It Was UK Day At GV!

Dear Parents & Friends,

Today is UK (United Kingdom) Day here at good ole GV.  The whole day was mixed with good food, visits by reigning monarchy and a wonderful evening campfire that included many campers dancing, singing and being in skits.  Our international staff did a great job giving us a first-hand look at so many aspects of their country which lasted all day long.

Every Tuesday is International Day here at Camp so we get to know a lot about the countries that many of our staff and children come from over the summer.  It’s a great way to learn about a country’s customs, food, songs, stories and general facts.  I think it’s also a great addition to our program to have someone in your cabin who may speak a different language or doesn’t come from our country.  Camp is the kind of place that brings people together.  It’s an even playing field for campers and staff alike.  Our staff grow very close after working together for over 10 weeks.  Campers do the same and some camp friends stay friends the rest of their lives.

Our UK friends started us off by William Wallace (Braveheart fame) reciting a portion of his speech while his lads came rushing across the field to spirit him on against his battle with the Loch Ness monster who had taken up residence at the GV lake since last night.  Now I may be wrong, but I think I missed something there in UK history and don’t remember Nessie and Wallace battling it out on top of the watermat for the Kingdom.  You might guess who won because Nessie disappeared under the water never to return to Gwynn Valley.  Breakfast followed in true English style with toast, eggs, sausage and beans to top off the toast.  Far be it from me to question anyone’s eating preferences, but I wonder if the Queen eats that for breakfast.

Campers were on their B Day of Discovery this morning and taking two brand new activities.  I wonder how many folks were trying out things they have never done before. Our cool morning started a bit foggy/cloudy just like British Isles and then the sun popped out.  I headed to the farm where they were just beginning to feed the baby calves.  Many of us are really hungry at breakfast because it’s the longest time between meals.  Well, these calves are the same way.  They are ready for those giant bottles of formula mixed with milk.  It doesn’t take long to drain about 2 liters.  Their instinct, even with the bottle, is to punch mother’s milk pouch, so you’d better be standing to the side because this happens frequently during the process.  From there it was into the corn field where we picked over the remaining ears of 15 rows of corn.  There were about 12 children and each one picked about 25 ears of corn. Within just a few minutes we had 300 ears of fresh silver queen, which was shucked by everyone after lunch today.  The farm is a magical place where people, animals and food create a pretty cool part of the circle of life.

Coming back from the farm, I dropped by horseback riding and watched as these young riders maneuvered their horses in and out of cones and around the ring.  These long legged creatures are so patient with all the novice riders we have.  Later in the hour the campers were sitting backwards on the saddle learning to feel and just balance without feet in stirrups.  Staff were tethering the horses as they walked.

From there it was onto Dancing Dreams where Camping Skills & Nature were learning to build fires and then serve up some s’mores.  Building a fire is not always easy and some of these youngsters were trying for the first time.  Each group had a small fire starter (a small bit of wax rolled in newsprint), to spur that flame on.  When it rains about every other day, it’s hard to find dry wood.  I didn’t stay for the s’mores and made my way to the office to download the video I’d been shooting all morning.

During the summer we shoot hours and hours of video.  Some small amount is used to update our promo video and most goes toward session highlights which I put together after the summer is over and carry on the road with me.  It’s uncut and very real camp from each session and we make it available to you near the end of the year or just after.  You can see some of these if you go to Gwynn Valley’s Vimeo site.  I don’t use You Tube because some of the things you find there are a bit unsavory for children.  Vimeo has a much different approach to “appropriate”.

We continued our UK Day at campfire tonight with lots of skits and music as mentioned above.  Simon Cowell had stolen all the British music and it was up to Gwynn Valley staff and campers to get it back.  We saved such famous artists as the Beatles, Queen, One Direction, The Spice Girls, The Proclaimers, Adele, and of course Ed Sheeran. It was an evening of fun, dancing, and humor typically British which I love.

All day long we mostly spend outdoors combining informal play and formal learning. Children can incorporate concepts they have learned at school in a hands-on way while outdoors. For example, seeing and touching the roots of a tree will bring to life the lesson their teacher taught about how plants get their nutrients. Our Nature and Camping Skills program takes children right to the source of our natural world where you can’t always go in a classroom setting.  Gus is excellent in leading a group through the woods where there’s something around every corner.  For children it’s mysterious, exciting and little scary when turning over rocks and rotten logs to see what you might find.  I know what you’re thinking parents, what might you find in that case?  Good question and yes, we keep everyone at a safe and healthy distance until we know there are no surprises under those pieces of the natural world.  Children are naturally inquisitive and are always interested to know about identifying snakes and lizards.  We do our best in describing what to look for in a poisonous snake and the types that live in our mountains.  Many teachable moments happen throughout the day at camp.

Even with our hot sunny day we learn to drink water, wear our sunscreen and to respect our natural surroundings, it’s power and to take it seriously.  We’re always on the “sunny side” here at GV even when it’s raining.  Stay tuned!