Growing Up Summer Camp

Read Phil's full article in the January Summer Camp edition of Blue Ridge Outdoors- available at Looking Glass Outfitters

I was a camper for one year at Wildlife Federation camp for about 8 days and I was home sick the whole time! My sister was there couldn’t bear to be seen with me. Nonetheless, between the tears, I gained a greater appreciation and respect for wildlife local to the Southeast. This led me to five life-shaping years at Falling Creek Camp in Tuxedo, North Carolina. This is an all boys summer camp where boys could (and still can) truly be boys. I immersed myself in the nature and swimming programs. I took great pleasure in handling snakes, lizards and caring for winged creatures in the birds of prey program.

Once I graduated from high school and had one year of college under my belt, I immediately applied for work at Falling Creek as a camp counselor and, over the course of 5 more years, I taught Lacrosse, Sailing, and Rock Climbing. After my 5th summer as a counselor, I was hired by Wake Forest University to run the outdoor program but I could not stay away, and I soon signed on with the Eagle’s Nest Foundation, a co –ed summer camp in Brevard, North Carolina, as the Director of Climbing Programs. After the summer wrapped up, I took a position at Inner Peaks Climbing Center running the climbing school and coaching the climbing team and summer day camps. I never let residential camping out of my sights though, as I returned to Eagle’s Nest as a consultant and trainer for their climbing programs. So wrapping this whole thing up, I took a position 5 years later as the full time Program Director at Falling Creek Camp to complete my summer camp expertise. Wanderlust proved too strong as my wife and I trekked to Jackson Hole, Wyoming to see what life west of the Mississippi was all about. A short stint with NOLS Teton Valley culminated in Jessica and I vying to purchase Looking Glass Outfitters in the heart of summer camp country here in Western North Carolian. Being back in Brevard has allowed us to concentrate on what we truly love: recreating in the outdoors and staying involved with others' outdoor pursuits. My involvement in summer camp has given me the satisfaction of knowing that with all of my great experiences, I am able to help provide kids and adults with what they need to succeed in all their own outdoor adventures.

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