Rolling On the River!

Dear Parents & Friends,

I’m back at camp after a great day on the river with Mountainside.  I left camp this morning about 8:30 and met them in a little town called Dillsboro where the Tuck Gorge starts.  It’s about a 4 ½ mile trip with consistent whitewater the whole way.  The group is camped just outside a portion of Dupont State Forest.  It’s a great place to camp because it’s public but only one group is there at a time.  The gate stays locked and it’s nestled in a pine and hardwood forest not that far from Gwynn Valley.  They spend their nights there and drive to the river each day.  Today was spent on the Tuckaseegee.

I am the designated video boater who goes first and catches everyone coming through the major rapids or as I tell the campers, they are on GVTV.  They did a great job and will be heading back to the Tuck tomorrow to build on those skills they learned today.  There are so many eddies to go for and special places that challenge you and are fun.  Robert, camp’s instructor does a great job with the campers.  He’s been with us about 6 years and is a professor in the Wilderness Education Dept. here at Brevard College.  Today was a progression to bigger water, more pushy and a wider river.  The campers did flip drills so that everyone has their self-rescue down if they go over.  They also practiced a lot of peel outs, S turns, and hitting eddy’s.  They are well prepared and should do a great job tomorrow.  This group worked very hard today and will reap the benefits of this tomorrow.  Besides learning about the river, strokes, and maneuvers, the campers had fun swimming and jumping in fast moving water.  This is all under the guise of getting everyone familiar with fast water and how to properly handle yourself in that water.  They jumped off railroad rock which only sticks about a foot out of the current but you are trying to ferry your body to the other side of the river (about 25 feet).  It’s fast, bubbly and refreshing and it’s a confidence booster.  The campers also took advantage of JUMP rock on river about 2/3 of way down today.  It’s about a 15 foot rock that is easily climbed and then drops straight into the water.  There’s plenty of depth and it’s fun to jump in two’s and three’s. Everyone went at least 4 or 5 times today.

Back at Main Camp it didn’t rain all day and was sunny and beautiful.  Tonight we hosted a quintet of musicians who live locally and all started playing bluegrass music when they were very young.  The Creekside Crawfish are 10, 11, 13, 14 and 15 years old.  Anne and I bid on them at a local fundraiser last winter and we were lucky to get them here.  The campers danced and had a grand time.  We have a young musicians mentoring program here in our town that goes into the schools and local Boys and Girls Club to teach children guitar, bass, fiddle, banjo, and mandolin.  It’s been a worthwhile endeavor and these kids are just a few that have come through the program.

All adventures get back tomorrow including Riverside.  We will be ready to welcome them back into camp and hear all the wonderful stories they’ll have about their adventures.  At camp, they experience fresh air, exercise, a balance between routine and unstructured time, and all the good food their bodies need. Over the past several days they’ve also experienced some mountain weather from cool rainy days to sun sweating afternoons like today.  Not that s’mores don’t have a place at the campfire, but a good camp experience is also about helping children find healthy lifestyles. Counselor’s care certainly includes  a child’s physical health, bringing out the camper’s best by encouraging manageable amounts of challenge and conveying to the camper a belief in the child’s physical capacity to cope with the challenges before them. That’s important for children’s long-term physical development. We were certainly doing that today.  Small doses of running challenging rapids and trying new moves in the boats were all a part of our day on the river.  You could tell at the end of the day this group was more confident and more skilled than even the day before.  Camp is all about learning, gaining an appreciation of your surroundings, and is truly fun.  That kicks off again tomorrow morning and everyday here at GV.  Stay tuned!