Tajar Ball!

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What a day!  Tajar Ball has just ended and the sun has just gone behind our beautiful mountains.  On nights like this, I know why they call it the Blue Ridge.  It’s also been our hottest day of the summer with temps approaching 91.  More of the same is forecast for tomorrow.  I was one of the lucky ones today because I got to spend the whole day with the Mountainside paddlers.  More on that later.  Mountainside began their training days today for their upcoming adventures which begin on Monday.  Riverside will begin the backpacking adventure on that same day.  They will head to the Nantahala tomorrow for the final day of their paddling adventure.  

For those of you with children in Main Camp, their session will end on Friday and I’m said to see them go.  Everyone was having a blast at the ball tonight with many carnival-like games going in several parts of camp.  Besides our normal cookout complete with burgers and dogs plus all the trimmings, there were cookies and ice cream at the Ball.  Everyone will be have had a full day.  I will also be leading a canoe trip tomorrow for several of the boys in Chestnut Hollow and girls from Running River and FireFly Cove.  I’m very proud of these youngsters as they have worked really hard on their lake to river strokes here at camp and their final challenge will be Section 0 of the French Broad.  The FB at that point drops a fair amount as it leaves the tiny town of Rosman where we put on the river.  There are several good rapids and the chance to get out on some Class 1 and 2 water for the folks who have spent time practicing on the lake.  I hope they will have stories to tell when you see them on Friday.  It will be a half-day trip but one that will both challenge and be fun at the same.  With the weather so warm we will surely spend some time learning how to swim in whitewater as well as practicing some canoe moves like ferrying, peel outs and eddy turns.  They will go to the same part of the river that Mountainside paddled today.  

The Mountainsiders started a little slowly today but quickly caught on to the river and its antics.  They’ve only spent a couple of days paddling together so they did pretty well.  They will have another day on Friday to get their sea legs before the adventure.  

I love camp and sometimes for the simplest of experiences. Last night while at after supper activities, I had a couple of boys from Primavera who just didn’t want to take part in any of the after-supper games.  They were tired from a full day and the warm weather.  So, I said we’ll just go back behind the Lodge and you two can just chill in the shade of our giant Hemlocks and the beginning of the Forget Me Not springhead which runs into the Lake.  Before health laws, it was a spring that had a rack of cups nearby where campers could dip their cups into the spring and enjoy a cold drink on a hot day.  This area is a stone’s throw from the soccer field, Thunderball court, volleyball, and literally downtown GV.  We sat awhile and I asked them how their fire building skills were.  I just happened to have a pack of matches on me so we started to search for some kindling and realized a lot of the wood was wet.  The white pine that has stood stately over the basketball court is slowly dying and will need to be removed next year.  When pines are stressed they tend to put out a lot of sap and resin.  We went over and gathered some resin and took a small ball of it to help start our fire.  There were a few dry sticks and the pine resin was our catalyst to warm and dry the wood as it burned.  I asked them if they had ever lit a match and both said yes.  These are the paper matches in a book so they’re not the easiest to get going and keep going.  I showed them several ways to light the matches and they started the pine sap which gave some life to the wet small sticks.  It was a smokey fire that attracted the attention of their friends and cabin mates.  I soon had most of their cabin there all wanting to add wood, blow on the fire and keep it going.  They needed this exercise and being able to gather wood and get that small fire going was good, it was fun and it fulfilled that primitive urge in young boys and much older boys like me.  It was the highlight of my day and I got to spend quality time with several youngsters that otherwise, I would have only eaten at their table a couple of times.  

This is what camp is all about.  Unstructured free play with of course supervision should be offered up every day in their lives.  Times like last evening, produces challenge, creative thinking, confidence, and a sense of accomplishment.  It also turns “I can’t” into “I can”.  We call these times the simple joys of GV.  That’s what I love about camp.  Those “simple joys” are “Camp loving you back”.  Stay tuned!