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Giving Back: Public Lands and the Season of Gratitude

Author: Ben Williams

At Falling Creek, we have an incredible adventure program with campers at every level in every program that we offer, and 85% of our trips taking place on public lands. These public lands are the backbone of the Falling Creek program. They provide the venue, the scenery, the challenge, and they are an important part of each camper’s story at Falling Creek. Your son will come home and tell you about riding at Dupont, or sliding at Sliding Rock in Pisgah, or climbing in Linville Gorge. Each of those places are public lands that we all own and have the ability to visit. Because of this, giving back to public lands has become an important facet of the Falling Creek program. This might include picking up trash at the trailhead, doing trail work, practicing Leave No Trace principles, or any of the other various ways we can give back. As Falling Creek’s Outdoor Adventure Director, I was recently invited on an expedition to the Green River in Utah. During this expedition, I volunteered with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), specifically with the Desolation Canyon River Rangers. Desolation Canyon is currently listed as a Wilderness Study Area, which is a designation that helps keep the canyon in an unaltered state, leaving it as a wild place. This means that the BLM does not mark campsites or items of historical significance. It also means that the BLM does a great deal of user education, and that all users are held to a very high standard regarding the impact that each run down the river makes on the canyon.
Ben was invited on a beautiful service expedition along the Green River in Utah Ben was invited on a beautiful service expedition along the Green River in Utah
Rafting along the Green River with the Desolation Canyon River Rangers, as part of a Bureau of Land Management expedition Rafting along the Green River with the Desolation Canyon River Rangers, as part of a Bureau of Land Management expedition
The Green River through Desolation Canyon is even deeper than the Grand Canyon at its lowest point. It is 89 miles long, sees about 6000 users a year, and is in one of the most remote places in the lower 48 states. The river drops about 600 vertical feet over the course of it’s 89 miles from put-in to take-out, and is made up of over 50 rapids in the Class II and Class III range. It was evident why the canyon and it’s resources are part of a large National Historic Landmark. During my time at Falling Creek, I have developed an ethic revolving around public land education, and helping others get out in those lands has become my life mission. The ability to give back to public lands was just one small way for me to live out the Falling Creek Code, and practice the Servant’s Heart values that we discuss throughout the summer. During the expedition, I conducted 22 campsite checks, removed countless Russian Olive trees which are invasive to the local area, marked other invasive weeds with GPS for future removal, and inspected 15 different historical sites. My favorite volunteer activity of the trip was examining the historical sites. Desolation Canyon has petroglyphs, rock houses, and granieries dating back several thousands of years to the Fremont Indians. The Fremont culture is extinct, and thus no one truly knows what the various petroglyphs mean. Were they created by bored teenagers, or are they a way of passing information on to the next member of the tribe? No one knows for sure, but seeing the stone carvings and thinking about living in the harsh climate year round was certainly eye opening for me in several ways.

Petroglyphs at the historical sites in Desolation CanyonPetroglyphs at the historical sites in Desolation Canyon
No one knows why the Fremont Indians created these petroglyphs, but they have been preserved in the rocks for generationsNo one knows why the Fremont Indians created these petroglyphs, but they have been preserved in the rocks for generations
A grainery from the historical sites at Desolation Canyon. The Fremont Indians used them to store various items, such as food, along the river corridor. They are made with sticks and mud, and would have a capstone covering the hole in the top to keep dust and animals out.A grainery from the historical sites at Desolation Canyon. The Fremont Indians used them to store various items, such as food, along the river corridor. They are made with sticks and mud, and would have a capstone covering the hole in the top to keep dust and animals out.

However, the biggest takeaway was that our current culture and communities are just one small piece of the earth’s story, and that if we are not careful, we could destroy all of the other stories with our actions. How is it that in this day of seemingly limitless technology and information, society is at times unable to see the long term effects of our actions on our surroundings? This shortsightedness is what I struggle with daily, wondering often if my single action will have an effect on others. It is easy to think that taking an artifact from a wilderness area you visit won’t be missed, or that it would be more convenient just to pave roads right through the pristine landscape so we can drive through. Seemingly “harmless” actions like these can have a big impact on a wilderness area in the long term. It sometimes seems as if we have forgotten that future generations might want to experience these wild places in an unaltered state, and we have to remember that preservation requires some effort. However, just as seemingly small actions can have a large negative impact in the long term, our small actions can also have a large positive impact as well. That is where the responsibility of giving back to our public lands comes in.
Sunset at one of the campsites along the Green River in UtahSunset at one of the campsites along the Green River in Utah
Notice the arch formation along the ridge line, known as Notice the arch formation along the ridge line, known as "Broken Finger"
As Americans, public land is for all of us. While some public land areas need to have developed campgrounds, showers, tours, and signage, others need to be left wild and relatively untouched. These more primitive areas require some work to maintain, as I learned through my expedition in Utah. Yet this work is worth it because the beautiful areas are left preserved and wild, ready to take one’s breath away. It is all about compromise and understanding that others’ needs are equal to my own, and that my definition of wild might be different than someone else’s. At the end of the day, regardless of what we personally define as “wilderness,” we can all agree that public lands of every kind need respect and maintenance. Maybe that is why I love working at Falling Creek so much, because some of the values in our Code support this and help us remember that we are part of a bigger community. For example: living with enthusiasm, treating everyone with respect, and taking responsibility for your actions. In this season of gratitude and giving back, I want to challenge all of you to think about ways that you can support and give back to the public lands that surround you. Whether they are primitive wilderness areas or well trafficked and developed parks, everyone deserves the chance to experience the beauty of the outdoors, and it is up to us to ensure that these spaces are preserved and maintained for generations to come.
Enjoying the view along the Green RiverEnjoying the view along the Green River
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Week 5 - Falling Creek Camp Reunion and Movie Show Travel Blog

What a great final week of travel! Yates got to visit camp families in Houston, TX, Dallas, TX, and Bronxville, NY to round out the travel season. It was exciting seeing so many old and new faces, and it makes us that much more eager for the summer to start again. If we didn’t make it to your city this year, don’t worry – we still have one more Falling Creek Camp Reunion and Movie Show next week in Asheville, NC! The best part is, we’ll be streaming it live so our camp friends all over the world can tune in. Connect with us on November 14th at 7:00pm EST through our Facebook page, and you can still have the opportunity to get this year’s limited edition trunk sticker!

FCC staff, the dads who are FCC alumni, and those that have attended the Father/Son Weekends, joined the boys in the Houston group photoFCC staff, the dads who are FCC alumni, and those that have attended the Father/Son Weekends, joined the boys in the Houston group photo

This past Monday, we headed down to the big state of Texas to visit our friends in Houston. Carleton and Winifred Riser were the gracious hosts of the evening, and we had a great crowd for the first Reunion and Movie Show of the week. Winifred surprised the crew with cold bottles of Cheerwine, which is a camp favorite that we get treated to once a week at Cookout Dinner. The Fannings also brought a giant cookie cake of the Falling Creek logo, which was just as beautiful as it was delicious.
Thanks to the Fannings for the beautiful cookie cake!Thanks to the Fannings for the beautiful cookie cake!
Born in the South...raised in a glass!Born in the South...raised in a glass!
Carleton went to Falling Creek as a camper in the 70s and 80s when Yates and his brothers attended. The Riser sons, Robert, Mac, and young Carleton are all returning this summer, and we can’t wait to see them at Main Camp.
Yates with Carleton Riser and his 3 boys, Mac (left), Robert, and young Carleton.Yates with Carleton Riser and his 3 boys, Mac (left), Robert, and young Carleton.
Nicci and Chris Greely served as the camp doctor family during the final week of Main Camp again this past summer, and they took the time to come out to the Reunion and Movie Show as well. Their three boys, Grant, John, and Spencer, were also there, and we’ll be looking forward to having them return to Main Camp in 2019 too! The three Greely boys and Robert Riser are all members of the Honor Council, a group elected by their peers for modeling the FCC Code, who get to attend the first part of staff meetings and represent the camper body.
Yates with the Greeley family. Nicci and Chris have served as camp doctors the past two summers during the final week of Main Camp. The Greeley boys will be back at Main Camp in 2019!Yates with the Greeley family. Nicci and Chris have served as camp doctors the past two summers during the final week of Main Camp. The Greeley boys will be back at Main Camp in 2019!
A big thank you also to Patrick Fanning, Paul Smith, Harrison Wallace, Pete Curtis, and Wells White who shared stories and helped Yates explain details about Falling Creek to new families. We remain thrilled that all of these boys, and their brothers, will be back this summer. It was another great evening to reconnect with FCC families and share our wonderful community with the families who came to learn more about camp.
It was a great turn out in Houston!It was a great turn out in Houston!
Fun to see so many familiar faces Fun to see so many familiar faces
Reconnecting with camp friends in HoustonReconnecting with camp friends in Houston

The following evening was spent in Dallas, Texas at the Minnehan family home. Marianne and Brian are fantastic hosts, and both Minnehan boys will be returning to Falling Creek this summer. We’re looking forward to having both Patrick and Davis back at camp in 2019! One of the best parts about having familiar faces at these reunions and movie shows is that veteran campers can help share their stories about camp with interested families. Patrick, Lance Broad, Will & Ben Brittian, Logan Hope, Harrison Keyes, and Erik Soelberg were a great help with the presentation and telling the new families about their Falling Creek experience.

Great to see everyone in Dallas!Great to see everyone in Dallas!
Yates also enjoyed connecting with Emily and Rick Broad, who were counselors with Marisa and him. Emily and Marisa both worked on the swim docks together, and it is fun to still have those connections years later. Their three sons, Charles, Bennett, and Lance, have been coming to Falling Creek for the past 13 summers and it is incredible to see that community continue through generations.
Bennett Broad, Yates, Whit Flickinger, Lance and Rick BroadBennett Broad, Yates, Whit Flickinger, Lance and Rick Broad
Lance, Will, Ben, and Beckett in DallasLance, Will, Ben, and Beckett in Dallas
Camp friends in Dallas!Camp friends in Dallas!

To wrap up the fifth week of travel, Yates headed north to New York. Emily and Mark Liggitt hosted at their beautiful home in Bronxville, NY, and we got to catch up with their sons Walker and Marshall. Emily also shared some awesome Falling Creek cookies, iced with a beautiful picture of the FCC flame.

Emily shared some beautiful cookies at the New York Reunion and Movie Show!Emily shared some beautiful cookies at the New York Reunion and Movie Show!
Several of the veteran Falling Creek campers helped tell their stories of camp, including Gregory Hefner, Stratton Werner, Walker Moore, and Walker and Marshall Liggitt. Gregory and his dad will be returning for their 4th Father/Son Weekend this summer, and we’re excited to have them back. John Reynolds was a camper who was originally from Augusta, Georgia, and came to Falling Creek in the 70s and 80s. His son, Oliver, also came to the Reunion and Movie Show, and it was great to connect with them both. Tyler Vaughey attended camp in the late 70s when he was living in Jackson, Mississippi, and he also brought his family. His son Tanner is coming to Falling Creek this summer, which was exciting to hear.
What a great way to end the week of travel! Thanks to the Liggitt family for hosting us in New York What a great way to end the week of travel! Thanks to the Liggitt family for hosting us in New York
Tanner, Walker, and Marshall at the Reunion and Movie Show in BronxvilleTanner, Walker, and Marshall at the Reunion and Movie Show in Bronxville
Liggitt and Vaughey family members with Yates in BronxvilleLiggitt and Vaughey family members with Yates in Bronxville
Catching up around the campfire in Bronxville, NYCatching up around the campfire in Bronxville, NY

It was a great week to end on, and we enjoyed seeing our friends in Texas and New York. Thank you to the 15 wonderful families that have already hosted us around the country this year. We appreciate everyone who took the time out of their busy schedules to connect with us at the Reunions and Movie Shows across 10 different states, showing once again how strong the Falling Creek Community is. We’re looking forward to our last show of the season next week at the West Family home in Asheville (and online through Facebook)!

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Week 3 and 4 - Camp Movie Show and Reunion Travel Blog

It’s hard to believe the third and fourth week of travel is finished already! It was extra busy during the third week, as Yates traveled to four cities in a row instead of just three. On Monday, October 22nd, we kicked off the week in Charlotte, NC. Then we headed to Jacksonville, Florida on Tuesday and Winter Park, Florida on Wednesday. The final stop for the week was Charleston, South Carolina. To start off the next week, we got to travel to Nashville, Tennessee on Monday. Meeting new families and catching up with old alumni and campers is one of the best parts of camp’s “off season,” and we really enjoyed getting to share this week of travel with you all.

Camp friends catching up in CharlotteCamp friends catching up in Charlotte

Monday’s show in Charlotte, NC was special for Yates because it is his hometown. Kelly and Patrick Ridinger graciously hosted the Falling Creek Camp Movies & Reunion at their home. Charlotte remains a huge "camp town,” and many current Charlotte campers also have fathers who are Falling Creek alumni. It’s exciting to see camp get passed from generation to generation, where fathers and sons can have that extra bond that comes from sharing the camp experience. Paul Leonard lives in Charlotte, and was a Falling Creek camper in the late 70’s through the early 80’s. He came with his son Matthew, and we enjoyed having them to help tell everyone stories about their experiences and what makes them continue to come back to Falling Creek.

FCC alumnus Paul Leonard (left) and his son Matthew reconnect with Yates and other FCC families.FCC alumnus Paul Leonard (left) and his son Matthew reconnect with Yates and other FCC families.
Mike Nuckles and Andrew Josupait are two all-star recent alums. Nuckles worked at FCC from 2009-2016, and Andrew was here in 2015 and 2017. They have also both worked recent Father/Son Weekends, and took the time to come and support Falling Creek at the Charlotte movie show and reunion. It was great to catch up with them, and they are doing big things. Nuckles is the assistant athletic director at Charlotte Country Day School, which also happens to be Yates’ alma mater. Andrew will be graduating in December from UNCC with an engineering degree.
10-year camper Bo Phillips (left) reconnects with previous staff members Andrew Josupait and Mike Nuckles10-year camper Bo Phillips (left) reconnects with previous staff members Andrew Josupait and Mike Nuckles
Thanks also to Cannon Ridinger for sharing his home and helping Yates with the presentation. We are excited that Cannon will be coming to Main Camp in 2019, where he can expand his passion for whitewater paddling!
Great turn-out at the Ridinger's home in Charlotte!Great turn-out at the Ridinger's home in Charlotte!
The Dads who attended Father/Son Weekend joined FCC alumni, staff, and the boys for a photo of the big turnout at the Ridinger's home.The Dads who attended Father/Son Weekend joined FCC alumni, staff, and the boys for a photo of the big turnout at the Ridinger's home.
5-year camper, Roy R (left) and 6-year camper Mason S enjoyed reconnecting, and they are exciting to be returning to June camp in 2019.5-year camper, Roy R (left) and 6-year camper Mason S enjoyed reconnecting, and they are exciting to be returning to June camp in 2019.

On Tuesday, we headed down south to visit our camp families in Florida. Though we’re breaking out the sweaters and watching the leaves change color already at camp, it was nice and warm in Florida still. Jacksonville was the first stop in Florida for the Falling Creek Camp movie and reunion tour. Thanks to Raymur and Phil Rachels for hosting the big event again at their home. It was great to reconnect with a number of veteran campers, including Richard Nichols, Hill Jenkins, Gunnar Davidson, and Jack Valentino. All of them have been to camp for more than 5 summers each, so they were the perfect crew to tell the new families about their Falling Creek experiences.

The crew in Jacksonville at the Rachels family home The crew in Jacksonville at the Rachels family home
Hill Jenkins and Gunnar Davidson enjoying the opportunity to reconnectHill Jenkins and Gunnar Davidson enjoying the opportunity to reconnect

From Jacksonville, we headed farther South down Florida to Winter Park, where Laura and Brett Lawton hosted the Falling Creek Camp movies and reunion for the Orlando area. Laura presented a beautiful Falling Creek cookie cake, which was a huge hit.

Laura's famous FCC cookie cake!Laura's famous FCC cookie cake!
Their son Jack was a big help by answering many of the questions for parents and boys who have not been to camp yet. We are excited that he will be coming to his first Main Camp session this summer! There were several other veteran campers who helped Yates as well. We love having current campers and alumni at these reunions because not only is it fun to catch up, but it is always nice to have returning campers share their Falling Creek experiences so new parents can hear from them directly. It was wonderful to reconnect with William Boor, a long time Falling Creek alum from Atlanta. Will was a camper from 2002 – 2011, a CIT in 2013, and a counselor in 2015 and 2016. He works in the insurance business in Orlando now and took the time to come by and support FCC. Everyone enjoyed hearing about his camp experiences, including his accomplishments of Warrior in Blacksmithing and Ranger in Ultimate Frisbee. Alumni Pat Malloy was a Falling Creek camper in the late 80’s and early 90’s, and is now the upper school principal at the nearby Trinity Preparatory School. We can’t wait to see his boys, Wip and Duncan, at the 2-Week session this summer.
Alumni Pat Mulloy, William Boor, and Yates Pharr reconnecting at the Orlando area FCC movies and reunion Alumni Pat Mulloy, William Boor, and Yates Pharr reconnecting at the Orlando area FCC movies and reunion
Having a ball at the movie show and reunion in Winter Park, FL!Having a ball at the movie show and reunion in Winter Park, FL!
Alumni and dads who have come to Father/Son Weekend joined the group photo with the boys in the Orlando areaAlumni and dads who have come to Father/Son Weekend joined the group photo with the boys in the Orlando area
Catching up with camp friends in Winter Park!Catching up with camp friends in Winter Park!
We love having the opportunity to reconnect after the summerWe love having the opportunity to reconnect after the summer

From Florida, we headed back North on Thursday and stopped in Charleston, SC with the FCC families in the area. Many thanks to Beezer & Emily Molten for having us in their huge Half-Moon Outfitters store, which was a fun setting to host the event. Also a big thank you to Catherine and Clay McCullough for coordinating the yummy pizza and refreshments. The boys loved having the opportunity to climb on the two large rock walls in the store while seeing their camp friends.

Having two indoor rock walls at the Charleston show was awesome!Having two indoor rock walls at the Charleston show was awesome!
It was great reconnecting with Steven & Cindi Feingold and one of their sons, Sam. The Feingold family has been an important part of the camp community as a long-time camp doctor family. We are happy they’ll be returning to Falling Creek in 2019 for their 10th summer serving as one of our weekly camp doctor families.
Yates with Cindi & Steven Feingold, with one of their sons, Sam. They will be returning to FCC in 2019 for their 10th summer as the camp physician family for a weekYates with Cindi & Steven Feingold, with one of their sons, Sam. They will be returning to FCC in 2019 for their 10th summer as the camp physician family for a week
Hunter Louis, an FCC camper in the 90’s, also brought his two boys to the movie show and reunion. Hunter and his oldest son will be attending the August Father/Son Weekend this summer. We are also excited that the entire family will be serving as a camp doctor family during a week of the 2-week session.
FCC alumni Hunter Louis with his family. Hunter will bring his family in 2019 to serve as the physician for a week during the 2-week session.FCC alumni Hunter Louis with his family. Hunter will bring his family in 2019 to serve as the physician for a week during the 2-week session.
Chip Shealy, also an FCC alumni, brought his two boys, Jackson and Whit. Jackson will be returning for his 4th summer in 2019, but it will be his first time at the June Camp session. His brother Whit is headed to Junior camp. 10-year camper Harper Kissell and 7-year camper Rodgers McCullough were also able to make it to the reunion and movie show. They teamed up with a number of other veteran campers to help tell their Falling Creek stories to all of the new families who came to learn more about camp.
10-year FCC camper Harper Kissell (left) and 7-year FCC camper Rodgers McCullough.10-year FCC camper Harper Kissell (left) and 7-year FCC camper Rodgers McCullough.
The great crew in Charleston, SC!The great crew in Charleston, SC!

On Monday after the weekend, we traveled to Nashville, Tennessee on October 29th. It was a great way to start off the week, and a big thanks to Elizabeth and Les Coble for hosting the event at their home. Their son Daviss will be returning to camp in 2019 for his third summer, this time at the Main camp session. Thanks also to Shae and Jim Uden, who served as co-hosts. Jim Uden was a camper and counselor at FCC when Yates was also a counselor, and now his son Whit will be returning for his second summer at the June camp session.

Jim Uden was a camper and counselor at FCC when Yates was also a counselor, and now his son Whit will be returning for his second summerJim Uden was a camper and counselor at FCC when Yates was also a counselor, and now his son Whit will be returning for his second summer
Camp nurse Brittany Nelson and her son Jack also came to support, and they will both be back at June camp this summer.
Camp nurse Brittany Nelson and her son Jack-  they will both be back at June camp this summer!Camp nurse Brittany Nelson and her son Jack- they will both be back at June camp this summer!
There was a great group of returning campers who helped Yates explain the Falling Creek experience to those new families who came. Charlie Gatto, Jack Nelson, and Drew Bennett were among those returning campers who helped answer questions and share stories.
Yates with Charlie Gatto. Charlie will be returning for his 8th summer and his brother Henry will be returning for his 4th in 2019Yates with Charlie Gatto. Charlie will be returning for his 8th summer and his brother Henry will be returning for his 4th in 2019
Great seeing everyone in Nashville!Great seeing everyone in Nashville!
Daviss and Cole - can't wait to see you both again this summer!Daviss and Cole - can't wait to see you both again this summer!
Great evening at the Coble family homeGreat evening at the Coble family home

Thanks again to all of the families who took time out of their busy schedules to catch up with us. Next week we’re headed to Texas and New York! Come join us in Houston on Monday, November 5th, Dallas on Tuesday, November 6th, and Bronxville on Wednesday, November 6th. Just one more week of travel left, plus our live-streamed show in Asheville on November 14th! Can’t wait to see you soon.

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Camp Movie Show and Reunion Travel Blog - Week 2

As we reflect on our second week of travel, we’re constantly reminded that camp friendships run deep. Previous campers and counselors gather at these movie shows to reunite with old friends. Whether they were campers here just this past summer, counselors a few years back, or they are grown dads who have fond memories at The Creek from decades past, they are all united by their positive experiences at camp. Even though these camp movie shows were initially started to explain what Falling Creek was about and introduce new boys to camp, they have since turned into more. Not only are they informative and inviting for new families, they are also fun reunions for returning camp families. Every city we go to is a chance to reconnect with friends, sharing the camp experience that is so important for us all. It is exciting to see how expansive those camp connections are, uniting boys all across the country and even the world. This week we stayed on the east coast, traveling to Raleigh NC, Richmond VA, and Alexandria VA.

On October 15th, we started the week off in Raleigh at Emily and Pat Funderburk’s home. Their older son Patrick will be returning to 2-Week camp for his third year this summer, and we’re looking forward to when Wells is old enough to join too! There were quite a number of dads at the Raleigh show who have been a part of Father/Son Weekends, and it is always enjoyable to catch up.

Yates with the Funderburk’sYates with the Funderburk’s
Raleigh show at the Funderburk's home -  all the boys in attendance, plus dads from Father/Son, alumni, and staffRaleigh show at the Funderburk's home - all the boys in attendance, plus dads from Father/Son, alumni, and staff

George Edwards was one father who was part of Falling Creek in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. His son will be returning to camp in 2019, and they both came to the show in Raleigh to reconnect with everyone. Tor Ramsey, who has been involved in editing the camp movie several times since 2006, lives in Raleigh, and was also in attendance. Tor was the lead behind "Behold50,” the new 1 hour movie celebrating 5 decades at Falling Creek camp. You can find the link to this movie in the alumni section of the Falling Creek website. Tor did a great job as usual, and we suggest sitting down to watch this movie on your TV. Another thank you goes out to Sam and James Frushone, who are returning to Main camp in 2019 for their 6th summer. They both helped explain to the new families what Falling Creek is about, and gave some insight into their camp experiences for new boys who came to learn more about FCC. James was the first Warrior ever in the F.A.R.M., one of Falling Creek’s newest programs that focuses on learning about sustainability, gardening, animals, and repurposing materials. Sam has 2 of his 3 Warrior waypoints, which is the highest level attainable in our programs. He is a Ranger in his 3rd, which is the level just below Warrior. To become a Journeyman, campers must first show proficiency in a variety of camp activities, and must have reached the level of Warrior in at least three programs to prove this. Sam is well on his way, and plans to focus on becoming a Journeyman in this coming 2019 summer. You can read more about this unique challenge and camp experience in our previous summer blogs about Journeymen during Main camp this past summer. Sam is excited about working towards his Journeyman status, and having a chance to complete his Journey to become a Keeper of The Flame in the future.

Yates with Sam and James Frushone in RaleighYates with Sam and James Frushone in Raleigh

For following day on the 16th, we headed to Richmond, VA, the next stop on the Falling Creek Camp movies and reunion tour. Thanks to Sarah and Beau Hurst for hosting at their beautiful home. The 4 Hurst boys have been spending their summers at Falling Creek since 2007. They’re known for being big outdoorsmen, and especially avid whitewater paddlers. Wade Blackwood, who was a counselor at Falling Creek in the mid 90’s, brought his family to the movie show and reunion. His son Spencer is coming to Junior camp for his first Falling Creek experience this summer. Wade is the Executive Director of the American Canoe Association where Chris Stec, a former FCC counselor with Wade, and Program Director at FCC, is also on the ACA team as it’s Chief Operating Officer. Meade Whitaker was a camper and counselor in the 80’s and 90’s, and he drove over from Charlottesville, VA where he and his family live.

The great crew in Richmond, VA - all the boys in attendance, plus dads from Father/Son, alumni, and staffThe great crew in Richmond, VA - all the boys in attendance, plus dads from Father/Son, alumni, and staff
Yates with Meade WhitakerYates with Meade Whitaker

Steve and Kirki Fuller also came to the Hurst’s home, and their son Harrison is returning to main camp for summer 2019. Steve and Yates especially enjoyed reconnecting as they are fraternity brothers from their days at Appalachian State. Steve also took Yates out on the brand new mountain bike trails at Pocahontas State Park before the camp movies and reunion event.

Yates with Harrison, Kirki, & Steve FullerYates with Harrison, Kirki, & Steve Fuller
Cheerwine!!!Cheerwine!!!
Enjoying pizza and friends at the Richmond, VA movie show and reunionEnjoying pizza and friends at the Richmond, VA movie show and reunion

The final day of travel was this past Wednesday, October 17th. We made our way a little further north to Alexandria, VA, where Katie and David Woodruff hosted us at their beautiful home. Their sons Will and Charlie are main campers, and they joined with several other FCC campers in attendance to help tell the story of camp to new families.

The crew in Alexandria, VA! All the boys in attendance, plus dads from Father/Son, alumni, and staffThe crew in Alexandria, VA! All the boys in attendance, plus dads from Father/Son, alumni, and staff
Friends at the Woodruff home for the Alexandria, VA movie show and reunionFriends at the Woodruff home for the Alexandria, VA movie show and reunion

It was also wonderful to reconnect with Mickey Herman, a 13-year camper, CIT, counselor, and previous assistant director at Falling Creek. Mickey finished law school recently at Wake Forest and is starting his new life as a lawyer in D.C. this month. Patrick Greenwood, a 3-year counselor at FCC, returned from coaching in Europe and came to the Woodruff home as well. He is now serving as a teacher and coach nearby. We are appreciative to them both for taking time to come and support Falling Creek! It was a beautiful night to share camp.
Thanks to everyone who came to the camp reunions and movie shows this week, and especially to the wonderful families who hosted. Whether it was our first time meeting you, or you are a long time friend and Falling Creeker, we loved getting the chance to see you all!

Yates with Mickey Herman and Patrick Greenwood in Alexandria, VAYates with Mickey Herman and Patrick Greenwood in Alexandria, VA
Camp friends at the movie show and reunion in Alexandria, VA Camp friends at the movie show and reunion in Alexandria, VA

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Camp Movie Show and Reunion Travel Blog - Week 1

Every summer after the last camper heads home, the final activity supplies are put away, and the last counselors leave, camp reverts back to it’s dormant phase, quietly waiting for another exciting summer to begin in May. You might think that the same is true for the directors and leadership team. Don’t they close up shop and retreat back to their homes for the long winter? Actually, it’s the opposite – the off season for camp is almost busier than than when the campers are here! During the Fall and Winter, the year-round team is busy recruiting staff, interviewing, completing work projects, planning the upcoming sessions, and traveling all over the country to camp family homes and colleges.
This past week was the first of many in this year’s Camp Movie and Reunion travel schedule. These shows take place all over the country, from the end of September through November. A full travel calendar can be found on our website (https://www.fallingcreek.com/news/travel-calendar), but if we don’t make it to your city this year, you can always tune into the last show in Asheville, which we stream live on Facebook. To kick off this season of travel, Yates was able to visit four cities, hosted by four of our incredible camp families. He was in Atlanta, GA on Sunday, then Birmingham, AL, New Orleans, LA, and finally Greenville, SC on Wednesday.
The Daniel Family were our gracious hosts for the show in Atlanta on September 30th. It was a fantastic way to start the travel week, and director Frank Tindall was also able to be there. Pizza was served and there was time to mingle before watching the movie in the backyard in a fun outdoor setting.

Atlanta kicked off the week with a great Movie Show and ReunionAtlanta kicked off the week with a great Movie Show and Reunion
Camp friends in AtlantaCamp friends in Atlanta
The new 2019 trunk sticker was also revealed, which is a collectible item that campers can only receive at a Movie Show and Reunion. This year’s design is the dining hall, and we were excited to share these stickers for the first time in Atlanta.
The 2019 Collectible Trunk Sticker The 2019 Collectible Trunk Sticker
As a side note, if you would like a sticker but we aren’t traveling to your city this year, just tune in to the Asheville Facebook live show and we’ll send stickers to all those who participate through the live feed as well!
The second day led us to Birmingham, where the Mandell Family hosted at their beautiful home on October 1st. Ken Cochran, who was on staff in 1988-89, also came to reconnect and even took some photos, just like he did at camp back in the late 80’s when he was on photography staff.
It was a great turnout in Birmingham!It was a great turnout in Birmingham!
It was fun having so many veteran campers in attendance to share their Falling Creek experience with all of the new families. Though many of the families who come to these shows are new to camp and looking for more information about Falling Creek, there are also many families who come to simply reunite with friends and catch up since the summer.
Watching the Camp Movie in the Mandell Family home Watching the Camp Movie in the Mandell Family home

On October 2nd, the Pipes Family opened their home in New Orleans. New Orleans has always been a city that sends a number of boys up to NC for camp in the summer, and we are always happy to reconnect with our friends down in Louisiana.
The great crew at the New Orleans Movie Show and Reunion!The great crew at the New Orleans Movie Show and Reunion!
Many of the boys at the New Orleans show were at camp this summer, and even though it has only been a few months since we last saw them, you can already tell how much they are growing! Seeing the boys grow into the great young men we know they are is one of the most rewarding parts of the ongoing camp experience.
A few of our incredible campers from New Orleans!A few of our incredible campers from New Orleans!

To round out the week, we finished the tour on Wednesday in Greenville. It was a beautiful evening, and we are grateful to Cary and Gage Weekes for welcoming everyone to their home.
4-time Father/Son attendees, the Savage's, came to reconnect with the FCC community4-time Father/Son attendees, the Savage's, came to reconnect with the FCC community
Yates was able to reconnect with Kelly Odom, who was a camper in his June 3-Week cabin back in 1987! He was able to meet Kelly’s family, and we are excited to have his son join us at Falling Creek this coming summer.
Yates Pharr with Kelly Odom, one of his campers from June Camp 1987Yates Pharr with Kelly Odom, one of his campers from June Camp 1987
Yates and Frank Jackson leading a Fontana Trip during June Camp in 1987 (Kelly is in the blue second from the right) Lawrence Whatley is to the right of Frank, and Spencer South is to the right of him. Both are FCC dads, and Lawrence was at the Monday night show!Yates and Frank Jackson leading a Fontana Trip during June Camp in 1987 (Kelly is in the blue second from the right) Lawrence Whatley is to the right of Frank, and Spencer South is to the right of him. Both are FCC dads, and Lawrence was at the Monday night show!
Yates with his June Camp Cabin in 1987, including a young Kelly Odom Yates with his June Camp Cabin in 1987, including a young Kelly Odom
Cary presented some amazing FCC logo and CODE cookies for dessert that were almost too pretty to eat, and were a huge hit. It was great seeing super-counselor Andrew Smith, who is now a PA in Greenville and came by the show to support and reconnect.
Cary presented some incredible custom cookies at the Greenville show!Cary presented some incredible custom cookies at the Greenville show!
Thanks for a great night Greenville! Long time staff member Andrew Smith (back row far left) was also able to reconnect and come say hi Thanks for a great night Greenville! Long time staff member Andrew Smith (back row far left) was also able to reconnect and come say hi

We are so grateful for all the incredible Falling Creek families who open their beautiful homes for these Movie Shows and Reunions. Your support is what makes all of this possible. Our next travel week, starting Monday, October 15, will take us to Raleigh NC, Richmond VA, and Alexandria VA. We’re looking forward to seeing you soon!

-Annie Pharr

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