I loved Camp
Camp High Rocks in Cedar Mountain, North Carolina
My wife loved Camp
Camp Greystone in Tuxedo, North Carolina
The mountains and hills around Flat Rock, Hendersonville, Brevard, Asheville, Cashiers, are full of camps
Once and former spend the night camps for youth include and included:
High Rocks, Greystone, Carolina, Keystone, Green Cove, Mondamin, Greenville, Ton-A-Wandah, Rockbrook, Kanuga, Illahee, Green River Preserve, Merrie-Wood, Merri Mac, Blue Star, Rockmont, Arrowhead, Pinnacle, Cheerio, Gwynn Valley, Falling Creek, Ridgecrest, Deep Woods, Bonclarken, Lutheridge, Wayfarer, Glen Arden, Hollymont
Each has its own loyal following
Some attached to certain religious denominations
Spend the night camp isn’t cheap. Children of privilege fill the bunks. They have a leg up by virtue of their ability to attend such wonderful places. I know that I would have never considered going to boarding school had I not had such a wonderful camp experience in Western North Carolina.
Had I not gone to camp for years, I would not be writing all of this down for your reading pleasure
I went to High Rocks because boys from Beaufort went there
My wife went to Greystone because she had friends there
My girls have been attending Greystone for the last nine (9) years
Our eldest aged out two summers ago by her own volition
Our youngest is on her fifth summer and will probably go until they tell her she’s too old
Greystone is in her 100th Summer
It’s kind of amazing all that happens there
It gets a bad wrap as being the country club of the camps of North Carolina. We did spy a famous country artist at Opening Day this year. I attended camp with the children of the famous, too. It’s no big deal. But, again, there is an element of privilege and familiarity that these children have that non-campers don’t have by virtue of attendance.
We are wild about Greystone. It’s a place where Jesus comes first, and everything else is secondary. Really. The directors’ family has been focused on the Christian aspect of camp for five generations. The founder was an ordained minister who wanted girls to have the same experience as boys, enjoying God’s creation as a form of worship
Opening Day is our Christmas in June
For almost a decade we have had the same experience for the Opening Day at Greystone
The Sunday before, we load up the stuffed trunk, the laundry bag, the toiletries, the bunk decorations early in the morning. We then hightail it up I26 to Little Charleston in the Mountains a/k/a Flat Rock
Our ears pop as we climb up the Saluda Grade just over the border in North Carolina
Our ears pop again as we hurtle down into the Green River gorge
We always take the Saluda Exit and mosey through downtown Saluda where Mr. Pace’s store stands strong
We head on over to Lake Summit and drive around that damned river water to spy the lake that borders Greystone, Mondamin, and Green Cove
That’s where it first hits: the North Carolina mountain smell. If green had a smell, this would be it all fecund with new growth and earth and the slightest tinge of mildew. Any of you who have been to the North Carolina mountains know that smell
I love it
We circle to the north side of the Lake and pass the main entrance to Greystone and Apple Tree Hill. From there we go straight into Flat Rock
That summer retreat was named Little Charleston in the Mountains due to the sheer number of Lowcoutnry folks who migrated there in the summer. They still migrate there in droves. America’s poet, Carl Sandburg lived at Conmerra, a house built by the Memminger family
We usually eat at the Village Bakery and always run into someone we know
Our beloved former Charleston neighbors moved to Flat Rock five years ago (See? Charleston people LOVE Flat Rock). We always get in a good visit with them every year
We take a turn on Main Street, Hendersonville, after our visit with our neighbors. The Mast Store. Kilwins. The old trips to the The Fountainhead Bookstore were epic. We miss that place. Local bookstores continue to head the way of the Dodo. Yet, there’s that Antique Mall that never goes anywhere and never seems to ring up any sales. We wonder how it stays in bidness
On the way back to Flat Rock we stop at The Fresh Market for snacks. I call it the Cocktail Party Store. Plenty of items for cocktails but no real groceries.
For years, we have stayed at the Highland Lake Inn. Our favorite rooms are in old camp cabins as that Inn on Highland Lake used to be an old Roman Catholic summer camp, the only vestige of which is a statue of the Virgin Mary watching over one of the fields
We have a good friend whose parents, from Charleston, met as camp counselors at Highland Lake. See what I mean about Charleston and Flat Rock?
I always take a walk down to the lake to look at the lily pads and reflection of evergreens in the water. We hear the shrill call of the resident albino peacock
We’ve gone swimming in the lake and in the pool.
We have stayed at Highland Lake in past years with all manner of camp drop off friends.
Our girls love the swings on the old oak tree
There are rope hammocks for reading.
Lightning bugs come out at twilight
We often have cocktails on the porch of the cabin
This year, our pal Stephen Gaddy requisitioned our ironing board to set up as the buffet table for cocktail hour
Every year, we walk over to suppers at Seasons at Highland Lake. We have broken bread there with the Gaddys, the Allens, the Davises, the Lucases, the Givens, and other Charleston Greystone families.
We log an early bed time and set the alarm
Much like Christmas Eve as a child, I cannot sleep. I wake every hour. I am in the shower by 6:00 a.m.
Highland Lake serves a hearty buffet breakfast right at 6:30 a.m.
We leave for Camp by 7:15
We arrive at the back gate, the staff entrance, along with the hundreds of other SUVS loaded with trunks, bags, crates, pillows, stuffed animals, upholstered “husbands”, lap desks, posters, fans, bedding
Greystone has it down to a science
The counselors greet the car, ask the child’s name, slap a sticker with her cabin on her shirt, and tag the trunks and the cabin. From there, a legion of young folks load trunks and bags into carts to go up the hill to be unloaded and delivered to cabins for the next three hours. We arrive early to ensure the trunks and bags are on the porch of the cabin by 8:30 a.m. when the tape drops and the girls run up the hill
In past years, there was an actual bunk run where girls would stampede to get to their assigned cabins to get a bed. There were fewer deaths on the bunk run than in Pamplona, but it was pretty chaotic.
There was always a trampled lovey left in the dewey grass
The Camp changed that policy a couple years ago, but the girls still run as soon as the 8:30 bell rings
Bunks are now assigned and counselors stand ready to greet their charges
We arrive and make the beds
Our pal from Atlanta, Land Bridgers, taught me a great trick about making bunks. Take the mattress off the bunk and make it fully on the floor of the yet to be soiled cabin. Make said mattress. Then, lift and tuck it right back into place
This year, as I made the bed, I said, “Time for the Land Bridgers’ maneuver”
It should be taught to all camp parents
We put towels in bathrooms, arrange shoes on porches, unload clothes, dance around with other parents calling out questions to their campers
We head over to the welcome reception on the porch of the Dining Hall with fresh baked scones, coffee, water, and an almunae table with stickers marking decades, the number of generations, and gifts for those returning.
Every year, we run into someone we know on the dining hall porch, waiting for the bunk run, unloading the trunk
My friend from Beaufort, Chandler Bailey, who now lives in Birmingham, has a theory that you could connect every college educated person in the South if you could interview all the parents dropping off at Greystone or its former brother camp, Falling Creek
He has a valid point
Our youngest returns to Greystone with other Charleston girls who go but who don’t bunk together. This year they have decided to take at least one activity/class together
Our eldest and her best friend always requested each other as cabin mates for years
There’s only been one year with a bad counselor
Not all sweetness and light, she played favorites and did not live by the Camp’s ethos
She was not invited back the following year
The place improves itself yearly and takes criticism to heart
But, it can be kind of overwhelming for the uninitiated and kind of intimidating for new campers where everyone else seems to know everyone else
This year, we received our daughter’s schedule via a PDF emailed to us after the first full day
The traditional summer camp activities reign
Horse back riding
All manner of sports
Over night camp outs
There are talent shows, evening programs, big events, including an end of session banquet with a theme. We hear that there are fireworks this year to celebrate the 100th Season
Oh, and it takes about two years to get in off the waiting list…really…at least two
Once you’re in the system as a family, though, you’re in forever
We try to write a letter a day or at least send an email
The camp does a great job communicating with parents
The counselors do make the children write their parents
We could hire a full time assistant to cull the pictures posted on the Camp’s website to find our daughters
The best letter we ever received from camp was written by our youngest. It read as follows:
Dear Mom and Dad:
I don’t miss you. I love it here. The food
I think she meant she loved the food
Last year on Fathers Day, I received a missive that said she didn’t miss me as she was “somewhere better right now”
It’s worth every penny just for that
Several years back, the camp shared a video of all the girls gathered in The Pavilion for Vespers. To the sounds of a lone guitar strumming and a lead from one of the Camp’s counselors, those assembled softly sang “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”. As they sang, they deliberately and reverently passed on the flame of lit of candles from one camper to the other. By the time they begged God to take their hearts and seal them for His courts above, well, I couldn’t even look at the screen as they finished that melodious sonnet
Even though we pay for this privilege, it warmed the cockles of my heart, which is a direct quote from the Greystone songbook.
And, so to the Miller/Hanna/Sevier Family, we give you all our thanks and appreciation for 100 years of Witness and Faithfulness to our girls and young women.
Thank y’all for making 36,500 GR8 Days