Dear Parents and Friends,
Our day started much like the past few days with a cool morning followed by a warm but beautiful day with a breeze blowing all day long. Thank goodness for the breeze. It wasn’t as hot as it has been, but it was warm. We held Twilight Play this evening, where we add an activity period after dinner. Most all activities are open and you can go anywhere you like. It’s a great time of the day and is a great way to end the day in the dusk of just before dark. It takes the place of campfire and campers love it.
Tree climbing was a great place to be this morning as the temperature went up. Under our hemlocks next to the lake is always a cool and refreshing place to learn the “ropes” as well have fun and check out the great views from the top of our trees. We started tree climbing the year we took over camp and it has been a hit since then. It’s very different from climbing a wall or even a rock. Works off the same principles of rock climbing so all safety protocols and equipment are the same. The climber starts on a rope ladder and about 15 feet up and begins to use the many branches that the Hemlock affords. As you may or may not know most of our Hemlocks in the southeast are dying because of an insect called the Wooly Adelgid. They have wrought havoc on the trees and we’re doing what we can to treat many of ours in camp proper. So far so good and think we’ll be able to keep the ones that are important to inner camp (about 40 + trees).
A cool place to be this morning was Shady Grove where our looms are being worked to overtime with campers learning to weave and warp or something like that. The patterns and combinations of colors are endless. You must visit Shady Grove on the last day of camp. It used to be the Lodge for our Hillside cabins and then was a cabin but it’s been converted to an Arts and Crafts area. Not far from Shady Grove is the Mill where life reverts back to the 1890’s when the Mill was built. It’s a rare piece of history and realism since we still use the water power to grind corn into grits and cornmeal. This afternoon they were popping popcorn over the open fire that always has some being prepared. Ice cream churned by the power of the mill is another favorite along with the occasional cobbler and Johnny Cakes. As I strolled by this morning several campers were taking turns churning butter in an old fashioned butter crank.
The Farm always attracts a crowd because of all the baby animals. The piglets seem to grow each day and this morning at breakfast every table got to vote for the 10 names that they would be called. There was a long list of nominations and it seemed that famous recording artists were in favor. Well… Mama pig is named Beyoncé so I guess that makes sense. The goats are mischievous little ones who love to leap onto your back if you’re down on all fours. Each day the campers make a goat bridge which the babies walk across. It’s a massage like you’ve never had before.
Arts central or the Bong Tree as we call it, was making form candles today. You have so many colors and fragrances to choose from. They really turn out beautiful and are a nice addition to any home.
The other “coolest” place to be all day today were activities centering around our water sports, being at the lake, SUP Boarding, kayaking, creek hiking, and swimming. The “Watermat” produces the most noise in camp and each day you can tell when there’s a group on the lake using it. There’s never a dull moment as campers run, slide, and jump off of all sides. You can easily get a whole cabin on it without it sinking. Several cabins have taken tubing trips down the French Broad as did Raines Cove today just after lunch. There was also a signup this afternoon that attracted kids from all over camp. It’s a lazy river type trip with 2 or 3 faster moving parts that usually takes about an hour and a half. For a cabin it’s a great way for a little bonding. Others will take a hike in order to swim at Connestee Falls or possibly hike to “The Rock” where you can see for miles.
Camp life really starts in the cabin and works outward. That’s one reason we hold what we call “Open House” in each cabin every session. That’s when a leadership team member and an activity leader visit the cabins to meet with just the campers. It’s a great way to ensure that your child’s experience in the cabin is a good one and to make sure that the counselors are doing a good job. We visit with the cabin for about a half an hour and talk about a lot of things; their counselors, what they are looking forward to, favorite activities, how they are getting along and many other topics. It provides good insight into their cabin life and how it’s going.
There are lots of checks and balances at camp. We have lists, roles, check ins, meeting spots, roll calls, buddy systems, and other ways of supervision and guidance during our busy days. The structure is never heavy, but underpins the organized chaos that camp is. With that organized chaos should come fun, learning and many chances to build relationships throughout the camp experience. It’s life outdoors, without screen time and the focus is on the “simple joys of childhood”. We could all use that so stay tuned!