Hummingbirds, Cake & Appalachian Entertainment!

Dear Parents and Friends,

Every day at Gwynn Valley is truly an adventure. When you wake up in the morning, you have an idea about where the day will take you, but you never really know what will unfold as the hours roll on. Today, was one of those days full of magical surprises. At the top of the list was a first time experience for me…I hand fed a humming bird! Our Camping Skills and Nature campers rescued her after the heavy rains at rest hour. This adult, ruby throated humming bird was found totally soaked and fluttering around on the ground along the path to Mountainside. The CSN group gathered some supplies from the kitchen (a box, a hand towel, and some simple syrup) and went about setting up a mobile recovery unit for Esmerelda (the hummingbird). She responded well to the sugar water and soon started to chirp. (Did you know that hummingbirds chirp?) Campers and staff alike were mesmerized by this tiny little bird. As afternoon activities ended, campers said goodbye and Gus (our CSN program leader) kept watch over her until dinner. Just before the meal, Esmerelda took off again and after a false start finally flew off into the evening! In a wonderful, fated way, our kitchen had prepared hummingbird cake (a southern classic) for a special dessert in advance of our Appalachain Celebration at campfire.

While campers were practicing care of a hummingbird, our Young Leaders were getting First Aid & CPR certified through the Red Cross. They spent the day on the pavilion watching videos and practicing CPR on manikins and first aid bandaging techniques on each other. I can’t imagine a more scenic location to learn life saving skills! This group has had a great week so far spending time helping teach in discoveries, participating in leadership seminars, and perform acts of service around camp and in the Brevard community… as well as a few fun activities around camp and day trips to nearby Dupont and Pisgah!

Today Riverside was busy preparing for their next trip out of camp. They will spend the next 4 days canoeing and camping on the Green, French Broad, Tuckaseegee and Nantahala Rivers. I think that group has really enjoyed their time in camp, but feels ready to head out again on another adventure. They don’t all have the ‘groucho marx’ move down just yet (see Grant’s blog post yesterday if you’re lost!) but after a few more hours of lake practice today they were looking river ready!

Mountainside enjoyed a day of cabin activities. They finished up all their mini adventures yesterday and now have a few ‘down days’ in camp before they start training next week. As part of the cabin activity rotation, each cabin will participate in the high ropes course, a craft activity, a waterfront activity (usually a creek hike to Connestee), and a survival lesson with our resident physician, Dr. Terry Hassler. Our Wildwood boys each got a chance to start their own fire using some of Dr. Terry’s survival techniques, which they seemed to quite enjoy. The tower swing is always a big hit as well, and a creek hike on a hot day certainly can’t be beat!

Main Camp campers spent the morning completing their last discovery. I saw many proud campers walking around with intricate weaving, needlepoint, candles, and other crafts projects that they have been working on all week. Campers participating in adventure activities (climbing, biking, kayaking) have the opportunity to go on a trip out of camp early next week as an extension of their skill development. After our trip meeting this afternoon, many campers seem excited about the opportunity to practice their skills off camp! These main camp trips provide a great opportunity to develop skills that they will continue to build on through Mountainside and Riverside. On Monday evening the C1 performance of Cat in the Hat will be shared with camp, followed up by the C session Musical (Because of Winn Dixie) later in the week. Many other activities don’t have such obvious, tangible products as a result of the discoveries, but I know that campers have certainly grown in their skills through repeated instruction in their activity areas this week.

Today we were also gifted an extended rest hour. A heavy rain and thunderstorm came through around 3:15, just as rest hour would normally be ending. Fortunately, all campers were still in their cabins and enjoyed some extra time together. Many cabins used this time in fun and creative ways. Some groups played cards or other games, some built forts, and one very enthusiastic Brookside girls cabin had a dance party! I think some of our younger cabins may have used the time to nap a bit longer, as kids can be tired after so many days of playing so hard. Sometimes these unplanned moments – like getting stuck in your cabin for an extra 30 minutes after rest hour – turn out to be some of the camper’s favorite memories. Just like I said at the beginning, you never know exactly what the day will hold, so you have to remain open to the simple joys that might wander into your path as you move through the day.

Our day at camp ended with an excellent performance by Todd Elliot, a classic Appalachian musician and story teller. Both Main Camp and Mountainside were enthralled from start to finish! Todd told stories about his chickens, fiddle contests, and characters from Appalachia. Each story was told accompanied and embellished by his fiddle playing. At the end of the night, he and Debbie jammed together and serenaded campers as they headed off to their cabins for bed.