Inside the Magic of Family Camps

Tune out the rest of the world and tune in to what really matters


Published:

Allen Perkins teaches his son, Will, archery at father-son weekend camp at Camp Rockmont.

Photo courtesy of Allen Perkins

Family camp is the getaway that brings families closer together. Forget about chores and the schedule of events. Bring your attention and imagination. Immerse yourself into adventure and play. Huddle up and get cozy by the campfire. Family camp gives parents the opportunity to fully engage with their children without having to compete with digital devices, the never-ending to-do list or daily routines.

 

Family-Owned Family Camp

Anne Trufant, co-owner of Camp Kahdalea for girls and Camp Chosatonga for boys holds passionate beliefs about how family camping experiences have improved the lives of her family and other families she has worked with.

“It’s been a profound experience, not only to bring up our children here, but there have been thousands of folks to come up here,” she says of the camps, both located in Brevard. “We are about impacting lives and helping families come together. We want to create a space where they can come and just be together.”

Anne and her husband, David, purchased Camp Kahdalea and Camp Chosatonga 30 years ago. The two share a love for summer camp spawned from their younger years as campers, and their mission is to pass that on to the next generation.

As a mother of seven children, Trufant says it was life changing to move from Louisiana to the Blue Ridge Mountains and create “something of great value” for children and parents. She continues to share her passion for camp with her son, Jeffrey, who works as program director of the camps; and with her grandchildren, whom attend camp now. 

Family camp takes place at Camp Kahdalea — also known for its all-girls summer camp — over one long weekend each August. Located near Pisgah National Forest, the camp spreads over 180 acres of wooded land offering hiking trails, streams and Lake Kahdalea. Camp Kahdalea’s family camp agenda also includes community meals, games, social events and a wide array of activities for parents and children to join in together, such as arts and crafts, archery, field sports, paddling, swimming and horseback riding. Full-day and half-day excursions are also offered and include hikes to waterfalls at DuPont State Forest and explorations of places like Black Balsam Knob and Devil’s Courthouse. There are no additional costs for any of these excursions.

“It has always been important for us to make it financially reasonable for families,” Trufant says. She understands how challenging it can be to pay for vacations for a large family. For that reason, Camp Kahdalea’s family camps take a come-as-you-are and receive-what-you-need approach.

“We want to be a place of rest, joy, peace and fun,” she says. “Our intention is to bring families together and create something they’ll remember for a long time.”

 

Photos courtesy of Camp Kahdalea

Family camp activities at Camp Kahdalea, include canoeing, field sports, swimming and horseback riding. 

A Different Kind of Vacation

Shanna Molitor, a mother of six who lives in Augusta, Georgia, has attended family camp at Camp Kahdalea five consecutive summers. Molitor has children ages 2, 5, 7, 8, 10 and 12, and feels the diverse amount of activities fit the needs of her entire family. She says unlike some trips that require a lot of work and planning, family camp feels like a true vacation for her and her husband. 

“Vacations are more work in a new place. So much time making food and trying to plan activities everyone wants to do,” Molitor says. “Family camp takes away all the planning and prepping and you just get to spend time with your kids.”

The primary reason the Molitars chose to attend Camp Kahdalea’s family camp, however, was to scope out the facilities and camp dynamic for the possibility of both Camp Kahdalea and Camp Chosatonga serving as future sleepaway camps for their children.

“We wanted to make sure they were safe, supported and felt comfortable going out on their own,” Molitar says.

The Trufants have seen a tremendous return rate from families who attended family camp who decide to send their child(ren) back when they are older to work as camp counselors for sleepaway camp.

“There’s a camaraderie and sense of community built from the start; the joy and enthusiasm is palpable,” Trufant says. “We make sure no child is lost here — even the child who is never picked.”

Family camp helped Molitar’s son, Max, come out of his shell. “He was real quiet and kind of shy, and there was a counselor working nicknamed Bit. She was so great to him, encouraging him to try new things,” Molitar says. “When you meet someone that’s really nice to your kid, then you love them instantly. She drew something out of him that we couldn’t and that’s priceless.”

Molitar’s oldest daughter has attended Camp Kahdalea’s summer camp, and her son, Max, looks forward to attending Camp Chosatonga this summer.

 

Building the Father-Son Experience

Creating a space for fathers and sons to spend time together was important to father and Camp Rockmont Director Dan Davis. Located 13 miles east of Asheville in Black Mountain on Lake Eden, Camp Rockmont offers father-son camps during two weekends each fall that feature activities such as canoeing, kayaking, swimming, archery, blacksmithing, shooting and field sports, as well as classic camp activities like building campfires and playing games. Davis started the father-son camps 13 years ago after realizing his own need to be intentional about getting outside and exploring nature in an unencumbered way to become more present with his son, Micha, who is now a sophomore at Clemson University. Davis' son and 90-year-old dad, Cornelius, still join him during father-son weekends. Davis says these experiences have been vital for his and his son’s personal growth, and for the development of a strong father-son relationship.

The weekend camps are designed to create a sacred space where dads can let go of day-to-day responsibilities and fully engage with their sons in a safe space. 

“Going back to the best of your younger self, being free and adventurous, you’re never too old to appreciate that,” Davis says. 

Camp Rockmont enjoys a more than 80-percent return rate, so it’s important to plan ahead and register before the camps fill up, since there are only two each year. 

Allen Perkins and his son, Will, started attending Camp Rockmont’s father-son camp three years ago and have attended four thus far.

“We have so many wonderful memories from those weekends,” Perkins says. “It’s a great investment in my time and the return far exceeds what you can imagine.”

Perkins, who attended summer camp in western North Carolina as a child, says it’s special to relive those experiences with his son. One standout memory, he says, was teaching his son archery, a sport he thoroughly enjoyed during his childhood. It’s also a great way to connect with other dads, he says.

“We’ve even come with our neighbors — four sons and four dads from our neighborhood this year,” he says. “We are all friends, but it gave us the space to develop more depth in our relationships, and it was enriching to share this experience with our boys.”

Perkins believes attending father-son camp is one of the best ways he can provide an opportunity for his son to grow. “My hope is for Will to develop skills away from an iPad and TV, communication skills and other interpersonal skills,” he says.

Davis hopes Camp Rockmont’s father-son camp offers attendees experiences from which they can build upon at home.

“We’re all in this same journey, as parents,” Davis says. “We find the best of ourselves when we’re mindful and we can pass that on to our sons.” 

Crystal O’Gorman is a freelance writer who lives in Indian Land, S.C. with her husband Ryan and her children, Mikey, 8, and Bella, 6. 

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Forget tourist-filled museums, make your own memories with a photo scavenger hunt tour in Raleigh! On a Let’s Roam scavenger hunt, you and your team will work together to wander throughout...

Cost: $11

Where:
500 S Salisbury St
raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Let's Roam
Website »

More information

Join us for the Kids Exchange Spring/Summer Consignment Sale in February!   This FREE ADMISSION event is the largest kids consignment sale in the nation and is held at the NC State Fairgrounds...

Cost: Free

Where:
Jim Graham Building
1025 Blue Ridge Road
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »

More information

Amongst the ancient oak trees is the heart of Raleigh. We'll help you see the forest for the trees and all its magic splendor. Tourist, local, or new to town, this is a lively small group activity...

Cost: $11

Where:
Downtown
500 S Salisbury St
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Let's Roam
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: Kelly
Website »

More information

Join us for the Kids Exchange Spring/Summer Consignment Sale in July! This FREE ADMISSION event is the largest kids consignment sale in the nation and is held at the NC State Fairgrounds at...

Cost: 0 – $10

Where:
Jim Graham Building
1025 Blue Ridge Road
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Kindermusik is a research-based early childhood curriculum that includes 45-minute classroom lessons with materials and resources that encourages parental involvement . Research has linked...

Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
Hope Community Building, Fuquay Varina Room
Apex/Holly Springs, NC  27539
View map »


Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
Website »

More information

Chip, chip, hooray! The first Zambrero in the Southeast is opening on January 24 with zingy, zesty activities! Bodacious Burritos and Bowls: $5 burritos and bowls all day Delicious Drawing: A...

Cost: Free

Where:
1 Glenwood Ave
#105
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: (919) 863-2561
Website »

More information

Just in time to keep up with those home improvement resolutions for 2020, the Downtown Raleigh Home Show returns to downtown’s Raleigh Convention Center January 24-26, 2020  with a jam-packed...

Cost: Tickets are $12 for adults and free for children under 12. Advance $9 tickets

Where:
Raleigh Convention Center
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Marketplace Events
Telephone: 904-608-3823
Contact Name: Liz Morgan

More information

Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

More information

Lights is a half-mile walking trail that leads viewers through a series of immersive light installations featuring  honeycombs, vines, crystals, and other natural features integrated into the...

Cost: Free

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Website »

More information

Skate on an ice trail or free skate on 17,000 sq. ft of ice. Located in the Upper Pond of the Whitewater Center, the skating environment features three distinct programming areas and an on-ice...

Cost: 20

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Website »

More information

Triangle Restaurant Week (January 20-26, 2020) is a week-long celebration of culinary excellence designed to incorporate the premier Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and surrounding area restaurants....

Cost: $15-$35

Where:
Participating Restaurants
, NC


Sponsor: Triangle Blvd
Telephone: 919-673-5784
Website »

More information

Take a hike after dark and enjoy the sights and sounds of a quiet night along the American Tobacco Trail. We will walk to the Beaver Creek bridge and back (about one mile total). Free for ages 4...

Cost: Free

Where:
American Tobacco Trail
1309 New Hill-Olive Chapel Rd.
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park and the American Tobacco Trail
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
Website »

More information

Hounded by Death, the character of Everybody desperately seeks out everyone and everything they know in hope of finding something meaningful to take to the grave. These 90 minutes of theatrical...

Cost: Ticket prices start at $15

Where:
PlayMakers' Repertory Company
120 Country Club Rd
Chapel Hill, NC  27599
View map »


Telephone: 919-962-7529

More information

Rumpelstiltskin-A Tale of Gold Book by Ellie FaggionMusic and Lyrics written by Brian Shrager and Ellie FaggionProduced by special arrangement with the author.Directed by Beth Wilson...

Cost: varies

Where:
Spiritual Twist Productions
1250 Aversboro Road
Garner, NC  27529
View map »


Sponsor: Spiritual Twist Productions
Telephone: 919-977-1976
Contact Name: Kathy MacDonald
Website »

More information

David Burney, lead singer for the acclaimed Johnny Cash tribute band Johnny Folsom 4, brings his one-man show to The ArtsCenter for three shows, January 24-26, 2020.  In “Hello, I’m...

Cost: $15 to $20

Where:
The ArtsCenter
300-G East Main St.
300-G East Main Street.
Carrboro, NC  27510
View map »


Sponsor: The ArtsCenter
Telephone: 919-929-2787
Contact Name: Patrick Phelps-Mckeown
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Forget tourist-filled museums, make your own memories with a photo scavenger hunt tour in Raleigh! On a Let’s Roam scavenger hunt, you and your team will work together to wander throughout...

Cost: $11

Where:
500 S Salisbury St
raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Let's Roam
Website »

More information

Join us for the Kids Exchange Spring/Summer Consignment Sale in February!   This FREE ADMISSION event is the largest kids consignment sale in the nation and is held at the NC State Fairgrounds...

Cost: Free

Where:
Jim Graham Building
1025 Blue Ridge Road
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »

More information

Amongst the ancient oak trees is the heart of Raleigh. We'll help you see the forest for the trees and all its magic splendor. Tourist, local, or new to town, this is a lively small group activity...

Cost: $11

Where:
Downtown
500 S Salisbury St
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Let's Roam
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: Kelly
Website »

More information

Join us for the Kids Exchange Spring/Summer Consignment Sale in July! This FREE ADMISSION event is the largest kids consignment sale in the nation and is held at the NC State Fairgrounds at...

Cost: 0 – $10

Where:
Jim Graham Building
1025 Blue Ridge Road
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Join the Museum and the Raleigh Astronomy Club to help you see the big picture — of the Universe! From comet crafts to solar observing, lectures to rocket launches, space enthusiasts of all ages...

Cost: Free

Where:
NC Museum of Natural Sciences
11 W. Jones St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Kindermusik is a research-based early childhood curriculum that includes 45-minute classroom lessons with materials and resources that encourages parental involvement . Research has linked...

Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
Hope Community Building, Fuquay Varina Room
Apex/Holly Springs, NC  27539
View map »


Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
Website »

More information

Family Wildlife Series: Tricky Tracks Saturday, January 25 10-11 a.m. Come dressed for the weather so you can roam the park learning the fine art of “tracking”.   Make a cast of an animal...

Cost: Free

Where:
Blue Jay Point County Park
3200 Pleasant Union Church Road
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Telephone: 919-870-4330
Website »

More information

RALEIGH (Jan. 16, 2020) – The North Carolina Association for Public Charter Schools will host its first school fair during National School Choice Week on Saturday, Jan. 25. The fair will take...

Cost: Free

Where:
Raleigh Convention Center
500 S. Salisbury Street
Raleigh, NC  27610
View map »


Sponsor: NC Association of Public Charter Schools
Telephone: 336-669-9996
Contact Name: Rhonda Dillingham
Website »

More information

Just in time to keep up with those home improvement resolutions for 2020, the Downtown Raleigh Home Show returns to downtown’s Raleigh Convention Center January 24-26, 2020  with a jam-packed...

Cost: Tickets are $12 for adults and free for children under 12. Advance $9 tickets

Where:
Raleigh Convention Center
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Marketplace Events
Telephone: 904-608-3823
Contact Name: Liz Morgan

More information

Lights is a half-mile walking trail that leads viewers through a series of immersive light installations featuring  honeycombs, vines, crystals, and other natural features integrated into the...

Cost: Free

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Website »

More information

Skate on an ice trail or free skate on 17,000 sq. ft of ice. Located in the Upper Pond of the Whitewater Center, the skating environment features three distinct programming areas and an on-ice...

Cost: 20

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Website »

More information

Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

More information

Spanish Alive is providing Family Spanish classes starting in January! Join us to learn Spanish as an entire family in an immersive, fun environment. Our teachers are trained Spanish educators and...

Cost: $75-$216

Where:
Spanish Alive
156 E. Chatham St
Cary, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Winter days find many animals curled up in their dens. They sleep warmly, awakening in spring ready to enjoy the renewed Earth. Discover how animals deal with cold weather and which ones hibernate...

Cost: For all ages; FREE. Registration is required for all family members,& childre

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Rumpelstiltskin-A Tale of Gold Book by Ellie FaggionMusic and Lyrics written by Brian Shrager and Ellie FaggionProduced by special arrangement with the author.Directed by Beth Wilson...

Cost: varies

Where:
Spiritual Twist Productions
1250 Aversboro Road
Garner, NC  27529
View map »


Sponsor: Spiritual Twist Productions
Telephone: 919-977-1976
Contact Name: Kathy MacDonald
Website »

More information

Triangle Restaurant Week (January 20-26, 2020) is a week-long celebration of culinary excellence designed to incorporate the premier Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and surrounding area restaurants....

Cost: $15-$35

Where:
Participating Restaurants
, NC


Sponsor: Triangle Blvd
Telephone: 919-673-5784
Website »

More information

Join us in Arendelle for Frozen-inspired STEAM activities for the whole family! Included in the ticket cost is dinner and dessert for the whole family, make your own sock Olaf and Frozen bouncy...

Cost: $35 per family

Where:
Kidzu Children's Museum
201 S. Estes Dr.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
View map »


Sponsor: Kidzu Children's Museum
Telephone: 919-933-1455
Website »

More information

AML Wrestling presents our 5th Anniversary Celebration! WHEN: Saturday, January 25th, 2020WHERE: Winston-Salem Fairgrounds in theHome & Garden Building 408 27th Street NW/Gate #9 Winston-Salem, NC...

Cost: $5

Where:
Winston-Salem Fairgrounds
408 27th Street NW/Gate #9
Winston-Salem, NC  27105
View map »


Sponsor: AML Wrestling
Telephone: 336-831-0646
Contact Name: Tracy Myers
Website »

More information

Hounded by Death, the character of Everybody desperately seeks out everyone and everything they know in hope of finding something meaningful to take to the grave. These 90 minutes of theatrical...

Cost: Ticket prices start at $15

Where:
PlayMakers' Repertory Company
120 Country Club Rd
Chapel Hill, NC  27599
View map »


Telephone: 919-962-7529

More information

David Burney, lead singer for the acclaimed Johnny Cash tribute band Johnny Folsom 4, brings his one-man show to The ArtsCenter for three shows, January 24-26, 2020.  In “Hello, I’m...

Cost: $15 to $20

Where:
The ArtsCenter
300-G East Main St.
300-G East Main Street.
Carrboro, NC  27510
View map »


Sponsor: The ArtsCenter
Telephone: 919-929-2787
Contact Name: Patrick Phelps-Mckeown
Website »

More information

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Education Guide

The 2019-20 Education Guide offers 718 education resources in the Triangle, including area preschools, private schools, public school systems, charter schools, boarding schools and academic resources.

The Triangle Go-To Guide

Our Triangle Go-To Guide connects you to family fun resources across the Triangle. In our 2019-20 issue, explore 1,028 resources for family fun.