Shining Into C Session

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Dear Parents & Friends,

As we head right into the middle of our summer, many thanks for dropping off your children; those returning campers as well as those who will experience Gwynn Valley for the first time. I love Opening Day and seeing the changes in campers that have occurred since last year. Many have experienced a growth spurt, have braces, changed their hair or just carry a new “air” about them.  One of our camp values is acceptance and we acknowledge the fact that we come from many places and have a lot to share and learn about one another.  What better place to do that than camp and especially Gwynn Valley.  Friendships made at camp can last a lifetime and we see the result of that in campers and staff who have bonded and returned from previous summers. 

We make it a priority to incorporate our first-time campers into the GV family.  It doesn’t take long and already I’m seeing friendships being formed at lunch!  Campers are met with a busy, fun filled schedule on the first day of camp, with not much time to think about missing home or how their daily life looks a bit different here. Activities were slightly delayed today because of a thunderstorm that popped up about lunchtime.  (Our Farm Garden, grass, and all manner of flora needed the shower today.  We received no rain during Session B so it’s been very hot and dry. Corn incoming!)  

Campers signed up for Discoveries today.  These are skill-based activities that take place each morning for two one-hour periods.  They prioritize 8 choices of activities and are assigned 4 final choices for an every-other-day schedule. The Afternoon Sign Ups happen every day for either two one-hour activities or one two-hour period.  The two hours provide a chance to go on a long hike, bike longer, visit The Rock, go to the Farm, or other extended experiences. Swim assessments are another part of our Opening Day ritual which helps to measure a campers safety and comfortability in the water, on the lake, at Connestee falls or in the pool. Tonight’s dinner was our traditional Spaghetti Bolognese, Caprese Salad, homegrown Broccoli, Parmesan Cheese, and the GIANT CHOCOLATE  CHIP COOKIE with “Welcome to GV” written in piped chocolate frosting.  Tomorrow at lunch we will move campers and staff to new tables which allows for unfamiliar faces to become frequent friends. Friendships are cultivated in cabins, program activities, tables, and general free play time. We gain a sense of belonging in many groups and ages of people highlighting GV’s inclusive atmosphere.

ASA’s (after supper activities) is free time for campers to choose one activity after dinner. This changes each evening and a variety is offered each night.  Usually, there’s a ball game or two of some sort, Games on the Green, some kind of arts & crafts, storytelling, and any number of other activities.  Campfire for Main Camp ensues after ASA’s and it’s our time to assemble as a camp other than meals.  Mountainside and Riverside sometimes do their own thing after dinner each night;  team building, songs in the Shelter or Games on the Mountainside Green.   Mountainside starts their Mini-Adventures tomorrow and over the next several days, each camper will experience all five adventure activities- mountain biking, kayaking/whitewater canoeing, expedition canoeing, climbing, and backpacking. Riverside will head out for their climbing adventure tomorrow at Foster Falls, Tennessee. 

In greeting parents, grandparents, and friends today I took note of many families talking about the following:

  • Camp provides a solid sense of independence 
  • This is my child’s happy place
  • Living in a screen-free environment 
  • New and different environment from home, school, and friends 

I would agree with these and more.  Each of these represents the growth that can take place here at camp.  Last night at our staff campfire, I mentioned a quote from Maya Angelou, “Nothing can dim the light that shines from within”.  You have delivered many little shining stars, and it is our task to make these lights shine brightly. Here at camp, we create a sense of awe and wonder as we explore the depths of our humanness in adventurous and fun ways.  We maximize our time outdoors, play hard, learn, eat well, and get good rest. In the words of Earth, Wind & Fire:

You’re a shining star, 

No matter who you are, 

Shining bright to see, 

What you could truly be!

Stay Tuned!