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50th Anniversary Alumni Weekend

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity”

For five decades, Psalm 133:1 has been recited to open each Sunday night campfire. The commitment to personal development and fun as the boys develop an understanding of their relationship with nature, their fellow man, and God remain our mission. It’s been said that who we are is a product of who we’ve met and where we have been. Falling Creek Camp is more than a camp, it’s a community of friends bonded together through the Spirit of Falling Creek.

The 2018 summer will be our 50th. To honor this milestone, we will celebrate. It will be an opportunity for past campers and former staff to join together and relive camp traditions, share memories, gratitude, and encouragement. Please plan to attend over the weekend of September 7-9. Reach out to your favorite FCC friends and encourage them to sign up via the link on the alumni page of the camp website . You can even request friends to room together in the same cabin. We will unveil at the event a commemorative coffee table book and video that celebrates our 50th anniversary.

We enthusiastically announce these Falling Creek alumni who are already planning to attend

Pack your trunk… you will want to be here when the bell rings.

For questions, please contact Yates Pharr – or Sam Clayton –

In Brotherhood There Is Strength

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John Bates joins FCC as Director of Staff & Camper Development

Alexandria, John, & Hala AnnAlexandria, John, & Hala Ann
John Bates has been involved with Falling Creek for 19 summers; ten as a camper starting in 1992 and nine as a staff member working primarily as an adventure paddling instructor. He has been a part of many of our Father/Son Weekends and returned in the summer of 2017 to manage the woodshop program. We are happy that this fall he joined our full-time staff as a director.

John, center of top row of campers, in 1993.John, center of top row of campers, in 1993.
John attended the University of the South at Sewanee, TN, graduating in 2006 with a BA in History. From there, he went on to pursue graduate studies in Youth Development Leadership at Clemson University. His diverse work history combines experiential education, independent living skills, recreational instruction, leadership development and team-building.

John, center with arm around Program Director Chris Stec, helped FCC win the the famous Bull Sluice award from a tough group of Camp Merrie-Woode paddlers in 2001.John, center with arm around Program Director Chris Stec, helped FCC win the the famous Bull Sluice award from a tough group of Camp Merrie-Woode paddlers in 2001.
Previously John has served as a teacher’s aide at a school in Mobile, AL, for students with intellectual disabilities, worked in a residential transitions program in Hendersonville, NC, and served as program director and staff trainer at a nearby special needs program. John is certified as a lifeguard, lifeguard instructor, Wilderness First Responder, and First-Aid/CPR instructor.
John teaching paddling at Father/Son WeekendJohn teaching paddling at Father/Son Weekend

In his free time John and his wife, Alexandria, enjoy hiking, gardening and spending time with their daughter, Hala Ann.

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Sacred Ground

On opening and closing days, loyal Falling Creek alumni — returning, sometimes after decades, to drop their sons off at camp — often remark about the relative sameness of life on top of the mountain. “This place hasn’t changed a bit,” they say. And they’re right, in some ways, it hasn’t. But they’re also mistaken, because in many ways it has.

Historic camp photos from 1969.

Certainly, the notion of stability seems incompatible with that of progress. However, after nearly 50 years in operation, Falling Creek continues to demonstrate that what is implausible is not necessarily impossible. For, the camp’s continued success is due to its time-tested ability to honor tradition while fending off stagnation, to progress meaningfully, not just for progress’ sake.

Founded in 1969, Falling Creek is a relative newcomer to the summer camp capital that is Western North Carolina. As neighboring camps begin to plan for their centennials, Falling Creek is poised to charge into only the second half of its first century. But what Falling Creek lacks in age it more than makes up for with its robust pedigree and storied traditions. While such heritage is varied in source, much can be attributed to Camps Greystone, Sequoyah, and Mondamin, established in 1920, 1924, and 1922, respectively.

The Falling Creek Camp bell serves as our camp clock, waking us up, shepherding us to activities, calling us to meals, and sending us to rest at the end of another full day. The sound of the bell is one alumni remember fondly.The Falling Creek Camp bell serves as our camp clock, waking us up, shepherding us to activities, calling us to meals, and sending us to rest at the end of another full day. The sound of the bell is one alumni remember fondly.

Jim Miller, III worked at Camp Sequoyah in 1967, purchased the property for Falling Creek, and opened its gates in the summer of 1969. When Jim established Falling Creek, he borrowed traditions from Camp Greystone, the girls camp his family founded nearly five decades before. Green and Gold competition, a source of friendly rivalry between cabins, and within activities, is one such tradition. Honor Council, a camper-led leadership development program unique to Main Camp, is another.

Camp Sequoyah, before it closed its gates in 1978, shared with Falling Creek both its traditions and, in some cases, its counselors. When Chuck McGrady, a Sequoyah alumnus and eventual owner-director of Falling Creek, began as a counselor in 1979, he remembered feeling oddly at home. “When I arrived at Falling Creek, it all came together,” he says. That feeling was hardly coincidental. Candlelight campfire, a time-honored conclusion to our longer sessions, is a product of Camp Sequoyah, as is Falling Creek’s Native American-themed tribal structure and Indian Lore program. Three times daily, the legacy of Camp Sequoyah lives on when the blessings are sung before each meal at Blake Dining Hall.

Still other traditions central to the contemporary Falling Creek experience harken from Camp Mondamin, another boys’ camp situated along the western shores of Lake Summit. From Mondamin comes Morning Assembly, a program following breakfast during which the entire camp community gathers for skits and songs. Falling Creek’s paddling program finds inspiration from Camp Mondamin’s distinguished whitewater heritage.

Signs commemorating the winners of our camp Ironman race.

For every borrowed tradition there exists more than enough unique to Falling Creek. Wild, Wild, West and Deep Woods Capture the Flag, two favorite all-camp games played several times each summer, are longtime favorites. A glance at the porch of the Landsports Hut reveals a list of names by year; these are the winners of Falling Creek’s Ironman triathlon, held annually during the camp’s longest session.

In appreciation of the importance of nurturing free choice and decision-making in the development of young men, Falling Creek stepped outside the box in a big way. To both campers and the casual observer, camp remains free of the distractions technology and social media can bring. Behind the scenes, however, Falling Creek has developed an advanced proprietary attendance, progression, trip planning, and medical tracking system.

Camper and staff getting muddy in our camp mud pit.

In a world that is becoming increasingly structured in the neighborhood and schoolyard, the implementation of this tablet-based camper management system allows boys the freedom to choose their own adventures — a hallmark of Falling Creek — while remaining accounted for during the day.

For many Falling Creek alumni, the Candlelight campfire is among their most cherished memories. Here, campers are reminded that a single candle — representative of one’s talents and abilities — light the world. Though deference to the sanctity of this ritual remains important, there is value in striving to keep camp both fresh and meaningful. In a nod to both storied tradition and meaningful progress, we have introduced a candle-lit procession at the conclusion of each week’s campfire.

Camper gazing at his candle during our traditional candlelight campfire.

Adaptation of the Honor Creed into the Falling Creek Code; a creative solution to the maintenance of a balance between autonomy and safety; the inclusion of candlelight in campfire on a weekly basis. These are just three examples of Falling Creek’s relentless effort to adapt for an exciting future. There are countless more, many of which are illustrated throughout this publication. Falling Creek’s success demonstrates that such progress can coexist with longstanding tradition. And together, they will carry camp into an impactful future with our prime purpose in mind: the development of great young men.

There is a place in North Carolina where my friends and I like to go, and my spirit never leaves there. -Verse from the FCC version of “Will the Circle Be Unbroken”

Campers in a tandem canoe on whitewater at Falling Creek Camp.
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Stings n' Storms

How can we change and control our attitude when stings and storms hit?

By Dusty Davis

“Owww, I’m hit!"

“Michael and John are hit… keep moving, NOW!”

I barked orders, like repeating the lines of a Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson movie. “Yellow jackets, run!”

Campers climbing at camp.

Our camp climbing crew of seven fled up the rooty path. We regrouped on a slab of granite around the corner and out of the strike zone from our flying enemies. Breathing hard and pumped with adrenaline we did a casualty count… only two boys, two stings, non-allergic and we can save that valuable epi-pen for another day.

Pisgah National Forest was especially humid on this mid-July day and the morale of our normally aspiring climbers began to weaken.

“I got stung—come on man—you carry the rope”

“Can we just go extreme wading and then get Dolly’s?”

“Chicken wraps for lunch…again?”

By three o’clock a shroud of clouds rolled across the top of the Parkway eclipsing Looking Glass and our climbing plans. Classic pre-storm gusts, temperature drop and the smell of rain had us thrashing through our packs for rain jackets.

Our soaked and disheveled army trudged back to the trail head and to the big white van. We passed out some morale-boosting Teddy Grahams, put on a bluegrass playlist and buckled up to head back to the “The Creek.” Before the boys’ heads began to bobble with sleep, we began a trip debrief. The standard, “what did you like or not like,” questions soon gave way to a crucial code-cracking discussion.

Camp climber looking out over Pisgah National Forest.

“How can we change and control our attitude when stings and storms hit?” I asked.

A smallish voice from the back of the van piped up. “Maybe we should just get better cell service and a weather radar app that warns us before we get soaked.”

“Fair enough,” I said, “but don’t you guys think its part of the adventure to get caught in a mountain storm and taste fresh rain?” My gray-haired wisdom knew that the struggle made the sunshine sweeter.

“John, I noticed you didn’t make a big deal about getting stung—are you in anaphylactic shock or did it not hurt that much?”

“Nah, it stung bad, but really, I’m just thankful it was on my leg and I didn’t get more stings—like on my face,” he said with a laugh.

Thomas chimed in, “You sound like your gunning for the Positive Attitude Award.”

Trying not to sound preachy I added, “I’m liking that John. Seriously, you tapped into the gratitude attitude and shifted your focus to what you can be thankful for—that’s MEGA.”

It grew quiet in the van as bodies slumped and the boys succumbed to the cumulative exhaustion from our three-day excursion.

The van lumbered up Bob’s Creek Road and I pulled over to put in the gate code. A voice from the back said, “You know why I’m thankful?”

I was thinking, “Great! They are really getting this live with Gratitude Attitude.”

Then the voice from the back said, “I’m thankful because, I call first shower!”

Campers enjoying the blue ridge mountain view.

Have a “MEGA” Thanksgiving from all of us at Falling Creek Camp. We are thankful to God for each one of you who make up our huge camp family. Our prayer is that this Thanksgiving would be a time that you can shift focus and be filled with gratitude even in the midst of the Stings n’ Storms of Life.

We invite you to leave a comment and share a story or something you are grateful for!

Every breath is a gift from God. —Acts 17:25

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