Smoky Mountains Updates 2019
Monday, May 6
We have arrived! The camp staff greeted us warmly as always, and the kids were happy to be off the bus. The drive was uneventful, with just a bit of traffic in Dayton to slow us down. One kiddo was confused about the difference between tall trees and mountains, but Mrs. Gilliland was all over explaining the difference. 😊 Once we got here, we gathered for some rules and reminders then headed to supper. The kids then found their cabins and made their beds. As we speak, they’re heading off to sing by the campfire and build the elusive “Beast.” Everyone is happy and doing well so far! I’ll update again tomorrow!!! -Mrs. Stevens
Tuesday, May 7
Good afternoon from Camp Wesley Woods! For the most part, our first night was uneventful. Last night, we divided into two groups. Groups A,B, and C did a listening/team/communication activity called “The Beast”, which is kind of like a game of telephone, only with building involved. Our winning group built a beast very close to the example. In order to build “The Beast”, our buyers needed to borrow money from the bank, and the teacher “bankers” had a great time coming up with ways for them to earn money. From tango to opera and some horse riding in between, the kids were great sports. Some of them even wanted to earn extra money just for fun. Meanwhile, groups D,E, and F were at the campfire, enjoying s’mores. Be sure to ask your kids to sing the “Long John” song or “Tater Pie.” The two groups then switched places.
We then hit the showers, where our girls quickly learned the art of 47 girls making their way through 6 showers by lights out. They handled it like champs. The boys in Mr. Grimm’s cabin had their first “dangerous” nature encounter, as much screaming ensued when the Camp Wesley Woods green bat entered their cabin and was diving straight at them. This creature is also known as a Luna moth, a far cry from a bat! It did make for a good breakfast laugh this morning.
Today, our groups headed out for various activities. Groups A,B, and C went to Tuckaleechee Caverns, while the other groups went rock climbing, boating, or did the high ropes course. They’ll switch tomorrow. This afternoon, all groups will do activities here at camp, and trips to Look Rock and Cades Cove are in store this evening. Hopefully we’ll spot many black bears in the Cove tonight and have a clear sunset at Look Rock.
All is well here, and the kids are having a blast. Enjoy the pictures!
Wednesday, May 8
Greetings from camp! It’s another beautiful day! We’re so grateful for the weather we’ve had. The kids are officially at the halfway point of their trip, and we’re having an awesome time. The rest of the group went to Tuckaleechee Cavern this morning, so they’ve now seen the amazing formations and features of this amazing cavern.
The three groups who went to Cade’s Cove last night saw some of the closest bears we’ve seen in my years on the trip. The first was in a tree eating leaves, and the second crossed the street right in front of the bus. It was awesome! They also saw a mama and her babies farther back in a field. We hope tonight’s group has the same luck! They kids then went on a night hike and learned about owl calls, night vision, synchronizing fireflies, and many other beautiful things that happen at night when you’re quiet and listen to the world around you.
Meanwhile, the other groups enjoyed some cultural dancing and went to Look Rock to see the sun set. It was a clear night, so they had a great view.
This afternoon everyone is busy learning archery, hiking to see the waterfall, rock climbing and rappelling, learning teamwork from camp’s challenge course, conquering the high ropes, or canoeing and kayaking.
Our “close encounters with nature” have continued. Keira reported that “a lizard with no legs” ran across her foot. The argument about whether or not that made the critter a snake was quite entertaining. (We’re quite certain it was a salamander who tucked its legs up when picked up). Dylan reported drinking a leach in his clean water bottle. We’re guessing that was not the case, but we’ll probably never know for sure. ;)
Perhaps the best thing that we’ve experienced is how the kids are caring for one another. We love hearing phrases like “Hey, you might want to check on...” and “Where’s so and so?” Seeing ten girls who are not necessarily in the same “friend group” gathered around a card game in the cabin, all laughing and having fun, is what this trip is all about. Hearing them cheer on a struggling group-mate, encouraging them to keep going and trying, is what this trip is all about. We hope all is well at home :)
Thursday, May 9
It’s hard to believe it’s our last day at camp. The kids are all here on camp property today, finishing the last activities they have not done earlier in the week. It’s so fun to talk to the kids and see what their favorite activity has been so far, and the answers are as diverse as the kids. Some loved the challenge of rocks or ropes, some loved the team-building challenge course activity, many loved canoeing, and others loved seeing the sunset from Look Rock.
Our weather has continued to be beautiful, with just a slight chance of rain this afternoon and evening. Hopefully those showers hold off and everyone gets to finish their activities. Our nature experiences continue, with Ava bringing a salamander to dinner on her shirt, knocking it off, and having it land on Keira’s shoe. Don’t worry; Keira hopped with her foot in front of her all the way outside to save the poor little guy. Her move is now known as the Lizard Shuffle.
By far the best thing is seeing the kids try new things, push themselves, and conquer their fears. They’re so proud of themselves when they do something they didn’t think they could do. We’re also amazed by how well they’re getting along, and their behavior has been beyond impressive. Be proud of them; we certainly are!
Tonight we will listen to Mr. Norman’s (one of the chaperones with us) amazing story of his time in the Vietnam War. After that, we will dance, sing, laugh, and celebrate this wonderful experience with an amazing group of kiddos. Thanks for sharing them with us for the week.
Side note: During our meeting before we left, I told the kids that by Wednesday, people would be saying they’re glad they don’t have their phones. Soooo many eye rolls followed that. Last night, I heard two kids talk about how they’re so glad no one has phones and how fun it is to talk. :)