Dear Parents and Friends,
I’m sure that many of you have been following the weather and the tropical depression southeast of us as it makes its way toward the mountains. Believe it or not, we haven’t had that much rain. We’re scheduled to get some thunder storms later this evening and by now most of our campers are off to zzzland. Tomorrow will be cloudy but the rain won’t come again till late evening, so our day will be cool with sprinkles like we had today. Blacksmithing has been a cool activity for those who are working with hot metals. They are set up in a shelter we call Dancing Dreams which is right next to a small creek and surrounded by trees and rhododendron. Scotty and Pat are teaching Blacksmithing this year and they have 6 campers per activity period. Scotty is only here for B session this summer, so Pat will take over for the rest of the summer. It’s nice to have an activity that is so primitive in its origins. It certainly harkens way back before even the Mill was built in 1890. I’m sure there was a blacksmith involved in helping to create many of the metal parts that the Mill used. The camper’s who took the morning Discovery are working toward more than one project while those that sign-up for the afternoons are getting a project done in an hour. It’s been a great activity again this year and everyone loves it. I suppose the down side is that you have to be 10 and up. I’m sure you’ve seen some of the photos over the past few days. Scotty uses a propane furnace to heat the metal instead of coke or coal. It burns much cleaner and hotter and you don’t breath the smoke from the aforementioned. The campers have made a variety of things to use and wear – Candleholders to hooks for the wall.
Another sort of primitive activity that compliments the farm is our Mill. Zeke is running our Mill this year and is cooking daily as well as making ice cream and of course milling – producing corn meal and grits for our kitchen.
Tonight we celebrated one of our International days and focused on Australia. Dude, that Australian current swept through camp all day long and we all jumped in. We have about 7 or 8 staff from that part of the world and they did a wonderful job of introducing us to their country all day long. Meals and activities had an Ozzie, Ozzie, Ozzie focus throughout the day. This evening at campfire there were skits about Finding Nemo as well as some characters like Steve Irwin who showed up to locate some rare GV fossils and living specimens. My favorite Nemo clip!
Mountainside started their adventure rotations today where they were trying 2 of 4 different adventure activities they could choose to end on in their session. They were climbing, paddling, hiking and biking all day long. They will rotate groups again tomorrow and afterward will prepare for their adventures coming up on Monday. We’re looking at better weather next week while they are out in the field.
Our staff are our greatest asset with the exception of your children. We do our best to partner with you to make camp an extension of your home and the ideals you want to set for your children while here. The “Golden Rule” reigns at camp for both staff and campers. Treating everyone with kindness and patience will show compassion. Our hope is that campers will model this behavior on their own. Politeness and manners in our culture are important when so many people interact on a daily basis. Less and less of our culture communicates person to person with one another, so it’s important that building relationships is key in our camp life. Camp is a great place to extend the hand of civility with one another and it pays off.
Our staff unplug in the presence of campers and during the activity times when children are around. Electronic devices cannot be used in the cabin and only have restricted use in 2 locations in camp – the staff living room and the welcome hut. You will not see a counselor talking on their cell phone as they stroll through camp. Children need to see that their counselors are not dominated by electronic devices but are users of other equipment at camp like bikes, pottery wheels, carabiners, horse reins, bows, and a gentle touch given to a baby farm animal.
We work hard in an ongoing fashion to make sure that staff are doing a good job with campers. We start preparing by sending our staff value based messages in preparation for entering our child oriented world early in the Spring. When staff training comes in late May, we re-emphasize the importance of the simple joys of childhood and why their role as a camp counselor is so important. In the end I see that children really remember their counselors more than anything else at camp. They may have had fun on the climbing wall but it was that counselor who talked them through the difficult section and praised their resilience for getting to the top. We strive to partner with you to create lasting memories here at Gwynn Valley. Stay tuned!