Camp Hope Day a success

By Vicki Hyatt | Apr 29, 2013
Photo by: Vicki Hyatt Camp Hope was filled with activity Sunday as community members turned out in droves, despite the rain, for Camp Hope Day.

CRUSO — Camp Hope Day organizers couldn’t have been more pleased with the Sunday turnout where an estimated 300 people enjoyed music, dancing, refreshments, wilderness demonstrations and plenty of visiting.

While the pouring rain kept everybody inside the dining hall or beneath the massive pavilion, the crowd didn’t seem to mind. Youngsters sported elaborate balloon hats made by Professor “Tom” Whizzpop of Asheville, danced and enjoyed learning how to build a fire without matches or how to throw a knife from Spencer Bolejack. As one of the stars of the reality television series "Hillbilly Blood," Bolejack also has a business in Canton where he offers martial arts and wilderness/outdoor survival training at his Land of Sky Wilderness School.

The event was planned to showcase the facilities and property at Camp Hope, which was purchased and developed by Champion International more than 80 years ago and was turned over to the Town of Canton in 1992.

A court battle is scheduled to begin in this month where a couple is alleging the town has not operated the camp in accordance with restrictions placed on it and should be turned over to them as part of “reverter rights” they negotiated when purchasing adjacent property.

Canton Mayor Mike Ray was delighted with the show of support at the Camp Hope Day organized just weeks ago.

“It has been a fantastic turnout despite the weather and shows the tremendous support for Camp Hope not just here but throughout the whole area,” he said.

The next step, he predicted, will be to form a “Friends of Camp Hope” organization what can help plan events, clean up around the facilities or offer financial support.

Scott Conner, a former Pisgah football coach, was one of those attending the event. He recalled bringing his football team to Camp Hope to practice, and said he son, who later became a coach as well, brought his teams to the Haywood facility to practice as well.

Cindy Gregory, who owns the gas station and convenience store nearest to the camp, was delighted with the event.

“It’s wonderful to live in a community who will come out to show their support, rain or shine,” she said.

Pam Kearse has lived next to Camp Hope since 1984, but her husband’s family has owned the property since the 1960s. Her children played at Camp Hope, even when it was leased to a company who operated a camp on a portion of the property. Many others camped and fished on the property, she said.

“This place has so much potential for all kinds of activities — for families, churches, clubs, even as an outdoor lab for the community college or Western,” she said. “This is the first impression what people can get about what’s around here coming off the Parkway.”