Viva El Mexico!

Dear Parents & Friends,

We are celebrating Mexico Day here at camp today.  Our morning started off on the Green learning about Mexico’s independence and it only got better as we took history and turned it into food.  Our breakfast and lunch so far today has been wonderful and this is authentic Mexican food.  We had huevos chorico, (scrambled eggs with spicey sausage), Plantanos Fritos (Fried Plantains), crumbled queso,  crema (sour cream but not sour), Salsa Verde, Conchas (wonderful pastries), cantaloupe, and hot cocoa with cinnamon.

I needed to get out to work that breakfast off, so I spent time at Arborist climbing.  They tackle our two giant poplar trees right in front of the Gatehouse.  Instead of climbing the tree, you climb the rope connected to the tree.  This method is used by arborist, so as not to harm the tree.  It’s challenging and fulfilling as you slowly inch your way up the rope.  We don’t use mechanical ascenders, but knots called the distal hitch, which grabs the rope under pressure and releases when not.  There’s a safety belay for this, so never fear.  From there it was onto the pool where our shallow swimmers were getting some confidence lessons and proper stroke lessons.  I remember learning to swim and for me it was all about confidence and feeling like I was able to do it on my own.  Once there, I never looked back.  Swimming opens a lot of doors at camp and even in life.  Most our campers can swim but a few need some help with that small ratio teaching and encouragement.  Great strides were being made this morning.

The Mill was preparing to make authentic tortillas and they were in the midst of that when I followed the horse back crew up the trails to get some footage of them riding in our shady forest land.  They were following one of our single track trails that run up near the top of our property on the NE side.  It was fun to see our riders using a trail that traditionally is used by the bikers.  It’s a steady climb and then an equally steady descent.  Our advanced riders got to take advantage of this and they deserve it.  On the way back I wanted to sample one of those tortillas but didn’t make it in time.  I’m sure they were delicious.

Our Main Camp climbers were out at Looking Glass today on the south side and climbed near a place called Stage Ledge.  It has a number of challenging one pitch routes perfect for our group and their skills.  I asked Spencer how they did and he was very pleased.  Part of being at Looking Glass is knowing rock etiquette and we really work on that when we’re there and other groups are around.  We’re always proud of our camp’s behavior, focus and attention to the area around us.  Our climbing philosophy engages as many campers as possible so there’s little idle time or just sitting around waiting to climb.  That takes training and give our staff credit for this.  We get lots of compliments from local guide services about our groups and it makes me very happy.  This should be true in every outdoor – out of camp venue.

Creek hiking went out twice today – once this morning with younger campers  and once this afternoon with those who went the distance all the way to Connestee Falls.  It’s a spectacular creek hike because you’re in the creek the whole time and culminates at the Falls.  There are several swimming holes along the way to cool off in.  It was a hot morning so the pool was a welcome relief.  Every creek hike emphasizes three points of contact with the stream surface because rocks and water can be a little slippery.  I love going  on creek hikes because it makes you feel like you’re in deepest Pisgah and there could be a giant hellbender just at your feet.  We’ve seen them before and know they are there.  If you’ve never seen one, they are just a giant salamander and quite ancient looking.  They live in most of our large and rocky cold water streams here in WNC.

Mountainside and Riverside will be finishing up their adventures tomorrow and coming home tomorrow afternoon.  No news is good news from them.  They will be walking out, riding their last ride, climbing their last climb and paddling their last river tomorrow.  By this time tomorrow night they will have showered and be ready for our traditional Tajar Ball.  Can’t wait to have them back in camp.  They will have stories to tell.

We had a brief shower just before dinner tonight and it really cooled things off.  I’m waiting to see what they had for dinner.  I will be hard to top our lunch menu today: Tacos al pastor, Queso cebbello, creamy salsa verde, ensalada del col (col slaw), Chicken, Mango, and watermelon….some of the best tacos I’ve ever had.  My oldest son’s birthday is today so we’re having a little family gathering for him tonight.  I’m sure Mexico Day will continue and be festive and wonderful.  It’s nice to celebrate our different nationalities each week here at camp.  I always learn so much from our international staff.  Stay Tuned!