No Rain Today and Who Could Ask For More!

Dear Parents & Friends,

Here we are at the end of another busy and beautiful day. It was first day in a while that we haven’t had rain.  It did rain a bit on our paddlers in Dupont on Lake Julia but none here at camp.  Several cabins were again camping out tonight, cooking dinner over an open fire and it’s the perfect night for it.  Every cabin at camp goes on a campout regardless of age.  Our campout shelters are built up off the ground and are closed in on three sides with a shed roof.  All have campfire circles for cooking and hanging out around the campfire and several are close to or on the main creek (Carson Creek) that runs through camp.  It’s such a good experience for these children to camp out with their cabins.  For many of them it will be their first time and possibly first time cooking over a fire.  Meals are simple so please don’t think that they are cutting up vegetables and sautéing them or anything fancy.  It’s usually pan pizza, quesadillas or hot dogs.  Once they get to Mountainside and Riverside meals become a lot more sophisticated.

Today was our second day of Open Houses, 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 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 suggestions such as “Make the pool or lake warmer!” or “Serve dessert every day!” Today I visited 7th Heaven and everyone was having a great time so far at camp.  They are looking forward to their upcoming campout and really like their counselors.  Most of the guys are returners to camp and we also had a couple of first timers.  Changes those boys wanted was a new shower house.  Brookside girls got a new one a couple of years ago and it’s nice.  Could be time for the boys.

Speaking of desserts… we had banana pudding at dinner this evening.  That was on top of chicken breast, edamame beans, a vegetable medley, rice and fruit.  Our kitchen team continues to serve creative, crowd pleasing meals 3 times each day. For breakfast this morning we had blueberry muffins that melted in your mouth and everyone loved it.  That along with eggs, apple juice and a variety of cereals and yogurt hit the spot.  For lunch we had meatball sandwiches, salad, fruit and something else good that I can’t remember.

We had campers in trees this morning and making their way to the top of our two hemlock trees near the office.  I started our tree climbing program our first year here because camp didn’t own climbing gear and we hadn’t developed the “Rock”.  I used my own gear that first year and we’ve climbed those trees ever since that time.  It’s a different kind of climbing but is the same for teaching tying into the harness, belaying and learning all the commands.

In the world of Older Programs…….. Riverside returned from 4 days of climbing at Foster Falls, TN. They encountered some rain and spent their last day at Cedar Rock up in Pisgah National Forest.  You can actually see it from camp if you know what you’re looking for.  They still managed to climb at Foster Falls and loved swimming in the pool at the base of the falls. They were glad for warm showers back at camp this evening and they are looking forward to a few days on camp before they head out paddling on Monday. Mountainside groups went on their 3rd of 4 Mini-Adventures. Two groups were off camp paddling and pioneering in Dupont State Park while the other two groups climbed and mountain biked here on property. Before I came in to write this evening, I spent a little time with Mountainside out on the Gatehouse Green which has our wonderful view and looks out toward Pisgah.  Both girls cabin were all circled up and talking and both the boy’s cabins were playing a game called Ships and Sailors which at various times broke in Ships, Sailors and Wrestling.  Counselors were monitoring and it was all good.  I love this age and Mountainside is the right program for these folks.

Tomorrow is another day of opportunity, and after a full day like we’ve had, that camp bunk feels so good and I would say that most will sleep till  the bell tomorrow morning.  Good dreams had by all.  Stay tuned!