Playing Outside and Growing Inside

Dear Parents & Friends,

What a beautiful day! We have a song we sing at camp that’s one of my favorites called “It’s a Beautiful Day”, and it certainly lived up to it today. It was our last full day of programming and we were all over the camp map going to the 4 points of the compass. You’ll notice that our camp T-shirts this year were designed with a compass rose on the back and front. It reads, playing outside and growing inside. Today was one of those cotton candy cloud days. The temperature was just right, no rain and everyone had a great day. Our campers went tubing, creek hiking, biking, swimming, sporting, horseback riding, played capture the flag, kayaked, hiked, ran, jumped, and last but not least ate. And those were just the outdoor activities and we did eat outside tonight for dinner. The Tajar Ball was tonight and there were characters from every conceivable description. I’ve never seen so many wild costumes and it was a very festive atmosphere. We had burgers and hot dogs with roasted potatoes, potato salad, lemonade and ice cream. After the picnic there was a carnival on the soccer field with all kinds of games: soccer shootout, fortune telling, face painting, penny drop, sponge throw (at counselors), M&M Guestimate, can throw, frisbee throw, frisbee golf, fidget ladder, a hay ride and the bell ringer. There was popcorn, cookies and as mentioned ice cream. We played and played until almost dark and slowly made our way to the cabins for a very sound sleep tonight. I know there will be some tired puppy’s tomorrow morning. If your camper comes home and wants to just sleep it’s not because they stay up too late; it’s because we go all day long and into the evening. It’s quite a pace and it’s like riding a giant wave.

A hundred years ago, more homes were in villages or cabins in the woods. People were surrounded by wide-open spaces with green as far as the eye could see. That is not the case now, the “village” has changed. For generations, children grew up outside. They walked to school, rode their bikes, and walked barefoot through the grass. Childhood was characterized by innocence, imagination, wonder, and laughter (those are a constant at GV). Being inside all day was torturous. With kids in general, spending more time indoors and plugged into some kind of electronic medium, camp is a must do experience. I think that exercise and fitness is slowly creeping back into our lives as we learn more about how to manage what we eat. In our small town of Brevard, Crossfit has become very popular which is overall fitness where you do exercises that related to the work we used to do and adding the aerobic element. According to Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, “Nature enhances children’s senses and makes them more confident in more settings. When nature and play go hand in hand, they have a profound impact on the health and development of children on the road to adulthood.” And some of that play needs to be unstructured. We have a very structured day here at camp and it was really nice to see the campers just wander from one activity to another and play along the way. We also have that time in the evening after supper. Children really need unstructured and active play.

Camp is the prescription that every child should be on. I only wish we could get every child in some kind of camp because there’s a camp out there for everyone. We are fortunate to live in a country that has so many opportunities for children. Camp is one of those and one that I totally believe in. It’s real and it teaches real skills, life skills that make for great adults. This session has been a good one and we will hate to see this group of your children leave us. But wait, there’s more as the song goes (ask your child). Tomorrow is a brand new day and GV is place of opportunity. By the way, we welcome all our outdoor groups back to camp today. Riverside and Mountainside returned from their adventures with tales to tell and bent on taking a shower after several days of playing outside and growing inside. Stay tuned!