The health certificate above is relatively “new.” It was issued in 1995, the last year we operated TrailRidge on the original camp property in Buladean. The following summer (1996) is when we went back to being a travel camp and no longer had to worry about health certificates.
Only the first-year campers and staff in 1982, especially those who came up at the very beginning would or could remember this story. It has stayed with me for nearly 30 years.
We had campers and counselors ready for camp before camp was ready for them. And those first brave souls arrived before our bath house was finished, our dining hall was finished...nothing was finished. Yet, since we were an official camp we had to have official inspections.
So do any of you remember what we had to do each time we were called that the health inspector was on his way up? We hid you! In Pisgah National Forest. You see, we weren’t supposed to have anyone at camp until we had approved water, approved septic system, approved sleeping quarters (even if they were tents), approved kitchen and dining room facilities. And as hard as the carpentry crew was working, there was no way to have this finished before the arrival of the very first campers. In fact, TrailRidge consisted of NOTHING three months prior to the opening of camp. There was an old logging road and it was overgrown!
So campers arrived before we were ready and we had to hide them. Since camp wasn’t even open (in the minds of the health department), we weren’t subject to surprise inspections since they were coming to sign off on various aspects of the infrastructure such as how much gravel was going into septic system drain field number 1. So we would get a call and the boys would be herded up and hiked into adjacent Pisgah National Forest. If it were a mealtime, we would pack up food in Bobbie’s red Radio Flyer wagon and feed you in the forest. Maybe you thought this was a fun activity. It was kind of fun to see if we could manage to escape notice by the health inspector. However, I think he thought something was not quite right when he noticed five porta-potties all lined up in a row. That should have seemed a little excessive to him for a staff of four.
But the whistle got blown. Some grandparent came for an early visit and their happy grandson excitedly told him how we had this neat water system where our drinking water came out of a trashcan. So these grandparents promptly called the state officials in Raleigh and the Raleigh headquarters called our local inspector...and there you go...busted!
So we were given an ultimatum on a Friday to have the well completed and water inspected and approved, the bathhouse finished, all the tents up on wooden platforms, and the kitchen completed by Monday. However, Monday was the Fourth of July holiday and we were given an extra day.
Did it get done? Close enough. We got our “A” rating (a rating we always held), the kids didn’t have to hide anymore, and we were official.
And that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.