Camp Memories from Campers and Counselors
I had 3 great summers at TrailRidge with Ben Parker. I was at camp in 1987, 88, and 89. I worked as a janitor but I also helped with the kids and all the fun activities they did. I helped to build the meeting point structure in the woods with Gus. I shared a cabin with Patrick the guy from Switzerland. WHEN'S THE REUNION!:)
Paul Fairclough (England)
Editor's Note: Paul was way more than a "janitor" as he described himself. He was "the" maintenance supervisor and he was our first international staff member if I recall.
I was just sharing some memories with a friend as we prepare a Gathering for this nonprofit group I work with, Heartwood.org. We'll be in the area May of 2017, and I thought, gee I wonder if good ol'TMC is still there? I think I contacted Mark and/or Bobbie a few years ago when I first re-established contact with the modern world, I was living in SE Ohio for several years in a very rural county, off the grid, no 'lecktricks, haul my own water, not much different from the early days at TMC! I was a dedicated camper for the first six years, and those experiences instilled a deep love of the Mountains and wild places and hiking that continues to this day! This is an opportunity to say thank you to all the counselors and kids and to Mark and Bobbie for those amazing times.
My two oldest boys (5 & 8) had a blast looking at the site last night and seeing the old pictures of me and Uncle Joe. Thanks for doing this and for creating a place that was such a wonderful part of my childhood!! I wish we could find somewhere like it for my boys to enjoy similar experiences, but Trailridge was such a unique place/concept that could never be duplicated. Hopefully we can find a close match, though....Thanks again and I will visit the site periodically for updates and hope to stay in touch
My brother, John and I loved this camp so much! I remember being so thrilled to be surrounded by the mountains and all that beauty and wonder.
I stumbled across this website 30 years later. I believe I was in the 1st group at TMC in June of '82. I remember sleeping at first in tents on the ground then finally in tents on raised wooden platforms. I also identified myself in one of the pictures #11/35 in 'the early years'; I'm the young camper holding Ranger.
"I Blazed the Trail." Those four words were imprinted on some camp materials and maybe on some shirts and brochures as well. However, these words are more than just a catchy slogan. These words have a great deal of meaning for me and for a small group of boys who are now men, many I am sure now have children of their own. I have wonderful memories of Trail Ridge and I am proud to say that “I BLAZED THE TRAIL!!!” Thirty years ago in 1982, I was part of an intrepid group of brave young souls who were given the unique experience to “build” a new camp. The first year was more memorable as we suffered torrential rains and slept in tents. Year two was vastly different because someone had the bright idea to move us into cabins and to provide proper bathroom and shower facilities. (What were they thinking???)
(Click to read Kirk's full contribution of his memories written in 2012, in honor of the 30th anniversary of the founding of TrailRidge.)
I was a camp counselor from England in 1988 and 1989, a fantastic time to be there. I remember swimming in the pond for 20 minutes to be a “lifeguard” for the summer season. In early June it was freezing and if we found a “warm spot” we would shout it out and all swim in it! Barclay Yates, Davies Hood, Scott Andrews...Andy McLaughlin, Laura Harrison, Trevor Creighton (Oz dude), Miguel from Barcelona, Spain were all counselors in 1988/89 with me. Best memory: Mark playing the banjo and us all singing around the campfire...
Some of my memories: catching newts and frogs around the pond, waiting anxiously for 'Bargain Barn' to open so I could buy a Duracell flashlight and a 5 dollar hammock, getting excited when it was game night or movie night in the dining hall, Ben Parker and Gus telling us ghost stories and about 'Gus's Phenomena'... thinking Gus's cabin was haunted when he wasn't there.. singing around the campfire (Down by the Riverside, Tom Dooley, Sloop John B, Let that Circle be Unbroken, etc).. playing tetherball and ping pong, your dog Panda always chasing the campers and barking, shooting the BB guns under the dining hall porch... I even remember staying in the Rocky Top cabin. I have so many more memories. And I remember the bike trip in Amish country, the bike I used was one my folks bought from TrailRidge, a red Nishiki 12 speed which I still have somewhere. It was my favorite as I had used it many times when at camp before they purchased it.I remember staying at a motel on the bike trip across from a mall and some of the guys and I went there that evening. I bought a silver chain with an Indian turquiose thunderbird that I still have. I also remember creekstomping and looking for crawdads from Gus's cabin all the way down to the pond... and we played some game that had 'wolf' in the name, or that was the name.. it was a tag and convert type game, and we would pull our shirts over our heads when we were converted.. then we'd chase after those that weren't. That was fun.. lots of great memories coming back now. I do remember a boy named Clint was part of the bike group. He is in the same camp group photo as me, on the front row to the right of me. John Ley is behind me, and I also recognized Steve in that photo, the counselor with the dark beard on the left. I believe he had hiked for many miles to TMC if I recall correctly. It seems like now the more I think about it, the more comes back.
I still talk about TrailRidge and the 100-mile bike trip along the Outer Banks. I remember the “Bikers” that rode through camp several times? and Bug Juice. I used that one on my kids! They looked at me like I was crazy. Movie night - peanuts for snacks. One boy, think he was from New Orleans - been to Israel maybe, got M&M's! Lots of memories, One match fires, birch tree bark burns really well! And the sleeping bags airing out for weeks after that first year. Volleyball court where the pond is, the people who lived across from the camp who planted sunflower seeds. More will come. Great memories!
I joined the staff at TrailRidge in 1989 after my brother, Brandon Yates, had been there at TrailRidge and loved it. The first summer is always fun and full of surprises. I had little experience in dealing with children. Very little experience in dealing with cabin life (TV withdrawals). Lastly, I had even less experience in learning how to find peace and comfort in slowing down, enjoying the moment. I was in charge of arts/crafts, archery and riflery the first year. This and having a cabin was a really good experience for me, it led me to my current profession. Hiking for 2-3 days on the Appalachian Trail, camping at sites such as Greasy Creek, really made an impression on me.
After the second summer of camp and the unfortunate closing, Mark and Bobbie had taught me plenty. Not just about camp life, but life. I discovered that in some areas I had a lot of room for improvement. This life lesson helped me become a middle school art teacher with 16+ years at Apple Valley school in Henderson county.
I then spent 5 years before my teaching career working at Camp Mondamin, a basis for the TrailRidge philosophy of learning. I still carry that philosophy today in the classroom as much as possible. Students need to make their own choices in learning, but a support system needs to be there as well.
I may be in both categories - camper and counselor. I was there for all of that first year (1982?) - I think I was called a "junior counselor" or something like that. Leon Rittenberg, Jason Hoblit, and a few others and I pitched tents at the very top of the trail by the stream where the Jerdee’s cabin was later built.
I then came back as a real counselor one year in college - maybe 1987. In fact, I had the wonderful title of "Assistant Head Counselor" - I think because I was about the only American other than Ben and therefor tended drive on the correct side of the road. I stayed at camp a few times in later years as I was doing stretches on the AT, but was just a counselor for that one year.
Looking back, TrailRidge had a huge impact on me (as did Open Roads Experiences) despite only being there for two summers. Ben Parker remains a close friend, although I rarely get to see him since he moved out west.
Unfortunately, I was only at TrailRidge the first year, 1982. I opted to stay home the next summer because I thought I should be in Louisiana before leaving to go away to college. It remains one of my few regrets, as camp counseling was far superior to any summer job I had thereafter (and why I have no problem with Jack going back to Jacobs Camp as a counselor this summer). My last--and only other--visit to TrailRidge was in the summer of 1988. I had finished my first year of law school and I was visiting my girlfriend, Maia (later to become my wife), at her curatorial internship at Biltmore House. We took a day trip and stopped by for lunch to check out the camp.
Thanks so much for the effort in putting a resource like this together. I have wished that someone would endeavor to chronicle the unique awesomeness that was TMC. I spent many summers with you at TMC and will always remember them very fondly. Many things I had the chance to experience there I would never have had the opportunity without you all and for that, I will be forever grateful. Thank you for the great times, your patience with me and for my lifelong aversion to mildew.
Hugh “Scott” Andrews
Want to add your two cents worth, email Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org.