Black Mountain camp opens Marion location

From Staff Reports

Camp Timberlake, a boys camp that has served hundreds of boys each summer for 35 years, has built a new camp in Marion, NC, which opened on June 4.

Camp Timberlake and Camp Merri-Mac, owned by Adam and Ann Boyd, have coexisted on their 150-acre property off Montreat Road in Black Mountain for over 70 years.

With an ever-growing wait list, the Boyds decided to take the next step in expanding camp: To move Camp Timberlake to a new property in order to create space for more campers, advancing their mission of growth through friends and adventure.

“We are made to be challenged, to grow, and to succeed. And so we teach that through adventure at camp,” said Boyd, who has run the camp since 1992. “Ann and I have had the opportunity to do what we are teaching our campers to do, having an adventure of our own.”

The Boyds have spent 20 years looking for the right property for Camp Timberlake.

“Timberlake has been straining at the bit to grow,” said Boyd. “This is the first property I walked on and said ‘This is it’ -- it was distinct from anywhere else we had been.”

The property, previously a cattle ranch, boasts 214 acres of rolling, grassy hills, mature forests, and an eight-acre lake. After the real estate closing in April 2017, master planning commenced with Domokur Architects, a firm that has designed over 300 camps across the country. Montreat resident and design builder Robert Sulaski, who has developed communities for Disney and Asheville’s Biltmore Farms, has run the camp project, accomplishing what Boyd calls “Hurculean.”

Today Camp Timberlake is ready to welcome new campers with over 20 new facilities and structures built throughout the property, including a dining hall, multi-use building, climbing tower and boulder, cabins, archery and riflery pavilions, stone counselor ring, and a mountain bike trail.

“To be able to start from scratch and think through how boys move through a piece of property is very exciting,” said Boyd.

The team designed the camp similar to European cities, where people move from place to place in concentric circles, with little spots to settle and connect with one another.

“It’s been really fun to think like an artist, and to think like a nine-year-old boy,” said Boyd.

John Menendez began directing Camp Timberlake in 2016, and jumped into the planning process within his first year.

“We’ve been able to take almost 75 years of camping experience and pour that into the design,” Menendez said of the new build.

Camp Timberlake will bring over three decades worth of traditions down to Marion, everything from camp songs and rituals to cabin names and paint colors, even planting the same trees and shrubs as the Black Mountain property.

“We even want it to smell the same way,” noted Boyd.

“We get the best of both worlds,” said Menendez. “We get brand new facilities that we can design just like we want and we get to bring generations of tradition and camp culture with us.”

He continued, “The only difference is that our traditions will become richer and grander because of the new landscape on which they will take place.”

Camp Timberlake has already begun to make an economic impact on McDowell County, hiring local contractors as much as possible for the build. This summer the camp will bring in hundreds of families who stay at hotels for two-to-three nights, as well as employ dozens of staff who will frequent restaurants and shops in the Marion area.

“We have been really impressed with the folks of McDowell County,” commented Boyd.

“From the fire marshall to the building inspectors to the economic development folks -- McDowell County has a top-notch team.” Menendez said, “The construction team caught the vision of camp without even seeing campers there.”

One subcontractor told Menendez, “This is a once-in-a-lifetime build for me.”

After a soggy nine months of construction since the first permit was issued, Camp Timberlake opened its gates to over 100 campers for the first time on June 4.

“This whole undertaking is for our campers,” said Menendez, “to create an opportunity for our boys to grow, to find adventure, to build lifelong friendships.” He continued, “We really believe we created a space where that is going to happen, and that’s what we’re most excited about.”