Horton hatches an egg (among other joys!)

Dear Camper Families and Friends,

Today was one of those perfect camp days where the sun was shining all day long and every where you looked campers were having fun and learning alongside their friends! Mountainside and Riverside are both in camp for a few days, so our dining hall feels full and our community complete. Both groups spend the day doing enjoying some more classic camp activities like crafts, sports, etc. On Sunday, both groups will head out for 4 days in the field. Riverside will be backpacking (their 3rd and final adventure) and Mountainside will split into 5 different adventure groups (rock climbing, mountain biking, white water canoeing, backpacking and earth skills).

We had so many great activities running today in Main Camp throughout the morning and afternoon. The pool and lake were both full of campers taking advantage of the amazing weather. One waterfront group this afternoon was lucky enough to creek hike up to Connesstee Falls, moving through the water and searching for wildlife all long the way. In sports, campers shot bullseyes at archery and learned to play cricket as part of our World Sports discovery. This afternoon we offered Capture the Flag as a sign up – this activity is a favorite and always draws huge numbers! The Farm was very popular today as well – I think our farm campfire last night as well as the new piglet arrivals will help the farm continue to draw big crowds this session. Crafts were very popular as well with campers throwing on the wheel in pottery, making dream catchers in at Yanderside, learning how to needle point in Shady Grove, and making hooks and bottle openers at The Forge. It always amazing me to watch campers using their creative minds to make beautiful things. I’m sure you’ll get to see it too when they head home 1 week from today!



Program areas sometimes do combination activities, which campers and staff both love because it keeps activity choices feeling fresh. Some classic examples of cross over activities are leaf print medallions (Nature + Pottery), bikayathon (Biking + Kayaking), and Tubihimo (Waterfront + Crafts). But today… we ran a cross over activity I could have never imagined. One of the things I love most about camp are the surprises, and truly this is a re-mix I could not have dreamed up. Today, for the first time ever in Gwynn Valley history, we ran a 2 hour sign up called SMORESES. Campers went on a 1 hour trail ride on horseback to a camp out site where they tested their fire building skills with our camping skills instructor (Darcy) and enjoyed some well earned s’mores. The name alone makes it feel like a keeper, but after the rave reviews I heard from campers at dinner, I’m convinced this is a special mash up activity that should be run again at some point!


Tonight our amazing Fine Arts Team performed the C session musical for all of Main Camp! Witty lyrics written by Debbie and the campers, paired with some great costumes and charismatic kids made for a really entertaining evening.  These campers and staff have been working hard for the last 2 weeks to make this production a success and their hard work really showed trough. Through song and dance, they told the story of Horton, an elephant who finds himself in the awkward position of caring for and hatching the egg of a bird, while its mother steals away on vacation. Horton, the kind elephant, endures terrible weather, the ridicule from his jungle friends, and many other challenges….but through it all Horton stays committed to caring for and loving this mysterious little bird egg. When the egg finally hatches, the baby creature that emerges is an ‘elephant-bird’ with features that resemble both his biological mother (the bird) and Horton (the elephant who filled in for a time en loco parentis). As I watched from the back of the lodge, looking over the shoulders of all the campers and staff members in our community, I thought about all the adults that step in at various points and shape a child through their adolescent journey. Having watched many of my former campers grow up to be current staff members, I reflected on how those connections and experiences from their days as campers show up on the other end as young adults. I am humbled and filled with awe when I think about the trust that you bestow on us – the Gwynn Valley community – to embrace your children and take care of them for 10 days or 3 weeks or more. We recognize the magnitude of this gift and, just like Horton, we promise to do everything in our power to care for these precious eggs here at camp!