No Rain Today and We’re Off and Rolling!

Dear Parents and Friends,

Our first full day of C, C-1 Session was excellent.  We had cool temps today and not a sign of rain.  Tonight is cool and there’s a slight breeze blowing through the valley and hills surrounding the camp.  We’ve had so much rain until today you can hear our creeks and streams from almost anywhere in camp.  I think many campers aren’t used to all the night sounds at camp and especially those early morning birds that start up around 5:30 in the morning.  You really hear the birds start their symphony way before the sun comes up and then the faintest light spills from the east into the cabin long before the wake-up bell sounds.  Anne and I have air conditioning in our home and we don’t have it running this time of year, so we hear what the campers hear.  Of course, our metal roofed cabins accentuate any drops of water coming from the sky and a midnight shower sometimes does wake the sleeping campers. It’s a simple existence but is an important part of camp.  Right there you’ve covered two of Gwynn Valley’s values: Simplicity and an Appreciation of the Natural World.

Today was our first full day of the program so the morning consisted of Discovery Activities that engage the camper in 4 different activities of building skills.  The afternoon activities provide different signup opportunities each day and campers sign up each day for a range of 1 or 2-hour activities.  In some cases, you can go back to similar activities in the afternoon that provide more fun and practice in something you might have participated in that morning.

Today was also the day when we learn which table we are assigned to.  Everyone has a new table after 3 meals with your cabin on the first day including breakfast today. At lunch today you sit with folks that you don’t know and get to know counselors who are not in your cabin.  The ages are varied as well so it’s like a large family at the table.  It takes a meal or two to learn everyone’s name but soon we’re working together and having good conversation.  The table is one of my favorite places in camp because GV has exceptional food and you really get to know the folks you sit with.  There are so many questions to ask at the table one hardly ever runs out of conversation material…like… if you could only eat 5 foods the rest of your life what would they be?  Or, how many pets do you have, what’s been your favorite family vacation, do you have a cell phone, favorite movie or favorite Disney movie, most interesting food you’ve ever eaten and so on.  You learn so much about one another because some topics are like expressways to more fun things to discuss while eating good food.

Camp is a magical place where we really live and exist just for children.  It’s a child’s world and one where you become the very best version of yourself as Maggie, our Associate Director says.  I think that goes for staff also.  After a while, our adult lives take on a whole new meaning.  While camp is certainly busy, it moves at a slower, more consistent place.  Sometimes slow and consistent really keeps us on track and is great for all involved.  Camp is that kid “happy place” where you don’t have to worry about anything except why can’t I take all the activities each and every day.  As adults, we talk about not enough hours in the day to get all the work done and at camp, there are not enough hours in the day to enjoy all the fun.  It’s that place where children can make their own decisions, set and achieve goals, try new things, understand a sense of belonging to a group larger than oneself (cabin, activity & table), develop grit, resilience, confidence and all under the guidance of some very cool counselors you will hear about when your camper returns home.

I was working up on Mountainside today when their mini-adventure groups started to arrive home.  I just listened and watched as they began to share stories from their day.  Paddlers were on Lake Keowee, climbers went to our wall and to the Rock in the PM, hikers went to John’s Rock in Pisgah; bikers took advantage of all of our trails, and earth skills went to Fox Den, their special place at GV.  Some of them suggested upon returning that they should swim in the creek just near the MS Shelter.  It’s only knee deep but is very refreshing.  Of course one of the staff is a lifeguard so they all got in the water and it was like they were all 7 or 8 years old again.  They had a great time and it was a good example of unstructured free play which is so important for children.  I’ve included a pic for you.  Swimming in the creek with not a care in the world is truly part of our Simple Joys philosophy here at GV.  Stay tuned!