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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!
Adam

It’s voting time, people!

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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.

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Petey G.

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Sydney B. and Maddy M. at Red River Gorge

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Merri-Mac staff bouldering 

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Sydney B. and Maddy M.

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Maddy M. loves to climb! 

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Petey G. crack climbing at Red River Gorge. 

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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) 

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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.

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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! – http://www.merri-mac.com/father-daughter-weekend/

 

written by Intern: Sadie Roebuck

*first picture on post: Sydney Blume at Ship Rock

Come visit us at Merri-Mac home show near you.

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Camp is quiet. Without campers here, singing at lunch is just weird.  So we’re all taking our show on the road and we want to see you there! So what’s in it for you? Well, lots of things.

New campers are able to meet current Merri-Mac girls who can help ease the nervousness about being away from home for the first time.  Coming to camp for the first time can be scary, but if you already know a few girls that transition is easier.

Parents and campers are able to speak directly with a Camp Director and get all of their questions answered face-to-face.  It helps to hear answers straight from the (*ahem*) horses’ mouths, as it were. We want you to know us and feel comfortable leaving your children with us and also call us if you have a concern.

It is a great way for current campers to catch up with some of your favorite camp friends.  We know how hard it is to be separated from camp during the school year. This is a good way to help relieve some of that “camp-sickness” we have all felt.

Current campers are able to tell future campers about some of their favorite things about camp.  It’s great to hear how terrific camp Merri-Mac is from a director but we know, no matter how cool we are (and we are cool. No really, we are!), campers want to hear from campers. They want to know, how’s the food? (Great!) How easy is it to make friends? (Really easy!) And how cool is the blob? (IT’S AWESOME!)

New and old campers will get to watch the brand NEW Merri-Mac video together.  It’s great and you may see some people you know having the best summer of their lives.

It is a great way to get a little taste of camp during the school year to tide you over till summer.  So, Come see us at a home show near you!

In October come see us in Atlanta Ga, Suwannee GA, San Antonia TX, Mount Pleasant SC, Raleigh NC, Savannah GA, Jackson MS, Oxford MS, Knoxville TN, Canton GA, Charlotte NC, Salisbury NC, Columbia SC, Gainesville FL, Ocala FL, Lakeland FL, Tampa FL, St. Pete FL, and St. Louis MO.

This Moment is Full

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Two nights ago, I rode my bike to Adam and Ann’s, our Merri-Mac Directors, home to pick up my lost phone. Misplacing my phone turned out to be the best mistake I made this week. Ann and I chatted, snacking on homemade cookie dough. She poured me a glass of water. I felt a little sweatier and out of breathe than I wanted to let on. “How’s life as an intern? This week been good?” I felt loved.

While leaning on my bike at the fencing pavilion, my neighbors Daniel and Anne, Merri-Mac Assistant Director, invited me in for some supper. “We’re leaving tomorrow so feel free to sleep in our home, eat our food and watch our Netflix.” Eating on tasty baked chicken and the best sautéed squash and zucchini, I felt revived as rest washed over me.

On my walk home, I stopped to visit with my newest neighbors, Dan and Annie Singletary, Timberlake Directors, where I ate second supper. I munched on chips and guacamole from Olay’s, a local favorite in Black Mountain, listening to friends and family of the Singletary’s offer help and company as they transition into the move. When I left I heard, “Come back tomorrow. Anytime really!” I felt apart of their family. I felt sincerely welcome.

I was full on more than just food as a friend and I rode the camp golf cart back to the Big House. We reminisced about the past summer. I felt nostalgic, full on the past and present moments I experienced at camp.

Not many 25 year olds are fortunate enough to transition into a community like the one I became a part of this fall. Life right out of college, and even a few years down the road, can feel meaningless, even lonely. And yet here am I. A very clear product of God’s grace and the good gifts He promises. I’m blessed to be living at camp, surrounded by people who care for and love those they work with.

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What’s my job exactly? “Camp Intern.” I schedule Adam and Dan’s home shows, help Ryan with BME retreats, recruit staff, and, sometimes, even carpool. I love it. There’s nothing I love more than to be the support staff who helps her friends make camp what it is: a wonderful place for kids to grow and learn. In turn, they support and wrap their arms around me. No matter if I accidentally bought two plane tickets to Costa Rica, or backed the camp van into a tree, or was late picking their son up from soccer practice. This gracious acceptance for my weaknesses and faith in my strengths keeps me going when the days are long, and the computer screen gets fuzzy.

When I’m asked how’s your job? I often respond with “Let me tell you who I work with.” Those who direct Merri-Mac, Timberlake and Black Mountain Expeditions are not just in the business of promoting kids. They are in the business of promoting people, like me. I know I’m profoundly blessed to work with individuals who deeply care about providing a safe adventurous place for children.Those of you who’ve worked at camp know what I’m talking about. It’s one of the reasons why working at camp is my favorite job.

Interested in working at Camp? Come experience the love here at this camp. Come work at a place where you can safely learn about yourself alongside your campers. Come work with people whose greatest joy is to equip others. Humble people, who live out their faith daily, run this place. It’s inspiring. It’s life giving. It’s wholly fulfilling.

This season of my life could be spent in a less meaningful, less service-oriented, less fresh air and less outdoor environment, but I get to spend it here, dwelling in this place, with these people, for this moment.

And this moment is full.

 

written by Intern: Sadie Roebuck 

Why camp friends are the best friends

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I spent last week at the beach with some of my best friends, all of whom are camp friends. We played a lot of Spikeball and board games. We made great food and laid in the sun. A week at the beach with these people is easy. Why? Because we have done this before. We have had to take care of our living space together, we know when it’s time to set the table, we know how to play together. We all have either worked and/or been campers at Merri-Mac (and our husbands at Timberlake).

Why camp friends are the best friends:

Accustomed to being apart: When you go off to college or move to a new city the friends that will stick are the ones that know how to maintain friendships over long distances. Camp friends are accustomed to spending 2-4 weeks together then being apart for the rest of the year. These relationships have had to overcome distance from the beginning so things like going off to college are no big deal.

Unique common bond: Friendships are formed over common bonds, similar to being on a sports team together, but camp is like this to an extreme. You bond over having a love for your tribe, cheering each other on as you overcome fears, doing something really cool for the first time, and coping with being away from your parents for weeks at a time. This is unique. This is special.

Own language: At camp you have your own language. Friends at home don’t know what you are talking about when you mention Tray-Po, Macky’s, or the Mike. They don’t know what it means to be Choctaw, Iroquois or Seminole.

Live together: At camp you live, work, and play together. You and your cabin mates will work side by side cleaning the bathroom floors, or writing a new addition to your cabin song together, or going on a camp-out together. These kinds of things bond people.

Truest version of you: At camp there are no cell phones or computers. You are forced to have real conversations, look people in the eye, overcome conflict face-to-face, talk about your day, or talk about why you are nervous about going to high school after camp. People see you as your truest self.

Camp is a safe place: Camp is a safe place to make friends. You can be yourself, act silly, be a kid, and know that you are going to be accepted.

This was not our first vacation together. This won’t be out last vacation together.  We will make time to be together for the rest of our lives. Our children will eventually join the mix, wearing their tribe shirts, singing camp songs and laughing about inside jokes that are only understood by people who have the privilege of feeling their hearts swell as they turn onto Montreat Rd.

 

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This is Goodnight and Not Goodbye

 

As the Merri-Mac girls awoke this morning, one thought crossed their minds: the last day of activities. Inevitably, this brought upon nostalgia mixed with a strong desire to take advantage of every moment that the day would bring.

At breakfast, we enjoyed an egg and sausage casserole and a coffeecake (which most campers compare to the flavor of Fruity Pebbles). After breakfast, we walked up the hill to the chapel where we sang “The Banana Song” (a silly song about the love of God, the opening lines of which go: I like bananas/ yeah, mangos are sweet/ I like papayas, but nothing can beat/ that sweet, sweet love of God), “For All the Saints”, and “Light the Fire.” Counselor Miranda spoke about how God works in our hearts and then our actions begin to glorify Him in all that we do. She quoted Deuteronomy 6:5, which reads, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”

Today was an eventful final day of activities! In pottery, the campers finished up their work and glazed their pieces. Guitar classes hiked around camp to serenade all the different activities. They sang the popular song Pompeii by Bastille to pottery and Blessed be the Name of the Lord to riflery. In Riflery, Alex V., who got her gold this summer, named her gun! However, by the time I came by the class, she hadn’t chosen the name yet.

At lunch, we had a camp-favorite: pizza! After singing tribe songs at the top of our lungs, we hiked up the hill at the heat of the day to rest hour. Like always, everyone rushed down to trading post right when the bugle sounded, and we gave our sweet tooth exactly what it wanted.

Back to activities, guitar continued to serenade all the activities. Climbing rocked it at the brand new upper tower and the boulder.  Hot chocolate and marshmallows were enjoyed over a fire by back packing classes. Backpacking classes celebrated a wonderful session by making hot chocolate and roasting marshmallows over a fire. At the lake, the girls played kayak polo, which is basically like any team sport that requires a net and a ball… but it is played in kayaks and the use the paddles to pass the ball to each other. In cooking class, girls were refreshed by delicious milkshakes with whatever toppings and flavors they wanted!

Tonight at dinner, we had Asian chicken and rice with spring rolls and, after we enjoyed our fill, we sang our cabin songs for the last time!
Following dinner, we went up to the Tee Pee for White Feather, where girls are commended for moving up in ranks, receiving bars, marks and commendations. Gabrielle A. earned the rank of Bear, which is the highest rank in Junior Camp. Patterson G., Virginia C., Mattie G., Mary Elizabeth G., Janie C., and Mary Katherine F. earned the highest rank in Intermediate Camp—Long Bow. Finally, Elizabeth C., Becca M., Anna M., Millie M., Taylor T., and Alex V. received the White Feather—the highest rank at Merri-Mac!

The following girls received gold bars: In basketball, Katie G.; in chorus, Elizabeth C., Ellie P., Alex V.; in climbing, Mattie Y., Becca M.; in competitive swimming, Mattie G.; in EWS, Millie M.; in guitar, Margaret P.; in gymnastics, Savannah L., Morgan S., Leah G.; in kayaking, Elizabeth C.; in soccer, Anne Carter C., Emily K.; in swimming, Mattie G.; in tennis, Ingerid E., Margaret V., Aynsley R., Lindsay A., Kate T.; and, in volleyball, Mary Katherine F., Alex V.

After White Feather, we remembered all the memories we have made this summer at Final Campfire. Each cabin stood up and shared their favorite cabin memories! Then, at lakeside, which is one of the most beautiful events a Merri-Mac girl will ever see, a huge fire was set ablaze in the middle of the lake. The chiefs of Choctaw, Iroquois and Seminole, rowing in a canoe, brought the fire back on a torch to their tribes. Then, we sang, the Camp Psalm, All My Life’s A Circle, From This Haven, Tell Me Why, and Pass it On. During Pass It On, everyone sent out a lit candle on a plate to float across the lake. The first verse of this beautiful song is as follows:

It only takes a spark / to get a fire going / and soon all those around / can warm up in its glowing / That’s how it is with God’s love / Once you’ve experienced it / You spread His love to everyone / You want to pass it on.

Then, after singing Shades and I Want to Linger, the staff sang TAPS and everyone said goodbyes, shared some love in hugs and tears, and then went back to their cabins for the last night with their bunkmates that they have grown so close to.

We are so proud of all these girls have accomplished this summer and we cannot wait to see them again next year. They have grown so much over the past few weeks and, every day, we are so incredibly grateful that you have shared them with us. We look forward to seeing you tomorrow at closing ceremony! As we sang this evening, this is goodnight and not goodbye.

Maddy Mudd

Big Dipper Counselor