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It’s official…Camp dads can fish!













Merri-Mac dad, Jamey Burrow, (father of Betsy) helped me do some “scouting” for our Merri-Mac Father/Daughter retreat last Friday.  We fished Curtis Creek in McDowell County and had good luck on a size 18 parachute adams and streamers.  We were really surprised that fish were active on the surface this early in spring but it was fun to catch fish with dry flies!

We are really excited about our May 15-17 Father/Daughter excursions this year.  Though both our kayaking and fishing trips are completely booked for the daughters, our Father/Son adventures Fly-fishing, Kayaking, and Mountain biking  May 8-10 still have a few spaces.  Also make note that dads will be initiated into their daughter’s tribe in a very relaxed evening ceremony with s’mores to follow!


How To Get Ready For Camp


Camp Merri-Mac 2014_Sunday Grant Photography (12 of 74)








It’s March, you’re signed up for camp, you’ve completed your camper packet and now you are waiting for the big trip to the mountains. But there may be something else that has happened, you’ve started to have doubts. Fret not – you’re in great company – this happens to almost everyone! So here are five things you can do to help everyone be more comfortable.

  1. Take a vacation. Camps are in beautiful places, so take a family trip to visit your camp. You meet a camp director and you think he’s great (because we all are!). But then you go home and start to doubt your first impressions. So come back and meet him again. It will also give your camper a sneak peak at their cabin
  2. Demythologize homesickness. We’re all homesick sometimes; haven’t you ever missed home while you were on vacation? One of the best parts of growing up is loving a group so much that you are willing to miss home a little to enjoy  being with them. That’s what happened when you went to college, that’s what happened when you got married, and that’s what happens at a great camp. One of the hardest parts of homesickness is being afraid you will be homesick. Go ahead and remove that by telling your camper that it’s okay to miss home.
  3. Make a friend. Call the director and ask if you can connect with a few campers in your child’s cabin. We also like to have our counselors contact first year campers so campers will have someone to look out for when they arrive.
  4. Remember the big secret. Parents are every bit as nervous as their campers. Don’t let your camper know this, but do let the Camp Director know because we’re parents too. We get it, and we can tell you what worked when we sent our children to camp.
  5. And remember the other secret. Returning campers get nervous too. They start to worry that camp will not be as magical this year, or that their friends won’t be as welcoming as they remember. I think it is because they have been in school all year. But camp never changes – it’s always magical.

Here’s the best news of the day: the more nervous a camper is the more they will grow at camp. The more you invest the larger the reward, and the more nervous you are the more proud you will be when camp ends up being the best decision you ever made. That’s the way kids become curious; that’s they way they develop a sense of adventure.

Great Camping!

Iroquois soul from Clark Beckham on American Idol

As you can see, we got another great dose of soul last night from Clark Beckham on American Idol!  In my humble opinion, it was his best performance yet and it really does seem like he is getting better and better every time he gets up there.  Frankly, I am not used to seeing people that I am friends with succeed like this on such a large stage (literally).  It is a bit shocking and so wonderful to get to participate in from afar.  We here at camp feel privileged to get to watch our boy do so well and have other people appreciate him the way that we have (for other reasons) for the past three years.  Go Iroquois!  Go Clark!


Another round of Voting tonight!










Former Timberlake counselor, Clark Beckham is literally rocking and rolling on American idol!  Tonight is another round of voting for the contestants.  Here is a link to the American Idol webpage on voting.  There are numerous ways to do it and you can vote multiple times.  Don’t forget to tune in on Fox at 8/7 central.  Let’s get our camp community together in support of Clark!

What is a traditional camp?

Another Day At Camp

Another Day At Camp

It may be easiest to answer by contrast. A soccer camp specializes in teaching soccer through skilled instructors. They are great at that, and soccer players should go. A traditional camp specializes in growth through friends and adventure.

When campers live together week after week, summer after summer, they form a special type of friendship – they create a sisterhood, and that type of friendship builds an easy confidence. Think of the smile on your face the last time you discovered an unexpected friendship.

Second, girls need confidence, and they get that through a sense of adventure and the courage to explore things that are new and exciting. Think of the smile on your face the last time you succeeded at something you were not sure you could do. When girls do that, and when they get good at it, they develop resilience. That is what make s a girl go for a long hike in the snow, or play outside rather than a trip to the mall. It is also what makes them start a business, or work hard to get in a better school.

Growth through friends and adventure.

Great Camping!

It’s voting time, people!







Our boy Clark Beckham needs us to get out the vote for him tonight on American Idol.  Here is the link to vote for Clark.  Apparently, you can vote more than once so let’s make it happen, people!  And again the time to watch is tonight 8/7 central on Fox.

So proud of this guy!

Clark Beckham continues!

Well, he made it through! It was so cool to see Clark give his best performance thus far and then interact with the musical celebrities. I personally loved that he asked Harry Connick Jr. if he was close to his standard for musical success. Clark is amazing for a lot of reasons but the most striking to me lately is that he is not defined by his performance (however wonderful). This gives him the ability to be transparent and vulnerable because his worth comes from above. So proud of this man of God and thankful that Camp Timberlake got to benefit from his gifts as a counselor while here. He continues to be a wonderful role model for our boys and we are cheering for him over here in Black Mountain!

Our camp chapel

New Chapel







Every morning for 70 years we’ve gathered in our chapel by the lake to sing loud songs and hear a quiet message.  It’s my favorite place, which is good since I figure that I’ve spent about 2,500 hours leading programs there.  I especially like that it is open-air.  I think that says something about the way we live at camp, our faith not being separated from the rest of what we do.  I also like that it overlooks Lake Doris.  It is impossible to sit in the chapel without daydreaming about the things that are about to happen on that lake.  I think what we do in chapel should always be in reference to our whole lives.  We should always daydream a little.

All of that will stay exactly the same, but there is something that is going to change.  After 70 years the chapel foundation has given way, and it’s time to rebuild.  Of course the new chapel will be beautiful, and in many ways it will be a big improvement over the old one, but I promise that in the most important ways it will be exactly the same.  Each morning we will sit next to our best friends and sing.  Each morning the girls will hear a little bit more about the faith that makes their counselors so exceptional.  And each morning the counselors will stay behind to pray for their girls.  So I am looking forward to another 2,500 hours in our chapel.

Designing the new chapel has made us think through a lot of things we don’t normally think about.  For example, there has been a lot of talk about whether we should give the new chapel a name.  We decided that we like it the way it is.  It is one of the only buildings at camp that has never had a name, so we’re going to keep it that way.  Sometimes the role something plays, in this case its being a chapel, says more about its character than any other name can.  Of course that is different in other places.  Tweedle Dee is much more than just a cabin!

So in the end I don’t think we are going to have a new chapel at all.  We’re just going to have the chapel.  It will be the same chapel that Macky led, the same chapel that Monica led, the same chapel that Spencer led, and the same chapel that our girls have always loved.


From This Haven…

Adam and Ann

Get ready to watch Clark Beckham tonight on American Idol!

Our camp family needs to get ready to unite for former Timberlake counselor, Clark Beckham, on American Idol’s Hollywood week.  We can watch him tonight 8/7 central on Fox.  So proud of this guy.  Here is a preview of one of his group performances.  He sounds awesome!  There is no way he doesn’t get through.

Skilled Staff? a closer look at how skilled.

sydney b climbing 2The activities we offer at Merri-Mac and Timberlake are exceptional. Therefore when we begin to hire for the summer, we look for exceptionally skilled individuals. We know finding the best staff is important so that our campers have the quality experience they need to succeed in personal growth and adventure.

We want athletes, who play at the college level; gymnasts, who compete on their school’s club or team; backpackers, who are certified and go out into the wilderness every weekend; potters, who are studying the art of pottery; horseback riders, who show and jump on their college team. You get the picture! So, let’s look at some of our staff that are making their activity at camp a lifestyle during the year.

Timberlake and Merri-Mac climbing instructors Petey G., Sydney B., and Maddy M. are going out almost every weekend, really any chance they can, to climb. Not only are they climbing in their area, the mountains of Western North Carolina, these skilled climbers are also taking trips to places like Red River Gorge in Kentucky and T-Wall (the Tennessee Wall) in Chattanooga, TN. They’re also hoping to head to Indian Creek in Moab, Utah in the spring.

Maddy M.

climbing maddy mudd

Petey G.

petey crack

petey guillard close up

Sydney B. and Maddy M. at Red River Gorge

sydney and maddy

Merri-Mac staff bouldering 

sydney bouldering

bouldering maddy

Sydney B. and Maddy M.

sydney blume

maddy mudd over hang

Maddy M. loves to climb! 

maddy m fun

Petey G. crack climbing at Red River Gorge. 

petey crack climbing

Summer staff are not the only one’s taking climbing trips, our year round staff Adam, Ryan and Noah recently went ice climbing at Sam’s Knob. Needless to say, the Merri-Mac and Timberlake climbing program is trained and taught by professionals.

Black Mountain Expeditions’ Director Ryan ice climbing.

ryan ice climbing

ryan, brock, adam ice climbingRyan (BME Director), Adam (Merri-Mac and Timberlake Director) and Brock taking a quick break from their ice climb.

The Merri-Mac and Timberlake paddling program is phenomenal, and our paddling staff is no exception. During the staff reunion over Christmas, five of our kayakers paddled section 9 on the French Broad River, despite the cold winter morning and even colder river rapids they were to face.

Elizabeth P., cabin area director and head of Kayaking for the summer, first learned to kayak at camp on Lake Doris. Now, Elizabeth is the Kayaking Key Staff for the Outing Club at W&L, and she teaches their Kayaking Roll class. She hopes to eventually take her class out on the James and Maury rivers.

Dakota R. will be joining our Trip Staff team for his first summer at camp, but this is by no means his first experience paddling. He grew up in the area around camp, and currently spends his time going down Class 5 rivers. Dakota will be teaching our campers the techniques to maneuver down the very Class 3 rivers he knows so well.

Dakota R.

dakota kayak

dakota kayaking glory

Elizabeth P. teaching W&L students how to roll.

ep teaching 2

ep teaching 3

Mary Grace B. invested in a new kayak. She named her kayak Elsa and is excited for Lake Doris to meet her!

Elsa MGB kayak 2

Mary Page B., Dakota R., Hank B., Kelli Ann T., Ethan T. (not pictured), and Mary Grace B. brave the icy weather to paddle section 9, during staff reunion.

paddlers joy!

The Mountain Bike program at camp is fairly new for Timberlake and this summer will be Merri-Mac’s 1st summer. We recently hired two cyclists, who compete on the Milligan Cycling team Andrew and Hannah. These two are constantly racing and, it seems, always standing on podiums qualifying in their major races.

Joe B. attends Covenant College and is our veteran Mountain Biker for Timberlake. Joe continues to impress us by using any free time he can to hit the trails on Lookout Mountain.

Andrew S., Head of Mountain Biking (Andrew will join the Milligan Cycling coaching staff in Fall 2015) 

racing stallings

In hopes to work her way towards professional cycling, Hannah S. will participate in at least 6 races across the southeast and in California this June. 2nd Session she will join Andrew and Joe teaching Mountain Biking to our Merri-Mac and Timberlake campers.

hannah racing
One of the many mountain bike routes on Lookout Mountain, where Joe B. spends his time. 
Joe boyd MTN biking

race face

What a great picture to end on! We’re confident that Andrew S. has a lot to teach our campers about the epic sport of Mountain Biking.

We can only imagine what this summer will teach our campers and staff. But, we guarantee it will be an adventurous summer guided by quality staff.

If you’d like your daughter and her father to experience some adventure, during the year, check out what we’re offering in May! –


written by Intern: Sadie Roebuck

*first picture on post: Sydney Blume at Ship Rock