Activities & Trips

Friendships – the ones that matter and last – come from sharing things. Merri-Mac girls share tribes, songs, cabins, traditions, friends, adventures, and very busy days. Each girl chooses eight activities and is scheduled according to her skill level and age. Campers then attend four activities on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and the other four on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday. We also spend a lot of time on our nearby trails, rivers, rocks and lakes because the only thing better than a day in camp is a day in the mountains.

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Archery

Archery has long been a favorite at Camp Merri-Mac. It is a sport that requires total relaxation and calm deliberation, but also offers beginners a chance to improve quickly. Often a girl whose coordination or temperament prevents her from excelling in other sports has great success here.

Campers at Merri-Mac use quality recurve bows of varying sizes and draw weights. Like our other programs, our girls can start as beginners and progress through advanced levels as their accomplishments are recognized through the awarding of bronze, silver and gold bars. In archery, the gold bar also coincides with the requirements for American Archer, a nationally recognized archery qualification.

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Backpacking

Sit by a quiet evening camp fire and wake up on a mountain top. See where the deer come for water, and possibly even the deer himself, as he is startled by approaching footsteps.

Merri-Mac’s backpacking program is designed to give our girls the skills to travel safely and comfortably in the backcountry. We begin in camp learning the basics of wilderness first aid, campsite selection, backcountry cooking, orienteering, etc. and quickly move out on the trail as we visit places like Catawba Falls, Graybeard, and Lookout Mountain.

Our North Carolina mountains offer some of the most beautiful backpacking trails in the world. Come and explore them with us.

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Basketball

Learned skills become muscle memory as our girls learn to pair their skills with team work on our court.

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Canoeing

Our North Carolina mountains are teeming with some of the most exciting white water in the world. However, before a girl is ready to enjoy our rivers she must learn the basics on, and sometimes in, our lake. Here she will learn balance, self rescues, strokes and draws, and perhaps most importantly, teamwork. Of course, all of this is done with an emphasis on having fun as instruction is organized into games like canoe baseball or swamp wars.

Once these basics are mastered, our best swimmers and paddlers can move out to some of the most beautiful rivers in the world. Carefully planned days on the Green, Tuckaseegee, Pigeon, Nantahala, and French Broad rivers are the reward for hard work and fun afternoons on the lake.

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Climbing

Girls begin on one of our three climbing walls, learning the basics of movement and balance. From here, those who are ready, can move out to some of the finest granite in the Southeast. We ordinarily begin top-roping at Rumbling Bald or Linville Gorge. For those ready for longer routes we head to Pisgah for a day at Snake’s Den or Looking Glass Rock, or perhaps to Grandfather for some steeper routes. Along the way campers learn basic skills such as knot tying, basic safety, belay and rappel techniques so that by the time they progress through the Bronze, Silver and Gold Bars they have logged thousands of feet and years of experience on North Carolina granite.

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Cooking

Our demonstration kitchen and outdoor grilling station are among the most beautiful and well equipped we know. Our girls return home excited about new skills and love returning each summer to take those skills to the next level.

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Dance

While some of our girls are very good in one or two of our activities, most of them have never tried them before. Dance is no exception.

Here she may choose between classical dance and jazz. Learning technique will take up some of the time, but it won’t be long before she may be center stage in one of our camp productions. Princess Parties, Talent Night, The Carnival, Christmas in July, and dining hall skits are just some of the camp activities where she might find herself performing.

Like many of the activities in our arts programs, dance is also a wonderful activity for a girl to learn to express herself appropriately and with confidence.

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Diving

The Merri-Mac diving program is designed to first introduce young swimmers to the sport, as well as allow competitive divers to continue their workouts.

Diving teaches gross motor and fine motor coordination and at the same time helps girls develop a kinesthetic sense. As these skills are learned our girls gain athletic ability that will easily transfer to many other sports. Also, in our diving program our girls learn the commitment of trying a new dive, and trying it again, and trying it again, until they learn the trick. Of course, as in every activity, the key is to have an instructor who loves the sport, and loves the camper so that her enthusiasm will be contagious.

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DIY Arts & Crafts

In the spirit of Pinterest, Merri-Mac’s DIY crafts program is different from typical arts and crafts program in that it is designed to foster a love for creating.

In all of this it is not difficult to place a strong emphasis on just having fun. We draw, paint, sculpt, stain, tye-dye, bead and just plain create cool stuff every day. There are few greater rewards than looking at a well done piece and thinking “I made that.”

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Drama

We recently had a camper, who later became a counselor, write us to say that in her 12 years at Merri-Mac she never went on a backpacking trip, and she never climbed our ropes course, but that she fell in love with dance, drama and art at Merri-Mac. She went on to thank the directors for designing a program with so many ways for a camper to express her talents.

The Merri-Mac drama program is designed to help girls grow confident in expressing themselves in front of a group. Emphasis is placed on comedy, improv and dramatic games.

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Emergency Water Safety

Designed for our older girls, Emergency Water Safety is the first step in preparing for a Lifeguard Certification and it is a helpful prerequisite for professional level life saving certifications. Our EWS classes are small which is essential for this sort of skill based program. EWS is the right class for those who want to advance in their swimming and waterfront skills without the more strenuous training of our competitive swimming program.

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Fencing

Fencing has been described as physical chess. It is a blend of physical coordination and strategic thinking that can take years to master. Our girls learn the basic stances, grips, and moves and are soon fencing under the watchful eye of our fencing staff.

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Fitness

Aerobics, running and stretching are the foundation of our fitness program. We also love to customize programs for girls who need to follow a fitness schedule for a school team.

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Guitar

Music is an important part of summer camp, and that includes musical instruments like the guitar. Whether you are an experienced guitar player or a true beginner, you can hone your skills under the guidance of an experienced musician on the guitar.

The Blue Ridge Mountains are home to many talented bluegrass musicians, and our girls camp is no exception. There is almost always someone picking a tune on a guitar somewhere in camp, and our love of good music extends to our guitar classes.

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Gymnastics

Gymnastics is the bridge between art and sport. Developing strength, balance, grace, poise, a kinesthetic sense, explosive power, commitment, and attention to detail, the Merri-Mac Gymnastics program allows every girl to use her best talents as she progresses from beginner to advanced.

In a fully equipped gymnasium three college level gymnasts give expert instruction, introducing beginners to the sport in a fun-filled way and helping the more advanced gymnast continue to progress.

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Kayaking

Kayaking at Merri-Mac, like our other wilderness activities, has a significant out of camp trip portion. Our goal is to teach basic beginner skills on the lake and progress to the river. On the lake, campers learn how to “pull,” how to roll, and several basic strokes. On the river, a kayak allows the paddler to experience the thrill of piloting their own boat and “surfing” the waves.

Our kayaking staff is made up of qualified, seasoned paddlers comfortable on bigger water than our campers can run. We check river conditions and know the strength of our paddlers long before they get to the river, and kayaking, as a result, has become one of our favorite classes.

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Knitting

Time and again we hear that the Knitting Shack is where friends are made. We love seeing girls become close as they fall in love with knitting.

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Lacrosse

Lacrosse is one of the fastest growing high school sports in the country. Campers will have the opportunity to learn the sport for the very first time or grow in their already existing skills. Lacrosse is a high-energy game that will keep the campers active and on their toes. Campers will learn the importance of teamwork while playing a very fun sport.

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Mountain Biking

Mountain biking is one of the biggest outdoor sports and the Asheville area is the premier East Coast destination. Going through the woods on a singletrack trail is one of the best experiences a camper can have. We begin our girls on our pump track and camp trails before we get them a bit further out on trips. And at Merri-Mac, our girls get to do this in their favorite way…Together!

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PAWS Puppy Training

“This just in: dog and man heal hole in universe.” Each summer we host a litter of puppies for our PAWS program. This is designed to teach the dogs how to be well adjusted family members, but more importantly, it gives our girls a new perspective on how to bring out the best in something. They learn to teach these funny little creatures with consistency and confidence.

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Pottery

Pottery has a long tradition in the Asheville area and we are excited to offer this to our girls as a camp activity!

The clay is pretty limitless as an art form and during the summer we teach our girls both hand building and how to throw forms on the wheel. We have some skilled instructors who love teaching beginners as well as helping more experienced girls become ceramic artists.

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Rafting

We take 5-7 trips off campus each day. Most of these are associated with our in camp activities, but rafting is different. These trips are offered to those who sign up for them before arriving at camp and head out to some of the most beautiful whitewater in the country.

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Riding

Merri-Mac’s riding program is one of the finest in America. The directors’ family’s extensive experience on the national “A” show circuit and fox hunting has given them the knowledge to select an outstanding team of instructors and camp owned school horses. The program consists of instruction in hunt seat equitation from beginner to advanced.

Our campers begin in the ring, and when appropriate may even start one on one with a lunge line. Here they learn the basics of communicating with a very large animal through very subtle movements. As they progress our campers move from beginner to advanced levels, learning diagonals, leads, flying changes, leg yields and much more as they begin to build a partnership with their horses. Girls who are ready can also begin jumping over fences, and those on a more advanced level can continue to grow with the Merri-Mac riding program.

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Riflery

Riflery is a classic summer camp program and offers a chance to practice concentration, coordination, and calm deliberation. Riflery is a sport that demands attention to detail, both for safety and to do well with a .22 rifle on our range.

One of the most important things a camper will learn at Merri-Mac is how not to handle a gun. Taught by certified instructors with single shot .22 rifles, riflery is a popular class – both because of the relaxing nature of the sport and because our range is built across a beautiful mountain stream that whispers along beside our campers.

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Ropes Course

Our ropes course is designed to be fun and safe. Its high and low elements are an exciting way to learn team building skills, to challenge yourself physically and mentally, and to have a great time playing up in the tree tops!

Campers go through the ropes course a few elements at a time as part of our camp craft and backpacking programs. From time to time cabin groups also use the course – it’s a great way to get any group to learn to work together.

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Soccer

Play the world’s favorite sport on beautiful grassy fields in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains. You can learn fundamentals or grow your more advanced skills as you pass, trap and shoot with your friends. Soccer encourages fitness, coordination, sportsmanship and, most importantly, FUN!

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Special Days

When you are with your best friends every day is special. Some of our favorites are:

Christmas at Camp

Christmas is so special at home we thought, why not celebrate at camp, too? On Christmas Eve, our oldest girls “babysit” the others while the staff go cabin to cabin singing carols. The next day Santa arrives with Christmas music and breakfast in bed for all those who have been nice…which is everyone!

Tribefest

Tribefest is to camp what April 15th is to accountants. The tribes compete throughout the session, but Tribefest is when we get a little carried away. Drive by Black Mountain during Tribefest and you are guaranteed to hear cheers echoing off the mountains.

Birthdays

Every family celebrates birthdays a little differently, and so does every cabin. Of course there is always cake and singing with the whole camp, but then there’s almost always some other cabin-wide celebration. Every camper gets a year older every year, and we love it when that happens at camp.

4th of July

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We’re really good with special decorations and celebrations, and what’s better to celebrate than the fourth?

Timberlake Dance

Every now and then we get a visit from the boys at Camp Timberlake. This usually begins with some young man arriving at lunch, taking one knee and inviting our girls to a dance, which is quickly followed with mild hysteria, loud singing and an afternoon of cancelled classes and shower schedules.

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Summer Reading

Sometime our girls need down-time, and sometimes our parents need to know their girls are knocking out those summer reading requirements. So let us help with that.

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Swimming

Time on the waterfront fills many happy hours at Merri-Mac. Certified Water Safety Instructors give safe, expert instruction from beginners to advanced. Competitive swimmers are encouraged to continue their workouts under an experienced coach. Free swim, fun filled water games and just plain fun in the sun are also favorites.

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Tennis

Three beautiful all weather courts help to make tennis popular with our girls. Campers receive individual as well as group instruction from top players who are currently active in the sport.

Most of our activities are things our girls would not ordinarily have the opportunity to do at home. Tennis is an exception, and like most sports it is more fun to play well than poorly. For this reason we place a strong emphasis on quality instruction. If a camper learns the basics poorly it will be difficult for them to ever play well.

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Trips

There is a sense of adventure that a girl can find high up in the mountains that cannot be found anywhere else and so each day we offer a number of out of camp trips. Merri-Mac’s canoeing, kayaking, backpacking, mountain biking and climbing programs each offer numerous out of camp opportunities and it is not unusual for cabins to also plan special trips to local water slides and swimming holes.

In addition to this we offer several specialized day trips that families may choose before their campers arrive.Rafting the Pigeon and French Broad Rivers or a day waterskiing on Lake James are wonderful additions to daily camp life.

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Volleyball

Merri-Mac’s volleyball program is an opportunity for novices to learn the fundamentals and for competitive players to expand their skill level. Players will learn the value of working together as a team and improve their hand-eye coordination. In volleyball, campers hone their skills in keen preparation for the tribal volleyball tournament each session.

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Waterskiing

Learn how to waterski on beautiful Lake James! Our certified waterski instructors take campers on full day trips where they will improve their strength and balance as they learn to waterski, knee board and wake board. Novices can use our training boom as they develop their skill and confidence. In no time at all it seems, they are up on their feet with the wind in their hair as their friends encourage them with fist pumps and tribal cheers!

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Yoga

Our Yoga program focuses on fitness, core strength and balance and it is a great foundation for our other camp sports.