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Camp Pinnacle has hired an impressive team of role models!

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One of the greatest gifts of the summer camp experience is the opportunity for children to form relationships with impressive role models who will be remembered forever. This summer, we are bringing together some of the best young leaders from around the country to be exceptional role models for your children. We’ll have close to fifty leaders who will hail from 36 colleges and 21 different states. We all share one goal: To give our Camp Pinnacle campers the experience of a lifetime.

Meet The Counselors from Camp Pinnacle on Vimeo.

As the Assistant Director, one of my main focuses throughout the year is keeping up with our returning staff and spearheading our interview process for new staff. We have an extensive hiring process that includes three separate interviews in order to allow us to really get to know our applicants. This is followed by three reference checks and a complete background check. When assembling our counselor team, we look for a group of well-rounded counselors who have a passion for working with kids. We have partnered with these staff because of our belief in their ability to focus on safety, to be positive role models, and to best facilitate our camper’s personal growth and fun. As a staff, we work with our campers to create an emotionally and physically safe environment where everyone can grow and become their best selves.

I could not be more excited to share details about our 2015 Pinnacle Staff team!


Rachele Harvey will be joining us for her fourth summer at Camp Pinnacle as the head counselor for Girls’ Camp. She has recently graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in International Studies and minors in Italian and Anthropology. Rachele spent part of her winter in Peru and the Galapagos, hiking Machu Picchu and swimming with sea lions.

Carson Gernert will be the head counselor for Boys’ Camp. Like Rachele, he has been with us since 2012 when we reopened Camp Pinnacle.  Carson is graduating from the College of Charleston this May with a degree in Business and Finance. He spent part of his winter traveling across southeast Asia, including China, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand.

Visiting Looking Glass Falls!

Visiting Looking Glass Falls!

Outdoor Leadership

Jasmine Siemer-Dunbar and Andrew Buckless assist our Outdoor Director, Hoyle Adams in leading our outdoor programs.  Both are returning for their third summer at camp.  Jasmine is graduating from the University of Redlands in California, summa cum laude, with an emphasis in Integrative Psychology. Andrew, aka “Bucky”, is receiving his degree in Adventure Education from Plymouth State University. Bucky spent his winter climbing his way through Spain and Jasmine recently spent a semester in Indonesia.

Activity Leadership

Charlie Kendrick, our alumni director, will be returning for his 30th+ summer at Pinnacle to assist in our ongoing program improvement. Former Pinnacle camper Amanda Byrne will be returning to add some fun to our arts and crafts program. Jessica Eblen, a former tennis standout at University of North Carolina–Greensboro and head coach of the Hendersonville High School tennis program, will be returning to lead our tennis program.  Ed Majzlik will be back for his fourth summer at the riflery range.  Managing a nuclear power plant prior to “retirement” gave Ed the necessary experience to keep the range safe! Our mountain biking program is sure to be a knock-out again this summer under the leadership of Steve Drewry, who will be returning for his second summer.  Frank Burch will be joining us as our waterfront director.  He spent 10 years at our sister camp, Camp Champions. Frank has recently graduated from LSU with a degree in English.


A Camp Pinnacle Counselor Team at Triple Falls - Dupont State Forest

A Camp Pinnacle Counselor Team at Triple Falls – Dupont State Forest

Richard will be running our kitchen again this summer.  (Our returning campers know that Richard = incredible food!) Tom built Richard a test kitchen on property last fall – so he now has a place to hold his cooking classes!  Who wants to learn how to bake?


Adam Kleiman will lead our talented group of musicians again this year.  Adam spent most of his year with his a cappella group, the Pikers, at Washington University in St Louis. He will be joined by Hunter Tredway, who will be bringing back “the funk” on his bass guitar. Both are excited to share their love of camp songs with new counselors Ben Brown and Liam Arnade-Colwill. Ben plays guitar and recently joined UNC-Asheville’s chamber vocal ensemble. They were even invited to sing at the White House!  Liam plays trumpet and recently joined the Yale Symphony Orchestra.  A strong music program is one of the keys to an incredible summer, and we are excited to soon be able to hear camp songs reverberating from the dining room and amphitheater.

Oh, the joy of camp life!

Oh, the joy of camp life!

Returning Counselors

We could not be more thrilled to have a solid crew of returning counselors. Our returning campers will see many familiar faces! Third-year returners include Hannah McKinley, Wells Jones, Haley Sullivan and Laura Horowitz.  They will be joined by rock-star, second-year counselors, Page Nevel, Evan Seklecki, Hunter Tredway, Adam Kleiman, Josh Keener, and Tyler Weller. All have improved their outdoor and leadership skills, and many have recently earned Wilderness First Responder certification.

New Counselors

We have known many of our new counselors for years, as 65% were former students in our Adventure Treks program. Our counselors are currently finishing classes at Yale University, Kenyon College, University of Michigan, UNC–Chapel Hill, Notre Dame, Brown University, Tulane, University of Mississippi, University of Massachusetts, Oberlin, Georgia Tech, Appalachian State, UNC–Asheville, University of Texas, Ohio State, and other great schools.

The anticipation for the summer is growing every day in the Camp Pinnacle office, and we cannot wait for our staff team to finally arrive!  We begin with incredible people but then train our staff thoroughly so they can do the best possible job this summer.  That’s why Our counselor Orientation is two-weeks long (as long as a camp session.) Staff Orientation begins May 31.

Make sure to check out our counselor page on the web-site around May 15 for a complete list of our 2015 counselors and their biographies.

This is Fayssoux, signing off!

How Do We ‘Auto-Correct’ Our Kids?

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Not only do our Camp Pinnacle campers spend two weeks in nature, surrounded by surreal beauty and involved in action-packed camp activities, but they have the time of their lives without video games or technology. That’s one of Camp Pinnacle’s principles: unplugging from technology to reconnect with our natural surroundings and each other. Living in the absence of technology allows our students to focus on building strong, inclusive, and kind communities that focus on “face to face communication.” When one thrives without technology, it puts technology into proper perspective as a “useful tool” rather than a “must have.”

This video artfully and eloquently describes why we unplug for the summer.

What Could People Who Run a Summer Camp Possibly Do in the Winter?

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“You run a summer camp?  What could you possibly do during the winter?”  This is a question we hear frequently! Although winter is slower than summer, our “To Do List” continues to expand as we assiduously prepare for summer 2015. Here’s a breakdown of what winter looks like at Camp Pinnacle:

The new girls treehouse complex with swinging bridge is nearing completion!

The New Girls Tree House Complex with Swinging Bridge is Nearing Completion!

Sharing Camp with Families – Whether giving a tour of camp, or talking on the phone or via Skype, this is our favorite winter pasttime!   We consider ourselves partners with our parents and we enjoy learning how camp experiences help our parents raise great kids.  We love opportunities to chat with new and existing families and eagerly await your questions and suggestions.

Meeting New Families – Though the bulk of our communication is done by phone and email, Ben and Dock try to get out and meet as many families as possible.  This year, visits include Durham, Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville, and many cities in Florida.  We are happy to visit and share Camp Pinnacle with you and friends – just ask! Enrollment is running 60% ahead of last summer so we do urge people to sign up quickly as we hate to disappoint folks.  We anticipate that sessions 1 and 3 will be the first sessions to fill.

one of our two new CP Handwashing Stations

One of Two New CP Hand Washing Stations

Constant Facility Improvement – We love our Facilities Team! Tom, George, Alaska, Steve, Hunter and James are outside regardless of wind, cold or rain making our camp facility just a little bit better every single day. We know our campers are going to love the new girls’ tree house complex, a new kayaking area with changing rooms, new back country campsites, new hand washing stations, new decks and our brand new boy’s cabin, “The Lodge.”  Dock and Ben have been laying out new mountain biking trails including an expansion of The Enchanted Forest. Ben is also building new features for the Mountain Bike Park.  Keep your eyes open! We still have a couple of surprises up our sleeve, as we prepare for campers to arrive. Much of what our Facilities Team does in the winter is necessary to make camp better but goes unnoticed. Examples include a new walk in cooler in the kitchen, a new walk in freezer in our pantry, new, improved electrical service to cabins and new larger water lines.

A Camp Pinnacle Counselor Team at Triple Falls - Dupont State Forest

A Camp Pinnacle Counselor Team at Triple Falls – Dupont State Forest

Interviewing Potential Counselors – The quality of the Camp Pinnacle experience is defined by the quality of our counselors, our ability to retain great counselors, and the depth and breadth of our two week staff training.  We are excited about the new counselors who will be joining our team of returning counselors this summer.  Selecting just the right counselors is critical, so we devote a lot of our winter to staff interviews.  We begin with a large pool of applicants. Every new counselor will go through 4 interviews, 4 reference checks and full background checks.  Our connection with Adventure Treks means we have known many of our staff applicants since they were young teens.   Counselors are coming from as far away as Hawaii, California, Utah, and Massachusetts and the colleges they attend include Yale, Brown, Kenyon, University of Michigan, Miami of Ohio, UNC – Chapel Hill, The Ohio State University, James Madison, and many more.

Programming and More Programming – Fayssoux and Hoyle are renewing permits in Pisgah National Forest and Great Smokey Mountains National Park, planning new hiking and backpacking itineraries, tweaking lesson plans for kayaking or tennis, creating new evening activities and special events, and streamlining scheduling. We are always looking for ways to improve our program and provide opportunities for our campers to take away even more from their two weeks at Camp Pinnacle.

Weddings and Educational Programs– The economics of maintaining a 126 acre facility mean we have to do much more than operate for 8 weeks as a summer camp. We are lucky that Camp Pinnacle is such a spectacular site that from late April through October, every single non-camp weekend will be reserved for a wedding.  During many spring and fall weeks, it’s also typical to find a group of school students experiencing outdoor education programs here at Camp Pinnacle.

Excited for more new biking trails this summer!

Excited for more new biking trails this summer!

Continuing Education – Although we have decades of experience, there is always more to learn.  This year Dock, Jane and Steve all attended the National Conference of the American Camp Association (ACA), where Steve, (former ACA Treasurer) was a featured speaker. Ben and Fayssoux will be attending the ACA Tri-State conference in New Jersey. We recently attended a symposium on Camp Nursing, and many of our counselors have upgraded their medical certification to Wilderness First Responder. We are constantly reading and staying on top of youth development research and parenting trends in order to insure that the Camp Pinnacle experience remains relevant for you our families.

Exploring – Of course the best part of the winter is when we get outside and explore new hiking or mountain biking trails, “discover” new waterfalls, or paddle new lakes or rivers with eyes on using them for our campers in the summer.

We can’t wait for the summer to begin.  Our first group of campers arrives in 128 days!