Many Teachable Moments!

Dear Parents & Friends,

Another great day at Gwynn Valley and we’re just experiencing a little front that may drop some rain on us after bedtime tonight.  Two Mountainside cabins went to the Farm after dinner tonight and two MS cabins were there last night.  Six cabins are camping out tonight so we had quite a few missing from the dining room dinner table.  Usually when a cabin camps out they also cook out.  It’s not an elaborate cookout but tasty none the less and certainly there’s always s’mores. What would a campout be without them!  When Anne and I first came to GV, chocolate had been eliminated from the s’mores recipe.  One of our first acts was to reinstate chocolate back into the recipe.  Yes, it might hype the occasional camper but it’s definitely worth it.

I spent most of my day in program today videoing and going around to a multitude of activities.  I started at Mountainside watching Austin and Katie teaching the biking group and from there went over to the climbing wall where Brody and Duffy were working with the climbers.  I checked in on soccer and then headed over the waterfront to observe and film our kayakers.  This afternoon I visited the mill, pottery, and back to waterfront.  Everywhere I went there were teachers teaching and doing a great job.  I shot some footage that I hope to put up sometime tomorrow.  Our staff shares a lot of information each day.  I often hear from staff that children ask a lot of questions.  This is a good thing.  I know I share a lot of info teaching dancing, like tonight.  I’ve learned to not go too slowly and bore them with details and let them figure it out.  As soon as things slow too much campers get fidgety and entertain themselves.  Sometimes that’s great but not so much if you’re trying to get them to follow dance instructions.  Better to let them learn as they go for the first couple of rounds.

That’s all well and good for Mountain Dancing but not for teaching how to belay for climbing or gearing and braking in mountain biking.  We all learn differently and we have to throw out a big net to make sure we’re getting on everyone’s wavelength. For many years while teaching paddling, I taught using the whole-part-whole method.  Show the stroke, then break it down part by part and then show it again and talk about it and what it does to your boat.  We can sometimes get into analysis paralysis when teaching skills and I’m always adjusting my technique with each group I work with.  Teaching is a gift and at camp we’re working toward betterment of our teaching techniques and the way we impart information to children.  You know pretty quickly if you’ve perked their interest and if you have them wanting more.  It’s a good feeling when you know you’ve hit the target.

Hillside was delving into some imaginative realms tonight listening to Tajar Tales. Imagination is a big part of camp and imagination creates happy stories that your child can remember and tell for a long time.  “Imagination can be more powerful than you think”, says parenting expert and psychologist, Dr. Randy Cale.  “It allows you visualize life situations and act them out mentally to decide what the best course of action is. With guidance, children can use their imagination to help them solve just about any problem. They can prepare for just about any situation and gain remarkable confidence. And the really cool part here is that each and every time that they practice, their belief in themselves and their skills grows stronger.”

Brookside danced tonight to Going to Kentucky, Paddy Cake Polka, Sasha (Russian Folk Dance) and the Virginia Reel.  Debbie’s hands were smoking by the end of the evening.  Many of these dances are mixers where boys and girls dance together for just a short time.  Obviously we’re not trying to put the opposite sexes together and it’s by choice to dance with the opposite gender or not.  I must say that it’s quite comical to see boys avoiding any contact in a dance when you have to clap hands, elbow swing one another and promenade.  Most girls are good with this and comply with what the dance narrates, but the boys are exiting that highway every chance they get.  I remember those days and we certainly don’t want to rush that developmental stage.  Our focus is about inclusivity and making new friends instead of exclusive relationships.  We make friends in our cabin groups, table groups and activity groups and even at Mountain Dancing.  Camp was made for friendship.  Some camp friendships last a lifetime.  Camp just does kids a world of good and we’re so glad to be a part of that “good”.  Stay tuned!