Archery Training in TN and Hiking around Linville Falls

In an effort to better understand and improve what I know of our activities, I went to an archery instructor training session in Blountville, TN. I honestly really enjoy archery. Even previous to becoming the Program Director here at camp, when I’d lead archery I’d go out half an hour early, like you’re supposed to, and set up and just shoot 150 or so shots before the campers got there. Anyway, I guess I just mean, no one had to pull my leg to go get my instructor certification. It was a little stressful though, since there was really only 1 training session within driving distance, and it was on a day when we had a group at camp. Even then, it was still 2 and 1/2 hours away.

It was worth the time investment though, I think. I’ve got a much clearer sense of proper technique, how to correct improper form, how to properly repair all of our gear, etc, etc. What this really means for camp though, is that knowing what I know now, I feel better equipped to train our own staff to lead our archery program effectively and what to do if we want to expand it more in the future.

Of course, I already had ideas for how to improve our archery program already, but I feel much better equipped to teach it in more depth if we wanted to. So maybe instead of just going to the activity once in the week and then moving on to another thing, we could allow campers to select one activity for the week that they want to learn more about and specialize in. For archery, that might look like trying different types of bows and letting them figure out which suits them best and improving on their form so that they really hone in on that bulls eye. It’s just a thought for now, but who knows.

I didn’t get any pictures of the actual training or anything, since I was a bit busy with note taking. But, on my way back I did stop by Linville Falls, since we’re going to the caverns near there during middle school. The plan is to go through a tour of the caverns and then go hiking, and so, I thought I might try to see where we might go hiking.


I basically just saw that the falls were mostly on my way back, so I just drove like 3 miles out of the way and went on a little hike. I’ve hiked in the Pisgah National Forest before, so I had some idea of what to expect, but it nice to go and enjoy God’s creation when you can. It was only like a 2 mile hike when all was said and done too.


The trails just give you different angles to look at the different falls, but they’re still impressive.My only complaint was that the trails were so muddy. It’s spring though, and it had rained on my drive up there that morning, so I can’t complain, really.



I always love trying to find the biggest tree I can when I go on hikes, and I think this is the best contender this time. It’s hard to tell from this picture, but that blue paint is actually about the size of my hand. Just guessing, but I’d say it’d take 2-3 of me to get my arms all the way around it.



Again, finding a way to actually show the scale is hard here. The river is about 10-12 feet apart at this point, and further down that rock it winds around to a pretty sizable drop.


This looking back at that waterfall from further down the river, just much higher up. There’s still tons of water from the rain, and in some spots it just pools up, like here. It’s about half a mile hike from where the previous photo was taken.


Some of the trails weren’t all swampy, so that was nice.

After leaving, I also stopped by a overlook. It was just so nice out today, how can you not?




Cliff Hangers in Moorsville

This past Tuesday I went to try out another place that we’re considering for high school camp. It’s an indoor rock climbing wall facility located in Mooresvile called Cliff Hangers. It’s not too far from us, about 50 minutes, and its relatively cheap, especially if you have your own harnesses. For adults, it’s only 19 per person and it’s a full day pass, so you can climb as much as you want.

. Some of the pictures are a little blurry on the bottom, but I didn’t notice until I had already left.


The walls in the main room go up 50 feet, and there’s obviously lots of different routes to choose from. They have both regular and auto belay systems in place, so if you’re climbing alone or with other people you have some options. Auto belays take some time to get used to, since you have to essentially just let go and jump back. After a foot or two the belay will catch you and slow your descent, but the first few times you use it can be a little tense.

They also have lots of walls set up for bouldering.  Bouldering is essentially free climbing on lower rocks/ walls. The floor for the bouldering area is made of large mat like cushions that are about 2- 2 1/2 feet thick to absorb falls, since descents are almost always falls. The walls go up about 15 ft in the bouldering area.

As much fun as I had here though, I don’t think we’re going to be going here with our high school camp this year. We’re already doing a trip to the Asheville Adventure center, which is largely climbing already, and so it feels like just doing two climbing trips back to back wouldn’t be as fun. They also only have 10 auto belays systems, and so we’d need to go through an hour long class, that they provide, with the campers on belaying and safety so that they could use the rest of the walls. Overall, that’s not that big of a problem though, since the pass is for the whole day. It’s possible that we may go next year.

They also have a cafe area where you can sit and relax and buy some snacks, which might be nice after climbing for an hour or two. Also, though we probably wouldn’t use it, they have a gym on the top floor with work out equipment.

I enjoyed my time there, and if I lived in the area I would probably go back.

These trips are to decide on where we’re taking our high-schoolers, during our highschool camp. If you know someone that would be interested in going during that camp, or are interested yourself, consider registering on our website,


Christian Camp and Conference Center Association Super Sectional – 2017

We headed up to Bonclarken this past Monday-Wednesday to attend the Carolina and Virginia section’s annual Christian Camp and Conference Association (3CA) conference. It’s always a great time to get away and meet with other camps to share ideas and improve ourselves. This year is what we call a “super sectional” because we also had Georgia, Florida, and  Tennessee join us this year, so we had a lot of opportunities to get together with other camps that we don’t normally see.

For me, it’s one of my favorite times of the year, because it’s so refreshing and encouraging to meet with people who do the same things I do and face some of the same obstacles. It’s also a great place to learn from other people that have been doing this for many more years than you have and see how they’ve handled things that you’re facing now or will soon. All of it is done in the spirit of helping each other better their camps and each other, so I tend to go away with renewed fervor.

On Monday, we went to a 5 hour seminar put on by MinistrySafe to help ensure that camps are doing their very best to prevent any potential sexual assault. Everything from effective screening prior for staff before they even set foot on the property, to policies and practices to prevent any assault, to recognizing and analyzing risky behavior and proper actions. Prior to this, me and Caleb Myers, our Camp Director, went through another similar training through Darkness to Light, which prompted us to schedule similar training for both the rest of our full time staff, as well as for our upcoming staff training. We’ve always done training in this before, but we felt it was important to better equip our staff further going forward. It’s always a solemn and jarring topic, but not one that should ever be ignored. Whenever kids are on our property we want to make sure that we’ve done all we can to ensure their safety, and that parents can feel comfortable leaving their kids with us.

That conference continued a few hour later where everyone got together for the main session taught by Matt Orth, who did a great job throughout the conference. Very engaging and solid teaching. The music was fantastic too, but I suppose that’s what you get when probably half of the group that’s there is involved in leading music in one way or another.


The meat of the conference though, I think, is interacting with the other camps that attend. Each seminar is put on by the camps that attend to try to share what they’ve been doing and what’s worked for them. The sessions can be anything from risk management, to developing environmental education centers, to food service and hospitality, to technical tree climbing.

There’s generally something there for everyone during each of the scheduled seminars. So I went to a seminar about breaking boards with your hands and how to use that to debrief and dig a little deeper after a series of message and introspection.  Maybe that sounds strange at first, but there may be something to it. If I end up incorporating it later, I’ll go into more detail.

I also went to the environment education seminar, and we discussed how we could each use our camp’s natural features to reach out to new groups that may not have come otherwise. We already do a little bit of that, but in the future I’d like to further develop what we have and create solid lesson plans so that we can reach out to the public school around us. We may be limited in what we can say, but bringing kids out to camp at least exposes them to what we have to offer so that they may want to come back in the summer.

During the conference we also get together to informally talk about specific areas that we work with. The discussions can be pretty broad because there’s varying levels of experience. In my session we discussed how to plan for your curriculum, so we talked about how we decide on our curriculum, theme cycling, the place of activities and in what ways they can be effective, how experiential learning can be a very powerful tool, and what resources for ideas and how to improve our programs.



There’s also a bit of free time built in in the afternoon so that you can meet and talk to other staff or just rest and relax. We took advantage of Bonclarken’s Disc-golf course for the better part of an afternoon and walked around their property, even though it was a bit overcast.


I also tried out the technical tree climbing in afternoon before the session. I had attended the session a few years ago but never got a chance to try it out. It was pretty fun and not that expensive to start, so I may consider it in the future if I can find a good location and tree. Essentially, it boils down to ropes on the upper limbs of the tree and then using a series of knots designed to let you inch up the rope until you’re able to walk around on some of the lower limbs. They say that for theirs they sometimes put hammocks up in the trees, and the kids love just walking around.


During the conference we also have a vendor hall, so it’s a nice place to just walk around and get ideas. Obviously they’re trying to sell you on their products, but it’s still a good place to get ideas and maybe find something that’s better than what you’re currently using for a service.


Overall, I love going to these. I made a bunch of new contacts got a ton of great ideas for the future.

Be sure to check back here for future updates. Maybe I’ll be using some of the things I learned at this conference. And as always, if you’re interested in what events we have upcoming at camp, check out our website at


High Ropes in Asheville

So, in preparation for summer,  I’ve been checking into places to take our high school camp. So I went up to the Asheville Adventure Center, and looked at what they have to offer. For our camp, or maybe at least for now, we’ll just be using their Tree Tops Adventure Park. It’s essentially 6 different self guided high ropes coursea, each with different difficulty levels. So you can pick what you’re comfortable with, and do that, or push yourself to try something a bit outside your comfort zone.

I’ve got a few pictures from the course, but it’s hard to represent without being there yourself.

If you’ve worked with ropes courses before, the words “self guided” may sound kind of scary to you. Just saying that, it could seem like the safety is then all on the participant. That’s not the case here though. They have some really cool clips, similar looking to basic crab claws, and the clips are designed in a way that one clip is always locked onto a cable once you start a track. The cables have a special button that when pressed by the appropriate tool place on the course, locks that clip, and unlocks the other, ensuring that you’re never unclipped. Also, a screw tightening carabiner hooks onto your full body harness and is then tightened with a wrench ensuring you can come unhooked that way either.

I wanted to get a good feel for the course and what it had to offer, so I tried the level 2, level 5, and level 6. The courses are actually color coated, not numbered, but just saying a color might be kind of confusing.

Anyway, I would say that, overall, it could appeal to almost anyone. Having worked on our own zipline for years now, I’m well aware of the amount safety and checks that go into the kind of equipment used, so I wasn’t really afraid of falling from any of the elements, but some were definitely taxing physically. I wish I had gotten better pictures of the higher elements, but with how high up they were and with the other elements below them, it was hard to get a picture. I has thought about bringing my phone with me, but I’m glad I didn’t. I’m about 80% sure I would have crushed it.  I almost fell 3 times on the hardest course, but was able to pull myself back up when I slipped.

But everyone is different,  so maybe some of that isn’t your cup of tea, but with the varied levels, I feel comfortable saying that you would still enjoy yourself.

The trip itself was nice too. It’s always nice to be able to drive through the mountains.


I should have a few more posts about some other places that I’ll be visiting soon. Currently I’m at the Christian Camp and Conference Association south East Super sectional Conference. Or the CCCASESC for short. Just kidding, no one calls it that. After that in a week or two, I’ll also be traveling up to Gray, Tennessee to get certified to teach archery.

The Beginning

Hi everyone!

So I’m starting this blog to keep everyone more informed about what’s happening here at Hickory Cove. I just don’t have the time to type out and stuff envelopes every month, so I’m going to be updating this more frequently. I will continue to do a regular mailing every 2 months, but if you’re curious about what’s  happening here right now and what I’m involved in, this is the place to go.

I’ll be posting pictures of projects we’re working on, events that are happening here at camp, giving updates on things we may need, and posting about upcoming events. If you have any interest in helping with activities or have ideas feel free to contact me any time!

I’ll  also add  a tab that will feature some of my personal projects, such as woodworking if anyone is interested in those. I’m still starting out, but when I start something I like to try something new to help myself improve. I’ve finished a few projects already, and I have pictures documenting the whole process. So, if you’re interested in seeing some of the types of things that I’ll be posting there right now, head on over!