What a Great Opening Day!


What a great opening today with lots of new first time campers and many returning to Session E.  As I write children are in every part of camp enjoying their first afternoon of activities.  We don’t waste any time in getting them oriented to camp, its bell schedule, and a good meal under their belts before that first activity in the afternoon.  Somewhere in that time after arrival the starting blocks include signing up for morning activities every day for the week.  Campers rank their top 8 choices for their Discovery activities and are assigned 4 for the session.  Of those four, they have two each day every other day in the morning slots.  There are over 25 different activity offerings for morning “Discoveries” aimed at building skills.  Every afternoon a host of activities are offered  where campers sign-up for two activities. This allows them to try lots of new activities and sometimes push themselves to do something difficult each day or they can choose to return to a favorite activity. Miss Mary, who founded Gwynn Valley in 1935 believed we should all try to do something challenging each day which helps us develop more confidence and become more resilient. There are so many fun things to do at camp; sometimes it is difficult just choosing what to do.  

Everyone was swim assessed today and then proceeded to two of the following activities: Tie Dye, Crafts, Swimming and Lake Fun, Mountain Biking, Performing Arts, Camping Skills and Nature, Sports, Mill, Farm, Climbing, Horseback Riding, Pottery, and Archery.  As you can see we jump right into program to help with adjustment and not having too much time on one’s hands to think about home.  We have a good many new campers this session and we want to keep folks busy the first afternoon.

Tomorrow morning campers will jump right into their Discoveries and we’re off and running for the week.  Each cabin has a calendar that includes an overnight campout as well as mountain dancing and other special times.  Our calendar for the week is full and we are looking forward to having some fun and great days for experiencing camp life throughout the week. 

While many campers arrived for E session today, we’ve been hosting our Mountainside, Riverside and Young Leaders programs for the last two weeks.  Riverside leaves our nest tomorrow to begin their final adventure backpacking up in Pisgah National Forest.  They have already completed climbing and whitewater canoeing adventures over the past two weeks.  Mountainside will also leave us tomorrow for four days in several varied outdoor disciplines including Climbing in Linville Gorge and Rumbling Bald, Mountain Biking in Dupont State Forest, Expedition Canoeing on the French Broad River and local large lakes, Backpacking in Pisgah, and Whitewater Canoeing and Kayaking on various WNC rivers.  These Mountainsiders have been preparing for this for two weeks and are ready to expand their skills and leave the comforts of camp behind.  All these adventures are stepping stones to stretching themselves through confidence building activities as a group and reaching for personal individual goals. These campers are exploring their capabilities and “growing inside” as they are “challenged outside”.  

Tonight at dinner we had our camper friendly pasta and bolgnese sauce which is a good way to start.  Along with the pasta were fresh green beans, homemade bread, and caprese salad from the garden.  Dessert as always on the first night is a giant cookie served on an XL pizza pan and chocolate chip no less.  Food is important to campers and we want this day of transition to be smooth.  

After dinner we held our first evening program to get acquainted with everyone who arrived today. We sang some camp songs, told and acted out a Tajar story and recognized the many states and countries that campers and staff come from. We also met all of our program leaders who are our lead teachers in each activity. Campers then went back to their cabins for serenade which happens every evening.  A group of our activity leaders go to cabins at bedtime to let them  know it’s lights out by singing to each cabin.  This tradition has been going on for many many years.  

All of the above hopefully sets a camper up for success at camp and the excitement of each day puts a giant exclamation point on everyone’s personal experience.  Lets not forget the aspect that learning is a social activity where friendships are cultivated as campers venture into new relationships and activities.  Camp is like a giant fertile bowl with endless environmental contacts and possibilities of programs that encourage the child’s capacity to grow.  Away from home maybe for the first time, we offer the gift of well being and a sense of belonging because that is something we all crave in life.   

There are many traditions and happenings  here at Gwynn Valley and we hope to share even more with you as the week progresses.We hope these blog moments will help to fill your cup on the homefront to see and hear what camp is like each day.  Stay Tuned!

Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present.  – Albert Camus