Summer is in full bloom at GV!

Today was another later summer success! It was a beautiful, sunny, warm day. Best of all, the hydrangeas lining the path by the lake and the Green have finally reached full bloom status! These iconic GV flowers are always an end-of-summer treat; they make downtown GV an even more cheerful place! Lots of other flowers are in bloom around camp as well, and all this natural beauty helps contribute to the full sensory experience that campers have walking to and participating in activities around camp.

We kicked off the morning with our second round of B day morning discoveries. All of the activities were designed to help to further develop the skill set or project base established on the first day of morning discoveries. This morning as I walked through camp I caught up with a few of the groups and heard about what activities were going on. The Indian Bead Weavers set up shop in Shady Grove designing their own patterns and making bracelets using their own original patterns. I found the Batik-makers amongst the wax and dyes up in the Bong Tree, where they were busy laying a first layer of wax and dye on their scarves.  Potters could be seen working on hand building projects while campers took turns learning how to throw pots on the wheel. Mountain Bikers practiced the basics they learned on Tuesday as they cruised through camp on some of our trails. Climbers tested out their skills in the tall hemlock trees right by the office (I could hear them calling commands through my open window!). Down at the farm I saw campers harvesting potatoes and playing with the six-week old piglets who are now almost too big for the campers to pick up. It’s amazing how quickly those animals grow! Web of Life went out exploring and looking for critters in the creek this morning, and they found an adorable surprise that has moved into a container on the front porch of the dining hall. Our newly adopted baby snapping turtle is much too small to snap at anyone just yet, but we are enjoying watching him swim around a do little turtle things for the next couple of days until we will set him free in the creek once more.

For lunch today we had tacos, a definite crowd pleaser and one of my favorite meals here at camp. I love tacos for a couple of reasons. First of all, there are so many options that everyone can find a healthy combination of items that leave them feeling full. Second of all, this is one of the few meals where campers are able to serve themselves for the majority of the meal. We eat family style in the dining hall and it is the counselor’s responsibility to serve the drinks and the main dishes, in this case taco shells, rice, beans, and ground beef. However, the campers are allowed to self-serve any extras or toppings, which for tacos is nearly half the meal: sour cream, shredded cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, onions, salsa. The self-serve aspect really gives the campers a sense of empowerment and ownership in the meal. Last but not least, I love this meal because all the prep time for each taco seems to lengthen the meal, allowing more time for conversation at the table. In a world where most meals are rushed because of busy school schedules, limited cafeteria space, and busy evenings and weekends full of extracurricular activities, it is such a blessing for these kids to experience unrushed and unstructured conversation around a dining room table. The table groups that we keep all week are really like another family unit here at camp, and I truly cherish the time I spend getting to know my new table each week.

The afternoon passed in a blur of activity as it often does. After lunch campers sang in the lodge, chose their afternoon activities, had rest hour in the cabins, followed through on those afternoon activity choices, and finally found themselves at another meal time. Tonight was another big campout night here at Gwynn Valley — 10 of our cabins camped out on Tuesday and the other half are camping out tonight. Each cabin group will stay at one of the many campout shelters spread out around camp. Each location has it’s own fire ring and it’s own secluded feeling. Each campout group cooks a delicious dish such as macaroni & cheese, quesadillas, hot dogs or pizzas over an open fire. Most of the time there is a dessert involved as well — smore’s, banana boats, dutch oven cakes…. the fanciness of  the dessert all depends on the skill level of the cabin counselors!  Those left in camp had a very GV meal: fish caught at the Mill, macaroni & cheese, cabbage from the farm, salad, and some fresh baked bread. Not to be outdone by the campout desserts, the kitchen made chocolate pie for each table in the dining hall. We don’t have dessert every meal, so the campers don’t expect it, but they sure do love having a little something sweet after dinner!

For those not camping out, tonight’s campfire was a night of Mountain Dancing and Tajar Tales since this group missed out on Tuesday night . Grant called the Mountain Dancing tonight and boy was it a blast! Campers are sometimes timid or embarrassed at first, especially when boys partner up with girls, but as they learn the dances and the energy of the counselors catches on, all apprehension melts away in bursts of laughter and giggles. We wrapped up the evening with RB reading and acting out a few of his favorite Tajar Tales, which helped settle the campers after all that dancing. Everyone is now back in cabins getting ready for bed and awaiting the serenaders who will come sing a bedtime song to each cabin, letting them know that it’s time to turn out the lights and get a little shut eye before tomorrow’s excitement begins.