Soaking up sunshine, playing hard, and eating well!

Dear Gwynn Valley Friends and Families,

I’m not sure what the weather was like where you’re reading, but today at camp it was gorgeous. The blue skies and sunshine were just right for all the fun things we love to do outside! The waterfront was very popular at sign ups this afternoon with a tubing trip on a nearby section of the French Broad River and lots of activities on the lake front. Nature and Kayaking did a very popular cross-over activity where campers kayaked around the edge of the lake looking for frogs in all stages of life. Natalie, our kayaking instructor, taught campers about boat safety and basic strokes. Darcy, our Camping Skills + Nature (CSN) instructor, helped campers find signs of frog life and identify the frog that those eggs or tadpoles might eventually become. Pottery and Mill also did a fun cross over activity called ‘Slip and S’cream’ which involved campers covering themselves in slip, going for a swim in the lake, and finishing up the afternoon by making ice cream at the mill. There were of course normal waterfront activities going on as well including the rope swing, traverse line, and free swim. Riverside was out on the lake as well getting in some practice for their upcoming canoeing adventure. The RS group will take on their first river – the French Broad – with a day trip tomorrow. Riverside is out of camp 4/7 days each week, and we cherish the days were they get to play on camp with the rest of our community. It so wonderful to have everyone together at meal times and in activities around camp!

Today was the last day of Main Camp Discoveries, meaning that campers will have more opportunities to choose their activities each day at both AM and PM sign up times. Many campers will leave camp for day trips in climbing, biking, kayaking or camping skills and nature. All campers going on trips participated in the related Discovery this past week; the trip marks a culmination of their learning in that activity and is often a session highlight for those campers who love adventure sports. There will be other capstone experiences for campers who were in activities such as the Fine Arts play on Monday night, horseback riding excursions on the Hunt Farm across the road, advanced crafts sign ups, and so much more! There will also be many, many opportunities to try out or revisit all of the standard activities we have to offer around camp like blacksmithing, pottery, archery, sports, waterfront, climbing, biking, fine arts, farm, mill, etc.

Speaking of the farm and mill, we had an incredible dinner tonight thanks largely to those 2 program areas as well as our very talented kitchen team! The menu included: pulled pork which had been slow roasted since the day before, 2 types of homemade BBQ sauce, coleslaw made from farm veggies, corn bread made using corn meal ground at the mill from white corn grown at the farm, fresh sweet corn picked this morning at the farm and shucked by campers after lunch, tomato + cucumber salad made from farm veggies, and baked beans to round out the menu. Every item on the table except for the baked beans was made from scratch in our kitchen. We are beyond lucky to eat this well and so grateful for the culinary team who works hard everyday to deliver delicious and nutritious meals to our dining room tables 3 times each day.

After dinner, we had a lot of different activities going on that were split by age group. Hillside went to the Lodge where Lauren and Debbie led the group in traditional mountain dances that had everyone laughing and sweating and ready for bed when the night was over. Brookside went to visit Mountainside and learn more about this older program area. After a few games, campers broke up into small groups with a few campers and counselors from each program area to help younger campers uncover some of the mysteries of Mountainside. As I visited different groups, I heard great conversations and peer mentorship happening all over the Mountainside green. Riverside was engaging in an evening of Random Acts of Kindness, following our celebration of National Camp Kindness Day of July 24. The RS group was out climbing on this day and so decided to celebrate this evening by leaving notes of gratitude and appreciation for all of our support staff to find at breakfast tomorrow morning. Young Leaders were helping Scott decorate the dining hall for Special Day tomorrow. By 9:30 this evening, our central gathering space had been transformed into a pirate ship! I can’t wait to see campers faces when they enter this space tomorrow at breakfast and the theme for the day is revealed.

There are many more surprised in store for campers tomorrow, but I won’t spoil any of those now. Tune in tomorrow to hear about the adventures of Special Day!