Donate to help Camp Hope

Aug 30, 2013

Talk to anyone who is a lifelong resident of Haywood County, and they are likely to conjure up memories of spending time at Camp Hope in the Cruso area of Canton.

From fishing and camping trips to football and band camps, it’s been open to county residents since 1926.

For many who still live in Canton, including town leaders, Camp Hope is not just a piece of property — it’s a fragment of the town’s rich history that’s worth holding onto.

For the past several years, however, the town has been fighting for its rightful ownership of Camp Hope in a civil battle.

When the town came out of a long, drawn-out trial in May, it seemed the fight was over. But of course, nothing in the court system is ever that simple. The plaintiffs filed for appeal on the last day possible, which means more attorney fees the town must chalk up to make it through the appeals process.

There is a chance the appeals court won’t even hear arguments, and if it does, there is an even bigger chance the appeals court will rule in favor of the town. However, that could be a year down the road. Until then, the town still doesn’t own Camp Hope free and clear.

From the beginning, Canton leaders have made it known that they intended to fight for Camp Hope. But after spending in excess of $130,000 of Canton taxpayer money, the legal fees are beginning to take a toll.

The town is not out of money and they have not set any sort of ceiling where they intend to stop their battle for the property. But they are at a point where any monetary help from outside could make a difference.

Friends of Camp Hope, an organization formed to raise awareness about Camp Hope and work to keep the grounds accessible to the public, is hosting its first fundraiser in September.

The money from the Shining Rock Riverfest will go toward immediate needs at the property so that visitors can continue to enjoy the facilities even while the town is waiting for a court decision.

Part of the organization’s mission is and should be to also raise money to offset the town’s legal fees, because without money to win the court case, every effort to revitalize Camp Hope would be wasted.

But it’s our hope that everyone in the county — those who have fond memories of Camp Hope and those with dreams of making memories there — step up to keep the facility available for public use permanently.

Right now, Canton taxpayers are footing the bill for legal fees when the entire county will be able to reap the benefits of Camp Hope, from the open air pavilion to the walking trails to the tennis and basketball courts.

The town of Canton should not have to fight this battle alone, and we hope others will step up and help. Every dollar could make a difference in whether Camp Hope stays open or falls into private hands. Send donations marked “Camp Hope” to the Town of Canton, 58 Park St., Canton, NC 28716. Be sure to include your name and address so the town can extend thanks.