The Tajar’s Birthday!

Today happens to be a very special day at Gwynn Valley. It’s the Tajar’s birthday! No one knows for sure how old the Tajar is, but he has been around Gwynn Valley for a long, long time. For those of you who haven’t heard about him yet… The Tajar is part tiger, part jaguar, and part badger. The Tajar is a very curious creature who lives in an old tree somewhere near camp. He is really a very nice guy, always willing to listen to a story or help carry firewood or do anything you ask. But sometimes when the moon is just right or it happens to be his birthday… the Tajar can become full of folly! Today was one of those days. On their way to the dining hall this morning, campers discovered a kayak on the green, canoe paddles spelling “TAJAR” on the Green, yellow waterfront tubes all over the green, and too many little bits of folly to count! I saw many wide eyes and astonished camper faces walking to the dining hall this morning and plenty of giggles. After breakfast all the non-cabin staff set camp right again and we carried on with morning activities and a mostly normal day.

What a beautiful day it was at Gwynn Valley! Although we had a few rain showers after lunch and during dinner, we enjoyed another sunny, warm, beautiful day at camp. Even with the rain, all of our activities were in full swing. Most activities carry on unless there is a threat of thunder and lightning. Many places around camp have ‘natural umbrellas’ like the hemlock trees where our climbers ascend to the very top and the many leafy trees that shade our creeks where the Camping Skills and Nature group were searching for salamanders and crawdads. Other places have man-made roofs like our crafts areas, our climbing tower, the Lodge (where we do fine arts), the Mill, etc. And of course all our waterfront activities don’t mind if it rains because they are already getting wet!

This evening we had a big birthday party for the Tajar. Everyone dressed up in costumes so that the timid Tajar might also be able to dress up and join us for an evening of fun. We started with a big cook out: hamburgers, hot dogs, watermelon, coleslaw, potato salad… it was a feast! Then we had a big carnival style party with hay rides, face painting, guessing games, darts, a strong man competition, bubbles, darts, corn hole, and a slip’n’slide. There were lots of other games and quite a bit of dancing as well. At the carnival campers also enjoyed some ice cream, made from scratch cookies from our kitchen, and homegrown popcorn. Everyone had a big time and when we closed down for the night campers left happy and ready for bed.

Our Older Programs, Mountainside and Riverside, are on the move today and tomorrow. Today, Riverside returned safely from four days of climbing in Tennessee just in time for dinner and Tajar Ball. The Riverside crew was all smiles and excitement telling me about the walls they climbed, the waterfall pool they swam in, and the deep water soloing they tried out at Foster Falls. Riverside is a smaller community of 10-12 campers and they spend 4 days out of every 7 in the field either rock climbing, white water canoeing or backpacking. It’s always a treat to have Riverside back in camp and to hear about their experiences in the wild.

Mountainside is bigger and slightly younger group of 40 campers. That group has spent the last 5 days in camp sampling the different adventure options (mountain biking, rock climbing, white water canoeing, and backpacking). Each member of the Mountainside community picks one of the four adventures to specialize in. Tomorrow morning, each adventure group of roughly 10 campers will head their separate ways for 3 days and then the group will come back together to close out the session. Each group is ready and excited to head out tomorrow morning! The Young Leaders will also be heading out on an adventure tomorrow as they travel away from camp to raft the Nolichucky River. I can’t wait to hear about their trip when they return to camp around dinner time tomorrow.

Tomorrow will be the last full day in camp for our A session campers. I’m sure our A session parents are excited to see their children in person and hear about the week from their perspective. Hopefully these short stories from the blog and the wonderful photos that Sarah and Jacob have been uploading will tide you over for the next 36 hours… If you haven’t seen the photos yet, be sure to check those out through your CampMinder account!