The 2022 Grow & Behold is Coming to Your Mailbox!

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The 2022 Grow and Behold Magazine Cover: two brothers exploring the natural world while sharing the camp experience together.

Our annual Grow & Behold Magazine is starting to arrive at homes across the country, just in time for the holidays! This year’s issue focuses on the camp experience as a continuing journey of growth, whether you’re a camper, a counselor, or an alumni. We’re thankful to be on this journey of growth with you.

Below is the “Yates’ Yak” article from the latest Grow & Behold issue - We hope you’ll enjoy the magazine, and join us in a feeling of gratitude and excitement for the summers ahead!

Journey of Growth

Yates Pharr

In 1988 I was a young counselor at Falling Creek, eager to improve my paddling instruction and take campers on some fun adventures. During June Camp that summer, some fellow counselors and I began dreaming up an epic trip that would combine all four adventure activities: hiking, climbing, paddling, and mountain biking. Like much of the camp experience, we knew it would be exciting, challenging, and memorable, but we didn’t realize how much the lessons we learned on our camp adventures would have an impact on our personal and professional development for the future.

Transition from biking the blue ridge parkway to climbing devils courthouse rock  left to right  yates pharr  jim uden  bryan garcia  chris sleepy young  james bryan  john barrett  blake hayunga  madison powell  rick b.jpg?ixlib=rails 2.1
Transition from biking the Blue Ridge Parkway to climbing Devils Courthouse Rock (left to right) Yates Pharr, Jim Uden, Bryan Garcia, Chris "Sleepy" Young, James Bryan, John Barrett, Blake Hayunga, Madison Powell, Rick Broad, Beau Bethea, George Sewell, Cadon Carter, & Polk Deters.

James Bryan, Rick Broad, and I worked together to plan the five-day “Quad-venture,” with the assistance of Donnie Bain (Head of Outdoor Adventure Programs) and Perry White (Program Director). We announced it at the beginning of the session so the boys would have time to do qualifying trips in each one of the programs in order to prepare for the adventure ahead. The boys had to paddle the Lower Green, work up to a three-day backpacking trip, do two mountain bike trips, and complete both Gil 1 and Gil 2 climbing trips at Gilbert’s Rock. We also had several meetings during the session with the campers to pre-pack supplies and review the route. The trip itself was an intermediate skill level (with advanced backpacking), but it took advanced organizational skills and persistence from both the campers and the staff.

We began the “Quad-venture” by paddling a full day’s journey on the French Broad River. After taking out at Bent Creek, we hiked the 16-mile-long Shut-In Trail all the way to the top of Mt. Pisgah, with 3000 feet of vertical ascent. From there, we rode mountain bikes on the Blue Ridge Parkway to Devil’s Courthouse. We finished the trip by rock climbing the routes at Devil’s Courthouse, which is now a protected area for peregrine falcon nesting. Each time we transitioned between activities, we had a coordinated pre-packed trailer from camp meet us with the necessary gear and a food re-supply.

We had never incorporated four activities before, so it was an exciting and rewarding experience. We ran into typical weather and rain challenges in Pisgah, which made it even more gratifying to finish. We bonded over the shared experience and still talk about it today, decades later.

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"We hope and believe that the Falling Creek experience—whether you’re the youngest camper, a college-aged staff member, or older alumni—will help give you the tools, skills, and connections to succeed in life after camp, wherever it may take you." -Yates Pharr

During the “Quad-venture” I wasn’t thinking about how I was building career skills, I was just thinking about how to meet the demands of the trip, and how to ensure the campers had fun and stayed safe. Looking back now though I realize how much my experiences as a counselor at Falling Creek translated to my first career in commercial real estate development and property management.

Creating and executing the logistics of a trip takes many of the same skills that are needed in the corporate world. Planning and organizing routes, food, gear, and people for a camp trip is good practice for staying on project timelines and juggling multiple tasks in business. We had to market our trip to the campers, coordinate the ages and skills of the participants to plan an appropriate and enjoyable program, pull together a qualified team to lead it, regroup and work together in challenging situations, and manage all the people involved once the journey began. These are the same skills a person needs to succeed in any professional role, and they are the experiences I drew on often in my career after camp.

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The 1988 trip sign commemorating the "Quadventure" can still be found of the wall of the mountaineering hut at FCC, hanging along with the many other adventures that have taken place before and since.

This year, we’ve chosen to focus our magazine on stories around the staff experience. However, since we believe the Falling Creek experience continues from camper to counselor as boys grow into young men, we think these topics will still be relevant to parents of current campers as much as parents of staff or staff themselves. Our mission is to shepherd the journey of growth through love and adventure, and we’ve purposefully left out any age qualifications from that statement.

Instead of being specific to campers alone, the benefits of camp are for anyone who enters this community. We hope and believe that the Falling Creek experience—whether you’re the youngest camper, a college-aged staff member, or older alumni—will help give you the tools, skills, and connections to succeed in life after camp, wherever it may take you. We’re thankful to be on this journey of growth with you.

Looking to read past Grow & Behold Issues while you wait for yours to arrive in the mailbox? You can read all the previous ones here!