Why Am I Sitting On the Floor, When I Can Dance?

Dear Parents and Friends,

Our title tonight comes from the name of a dance that was done by all of Brookside this evening.  More on that later.  It’s been another great day at camp.  We had 6 cabins out tonight for campouts and it couldn’t be a better night for sitting around the fire cooking dinner and having smores around the fire. The day started off with a strong group of mountain bikers heading to the Hunt Farm to test their metal on the trail over there.  This is the newer of our two single track trails.  For those of you that don’t know what single track is it’s a trail that’s anywhere from 3 to 4 feet wide and is completely dirt.  A well built trail needs little maintenance because it has a lot of areas and undulations so water can run off and not erode down the middle.  It’s also cambered the correct way so that you feel like the trail is hugging you and you’re not going to fall off the edge.  Our trail across the road is a good beginner/intermediate trail.  The faster you ride it the more of a workout you get.  It’s rolling with no steep hills but several sharp turns that require fast reflexes.  Mountain biking is one of the untethered sports where the camper has a great deal of independence and can really feel a sense of freedom within the confines of two counselors at either end of the group.  In this case it’s Thomas and Laurel.  Thomas goes to Elon and is on the biking team and Laurel is at Vanderbilt and was a camper for many years.

Our kayakers are getting ready for a river trip which will happen next week.  Those who feel comfortable with their wet exits and have learned to handle their boats on the lake will be going off site for a trip.  There is someone almost always on the zip line when the waterfront is open.  It’s a great ride and everyone’s challenge is to perform a spiderman (hanging upside down) while zipping.  Harder than it looks!  We’ll try and get some photos.  A recent addition to our lake is the Tension Traverse.  It’s just a few inches over the water and you walk the cable holding on to a long rope that is attached to a nearby tree.  The farther out you get the more difficult it is and very few staff have done it.  A few campers have gotten close but no campers yet.  There is always a line to take a shot at the Traverse.

Remaining in the water world, we’re catching lots of fish down at the Mill.  We should be having a fish fry soon.  Soccer and archery rounded out the morning on the sports pitch.  There’s at least one soccer game every day at camp and more often there’s more than one.  After all it is the world’s #1 sport (behind ACC Basketball).  Pottery, while not a sport does take a fair amount of coordination.  I’ve been in camping a long time and haven’t yet been able to master the proper throwing of a pot.  I suppose it takes practice just like everything else.

The Riversiders came home today after 4 days of climbing.  We also welcomed a new batch of Mountainsider’s today and they had their intro skits tonight.  Tonight’s campfire was dancing for Brookside and Tajar Tales for Hillside.  I just came back from the dance to take a few photos of the Hillside group as the sun was going down.  Our sunsets are incredible here and it was quite a site with those layers of ridges in the background.  Brookside danced with Winnie our Head Counselor for Hillside.  He has taught folk dancing for many years and was doing some very active (exhausting, they’ll sleep good tonight) dances with the campers.  He taught dances from Russia, Holland, Denmark, the US and Italy while I was there.  Winnie has an incredible amount of energy and is a Montessori principal in his real life.  He makes learning and practicing the dance so much fun that everyone wants to dance more by the time it ends.

At camp, some kids practice sports, some practice instruments, and some practice their belly flops. But one thing that ALL campers practice is independence!  Gwynn Valley provides a nurturing environment for kids to face challenges on their own, and that can be incredibly constructive to a child’s character. In a recent Washington Post interview, author and psychologist Michael Thompson, PhD, put it this way: “I think camp is the best emotional preparation for a successful college experience, because you practice being on your own, keeping track of your clothes; you practice living in a community and getting along with roommates you don’t love — all of the skills you need for true independence.”

And when kids have had the experience of overcoming a challenge on their own, it gives them a positive memory to draw from when facing future obstacles; say, preparing for that really big math test or interviewing for that first job.  This summer, campers will certainly have an experience that lasts a lifetime — discovering their own strength!  Stay tuned!