In the summer of 1927, H.R. Dobson, a football coach from Spartanburg, South Carolina brought a group of boys to the mountains of North Carolina to train for the upcoming football season. He discovered the perfect combination of fields and forest beside Wolfe Lake in Flat Rock. He knew this property was a gem and knew that it could serve a higher purpose. Consequently, he announced to his physical education classes at Spartanburg High School that he was going to start a summer camp and it would be called Pinnacle because it was the highest and the best. Jervey S. DuPre was one of the boys who heard that announcement and became the first camper at Camp Pinnacle for Boys in 1928. He is still alive today at 102 years old!
In 1929, Dobson formed a partnership with Miami Florida businessman, Van C. Kussrow, Sr. Kussrow had seen the property while vacationing in the area. At the recommendation of his former Miami scout master, Reese Combs, Kussrow agreed to the partnership and to purchase the property. Kussrow’s business acumen combined with Dobson’s athletic ability and teaching skills provided for a highly successful and complementary partnership. The partnership endured for 30 years until Dobson’s death in 1958, after which a series of directors, including Walt Cottingham, Roger Smoak, Tom Good, Chappy Hollis, and Glen Gray served both the boys and girls camps at Pinnacle.
In 1931, Camp Pinnacle for Girls began, initially directed by Dobson’s wife, Laura Mae. Directors who followed included Francis Major, Nelle Carr, Beth Blackwell, Mary Lanier, Linda Reeves, and Jean Cochran. Van Kussrow remained Camp Pinnacle’s president until his death in 1990; his son, Van C. Kussrow, Jr., assumed that role until his death in 2006.
In 1994, the movie Heavyweights starring Ben Stiller was filmed at Camp Pinnacle.
In its 88 year history, Camp Pinnacle has enriched the lives of thousands of young people by giving it's campers an appreciation for the beauty of nature and inspiration to lead healthy and meaningful lives. A few famous alumni include Florida Senator Connie Mack, III; former Florida Governor and Senator Robert (Bob) Graham; former President of Furman University Dr. Gordon Blackwell; former University of North Carolina/Chapel Hill Chancellor Dr. Michael Hooker, Four-Star General William Westmoreland, and General Joe Moore.
After the retirement of Van Kussrow, Jr iin 2000, Camp Pinnacle was managed by Glen Gray through summer 2009. In 2010, there was a hiatus from Camping and Pinnacle did not operate as a summer camp program. During that time, Mary Kussrow Lanier operated the camp as a retreat and events facility. Rather than accept numerous opportunities to sell the camp property for development, the Kussrow family decided that they wanted Camp Pinnacle to continue to make a lifetime impression on children and that the property would remain a summer camp..
In 2011, the Kussrow family chose two of the nation’s most innovative founding camp owners, Adventure Treks’ John Dockendorf and Camp Champions’ Steve Baskin—who serves as a national board member for the American Camping Association—to reopen and reinvigorate Camp Pinnacle.
Dockendorf and Baskin met on a snowy January day to walk the Camp Pinnacle property. The two were inspired by what they saw and a partnership instantly formed. Nothing excited these two more than the opportunity to restore one of the country’s most traditional and historic camps. With previous experience building their camps from scratch, and their vision of the importance of the camping experience to children raised in the digital age, Dockendorf and Baskin jumped at the opportunity to be a part of the long legacy of Camp Pinnacle. Giving a new generation of children the opportunity for an incredible camp experience, tied to 85 years of camp history, became the new focus for these two camp professionals.
The Camp Pinnacle grand reopening press conference and ribbon cutting was held in September 2011. The event included camp directors, former Camp Pinnacle campers and counselors, and members of the local community. The event was followed by a special reunion in October bringing alumni together again in support of the NEW Camp Pinnacle.
Camp Pinnacle had a busy fall in 2011, hosting numerous outdoor educational programs for schools as well as the Southern Appalachian Science School Program. In July 2012, Camp Pinnacle officially reopened for two sessions and had an incredibly successful summer, exceeding all enrollment goals. Most of the campers and counselors from summer 2012 returned for Summer 2013. Summer 2013 was another incredible summer with three sessions of camp. In 2014, four sessions of camp were offered and Camp Pinnacle returned to its traditional size and scope.
Camp continues to undergo aggressive remodeling as it prepares for the next 85 years! just a few of the new features built since 2011 include, the largest water slide in western north Carolina, extensive on property mountain biking trails, a bike park, a flow trail, an amphitheater, new decks, remodeled bathrooms, and cabins, new treehouses, new docks, new activities and much, much more.
Summer 2015 is shaping up to be the "best summer ever" with many returning counselors and campers. Since reopening, Camp Pinnacle has become a renowned wedding venue in the off season and has also hosted numerous family reunions and fundraising events. Camp Pinnacle was chosen as the site for the film "Secrets of the Fall," released in Fall 2013.