This year, we celebrate our 60th anniversary on Old Forge Mountain. We have thousands of Camp Highlander alumni all over the world, many of whom have continued the Highlander tradition within their families. Each month, we’ll profile one family who has come to the mountain for generations and experienced the magic and long-lasting positive effects of camp.
Our family in the spotlight this month are the Shorts. Kim Schwab-Short is a former Camp Highlander staff member who has introduced her children, Tommy (15), Joey (12) and Mikey (9), to the magic of Old Forge Mountain.
How many summers have you and your kids attended camp thus far?
I have attended two summers as a counselor and six family camps. My oldest son attended three summers of Session C and my middle son attended one summer of Session C.
What has Camp Highlander meant to you? Why have you attended for so long?
Camp Highlander taught me more about what is important in life than I can put into words. Life is all about people and the relationships we have with each other. I learned that, most significantly, at Camp Highlander. My husband jokes that the minute we hit Dalton Road every Memorial Day Weekend for Family Camp that a smile appears on my face and it stays put, until the tears take over as we drive back home. Needless to say, the memories of working at camp are some of the most special in my life. I have never seen more creative, hardworking and loving people all in one place than at Camp Highlander. The staff and campers I had the privilege of working with changed me forever. Have you ever heard Lou Holtz’s three rules to live by? “Do the right thing, do the best you can and always show people that you care.” Well, I learned that working at Camp Highlander.
Why have I attended for so long? That’s simple. I love the place, it has my heart. It’s home.
How have you seen your children grow from the camp experience?
My favorite quality that my sons have is how great they feel about being a unique individual. Camp fosters uniqueness … it is the best place to witness kids thrive in just being themselves. Watching self-confidence grow in a child is a wonderful thing.
What are your favorite memories of camp as a camper/staff member?
My favorite memories of Camp Highlander include tubing down Mills River, Whitewater rafting, day trips to Lake Lure, day hikes from camp to the Pisgah National Forrest for camper’s choice, Color War, meals with my cabins, square dances, rainy day activities, talent shows, campfires, walking back to the cabin after evening program, the perfect peaceful moment where you would stop and look down the mountain on your way from girls camp to the cafeteria … my favorite view at camp. Anytime you could find to sit on the porch for 10 minutes and get lost in the view and your thoughts.
My favorite memories of camp involve the laughter of my friends, my campers and the constant feeling of being loved and being a part of something bigger.
How have you seen camp evolve through the years?
I feel like what makes camp hasn’t changed. Everyone who works for camp or goes to camp is still part of a “club” so to speak. Alumni of Camp Highlander understand what I mean. I do think the amount of off-camp activities has increased, the focus on camper safety has increased and Color War has become an even bigger draw.
Gaynell was larger than life to me as a counselor. His ability to lead was an amazing thing to witness and his motivation to make the camp experience amazing was infectious. I believe he has had an enormous impact on current leadership and his presence at camp remains a good thing for younger generations of counselors coming to camp.
Final thoughts about Camp Highlander?
I attended two different sleepaway camps as a child. Camp Highlander’s cabin approach to scheduling is not common among sleepaway camps, and one that makes it uniquely better. My sister and brother worked at Camp Highlander and I can tell you that our feelings about camp all involve the words love, special, unique and wonderful. Sending me to camp was one of the best things my parents ever did that prepared me for college and life. Working at camp taught me more about working with people and having responsibilities than anything else I have ever done.
The only thing left to say … One Love!
Did you attend Camp Highlander as a camper or work as staff and now you send your kids to CH? Tell us your story! Email CH alum, Julia Ade, at today, and you could be our next Highlander Family Spotlight!