventures tomorrow and they needed a little fine tuning of their skills before setting out to ply the waters of our Western NC rivers.  Paddling on the lake can lull you to sleep and you have to be much more aggressive on the river.  We were trying to utilize those river strokes on the lake today.  One has to travel a bit faster than the current to not allow the current to dictate where you want to be in your boat.  A tandem team has to work together using good communication skills in navigating moving water and rapids.  It’s a situation where you’re really responsible for your end of the boat but at the same time knowing it’s one boat and you’re in this together doing your best to make it all happen.   (Lots of analogies for life, marriage and family there.)

Our Lodge is built over a stream called Forget Me Not stream because of the flowers that grow on the opposite side of the building where the water comes out.  It’s a great stream to go looking for crawdads and salamanders underneath the building.  One needs a flashlight and a keen eye.  The stream comes right out of rock just behind the Lodge and its source used to be the camp water fountain.  In the old days there was a small reservoir there where you could dip a cup into the water and drink directly from the spring.  Of course that’s not possible these days because of health laws, but it’s a good bet that the water is pretty pure.  That same cool water flows about 200 feet and enters the lake where it encounters swimmers, boaters, zip liners, divers, and critters from tadpoles and fish to turtles and other aquatic life.  It’s a healthy haven for man and beast alike.

Tonight we finished up our intro skits in the Lodge but before that we had a local farmer bring his Border Collies out to camp along with about 5 sheep and put on quite a demonstration for the campers and staff.  Everyone in camp was there and it was amazing.  This man and his dogs won the National Championships last year for herding and the dogs were so disciplined in working the sheep.  It was so interesting and the children had tons of questions and were able to spend time with the dogs and their handler.  This took place during after super activities and then we all went off to the Lodge.  The skits were great as usual.  Many of the skits use our pop culture through music but it’s always appropriate and right in tune with our GV philosophy.  The staff do a great job in changing the words to fit our camp world.  We’ll have a smaller camp fire tomorrow night because half the camp will be camping out and the other half will be Mountain Dancing with Jess.  Stay tuned for another amazing day of E session! We can’t wait to share more of the simple joys of GV!