Making Memories!

Dear Parents & Friends,

We just finished our Tajar Ball celebration and the skies cleared just before the Ball.  Usually, we eat on the lawn of the Green in front of the Dining Room, but thundershowers kept us inside and celebratory none the less.  As many of you know Tajar Ball happens two nights before each session ends except for C-1 which gets to celebrate the 4th of July during their time with us.  The Ball ushers in characters and costumes of every variety and it’s a lot of fun with all the games, good food and a giant waterslide that captures all who defy its watery jaws.  You will no doubt see many photos from the ball all capturing the delight and joy that is effervescent in this, our next to last evening at GV for Session C, C-2. 

It’s also celebratory because all our Adventurers returned to camp today.  Mountainside and Riverside returned home after being out for 4 days in the woods, on the rivers, climbing, earth skilling, and biking.  Faces glowed even though slightly smudged with a little dirt and grit, but the right kind of grit that gets you through some challenges.  Other than a few mosquito bites here and there everyone returned in good shape, stronger, leaner, and more determined to see a challenge through. 

I spent yesterday with Mountainside on the Tuckaseegee River and we spent 5 hours plying the river with those campers on a hot sunny day.  We ferried, S turned, eddied out, peeled out and swam and jumped off rocks to cool ourselves between rapids.  They returned to the Tuck again today to reach for a higher level of achievement including the infamous Snickers Challenge eddy near the end of the run.  As of this writing, I hadn’t heard if any of our crew made it. 

Bikers rolled throughout the 100 miles of trails in Dupont State Forest including some of my favorites like Ridge Line and Turkey Knob Extension.  Our climbers started their adventure at Rumbling Bald and then followed the twisty rope roadways to Linville Gorge which has any and all possibilities for climbing along with wonderful sunsets and big sky views.  Primitive Skillers camped just outside Dupont and tried their hand at a host of handy craft skills that most of our country’s population possessed 200 years ago.  Backpackers started their ascent of Black Balsam and then like ants on the ridge made their way all the way to Pisgah Inn and beyond just under the shadow of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  High and mighty views were bountiful. 

Riverside completed their last outdoor component and backpacked from Black Balsam to the Davidson River Campground via the Art Loeb Trail.  They are a tight group and have the makings of wonderful staff in a few years. 

These days that have passed have created more than just memories.  The impressions of camp last a long time and are never really forgotten.  Something will trigger a thought or memory of a meal, turning over your boat at the end of Double Drop or the ring you made at Blacksmithing, a new friend from far away and the sounds of camp.  These are the “simple joys” as we call them.   

Tonight as we were breaking down Tajar Ball I was nearby one of our girl’s cabins.  One of our staff is leaving at the end of this session to be with her family and getting ready to return to college.  She began her camp experience many years ago as a camper in Playhouse and has over the years been through every age and program at GV.  As the evening closed in she quietly viewed SIT’s and Young Leaders taking a last turn on the waterslide and I could tell she was seeing herself out there just a few years ago in her camp career.  I could see a slight smile on her face as memories raced through her mind.  Family and life were calling, but parting from camp would be hard.  Her introspective space was broken by one of her campers needing some attention after a long day.   I too was having my own memory of this staffer as a young camper here, and now a grown woman warmly providing for that child as she had been provided for.  What a wonderful circle that exists here.  We both were feeling a sense of accomplishment for what Gwynn Valley has given to her and now what she is giving back.  Friends, that is pure JOY!

Tomorrow is another day of opportunity and our Main Camp campers will be heading out to climb, paddle, bike, and hike to culminate their time here before the session ends.  We’ll see what memories will be created tomorrow as our younger campers take on a little grit and get a little dirty having fun and learning along the way.  Life is good at GV! Stay tuned!