The Tajar’s Birthday!

Dear Parents & Friends,

Tajar Ball has come to an end here at GV and it was total fun had by all involved.  Of course this day starts as we celebrate the Tajar’s birthday and of course he has to make his presence known by creating organized chaos on the Green and in the Dining Room this morning.  Debbie was on the roof, two SIT’s were asleep in kayaks on the lake, the dining room was toilet papered and assorted boats, targets, cups, kayaks and other camp paraphernalia were scattered hither and thither.  He must stay up all night to do this and I’m sure sleeps in late while everyone else is marveling at his wacky creations. This friends, is just the beginning to a grand birthday ball that begins just before our dinner hour.  More on the ball later!

After breakfast this morning we went right over to morning sign-ups to jump right into program after going back to cabins, brushing teeth, and getting ready for the day.  There were some wonderful activities going on this morning.  Several hikes were leaving downtown GV to go to the Rock and to Connestee Falls.  Both of these hikes are about 20 to 30 minute hikes here on our property.  There are lots of trails on camp, some more pronounced than others.  Some you could classify as game trails and others were created many years ago for access to the upper reaches of our land.  You don’t see too much game in the summer because of our numbers and it’s hard to hike anywhere in silence.  After the campers leave in late summer our critters start to come back as things settle down for them. Usually during the winter we see lots of deer, fox, turkey, and the occasional bear and bobcat and assorted small critters like rackity coons, opossum, and lots of rabbits.  We hear, but don’t see coyotes in the winter.  They are very shy.  There’s even an old small gauge railroad bed that’s near the top of the property.  I’m sure it was put in for logging way back in the 20’s and most of it has disappeared and overgrown.

Of course on any hot day the waterfront is buzzing and everyone wants to stay cool and that goes for the pool also.  Our pool is one of few camp pools in Western NC and it was built back in the 40’s.  One of our first projects after buying camp was to upgrade the pool and it’s so nice to have on days when you need to separate boaters and swimmers in two different locations.  There are times when the pool is very busy like opening and closing day.  Tomorrow everyone on Main Camp will make a visit to the pool for pillowcase day.  There’s hardly any camper that hasn’t tried the zip line over the lake and the traverse line.  The zip is pretty straight forward and that’s where it ends.  The traverse line is very difficult and we’ve only had two campers make it all the way across this whole summer.  Ask your campers about it on closing day.   That’s only two days away!  Can we keep them another week?  It’s been a great group!

So.. Tajar Ball started tonight with everyone in costume and of course no one knows who the Tajar is, because he is in costume too.  There’s a giant cookout with all the burgers and hot dogs you can eat plus lettuce, tomato, onions, homemade relish, potato chips, watermelon, cole slaw, and lemonade.  That’s just dinner and once the Ball starts there’s cookies, snow cones, popcorn (grown here at camp), and of course everyone’s favorite – ice cream and a multitude of flavors made at the Mill (no store bought ice cream at GV).  Along with food there was the Strongman Ring the Bell Challenge, Tin Can Toss, Guess the number of M&M’s in the water bottle, Football Thrown, Soccer Shootout, Cup and Ping Pong Ball Trickery, Face Painting, Balloon Critters, and more, plus the Giant Water Slide.  Cold water, but fun and exhilarating.  The Ball lasts for over an hour and everyone’s usually full of food and tuckered out by the time we end things about 8:20.  After a full day of activities it’s a good way to end our last regular day of camp.  Tomorrow morning we have morning sign-ups and then packing and pillowcase day in the PM.

As we wind down the session I want to let you parents know about a survey you will receive in the next couple of weeks.  It’s an evaluation sent to you by the camp and Clemson University.  We’re participating in a summer outcomes study that will provide valuable information and meaning to the work we do.  I’m on the North Carolina Youth Camps Board (NCYCA) and we’re an organization that has performed an economic impact study here in our region as well as lobbyed hard to keep our summers for camp and mostly to keep up to date on legislation that affects our industry.  I sincerely hope you will take the time to respond to this valuable tool.  This provides us with feedback to help make our program better.  We appreciate you taking the time to help us keep Gwynn Valley an outstanding program.  It’s been a great session and a great group of children.  Stay tuned for there is more ahead!