Camp!

This past weekend we traveled to…

the beautiful blue ridge mountains!

the beautiful blue ridge mountains!

At about the ninth hour of driving...Dexie, is that a wink or an eye twitch?!

At about the ninth hour of driving…Dexie, is that a wink or an eye twitch?!

Baby, only three more hours to go! haha

Baby, only three more hours to go! haha

Look at all those onions.

Look at all those onions.

Finally! Into the smoky mountains we go!

Finally! Into the smoky mountains we go!

Black Mountain, NC...home of...

Black Mountain, NC…home of…

The Greatest Place on Earth (or at least right up there with Spy Garden ;)

The Greatest Place on Earth (or at least right up there with Spy Garden ;)

Camp Merri-Mac has been a major influence in my life. I was a camper there from age 11-16 and I was a CIT (counselor in training) at 17. It is very fun for me to think of all of the things I do in my adult life that somehow relate to my days as a camper. Art, crocheting, gardening, swimming, exploring the woods: all of my hobbies and interests have some sort of roots in Camp Merri-Mac. There are wooden swings in our backyard. We spend lots of quality time in creeks. We even live on a one lane dirt/gravel road (just like camp!) Pretty much on any given afternoon, I might as well be at summer camp…enjoying our low ropes course (zip line, slack line and again, those joyous wooden swings!), singing camp songs to the kids (since they were babies!) and just generally spending loads of time outdoors learning new things.

Though there was no gardening at camp, gardening is very much a camp-type pursuit (again, outdoors: learning new things!). The excitement of tribal competition (Go Seminoles!) I now find at little league games (Go Knights!). Chapel is now church and the alarm clock is Reveille. Well maybe that last one’s a stretch;)! My sister always tells me our laundry smells like the laundry at camp. This is probably because we always have at least a couple of articles of clothing that have gotten thoroughly filthy and wet (another important tenet of summer camp!).

A major reason I’ve never gotten my kids any video games or let them play on a phone and limited TV time is because camp was (and still is) always totally technology-free. True to form, even on the (looong! 11+ hours!) drive to North Carolina, the kids stared out the window and sketched on scrap paper; no ipads or video games on our road trips just like “in my day” (I can say that now! Hahaha)!

In my professional life as a psychiatric nurse I guide and encourage others to find joy, meaning and purpose in life: something I began to learn at camp. Exploring the deeper value of leisure pursuits and conveying the importance of exploring spirituality are passions born at camp.

And of course there’s the creek and mud and friendship of Baby’s Forest School: much like camp (year round!)

Even though Camp Merri-Mac and Timberlake are on the same campus, they keep the two camps quite separate. Until now I didn’t know too much about Timberlake but I figured it is probably the greatest place on earth for a boy in the summer; since that’s true about Merri-Mac for girls!

So off we sent our first-born, our precocious progeny, into the blue ridge mountains for the next two weeks!

But first we checked out the sights of...

But first we checked out the sights of…

Montreat

Montreat

Lake Susan in Montreat

Lake Susan in Montreat

Snapping turtle laying eggs next to Lake Susan

Snapping turtle laying eggs next to Lake Susan

Baby's first time in a canoe! (canoeing was always my favorite camp activity and I took trips to the many rivers in the area)

Baby’s first time in a canoe! (canoeing was always my favorite camp activity and I took trips to the many rivers in the area)

Ready to...

Ready to…

Hit the trail!

Hit the trail!

Centipede

Centipede

Skilled hiker!

Skilled little hiker!

Cute little red mushroom

Cute little red mushroom

We hiked for four hours (much of which was uphill!) Whew!

The woods are loaded with magnolias

The woods are loaded with magnolias

Magnolia buds

Magnolia buds

Magnolia blooms

Magnolia blooms

Dexie enjoyed many dips in the cold clear mountain streams.

Dexie enjoyed many dips in the cold clear mountain streams.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms

Snail

Snail

Wildflower

Wildflower

Little Feather

Little Feather

Flat Creek

Flat Creek

We also explored Black Mountain, NC with easy walking access from this cheap and convenient hotel

We also explored Black Mountain, NC with easy walking access from this cheap and convenient hotel

My Father's Pizza (a Black Mountain tradition!)

My Father’s Pizza (a Black Mountain tradition!)

Father and son at My Father's Pizza

Father and son at My Father’s Pizza

At Dairy King (a Black Mountain tradition!)

At Dairy King (a Black Mountain tradition!)

Iconic Dairy King sign (iconic to me anyways;)

Iconic Dairy King sign (iconic to me anyways;)

Great Smoky Mountains

Great Smoky Mountains

This area is a beautiful place for a nice drive…

Ahhhhh cool mountain air!

Ahhhhh cool mountain air!

Chimney Rock drive-by

Chimney Rock drive-by

Feel free to make a joke about what else this rock looks like.

Feel free to make a joke about what else this rock looks like. lol

Many pretty vistas

Many pretty vistas

Finally it was time for drop-off!

Home forour little (big!) camper for the next two weeks!

Home for our little (big!) camper for the next two weeks!

Outside the cabin (these hammocks must be all the rage! We saw them all over the place!)

Outside the cabin (these hammocks must be all the rage! We saw them all over the place!)

Blue Heaven; the first cabin I was ever in (age 11)!

Blue Heaven; the first cabin I was ever in (age 11)!

The counselors snap shots of the kids and post them to a parents’ site so fortunately we have a little window into what he is up to…

Initiated into the Seminoles!

Initiated into the Seminoles! So far, so good!

In 2012, a great camp friend of mine invited me to be a raft guide, the summer after my freshman year of college, which is where I met Smoochie. So no camp? No Smoochie, no little spies, no Spy Garden! Thank God for camp!

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9 thoughts on “Camp!

  1. Eliza Waters

    Wow, it looks so beautiful there. What a great experience for you and now the Spy – I’m sure he is having a blast. Your first pics are rhododendrons (sorry, not magnolia ;-) ) and the second is beebalm (Monarda) – the horto in me must comment, of course. ;-) Your pics of the kids in the car are hysterical. That is a very LONG drive! Are you vacationing in the meantime and then picking Spy up in two weeks? I can’t imagine driving both ways two weeks apart.

    Reply
    1. Spy Garden Post author

      Ahhhh…rhododendrons!!! The foliage looks similar to magnolia; I thought they were just a different variety of magnolia. Cool, good to know!!! Well there are TONS of rhododendrons in those western NC woods. My parents are actually picking him up next weekend and coming here. Yes, too long of a drive both ways!!

      Reply
  2. narf77

    I wasn’t going to mention that rock but… ;) Awesome photoshoot Ms Spy that Dexie TOTALLY nailed. I sometimes think that you guys must live on a very different planet to me. Your world is SO very different to mine. Part of the magic of the interweb that we can see other people’s worlds, through their eyes. Nature is a fundamental healer. If we get out and into nature (safely) we learn how to really live. Imagine how different your life would have been without Smoochie?! “GO CAMP!” :)

    Reply
    1. Spy Garden Post author

      I agree about nature being a “fundamental healer”. I’ve just started hiking/running trails near our house more regularly (perhaps in honor of camp days)! Getting out into the woods for 30 min or so a few times a week is a great thing. Plus it is a great way to avoid weeding our garden! haha

      Reply
      1. narf77

        Lol! You can also say that your garden has a LOT less weeds than the surrounding bushland so you technically are doing a great job as it is ;)

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