Tag: 2019

Best Wishes for Sam Clayton

Our Assistant Program Director, Sam Clayton, has been a friendly and familiar face in and out of camp for the past three years. You may have met him at your college job fair, played one of his invented “all-camp-games” during the summer, been belayed up Gilbert’s Rock by him, paddled with him down local whitewater, or received one of his “fist bumps” between activity periods. Sam has been crucial to both the recruiting process and alumni communications during the offseason, as well working with Program Director Kyle to ensure smooth programming throughout the summer. After three great years at Falling Creek, we want to wish Sam Clayton the best as he moves on to his next chapter in life.

As many of you know, Sam and his new wife Maddie were recently married after this past summer. We have been fortunate to have Sam at Falling Creek since 2017, and we are overjoyed for he and Maddie as they begin their next stage together. Sam graduated from Young Harris with a degree in outdoor education, and was a District Executive with the Boy Scouts of America before joining the Falling Creek team as our Assistant Program Director. Sam consistently embodies the Falling Creek Code, and his enthusiasm for camp was visible every day.

Sam often led parts of Church or Campfire, and his genuine care for the counselors and campers in our Falling Creek community was readily apparent. Sam often led parts of Church or Campfire, and his genuine care for the counselors and campers in our Falling Creek community was readily apparent.

Though he was never a camper, Sam fit into his role at Falling Creek so seamlessly that you would have thought he was a lifetime “Falling Creeker”. Out of everything at camp, Sam shared that, “the thing I enjoyed the most was making a profound impact on the lives of our boys through great experiences, a solid community, and a connection with nature.” Though Sam made it seem like it was all fun and games, being in a leadership role at camp can be hard work. “Running a cookout for 450+ people is no small task!” he jokes.

A multi-talented outdoorsman, Sam can instruct on an outdoor adventure trip just as easily as he can invent and lead an Evening Program!A multi-talented outdoorsman, Sam can instruct on an outdoor adventure trip just as easily as he can invent and lead an Evening Program!

Anyone who has worked at camp can attest to the fact that though the work can be demanding, the rewards are worth it. Sam explained, “the biggest lesson I learned is that the true hero of any boy’s summer is a good counselor who can bring to life the camp experience.” He plans on using that lesson in his future endeavors by always striving to be the best version of himself, leaving a positive impact on those around him. “The biggest takeaway for me in my next professional career, will be how I choose to lead and learn from the people I have the pleasure working with,” Sam shared.

Sam was a familiar face at the college job fairs during the Winter and Spring, focused on recruiting the best for camp!Sam was a familiar face at the college job fairs during the Winter and Spring, focused on recruiting the best for camp!

A true member of the Falling Creek Community, Sam will be missed in the summers to come. Likewise, Sam will always hold dear the friends he made at camp, saying, “I am most proud of the relationships I built over the course of my time at FCC. I was blessed with so many opportunities to positively affect lives and have my own life affected in the same way. Some truly great friends and mentors were gained in my time at Falling Creek.”

When asked about the future, Sam says, “The next chapter of my life began with marrying the love of my life (Maddie)!” As Sam and Maddie begin their lives together, we wanted to highlight the many positive values that Sam brought to our camp community, and share how happy we are for them both. We wish him the best as he chases his dreams of becoming a sommelier, and wherever their journey takes them next!

Sam starting off a day at camp by leading one of our Morning Watch sessions Sam starting off a day at camp by leading one of our Morning Watch sessions

-Annie Pharr

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The History and Recipe Behind the Camp Classic: “Longenecker Lumps”

Make some for yourself and taste the tradition!Make some for yourself and taste the tradition!

Campers young and old can recall the smell of frying dough, the taste of cinnamon sugar, and the excitement upon seeing Steve Longenecker with his “lump cooking supplies” at camp. Though campers today will often cook these simple doughnut-like treats during free-time at camp with Steve, they are a favorite among those who have ever had the pleasure of being on one of Steve’s climbing trips, and are remembered as a “backcountry cooking” classic at Falling Creek. I’m sure the alumni reading this now can remember the wonderful smell and taste of these treats – but you might have wondered, how did Longenecker Lumps come to be?

Steve announcing that it's Steve announcing that it's "Lump Day" at Morning Assembly!

The legendary Steve Longenecker has been a long time outdoor educator, nature enthusiast, falconer, rock climber, and “lump chef” at Falling Creek since 1975. Steve shared that his “lump recipe” was born during a backpacking trip in the 60s. “A long, long time ago, back when there were real hippies running around (ask your parents about them) and before Falling Creek Camp existed, I worked at Camp Mondamin, one of our neighbors down on Lake Summit,” Steve recalls. “I was on a hiking trip with some boys and we were camping in the Shining Rock area. We had some leftover bacon grease in a small metal can and some left-over biscuit mix. I heated up the grease, dropped in a glob of dough and ‘Longenecker Lumps’ were born!” Steve brought the recipe from his time at Camp Mondamin, to Camp Sequoyah, and finally to us at Falling Creek.

Even decades later, Longenecker Lumps are still a favorite treat among campersEven decades later, Longenecker Lumps are still a favorite treat among campers

These days, in a single afternoon, you’ll see Steve and several enthusiastic campers making hundreds of these sugar coated lumps to share. The boys learn how to mix the biscuit-like dough, form it into “lumps,” fry it like a doughnut hole, and cover it in brown sugar and cinnamon. They are warm, soft, sugary, and as you can imagine they don’t last long. Boys around camp will line up to try one (or three), tasting the tradition. Even Yates Pharr remembers his first Longenecker Lump. “It was in 1979 and I had just finished a 5-day backpacking trip in Linville Gorge with Chuck McGrady (our previous Falling Creek Camp Owner/Director for 17 years). Our team had just met up with Steve and his group of climbers coming off of Table Rock, North Carolina. Steve cooked up a batch of his famous Longenecker Lumps, and man, they were good!”

Longenecker Lumps are still a familiar tradition of camp’s that Steve hopes to leave as his “lump legacy.” Though the concept is as simple as mixing and frying a few ingredients, Steve’s favorite part about the entire process is seeing the boys teach each other things that he has taught them. This sharing of knowledge is what the traditions at camp are all about, and once taught, the boys can continue to pass on that flame for years to come. With Steve’s own recipe below, now you can enjoy cooking and sharing Longenecker Lumps at home, or on your own backpacking trips!

Longenecker Lumps Recipe

What do you need?

  • Cooking Pot (# 10 can or old cooking pan – 3qts)
  • Large slotted spoon
  • Pot clamp or hot pad (You’re cooking with very hot oil)
  • A mixing bowl for the dough, container for the raw lumps, and a skillet for the cooked lumps.
  • Small box of “Bisquick” dry biscuit mix.
  • Liter of cooking oil
  • Table sugar
  • Cinnamon

How do you cook them?

Put Bisquick mix in a mixing bowl, being sure to leave some in the box. Sometimes, you need to add more mix to keep the dough from becoming sticky.
Add water to the dry mix and mix it around until you have a big lump of dough in your bowl that is not too dry or too wet. Play with this until you have a glob of mix that is about softball size and is the right consistency (too dry, it won’t hold together; too wet, it’s all yucky!) You’ll also notice how clean your hands are, now that you have been playing with the dough a while.

Now it is time to pinch the dough into the perfect-sized “Lump”. Roll each one around between your palms until it is formed just right. What size is “just right”? About the size of a large grape, marble or a very small soccer ball is fine. Too large and they’ll be raw on the inside; too little and they’ll burn up in the oil.
Now it’s time to heat the oil. Have your pot clamp or pad ready, just in case you need to move the hot oil. When you think the oil is hot enough, take your slotted spoon and gently roll a “test lump” into the hot oil. Never drop one into the oil so that it splashes on you. Hot oil burns!

If the oil is hot enough, the “lump” will float to the top and cook there until the right color; if the oil is not hot enough, it will sink to the bottom of the pan.
When the oil is just right, gently add more raw “lumps” to the cooking oil and let them cook until it’s time to roll them in the sugar/cinnamon mixture.
As you take them out of the hot oil, drain them so that the oil goes back into the cooking pot. Now, put them into the cinnamon/sugar mixture, roll them around, then eat!

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Which Camp Session is the Right Length For My Child?

The sessions are 1 - 4 weeks, but the friendships and memories last a lifetime.The sessions are 1 - 4 weeks, but the friendships and memories last a lifetime.

Is a month a long time? That depends on how you look at it – a month of vacation will seem to fly by, but a month during Lent when you’ve given up your favorite treat feels a lot longer. What about a month at camp? At Falling Creek, we offer 1 week, 2 week, 3 week, and 4 week sessions, and we often get asked which length is the right choice. The answer varies from camper to camper, depending on things like maturity, comfort level away from home, and sometimes prior camp experience. However, framing the camp conversation around “length of time” alone can be a hindrance, placing too much focus on the session length rather than the session experience.

Each of our four sessions vary in length, but they also vary in overall experience, based on slightly different goals for each session. For young boys in grades 1-4 who are brand new to camp, our one week Junior Camp session is often a good starting point. The goal of the Junior Camp session is to have fun and build confidence away from home. This session is different than our other three because boys move around as a cabin, sampling each activity once rather than signing up for their own schedules. Another option for some campers is our 2-Week session. Though it is still a shorter length session, boys get an extra week to “settle in,” are able to sign up for their own daily schedules, and can begin to take trips out of camp.

What does your son want to get out of his camp experience this summer?What does your son want to get out of his camp experience this summer?

In our three week June Camp session, boys are able to build on their experiences and really begin to work on activity progressions. With three weeks to grow, boys can work up to longer trips or more challenging activity projects. Because this session is longer, the primary goal shifts from simply having fun, to more long term growth like building self-confidence and improving skills, as well as enhancing friendships. Finally, our four week Main Camp session allows the most time for meaningful friendships to form and for our camp community to create a strong bond. Boys often return year after year to build on their previous activity progressions or challenge themselves with longer trips. Our oldest campers are also able to experience a central focus on leadership opportunities, but young campers who choose to come to Main Camp also thrive – this session is not limited to older boys only. Many of camp’s favorite traditions take place only during Main Camp, such as the Ironman triathlon, 5-Year Dinner, the STEEL program, the Journeyman and Keeper of the Flame progressions, and Honor Council.

Reaching the finish line of the annual Ironman is always an accomplishment! This triathlon is one of our special events hosted during Main Camp. Reaching the finish line of the annual Ironman is always an accomplishment! This triathlon is one of our special events hosted during Main Camp.

If your son is on the fence about moving to a longer session, we encourage you to have a conversation with him about what he wants to get out of the camp experience, rather than focusing on overcoming a set “length of time”. Ask your son what he loves about camp, what activities he really likes, and what goals he has for the next summer. If he really enjoys the climbing wall for example, you can discuss how he would be able to progress on real rock, starting at Gilbert’s Rock and one day working up to a 5-Day Linville Gorge climbing adventure. If he doesn’t have enough time to progress to that next level in the same session, you can begin the conversation about moving to a longer session that would enhance his experience.

Moving to a longer session may not be the right choice for every boy, but removing “length of time” from the conversation might help you make the right decision together. Being anxious about a new session or having some initial homesickness is normal, but boys also mature a great deal during the 9 months between summers. Think about the difference between a short vacation trip and a semester study-abroad trip. Both are fun and memorable, but you gain so much more when you allow yourself to be immersed in a community for longer, including deeper friendships, more meaningful experiences, broader growth, and more personal development.

A stronger sense of community is one of the benefits of a longer camp session.A stronger sense of community is one of the benefits of a longer camp session.

Does research show that there are more benefits from a longer camp session? Dr. Cait Wilson published a paper on her findings, which you can read here on the American Camp Association website. She found that though all experiences at camp have a positive impact, the longer a camper attended, the more their development increased.

Though you can’t really go wrong with any camp session choice, we encourage you to think about the overall camp experience and your son’s goals for the summer, rather than focusing on the length of time itself.

-Annie Pharr

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity. Psalm 133:1Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity. Psalm 133:1
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Why Should You Hire A Prior Camp Counselor?

Looking for an outstanding addition to your full time staff? Reach out to us for more details - We would enjoy the opportunity to tell you why we think our prior counselors would be outstanding members on your team.Looking for an outstanding addition to your full time staff? Reach out to us for more details - We would enjoy the opportunity to tell you why we think our prior counselors would be outstanding members on your team.

“Being a camp counselor isn’t a real job,” “You don’t get any benefits with seasonal employment,” “What skills would you even learn when you spend all day running around and playing?” These are just a few misconceptions that you may have heard about working as a camp counselor, but luckily, we know from experience that none of them are true. Being a counselor at summer camp is a demanding job, but it’s one that comes with real benefits and opportunities for growth. As this summer is winding down, several of our older staff members who have graduated college are looking for a full-time job after school, meaning that unfortunately for us, they aren’t planning on returning to work at camp. That means good news for you as employers though: these incredible staff members will now be available to enhance the job market with their array of skills!

1) Patience and Responsibility

So what does being a camp counselor really teach you? To start, you have to be extremely patient, positive, and motivated to make it through a long summer, all while being as fresh and enthusiastic on the first day as you are on the very last. There are few jobs with schedules as demanding as summer camp, but our counselors handle their responsibilities and time commitments with diligence and ease. In a normal desk job, you’ll clock in at 9am and head home at 5pm, with plenty of time to relax in the evening and sleep in your own bed. At camp, you’re on the job 24 hours a day, and you have to be able to respond to campers’ needs at 3pm and at 3am with equal attention. Patrick McGrady, a long-time camper and current paddling counselor at Falling Creek, reflected on how patience was the biggest thing he learned while being a counselor: “Every extra minute that I invested into the whole experience benefitted myself and the people around me. Of course, there is also the whole theme around brotherhood and friendships that I have gained at Falling Creek, but the patience I gained through this job tops all else.”

Patrick McGrady, a long-time camper and now paddling counselor, instructing a group of boys on the dock.Patrick McGrady, a long-time camper and now paddling counselor, instructing a group of boys on the dock.

Not only are the hours demanding, but the responsibility our counselors are given is huge. Our staff must model incredible responsibility, dedication, integrity, accountability, and adaptability in order to care for the most important members of our camp community: the campers. Accepting responsibility for other people’s children is a huge commitment. In their role at camp, counselors gain experience in caring, mentoring, coaching, and teaching. Few other jobs can offer the same impact or level of meaningfulness. During the summer, our counselors have the opportunity to be a mentor, a role model, and a big brother or sister. Campers often look up to their counselors and build strong mentor relationships over the years at camp. The bonds created at camp are lifelong, and the positive impact that counselors have can’t be overstated.

Can you match the enthusiasm our counselors bring to a day at camp?Can you match the enthusiasm our counselors bring to a day at camp?

2) Communication and Collaboration

While away from the distractions of technology, counselors and campers are able to grow in a communal environment, boosting their teamwork skills. Because camp is technology-free, counselors are “unplugged,” and have to practice communicating face-to-face with their co-workers and employers. These uniquely human skills are necessary for today’s job market, which requires the ability to connect and collaborate. These life skills can’t be learned from a textbook or through standardized test prep in schools. However, this is why supplemental experiences, such as camp, have so much value. The camp experience provides staff with these necessary life skills, giving them that extra edge for the competitive job market, and for life in general.

Working at camp provides a new depth of knowledge beyond the classroom, educating through face-to-face interaction in a community, and hands-on experience in an activity.
One of our counselors attributes his communication skills to his past camp experience, sharing that while at camp, “one really has to adapt their language in social interactions and speak up at the right time. As a counselor, you also gain so much experience working as a team.” Counselors often say that “real life skills” like these are invaluable to as they move on in future careers, which set them apart in the competitive job market.

Brian Everette served in the military before attending Appalachian State University, and was completing his internship at Falling Creek this summer as a climbing instructor.Brian Everette served in the military before attending Appalachian State University, and was completing his internship at Falling Creek this summer as a climbing instructor.

3) Critical Thinking/Innovation

How do you get a whole cabin of 8 year olds to shower and get ready for bed? How do you help a young boy away from home for the first time tackle homesickness? What do you do to problem solve when a trip doesn’t go as planned? These are just some of the questions that counselors have to answer during the summer, coming up with innovative solutions and getting used to thinking on their feet. Caring for campers takes more than just clocking in and following a task list. Our staff members consistently innovate to come up with more efficient ways to manage daily routines with campers, create more effective methods of teaching in their activities, and adapt their outdoor trip itineraries as plans or weather change.

Counselors also have to be innovative when coming up with creative ways to market their activity. Since there are 28 different activities at camp, each one competes for the attention of our campers. During special-signups on Sundays, counselors have the chance to offer programs or activities outside of the “norm.” That gives them the opportunity to get creative not only within the activity, but also with the announcement, which draws campers to your activity!

Safety is our highest priority, so we spend all year hiring and training exceptional young men and women. Safety is our highest priority, so we spend all year hiring and training exceptional young men and women.

4) Personal/Professional Development

In May, we host a ten day Staff Development and Camp Orientation. In addition, some staff members must arrive two to three weeks prior to orientation to attend certification clinics for their areas of expertise at camp. This includes Wilderness First Responder training for our Outdoor Trip staff, Certified Horsemanship Association training for our barn staff, and lifeguard training for any staff members working in sailing or on the swim docks. During the summer, we continue to offer growth opportunities for our staff,as well as, bible studies, workout sessions and in-service training.

Ben Williams, our Outdoor Adventure Director, is the kind of knowledgeable person you want to have on all your outdoor trips. Ben Williams, our Outdoor Adventure Director, is the kind of knowledgeable person you want to have on all your outdoor trips.

Counselors also have the opportunity to gain peer leadership skills in a Tribal Leader or Activity Leader position. As a Tribal Leader, counselors are expected to be leaders and role models among others their own age, gaining peer leadership skills as they manage their own tribe. Activity Leaders plan the curriculum for their individual activities, coordinate working as a team to turn in the weekly paperwork tracking progressions and evaluations, as well as manage the day to day lessons and fellow staff in their activities. The opportunity to be an activity leader or trip leader offers further experience with planning, organization, communication, risk management, and proactive thinking to ensure that your activity is taught effectively or your trip goes smoothly. These leadership opportunities ensure a certain level of expertise in the activity itself, but also allow staff to excel in the areas of communication, teamwork, and “people skills” that are necessary in today’s world.

Good clean fun at camp!Good clean fun at camp!

5) More Than Just a Summer Job

Being a camp counselor is more than just a “summer job” before your “real job.” Being on staff at camp is a real job with real opportunities and benefits. Working as a counselor is an important educational experience that teaches skills for the 21st century through leadership, communication, responsibility, and teamwork. Few other jobs or internships can give you the same opportunities for growth, or the same leadership experience.

Our counselors fill the roles of instructor, mentor, friend, caretaker, and big brother/sister. It's a lot of hats to wear, but they seem to fill all the roles with ease.Our counselors fill the roles of instructor, mentor, friend, caretaker, and big brother/sister. It's a lot of hats to wear, but they seem to fill all the roles with ease.

It may seem like all fun and games, but the lessons learned during a summer of work at camp are invaluable, especially as the new job market demands more human skills in an increasingly technological society. Where else can you get the hands-on experience of teaching, coaching, and caring for children, the excitement of leading trips, the communication skills from planning activities, or the peer leadership experience from working with fellow staff? Parents notice the difference in their sons and daughters as they return from working over the summer, and we are always happy when they reach out with comments about the positive impact from the camp experience.

If you’re an employer interested in hiring one of our accomplished counselors, we encourage you to visit the staff section of our website to learn more about each of our staff members and contact our office for more details on which of our counselors are looking for full-time jobs after the summer. We would enjoy the opportunity to tell you why we think these young men and women would be outstanding members on your team.

-Annie Pharr

With a counselor group full of people this impressive, all that's left to do is With a counselor group full of people this impressive, all that's left to do is "rock on"!
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What a Day!

It's been a great final day!It's been a great final day!

This morning we awoke to a beautiful sunrise, painting the sky in rosy pink hues and highlighting the fog collecting in the valley below. Boys headed down to breakfast, half of them returning from their Cabin Overnights. They were sleepy-eyed and smiling, with their clothes smelling a little like campfire and their cheeks still a little sticky from smores, all signs of a fun evening of camping. As we gathered on the benches at Morning Watch today, we reflected on this being the last full day of camp, not only for this Junior Camp session, but for the whole summer. It’s been a summer full of fun, growth, adventure, and excitement, and this past week was no different!

All smiles at the docks!All smiles at the docks!

This morning was a favorite breakfast of egg and cheese burritos, oatmeal, fruit, and yogurt. We sat on the porch for the final Morning Assembly of the summer, and HarryO shared the weather report with us as usual, shouting “It’s sunny!!” at the top of his lungs. The Falling Creek band led us in singing “Leroy Brown,” and “Rocky Top” which really set the happy mood for the final day. The excitement levels were certainly high as we headed into our last day of activities.

Even though it has hardly been a week at Junior Camp, we have packed a ton of fun and excitement into each day. Since boys are able to sample each activity that camp has to offer, they get to experience a huge variety of fun. There are sports on the field like flag football and soccer, as well as on the courts with basketball. Boys can hang out with our animals, including feeding the chickens at the F.A.R.M., and riding horses at the barn. The waterfront is always a hit, especially the blob, where boys have fun bouncing each other into the water. Fishing is also a hit, both during activities and at Free Time. They’ve also been enjoying traditional outdoor activities like canoeing on the lower lake and climbing on the wall.

Reaching the top!Reaching the top!
Feeding our fine feathered friends!Feeding our fine feathered friends!

Even though we have plenty of sports to choose from, we also have lots of arts and crafts for boys to show their more creative side. In Art, they were using oil pastels to create original patterns and work on mixing colors to form unique designs. In woodworking, they were building portable ping pong tables to play with. At blacksmithing, older boys were hammering out arrowheads on the anvil. It would be hard to pick a favorite with all of these choices!

Last one in's a rotten egg!Last one in's a rotten egg!

At lunch we had chicken nuggets and potato wedges with fruit, soup, and salad. As we washed our hands to go inside, several of the boys I saw has charcoal smudged on their faces like warpaint. They had been building forts at OSC, and running around outside in the woods, playing hard and just having fun being boys.

Fortbuilding- a quintessential summer activity!Fortbuilding- a quintessential summer activity!

The afternoon was filled with our last fun activity periods of the week, and after working up an appetite, we enjoyed homemade baked ziti, mixed vegetables, warm dinner rolls, and a full salad bar After dinner, the boys enjoyed a chance to spend some time with their cabin groups sharing stories with each other about their favorite adventures and times they had while at camp. As the boys and staff walk quietly to the final campfire for the session, they have been told earlier to bring with them a rock that they found tonight with their cabin to drop on the right just before the bridge leading to the Campfire Area. Many others, before and after them, have added or will add rocks to this growing old style uneven rock wall for their final campfire of each camp session. Even dads and sons will each place a rock at their final campfire during their weekend at camp. This is our Ebenezer wall. An Ebenezer serves as a reminder of God’s love, God’s real presence, and God’s assistance. Every Ebenezer rock serves as a reminder for each camper and staff member of the contributions, memories, and experiences they have had at Falling Creek Camp.This meandering stone wall reminds us, too, of the spirits of all those who have been part of the Falling Creek Camp community – past and present.

To close out another great session, we ended the evening with Campfire. The theme of tonight’s campfire was “friendship,” and we reflected back on how this past week has been filled with brotherhood and appreciation for this Falling Creek Community. We began Campfire as always with Psalm 133:1, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity.” We sang songs such as “lean on me”, Country Roads”, and our FCC version of “Will The Circle Be Unbroken.” We also enjoyed a skit about a pig, dinosaur, beaver, rooster, and giraffe who joined together using all of their individual talents to build a house together. After singing Taps, boys silently returned to their cabins to share one last Evening Embers together and reflect on a great week at camp. We are so thankful for the individual light that each of these boys brought to this session, and are grateful that you chose to share your sons with us. We look forward to seeing you tomorrow morning as you pick up your boys, and we can’t wait to tell you all about the fun we had.

-Annie Pharr

Jumping into the final full day of the session!Jumping into the final full day of the session!
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