Playing, Growing and Learning

Dear Parents and Friends,

It’s been a most pleasant day here at camp.  We dodged some scattered showerss and the sun was in and out all day long.  Everyone had a productive day and the waterfront was a very busy place starting early in the morning, right up until dinner.  Campers zipped, swam, learned new strokes, played on the water mat, paddled, and rolled their kayaks.  It was a wet and wild day at the waterfront and the perfect day to be there.

Arborist climbing was going full steam this morning and I say full steam, because it takes some steam to get up the tree.  Unlike traditional climbing the climber ascends the tree using a special knot called a Blake’s Hitch.  It’s a member of the prussick family of knots that when weighted does not slide but when un-weighted it slides upward or downward quite easily.  By using your arms and legs you can ascend the rope and once you get it, the payback is speed.  It’s a very friendly way to climb a tree and doesn’t require spiking the tree like traditional lumber jacks still do in some parts of the world.  I won’t try and describe it any further and will shoot some video soon to put up on the site.  It’s quite satisfying to get to crook of the tree and rest on a huge poplar branch.  It’s a whole different world up there.

Those of you that have been to camp before know that we have a cabin called Shady Grove.  Well, we’ve turned Shady Grove into an Arts Building and it now houses 10 wonderful looms that you may see pictures of from today.  Some really beautiful weaving designs have come from those looms already in our first session and campers are beginning to plan their patterns as B Session gets underway.  Visit our Shady Grove cabin at closing and have a look around.  It’s a beautiful cabin and beautiful things are born there.

Fishing at the mill pond netted some results today as some campers caught their very first trout.  I’m sure we’ll catch enough fish this session to have a full GV meal; trout from the pond, cornbread from the Mill and cole slaw from the farm.  Can’t wait for that meal.  Waiting for a turn to throw a tomahawk at archery today was a treat.  Mark, who runs our archery program also is an expert at tomahawk throwing and brought several with him again this year.  The targets are small but very doable by those that have the arm strength to make the toss.  It’s primitive and fun.  What young boy or girl doesn’t want to try something that comes out of the past and is real and not on some screen.  Archery is one of those activities also and I think children sometimes find it harder than it looks.  It’s good for hand eye coordination as well as patience and timing.  Just imagine having to gather your food at camp with one of those weapons.  Now that is a whole different matter.

Part of the fun of camp is truly getting back to basics in our unplugged world that we refer to as the simple joys.  It’s all around us here at GV and we only have to take it by the hand and sometimes step out of comfort zone for a short time to experience what we can only imagine.  Or…take it by the reins and see if you can negotiate the turns required for weaving your horse in and out of the cones.  Special relationships with animals and getting close to them is a wonderland experience for many of our campers.  Your children may have only fed the family dog or cat and haven’t experienced the hungry calf that think they’re its mother as they inch closer with the giant bottle full of calf formula.  And then there’s always milking a goat or cow and the dexterity it takes to get that milk to hit the bottom of that bucket.  All this and more is part of playing outside, growing inside and learning by doing here at Gwynn Valley.  We’re playing, learning and growing every day and I’m always amazed at the satisfaction and wide eyed wonder coming from all those little faces.  I’m a lucky guy, along with my staff.

On a older note, Riverside is out on their second day of paddling and made a trip to the Green which is about an hour away.  They’re improving their skills each day and will head out again tomorrow and Wed. to ply the waters of our western NC rivers.  Stay tuned for more good news from GV!