Setting Sun and Rising Moon Over Oz!

Dear Parents & Friends,

Here we are at the end of another beautiful and action packed day at Gwynn Valley! Main Camp is getting into a rhythm again as C2 campers settle into the flow of camp. We are into our second A day of discoveries, which means that campers went to their A day program areas for their 2nd of 3 instructional periods. As I walked around this morning, I heard and saw so many moments of excellent instruction from our program leaders and quite a few ‘lightbulb’ moments with our campers.  Activities bring forth challenges and fun.  Struggling with wet exits was a conversation at our table today as we talked at lunch.  For those of you who don’t know, paddlers are secured into white water kayaks with something called a skirt. Before we allow campers to even practice paddle skills on the lake, we make sure they are comfortable with exiting their boat in case they flip over. Even for adults, this can be an anxiety inducing situation because even though it’s easy to get out, the process defies your natural instincts of how to get your head above water. We start off with a wet exit without a skirt and work toward an exit with the skirt on.  It’s challenging for most campers, but most rise to occasion.

Our Mountainside and Riverside campers are heading out tomorrow for four days in the field. The Mountainside climbers will be heading to Linville Gorge where they will climb at a wide range of sites that area has to offer. The Mountainside bikers will head into Dupont, where there will have access to more single track miles than they can cover in 4 days. The Mountainside paddlers will head for the Lower Green and from there to the Tuckaseegee. The Mountainside pioneers will be heading out into Pisgah for 4 days of hiking along many of the trails that trace our backyard range.  Riverside will be heading out for their backpacking adventure also in Pisgah with lots of ascending and descending, but the amazing views make it worth their while!

The 4 day Adventures are truly the pinnacle experience on Mountainside and Riverside, as they are marked by a level of personal growth and community strengthening that we don’t see gained as readily through other parts of the program. The true growth that we witness in these campers cannot be summed up by the number of miles they rode or the rated class rapid that they paddled down. Rather, the growth can be seen in their ability to go beyond what they feel they are capable of and if they fail, pick themselves up and try again. The great thing about this is that we emphasize “challenge by choice” and encourage them to take the high road to excellence.  There’s a lot of power when you have others to help you along who are supporting you in reaching the crux of climb, bike, paddle and hike.   I was just out on the Gatehouse Green videoing Mountainside as they were participating in their adventure sendoff’s and spending time together one more time before they’re upcoming departure.   It was idyllic as a beautiful sun set on one side and the moon appeared over the tree tops just opposite the sun.

Of course, adventure and challenge look really different to each individual, which is part of the beauty of being a camper at Gwynn Valley. Given all our different programs and activity areas, campers have the opportunity to choose how they want to challenge themselves each day. Adventure does not always mean climbing, paddling, biking or hiking. Sometimes adventure means signing up for an activity that you’ve never tried before. Sometimes adventure means milking a goat or feeding a baby calf, especially when you are an Echo camper and the calf is bigger than you! Sometimes adventure means getting up on stage in front of the rest of camp and sharing a talent. Speaking of which… our Fine Arts group put on The Wizard of Oz tonight.  Many were involved in this ageless story and you could tell that the crowd was into it.  At certain intervals you could have heard a pin drop.  I’ve always loved the Oz story and it brought me back to watching it with my children.  Our production wasn’t quite the same but the feeling and storyline was there.

Tomorrow is Special Day at Gwynn Valley, which means the whole day centers around a theme. It looks as though our theme will be Camp Olympics.  Some events will be silly and some not no silly, but fun.  A few leadership team members have been actively planning all of tomorrow’s events in secret. Part of the fun of Special Day is that you don’t find out the theme or activities until breakfast that day. Many campers were guessing what the theme might be over dinner as they discussed ‘best Special Days’ from years past. We’ll just have to wait and see what is revealed over breakfast tomorrow morning!! Until then… stay tuned!

PS  Here’s a short video put together just today!  Enjoy!

Early C, C-2 Highlights