The history of three Upstate summer camps

A cross at Pretty Place Chapel backdropped by a gorgeous sunset over the valley

Pretty Place Chapel | Photo by Alexis Simmons

Summer camp is right around the corner. Picking the right camp can be in-tents, but let’s take a step back and learn s’more about the history of these three Upstate camps.

YMCA Camp Greenville

It’s fun to stay at a camp with a rich history.

1912 | Camp Greenville opens near Cedar Mountain, NC with 25 campers under the supervision of Charles J. Kilbourne — the first physical director of Greenville YMCA.

1917 | The camp temporarily shuts down due to World War I complications.

1918 | The camp reopens and is hosted at Blythe Shoals until 1924. The single-frame building serves as a kitchen, dining hall, infirmary, camp office, and recreation hall and features floorless army tents for the campers.

1920-1921 | Camp director, John M. “Uncle Johnny” Holmes and J. Harvey Cleveland convince the committee to consider finding a location higher up. They settle on a site atop a mountain beyond Caesars Head where there is plenty of water, space for a large athletic field, a 150-foot waterfall, and a spectacular view of the valley below — which you get from Pretty Place Chapel.

1925 | After months of land clearing, stump-pulling, and construction, the new Camp Greenville opens its current location, “On Top of the Blue Ridge.”

As of today, 17 spots are still available for the YMCA’s 2022 summer camps. Be quick and you might get in.

Or for more summer fun, check out Kidding Around’s guide to camps near Greenville.

Camp Old Indian

The 950 acres north of Travelers Rest encompasses the historical Order of the Arrow Lodge and is near The Poinsett Bridge.

1820 | The Poinsett Bridge, named for Joel Roberts Poinsett, is built to connect Charleston through Columbia to North Carolina. The Poinsett Bridge is one of the oldest remaining bridges in South Carolina and serves as a destination where many Boy Scouts can earn their merit badges for visiting a historical site.

1926 | The Blue Ridge Council, Boy Scouts of America begin camping operations at the Camp Old Indian Scout Reservation.

1940 | The Order of the Arrow is first introduced to The Blue Ridge Council when most of the staff + ten percent of the campers are inducted into the honor society. The group of inductees clean up the lodge for future use.

1941 | Construction begins on a chapel at the site where the candle lighting ceremony had been held to induct new members into the Order of the Arrow.

Scouts can register for summer camp here.

Asbury Hills

This camp in the Blue Ridge Mountains has been serving Christian campers since 1961. Asbury Hills owes its long legacy to a strong connection with nature conservation.

1961 | Asbury Hills begins hosting Christian campers in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

2000s | Due to an industry downturn, the camp struggles to remain open amidst the closure of other, older summer camps.

2002 | A bipartisan effort from state legislators creates the South Carolina Conservation Bank Act, which provides state funding for private land conservation.

2007 | The funding allows the Nature Conservancy to develop an easement on Asbury Hills’ 1,892 acres. The renovated amenities drive higher attendance rates which, in turn, leads to even more upgrades.

Many camps are currently full, but Asbury Hills still has some availability for summer. See availability here.

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