Nary a Raindrop Today!

Dear Parents and Friends,

It was a great day a camp today with nary a raindrop in sight.  The temperatures stayed very cool today and even at the farm it was quite a nice day.  With little shade there it can get hot.  I was down there this afternoon as children were pulling carrots out of the ground and hauling buckets of them back to the pack shed.  There is something special about harvesting food and it’s even more exciting when it comes from underneath the soil.  We rarely see carrots with their tops in the store so it’s a treat to view the whole plant.  One has to slightly pull away the dirt just at the surface to make sure it’s mature enough (large enough) to come out of the ground.  They are covered in a layer of soil and will be washed and prepared by our cooks to go on the table over the next several days.  Tonight there were cooked carrots in our vegetable medley, roasted potatoes and fresh salad all from the garden, as well as a delicious pork loin.  To top it off, chocolate pudding with real whipped cream and a graham cracker crust was devoured.

After that huge dinner, I had to take a nice long walk after dinner to help Dancing Waters get a fire going.  It’s been very wet over the past week and it’s hard to get a cooking fire going.  They were camped at Indian Cave campsite which is next to Carson Creek and is one of my favorite places at camp.  They were chowing down on hot dogs (the other red meat) when I left and everyone was happy as a clam.

As I roamed program today I spent a little time with the climbers and mountain biking.  We have a man named Christian Jackson that comes to train our staff before campers arrive.  He’s a mountain bike instructor who trains instructors certified through PMBI (Professional Mountain Bikers Instructors Assoc.) Christian is also a professor at Applachian State and has children who attend GV.  After staff training he and his wife work in our program and he provides more hands own training during our A session going out with Main Camp and Mountainside to ride with staff and campers.  His skills and teaching talents have made a significant impact on our instructors here and I can already see it in our program.  Peter, an old camper – now staff member, was working with the campers to lift their front wheel off the ground in order to hop and roll over small objects.  You could tell he had been schooled by our Master Teacher!  Children will try and pick up things on their own and it’s even better with proper instruction.

As mentioned above I went to the climbing wall today.  Climbing is a great activity at camp and probably most of us have a healthy respect for heights or even an aversion to them.  Climbing is a great way to test our limits and see what we can achieve.  There’s a great deal of trust that is developed between the belayer (counselor) and the climber.  While physical safety is what we think about when we climb there’s also the emotional safety aspect that is critical piece.   There’s also the psychological risk and the social risk.  The psychological risk is the fear of falling.   To help alleviate some of the trepidation, our staff talks about strength of the harness, rope and all the equipment we use in climbing activities.   We want to appeal to the camper’s rational side and perhaps let them all pull on a rope and test it in their own way.  We talk with them about kilo newtons, which is how equipment is rated.

Sometimes emotion is much more powerful  than rationale.  We support the climber through the whole experience.   The more they feel that the belayer is holding them they more they trust.  We get them to lean back in their harness and see that they will not drop if they’re not holding on to the holds on the wall.  This helps to prepare them for the next attempt to possibly go higher or try a harder wall on the tower.   The sociological risk is the fear of failure or ridicule in front of others.   We as staff support each and every endeavor and they will have a chance to try again if they don’t reach the top.  We also teach our campers on the ground to support those who are climbing.  Sometimes your best friend or new friend is your greatest ally in helping you reach the top.  Addressing the psychological fears and the sociological fears is called Challenge by Choice here at camp.  There’s no pressure to reach the top, only encouragement and reassurance.  This approach helps in working with each individual participant to help them set their own goals and set their minds toward “I can vs I can’t”.  I think we learn as much by acknowledging our limits as we do by pushing our limits.  Challenge by choice allows us to know in a good and safe way what we’re really challenged by and expand our comfort levels.

Tonight after dinner was “twilight play” when many activities that operate during the day are available after our meal.  It’s a great time to play a game, swim, go for a longer hike, create, climb, paddle a kayak, sing some camp songs, try your hand at blacksmithing, ride a horse or bike and on and on.  Twilight is such a great time of the day for so many reasons.  We get a food boost at dinner after an already full day and then off for more adventures and things to try.   For a second dessert, we experienced a beautiful sunset tonight where you couldn’t tell where the sky and mountains meet.  See enclosed pic!  We’re having fun so stay tuned!