Alfred Thompson has been the Owner and Director of Camp Carolina since 1993. He lives on the property with his wife, Mary Eccles, who has been the Office Manager since 2007. Their two children, Bren and Alfred Jr, who grew up at camp also live on the property with their spouses, Emily and Alex. Alfred Jr and Bren are both Directors. Emily does the accounting/bookkeeping and Alex is Head of Maintenance. The Thompson Family has over 100 years combined experience running a private summer camp. Boy are we lucky to share our love of Camp Carolina together!
Since 1959 the Thompson family has been associated with Camp Carolina.
In 1946, Nath Thompson (Alfred's dad) got his first summer camp job. There was a nationwide gas shortage so he set out on his 50 lb. single speed bike and rode 235 miles from Thomaston, Georgia to the mountains of Western North Carolina. With 55 cents in his pocket, he rode for 5 days. This adventure began his lifelong career and passion for summer camping.
It is his determination and love of camp that has been so important to his family, Camp Carolina, and the larger camp community.
Many changes have happened since Nath’s first summer at camp but Camp Carolina still has one defining mission to be a valuable factor in a boy’s compete development.
History and Tradition
In 1924 Camp Carolina was started by Professor David Meade Bernard who was Co-owner and Director of Camp Carolina from 1924 – 1945. The original property consisted of a small lake, an apple orchard, the Siniard’s home (Camp Carolina property owners at the time), a log cabin, and the farm land which became the golf course.
In 1924, the first summer, the 100 boys in attendance stayed in tents on wood platforms. The season started July 3rd and ended August 17th. The second summer 200 boys attended for 8 weeks and 105 for 4 weeks – a full camp! Thirty-two new cabins had been built by 1925, plus a dining hall and a gym. Lodges were added later.
In 1958 Joe McConnell, owner of camp at the time, felt it was apparent the camp had to have a full-time director and manager. Nath heard in the spring of 1959 that Camp Carolina was looking for a full-time director. Nath reached Joe McConnell in Florida and after a short telephone conversation Nath and Mary were asked to come to Florida for an interview. Shortly thereafter he was employed and came to work in May 1959.
Nath was the director and general manager from 1959 – 1982. In 1982 James Gerald Stone became co-owner and co-director of Camp Carolina with Nath. This was the last year that camp was operated on the old campsite. All the camp buildings were moved from the old camp to the current location, it was a tremendous undertaking. The following buildings were put on sleds and pulled by tractor over the ridge (currently known to all as Bulldozer) to the new property: 34 cabins, the office building, the rifle range, craft and nature shop, and two cook’s cabins. Altogether a total of 51 buildings were moved, each one for a total of 2 miles on a sled.
Those who knew the old site feel that the new, current location is one of the prettiest spots in Western North Carolina.
Camp Carolina’s first newspaper was published in 1924. The paper was called the Carolina Camper and was published only during the summer months. The paper stated “it was published during camp for the promotion of a unified camp spirit.” It also reported that the camp emblem was a shield that had a white “C” and a border of navy blue. The “C” stood for courage, character and consecration as well as Carolina. The 1938 newspaper said that “the John Jordan family had sent more sons to Camp Carolina than any other family.” Since that time another family has topped that record. Mr. and Mrs. Bill Hannon, Nashville, Tennessee have sent all 5 of their sons.
Here is their remarkable record:
- Tom Hannon (1969 – 1980)
- John Hannon (1969 – 1978)
- Dan Hannon (1970 – 1980)
- Chris Hannon (1971 – 1984)
- Bob Hannon (1978 – 1988)
The long standing relationship with the Hannon’s and Camp Carolina continues. Bob Hannon’s son, Ivey Hannon, attended his first summer here in 2008 and has returned each year since where he attends our 4 week main session in July.
A history of Camp Carolina would be incomplete without something about Joe Siniard and his store which was located next to the camp property. Usually one of the counselors sings a song at the last campfire entitled “Talking Camp Carolina Blues.” The last verse goes like this:
“If you want to get to heaven, everybody knows
You go to Brevard and take a left at Joe’s
You drive down the road and pretty soon
Your car gets drenched by a water balloon.
And you know you’re there – heaven – better known
As Camp Carolina.”