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Summer Camp Memories
Readers write in with summer camp stories
June 28, 2018

he Croaker Festival Parade is honoring the camps of Pamlico County: Camp Sea Gull, Camp Don Lee, Camp Seafarer, Camp Caroline, Bow to Stern Sailing Camp, and Camp Jo Jane.

Some camps have come and gone, others have been in operation for decades. Here we are collecting stories from readers who attended a year ago or 50 years ago. To add your story to the collection, email TownDock.net here.

I attended summer camp at Camp Caroline from 8th through 11th grade. I had never been away from home for an extended period of time but I had a very convincing friend who talked me into braving it. That freedom and independence set me up for future risk-taking adventures like study abroad and solo travel later in life.

Being out in nature for a week with friends new and old is a wonderful experience I hope my own kids will enjoy one day. The smell of bug spray still gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling as we were all drenched in it the whole week. I went to camp back in the 90s when there was no air conditioning in the cabins (or even in my college dorm room a couple years later!) but somehow the fans were just enough. I loved having worship first thing in the morning right on Dawson Creek. It was so peaceful and always made me feel closer to God. Camp Caroline always had some very caring counselors that made us teenagers feel relaxed and like opening up. It seems like a small thing to be away for a week but each year I came back more confident and self-assured.

I’m so thankful for the camps in this beautiful part of NC and even though I live in Richmond, VA now I still get to bring my family regularly to the town of Oriental. From time to time we ride over to Camp Caroline on the boat and I love seeing all the cabins from the water and especially the cross beside the outdoor worship area. It doesn’t look that different all these years later and it makes me so glad to know it is still changing lives just like it did for me.

Kristen King
Richmond, VA

I attended [Camp Don Lee] a couple of summers in the late 50’s or early 60’s. Wonderful experience – - outside showers with no roofs, gifted staff, delicious food, and fun Sunfish sailing! That was my only memory of Pamlico Co. when I moved back into the old schoolhouse apts in Oriental in December 1974. Now “Home “ (in every sense of the word) ever since….I just didn’t know that as a camper-55+ years ago!

Dianne Piland
Oriental, NC

I am seventy-two years old and live in Kentucky. Sixty-one years ago I had a lifetime experience attending Camp Sea Gull. My family lived in Georgetown, SC where my Dad was superintendent of county schools. A representative of Camp Sea Gull came to town and made a presentation at the Episcopal Church which my parents along with our next door neighbors attended. They were impressed enough that they enrolled me and the neighbors enrolled there son who was about the same age.

The memory is still vivid in my mind! Remember taking a trip on the Joy Boy to Morehead when the weather got bad and the boat docked at Oriental. We all came ashore and walked up the street to the theater. (can’t remember what movie played) Was introduced to sailing and many years later came back to Oriental and took a course from John Poole at the Oriental School of Sailing. Before leaving town had bought a used boat from Henry Frazier, rented a slip at Pecan Grove Marina, and flew from Lexington, Ky to New Bern as often as possible to sail and stay on the boat. Regrettably, as time went by I had less and less time for these trips and had Henry sell the boat. There is still hardly a day goes by that I don’t check in on Town Dock to see what’s going on or to just look at the pictures on live cam. All of this because of my experience at Camp Sea Gull!

Nelson Green
Nicholasville, KY

We did not have the opportunity to attend a local camp, however…

We lived in Southern New Jersey and sailed on and around Barnegat Bay. Our marina buddies lived further north. When they came to visit us in Oriental she remembered vividly attending Camp Seafarer. We drove her around the camp. She is our age so this would have been in the 50s.

Carol Small
Oriental, NC

I worked at Camp Sea Gull the summers of 1972-1975. It was my first visit to Pamlico County and it was love at first sight. I have fond memories of my four years in the county. Fell in love for the first time at Dawson Creek beach, yes at one time there was a beach at Dawson Creek. And like the beach the first love has vanished also. I can remember the Pavilion at Minnesott Beach, playing pool and drinking draft beer. Sorry it is no longer there. Many a night was spent at Wits End on nights off at camp. After working at Camp, I visited Pamlico County many times, either at a friends house in Oriental or annual golf trips back to Camp Sea Gull.

Forty years later, I own a small place on the Neuse River in between Dawson Creek and Oriental and spend half the year in the County. Pamlico County is magic land to me. Friendly people, isolation and the ever changing Neuse River. The native residents of Pamlico County knew what they were talking about when they named the river Neuse, their word for Peace.

John Flowe
China Grove Rd
Arapahoe, NC

I was a freshman at Carolina in 1971 and read a notice in The Daily Tar Heel that Camp Seafarer was looking for summer counselors. Although I never attended Seafarer as a camper, I knew of the camp’s great reputation from growing up in North Carolina. I applied as a Cabin Counselor and was hired – and thus began our family’s long association with these great camps…

Our sons attended Sea Gull over a 10-year period (that’s how we discovered Oriental) and throughout those years my husband David said that although he worked for IBM, his “dream job” was to be on sailing staff at Sea Gull. “Be careful what you wish for,” as this is his fourth summer heading up the Camps’ Keel Boat Sailing Program. Our oldest son was dropped off one year with a raging ear infection, but I knew he’d be in good hands with Duke and Carolina visiting doctors on staff—just as I knew he’d be safe in 1996 when Hurricane Bertha roared through and all campers + staff had to be evacuated to Raleigh. Our youngest Hayes was a counselor at Sea Gull after many years as a camper, and when we moved from Tallahassee to Raleigh during spring of middle school, his transition was made all the easier by camp friends passing in the halls and greeting him with “Hi, Hayes” like they’d seen him the day before!

As St. Thomas Church’s Outreach Committee’s liaison to the camps for a number of years, I’ve happily been able to interface with Whykeshia White, Camps’ Director of Community Outreach Programs, and understand firsthand all the wonderful things that are offered for the children of Pamlico County as Sea Gull and Seafarer live into “strengthening the fundamentals of community.” Their outreach programs include: Y Learning after-school tutoring at the elementary level; Middle School United Nations which takes participants to Black Mountain for annual conference in April; Youth & Government that changes high-schoolers’ lives by exposing them to legislative and judicial affairs in Raleigh as they introduce their own legislative bills; Presents for Pamlico Kids which allows parents to select Christmas gifts; School Field Days and Family Fun Days during the year that bring children and their families on campus to enjoy the many fun activities offered; and the ever-popular Summer Day Camp sessions with Pamlico County children participating at both Sea Gull and Seafarer. “Camperships” are readily available, too, to provide financial assistance for children wishing to attend Day Camp as well as two or four-week overnight summer sessions.

I cannot say enough wonderful things about Sea Gull and Seafarer. Their staff and counselors are well trained in leadership, they are intentional in teaching skills on land and sea, and they care about developing each child’s full potential. Their Mission Statement wonderfully includes “building healthy spirit, mind and body,” celebrating “the richness of diversity,” and embracing “all traditions and backgrounds.” Thank you for saluting these and all local camps this Croaker Festival.

Jean White
Oriental, NC

Posted Thursday June 28, 2018 by Allison DeWeese

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