Monday, October 24, 2011

Camp Yonahlossee

When I was a young girl in the early 70's my parents sent me to Camp Yonahlossee near Blowing Rock.  These were wonderful years that I spent with my great friend Ginny Jones. The camp lasted for 6 weeks and I remember my mom coming to visit me and asking me if I was ready to come home or if I was homesick and the answer was always "no."

I loved it there and I wish that so many memories were not so faded.  Anyway, the area where the camp stood is now a housing development.  The land was sold to a developer in the mid 80's and you know what happens from there.

We dined last week at the Gamekeeper Restaurant which is housed in an older home that was the summer residence of the camp's founders, Dr. and Mrs. A.P. Kephart.  It was somewhat nostalgic, though I had never set foot in the house until then.  The restaurant was superb!

The history of the camp is quite interesting as the camp was the first girls' camp in NC, established in 1922.  The first year, the owners had 25 girls.  "Running water" and "bathtubs" were such a luxury in that part of the world back then that the mountain people came to ask for a drink just see water running from a faucet.  "Tweetsie" (a local tourist attraction that has been around as far as I can remember back to the late 60's) was a real working train running from Boone to Johnson City, TN. There were no tvs or even radios.

Camp Yonahlossee (Cherokee for "Trail of the Bear") offered swimming, tennis, riding, archery, weaving, pottery, hiking and all kinds of summer outdoor activities.  Early on the camp had its own farm providing milk, eggs, butter and meat.  You can still see the original barn, riding ring and weaving cabin today, but sadly that is all that is left.  The cabins were rustic, covered in bark.  You walked along the hills (we must have been so fit). 

Lila Bozick was the riding instructor when I was there and I rode every morning from 8 am until noon.  It was nirvana for me.  We showed at the Blowing Rock Horse Show and at a show in Linville.

We had a "weigh in" every Sunday evening to make sure we were all eating enough.  Trust me we were!  The food was so good.

The camp really sits in the middle of nowhere if you think about it, especially back in the 20's when Blowing Rock was not developed.

I remember the smell of the summer Mountain Laurel.  Whenever I smell them, I think of Yonahlossee.  That will never fade from memory. 

We had a lake which is now gone, but the water was COLD.  There was a pool right beside the lake but it was cold too.  We had thick skin at that young age.  There was an outpost somewhere a few hours away where we would go to water ski every session.

We had events such as musicals that the campers put on.  Some of them were very good.

Here are some early photos, probably from the 20's and 30's:

Here are the owners:

The girl in this photo ended up being my camp counselor one year!  Kris.

More old photos. 

What a walk back in time!  Yonahlossee was a special place.  I am lucky to have been a part of it. 


  1. Hi, Ann. I see you have used a lot of photos from my website, All of us who spent our summers there are so blessed! It was truly the best camp ever! Suzy Seraphine-Kimel (aka Susan McCain CY 1953-63)

    1. Suzy, I have so many photos somewhere. One day I will find them and scan them in. I love the FB page too! So many memories!

  2. Hi Sharon. Kris Augustine Christensen, the bugler. Were you in Nest? I remember I had some real horse enthusiasts. I was too in my younger years, winning quite a few blues at both the Blowing Rock and Hendersonville horse shows. I was supposed to be a riding counselor in a previous year but broke my hip water-skiing on the intracoastal waterway in Ft. Lauderdale, so that ended that! CY was a wonderful experience for so many girls. We were most fortunate!

  3. I don't know why I said Sharon! Sorry, ANN!! I remember you.

    1. Kris, I do remember! Nest! Yes. What fun years. I don't see Ginny Jones much but I see her mother now when I go to Raleigh. I will hopefully see her next week! Please stay in touch and thanks for reading!


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