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Protecting WNC Summer Camps for the Next Generation
This summer, thousands of children will eagerly travel from around the country to learn, play and grow at summer camps nestled among the mountains of Western North Carolina. The camps' unspoiled and majestic settings evoke mystery, exhilaration and wonder in the countless children who attend camp in our region.
At camp, children are immersed in the natural world and become filled with curiosity about the wonders of the outdoors. They learn new skills, make new friends and trek to new places. At summer's end, campers return home with limitless appreciation for the environment, a newfound sense of place, and a deep respect for our mountain lands.
That's why Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy protects seven summer camps in the Blue Ridge Mountains with conservation easements totaling more than 3,500 acres. Camps are at the core of our conservation efforts, comprising one-sixth of the lands CMLC has conserved across our region. Conserving camp lands goes far deeper than safeguarding their natural features. By protecting the land, we forever preserve the opportunity for young children to learn what nature has to teach them. And by ensuring our youth have the opportunity to learn from and appreciate nature, we ensure that there will always be someone to protect it in the future.
Green River Preserve
Green River Preserve, near Cedar Mountain, was founded in 1987 by Sandy and Missy Schenck. A summer camp for the "bright, curious, and creative," GRP teaches wilderness skills and creative arts and promotes outdoor discovery. A week at GRP is said to "nurture the heart, develop the mind, strengthen the character, and heighten the appreciation for the natural world."
"Children come here and find resonance with who they are and who they want to be," said Sandy Schenck, camp owner and director. He believes that if you teach children to appreciate nature, they will forever respect it.
Sandy's respect for the natural world and his land are evident. In 2006, CMLC helped him place 2,600 acres of GRP under conservation easement — making it one of the largest private conservation easements in Western North Carolina.
Deep Woods Camp
Deep Woods Camp was founded in 1970 by Kells Hogan, who believes summer camp is "an experience that has a tangible influence in the process of growing up." Located south of Brevard, the camp for boys is one where "free time is there for the taking, where time to ponder is not crowded by a regimented program, and where schedule is determined mainly by the sun."
Hogan donated a conservation easement on 320 acres of his Deep Woods Camp to CMLC in 2007 and included another 10 acres in 2010.
Falling Creek Camp
Falling Creek Camp in Tuxedo was founded in 1968 by Jim Miller, a former camp director and owner of CMLC-conserved Camp Greystone. In the Green River Valley, the camp for boys strives to maximize opportunities for personal growth and fun as they develop an understanding of their relationships with nature, their fellow man and their spirituality.
Falling Creek Camp donated a conservation easement on 147 acres of its grounds to CMLC in 2006.
Rockbrook Camp for Girls
Rockbrook Camp for Girls, founded in 1921, provides a haven for campers to explore the beauty of nature, try new things and gain a deeper understanding of themselves and of their relationship with the natural world.
Previous camp owner and former CMLC board trustee Jerry Stone worked with CMLC in 2010 to place a conservation easement on 115 acres surrounding Rockbook's core campus. The easement protects several waterfalls and two gargantuan cliff faces — Castle Rock and Dunns Rock — used by the camp to teach rock climbing.
Camp High Rocks
Camp High Rocks, a camp for boys, in Cedar Mountain has occupied the southern slopes of Rich Mountain since 1958.
Hank and Townsend Birdsong, who for the past 25 years have owned and operated Camp High Rocks, founded Rich Mountain Conservancy, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting the camp's rugged mountain slopes. Their efforts, with the help of The Conservation Fund, led to the purchase of 147 acres with a conservation easement held by CMLC.
Camp Greystone, on the shores of Lake Summit in Tuxedo, was founded in 1920 by Joseph and Edith Sevier, who planned the camp and planted by hand many of the trees that now tower over its grounds. One of the oldest summer camps in our region, Greystone honors it heritage with leadership that is now in its fourth generation operating the camp. The camp is structured around a fourfold philosophy of nurturing the spiritual, physical, mental and social development of girls.
Since 2009, 98 acres of Camp Greystone's beautiful campus have been protected by a CMLC conservation easement. The easement includes more than a half-mile of the Green River — one of three CMLC-conserved summer camps to host and protect the Green River.
Formerly Elks Camp for Boys, Talisman Camp offers a summer camp experience to young people with learning disabilities. Located outside Tuxedo in the Saluda Mountains, Talisman offers children with special needs a summer full of fun, adventure and new learning experiences. A former landowner donated conservation easements totaling 55 acres surrounding the camp in 2007 and 2008.
Seeking to protect more camps in our region, CMLC is working toward the protection of two more camps: Eagle's Nest Camp in Pisgah Forest and Camp Buc in Sapphire. To learn more about how to help protect more places that will foster a love of nature among our next generations, visit www.carolina mountain.org.
"Passion does not arrive on videotape or on a CD; passion is personal. Passion is lifted from the earth itself by the muddy hands of the young, it travels along grass-stained sleeves to the heart. If we are going to save environmentalism and the environment, we must also save an endangered indicator species: the child in nature." – Richard Louv, Author "Last Child in the Woods"
"The organized summer camp is the greatest contribution America has made to education." -Charles Eliot, Harvard president , 1922
by Peter Barr, CMLC Trails & Outreach Coordinator
Read more stories of CMLC’s conserved lands at www.carolinamountain.org/stories.