Opening Day Summer 2016 A – Session!

Dear Parents and Friends,

What a day at GV!  Opening day for the summer was hot but wonderful.  I just returned from Mountainside’s campfire and Anne just returned from Main Camp’s campfire.  Maggie, our assistant director had dinner with Riverside as we tried to cover all the bases of our program.  Our Young Leaders program is winding down in the Gatehouse Field just outside my office.  The silhouette of the mountains is a reminder of our long days here at camp that are full of wonder, discovery, new challenges and the many chances to expand ones world while here.

Our first day is full and we don’t waste any time getting into program after lunch.  Campers came to the Lodge just after lunch to sing and learn about all the program offerings available.  After many activity skits there was some time to reflect on what they wanted to sign up for.  They chose six activities and will end up with four for the week ahead.   These are called Discovery’s and you will have two each morning every other day.  In the afternoon campers chose each day what they would like to tackle in the PM.  The choices are endless and each day there are different offerings.

We spent time today getting swim assessments and going to several staple activities here at camp.  Among those open were the Mill, Sports, Fine Arts, Tie-Dye, Climbing, Crafts, Pottery, Horses, Camping Skills and Nature, Lake Fun, and of course The Farm.  There was little time to think about home and surrounded by lots of new friends, campers were full on engaged with staff and program.  With our full day and travel to get here, most if not all are well on their way to dreamland.

I want to thank you all for sending us this group of great campers.  We’re excited to have them and know that camp does a world of good for children.  I was talking to a parent today about the benefits of being outdoors.  There is so much conclusive evidence that learning in the outdoor environment is so good for children and most of us.  Sending a child to summer camp is good for children’s brains and promotes independence, confidence, friendship-building, resilience, character and grit, according to Dr. Tina Payne Bryson, co-author of “The Whole-Brain Child”.  As electronic devices become a greater part of our lives, the need for fresh air and play is increasingly important.  In the book, “The Second Machine Age” MIT’s Eirk Brynjolfsson points out that technology is replacing skills now as children are spending more and more time with screens.  Creativity and innovation are becoming competitive advantages in a machine-oriented world, because machines can’t be creative themselves.  I feel that camp provides that “unplug to truly connect” to one another, our natural world and a sense of self away from parents and the culture of abundance.  At GV we emphasize the “simple joys” of childhood, we honor unstructured free play and time for the creative and imaginative mind to roam free.

I supervised and watched a group of young boys tonight try out our new “Swurfer” swing here at camp.  It’s a swing you stand on and it’s very different from regular swings because it can “swurf” in circles and swings to the side instead front to back.  For most, it was a new discovery and required different physical ways to adapt.  All did well with their new challenge as it required balance, a little daring and some strength to hold on to the large wooden dowels adjustable for all sizes.  Camp offers new experiences every day and really stretches our bodies and our brains.  Activities cause collaboration of the two that we don’t often get in the classroom and certainly not with most screen time.

At camp tomorrow always holds more.  It’s kind of akin to exploring the nooks and crannies of life at our feet and all around us – that web of life.  Touch a part of it and it opens like a book to reveal more and more.  And.. of course this is guided by a staff that is just beginning this process for the summer.  We feel we have prepared them well and as I roamed activities this afternoon, I could see the evidence of almost two weeks of staff training for many of them.  As we ended our campfire the night before you all arrived, I told our staff (borrowing from some Dr. Suess), “…….so today you are you, that is truer than true and tomorrow you’ll rise up because they’re knocking on your door of knowledge, skills, nurture, patience, and more.  Lifeleading and lifeguarding, assisting, plying the whitewaters of life using the eddy’s of safety and the rapids of excitement and challenge; you are the archer and bow shooting the camper arrow toward their bullseye experience here at camp.

We’re aiming high and look forward to the days ahead as we get to know your children.  Thanks again for sharing them and stay tuned!