Twilight Play!

Dear Parents and Friends,

Despite a shower today during lunch and rest hour our day was perfect. Tonight’s temps have lowered considerably and we have smooth sailing tomorrow for the 4th. While our Mountains are covered in sunshine our NC coast will be feeling the effects of Arthur. We hope all remain safe and sound if vacationing in that area. Our own GV vacation is going well with a lot of happy campers taking in a variety of activities today. We’re into our fourth day of Discovery and will have activities again tomorrow and Sat. as well to finish up our Discoveries.

I had a couple of projects going today near the climbing wall and was able to see the Mountainsider’s learning about Ground School and the in’s and out’s of climbing, tying knots, positioning, learning belay techniques and communication between belayer and climber. Neatly learning to tie knots is an art. The smoother rope flows through knots the stronger it is and so sharp bends in a knot sometimes need to be corrected. You may have heard this saying before, “a not neat knot, is a knot not needed”. Our climbing staff do an excellent job of keeping everyone’s attention with back up belayer’s. Climbing is a sport where you sometimes have to wait but there’s always a coil that needs straightening out or support shouted up to one of your climbing mates.

Next to the climbing wall is one of our cookout shelters and Leah from Outdoor Living Skills was cooking over Hobo Stoves which you can make with a #10 can. It’s also a very efficient fuel burner and one that most anyone can use. More of those simple approaches to living outdoors. At some point our Riversiders may be making stoves of their own, but of a different variety. The staff up there was talking about building some alcohol stoves which can be made from soda pop cans. They are very efficient but the fuel is not cheap. Denatured alcohol is more pricey than white gas, which we burn in most of our camping stoves. We’ve tried a number of stoves here at camp and I’m still searching for the most durable and dependable that’s still lightweight. Your basic two burner Coleman stove works well for car camping but is not appropriate when you’re on the move.

Equipment takes a beating here at camp and we’re constantly checking, repairing and replacing all kinds of things. From inner tubes that carry your children down the river to simple water filters for backpacking and adjustments to replace the belts on the pottery wheels. Maintaining your equipment and site is constant here and a part of our overall goal to make camp a safe and fun place to be.

Gwynn Valley was reaccredited by the American Camping Association during Session B this summer. We are visited by two peer Camp Directors who go over most of our paperwork before they arrive and the walk through most of our programs on the day of the visit. There are close to 350 individual standards that cover Site & Food, Transportation, Health & Wellness, Operational Management, Human Resources, Program Development, Aquatics, and Trip and Travel. They look into every nook and cranny of our organization via paper and in person. We have to provide written and verbal evidence in meeting the standards. Tucked in among all of the above sections are Mandatory Standards that you cannot miss. Miss one and you’re not re-accredited. Camps are up for re-accreditation every three years. The Main purpose of the ACA accreditation program is to educate camp owners and directors in the administration of key aspects of camp operation, particularly those related to program quality and the health and safety of campers and staff. The standards establish guidelines for implementing policies, procedures, and practices. The camp is responsible for implementing and ensuring policies are followed. This is a voluntary compliance and one we gladly take on to make camp a better place for campers and staff alike. We usually do quite well on this but this is the first time we’ve ever had a perfect score. Our staff did a super job of meeting our expectations and going beyond on this day. After submitting mountains of paperwork throughout the winter and spring it was time to walk the talk and put to work everything we stand for.

One of the things we stand for is programming our day to provide the most we can offer to our campers. After looking at weather predictions and knowing that after supper weather was going to be great tonight, we scheduled in what we call Twilight Play. Spontaneity rules in most cases at camp! You have to be flexible. I must say that dinner was a great start to a great evening with chili, salad, fresh cornbread, peaches and rice. Following is what was offered for about an hour and 15 minutes tonight in the cool of the evening. Campers could take part in Chilling at the Lake, Mountain Biking, Horses, Capture the Flag, Corn Shucking, Kumihimo, Candles, Archery, Climbing, Fine Arts, WEB and OLS Hike, Pottery and Creek Hiking. I looked at many faces as we lined up to check in at 8:30 and I can say there were lots of tired puppies in those lines. Going hard all day makes for great dreams and sound sleep for another day of the simple joys of Gwynn Valley.