The Majesty of Sunsets at Camp


One of my favorite daily rituals here at camp is rounding the corner on my way back to the office after Evening Program has wrapped up and seeing the sun set over the Gatehouse Green. The front range of the Blue Ridge Mountains dazzle with how many different hazy blues they can take on.  Scarlets, pinks, dark reds, and oranges are painted across thin clouds, occasionally a clear dark blue sky, or it barely peeks through big thick cotton ball clouds. Sometimes I’m greeted with misty mountains that are skirted with foggy, low-hanging clouds and a charcoal sky that boasts of rain to come or perhaps already has.  Oftentimes, the fireflies have come out to be chased, gently captured, and marveled at by campers and staff members alike.  I love this time of day– just past Golden Hour– because of the breath-taking variety that it holds.  No two sunsets at camp are alike.

I find that summers spent here in the valley mirror all of these fantastical sunsets; no two summers are exactly the same.  This dynamic place we all call home presents so many opportunities to grow and try new things.  Every year I get to lean into some new discomfort and, in so doing, learn something about myself along the way.  A new role to take on, interesting ideas to pique my interest, riddles and jokes to file away, skills to hone, and a whole new cast of friends to meet!  My horizons feel the most broadened during these often-too-short summer months.

Our campers have had no shortage of their own new experiences these past few days.  For one, today is International Day at camp!  An opportunity to celebrate a handful of the different cultures represented in our camp community.  Campers learned some Australian lingo at breaky, sampled a Chilean lemon pie dessert that happens to be Diego’s grandmother’s recipe…the secret ingredient is [redacted].  To close the night, our evening program consisted of an interactive story from Ukraine, Poland, and ‘Straya’-fied rendition of Goldielocks and the Three Koala Bears by the Performing Arts Discovery. 

Today our Mountainside campers also embarked on a journey of new learnings.  Early this morning they loaded up their gear and shipped off on their three-day long Adventures.  For many, this will be their first time overnight camping (hopefully their first of many)! They’ll spend the next three days exploring lakes, rivers, mountain peaks, valleys,  crags, nooks, and crannies as they hone their skills in canoeing, kayaking, climbing, mountain biking, or backpacking.

We’ve had plenty of new experiences these past few days on Main Camp as well!  Casting their thoughts into the not-so-distant future, our Brooksiders took part in a Mountainside Visit on Tuesday night.  We played big games on the Mountainside Green, talked about what Mountainside is, and had the chance to chat with or ask questions to current Mountainside campers. Hillside has the opportunity to partake in Twilight Play where campers experienced day time activities during Golden Hour. From horseback riding, to lake chill, even sunset archery!

Our Riversiders returned from their climbing adventure near Chattanooga, Tennessee yesterday.  Exploded gear and big smiles abounded as they cleaned dishes and got much needed showers.  There’s little rest for the weary; however, they’ve jumped right into paddling sessions on the Gwynn Valley lake.  They’ll be off and away on another grand adventure in just two days time!

Young Leaders have jumped straight into their session by learning about two important aspects of communication: feedback and decision making.  Getting to see them shadowing in program areas and helping at their tables speaks to what amazing future leaders of camp they will be!  Their time at camp is now coming full circle as they start to facilitate an experience much like the one they had as Main Camp campers.

Every day, just as its beautiful end, holds so many possibilities.  I’m looking forward to countless unique sunsets this summer at Gwynn Valley and all the new horizons our campers are going to explore!