July 4th and More!

Dear Parents & Friends,

Hope you’ve had a wonderful 4th of July!  We certainly have and it’s been a day for the ages.  All systems were going today and our regular schedule was just jettisoned into the next galaxy of GV.  While there were the usual activities all day, we were treated to great moments in American History and woke this morning to Paul Revere riding through camp telling us the British are coming.  Paul is a little behind the times because Gwynn Valley has already experienced their British invasion and we love having them here. Just after Paul raced through camp with the Redcoats on his trail, General Washington paddled across the Delaware to reach our peaceful shores.  All through the day, we were visited by famous people from American History including folks like Johnny Appleseed and others.  It was one moment in history after another.

Our day of activities was quite normal with no showers and ole Mr. Sol was hot and made things water worthy.  We held a wonderful outdoor picnic with everyone setting up their eating areas all over the Green.  The meal was delicious with beef brisket, watermelon, coleslaw, mac and cheese and collard greens.  The sauce for the brisket was the icing on the cake and speaking of which, each cabin group had a lemon pound cake with strawberries and whipped cream.  You can’t buy food like we have here at GV.  After dinner, we held after supper games and then everyone went back to the cabin to get ready for fireworks.  Just at twilight we rang the bell and everyone gathered around the lake on tarps and waited for darkness to descend.  There were patriotic songs sung and chants and everyone was in a spirited mood.

The maintenance crew did a great job with fireworks that lasted about 25 minutes.  The finale was a line of fire racing toward a 6 foot giant GV that lite up and burned until everyone left.  I must say it was a full day, thus the reason I’m writing for the next day as well.

July 5th dawned cloudy and rainy with a 5:30 am thundershower and a cool morning at camp. Discoveries and afternoon activities went off without a hitch and everyone cruised through the day under overcast skies and occasional sun throughout the day.  Today was also our second day of “Open House”, which is when we have leadership staff and program leaders visit cabin groups in their camp homes (the cabins) while cabin counselors take a 30-minute break to refresh themselves or prepare for the program. During Open House, the visitors ask campers about camp life, cabin life, and their counselors. This gives campers the opportunity to discuss matters of all kinds with adults who are not directly involved in cabin life. It’s a great way to find out if counselors are doing a good job in the cabin because children will let you know if they aren’t.  It also gives us lots of great ideas about how to make Gwynn Valley better. One of my favorite questions to ask is “What is one thing you would never change about Gwynn Valley and one thing you think we could change to make Gwynn Valley better?” Sometimes we hear suggested changes such as “Make the pool warmer!” or “Serve dessert every day!”  “Open House” is just another means of checks and balances that assist us in evaluating staff and the overall camp experience for your children.

Outcomes for a camp experience are important.  We want to make sure that campers feel that camp is a safe place much like home.  Schools can’t always provide that on a certain level and we want to make sure that everyone is respected on equal ground here.  We do our level best to create a no put down atmosphere.   Everyone deserves to be treated fairly by one another and staff.  Our relationships with adults are less formal than in other cultural realms and I think that helps with mentoring these young people.  Good role models other than just parents are so important in creating solid foundations for young people.  Camp counselors are usually not as old as parents and most of the time a little “cooler” (sorry, mom and dad).

We hope when your children return from the camp that you see some outcomes from living in our small intentional community.  Hopefully, they will embrace the high degree of social cohesion and teamwork (one for all and all for one).  We’ve got a lot of session left and lots to look forward to.  Stay tuned!