The Blue Ridge Mountains are a beautiful sight. I have a special affinity for them having been raised in the North East and then attending college at Virginia Tech. Recently, I was able to travel to these Blue Ridge beauties in North Carolina to discuss ideas for a new camp project.
Master planning for a camp is no small feat. This camp in particular has a very specific program, culture, history and legacy that they wish to continue. The existing camp is located in upstate NY and NC will be the location of a new satellite camp. The program includes all kinds of wonderful little buildings: cabins, tree houses, some pavilions, walkways, an amphitheater, and some year round staff housing on site. Since it is a wilderness camp, the program also includes some shelters for archery, fishing and boating docks, and various out buildings. Considering the existing camp hosts about 175 boys, plus 50+ staff per 2 week session, a large commercial kitchen and Dining Hall are critical structures.
While I was there, a member of the Board of Directors and I were able to tour the 350 acre property. This was the fun part, because to cover that much ground in under 3 hours required riding around in 4 wheel ATVs! Some trails were already in place, but a decent amount of “off-roading” was also required. So fun!
Here we are standing at the future location of a covered, open air pavilion for a sports court. Just to the left in the photo you can see the remains of a stump of a tree they had just cut down, that was gigantic!
There is a lake in the center of the property, which will be the organizing feature of the entire site plan. The lake is man-made, formed by a dam and interestingly, this property is located on the side of the continental divide that runs to the Mississippi River!
A few weeks back I got a mini lesson in authentic North Carolina log cabin construction. Its a true craft, and not something they teach you about in Architecture school! In this case, however, we’ve been so fortunate to set up a studio project with one of my previous professors at Virginia Tech (still there!) who is leading a 3rd year design charette project to also assist the camp. We’ve discussed ideas for using some alternative forms of energy, wastewater management, and other creative environmental innovations. Leave it to those students at VT and the sky is the limit when it comes to ideas! I can’t wait to see what they come up with!
Overall, I was captivated by this location: the fog that rested on the lake, the wildlife, the trees and flowers, the slope of the land, it is a truly beautiful, untainted paradise. Hopefully the designs will respect that and tread gently on this precious place! Stay tuned!