Site and Facilities
General Vicinity and Points of Interest
- A branch of the YMCA of Greenville, South Carolina
- Link to YMCA of Greenville website -> https://www.ymcagreenville.org
- Information on South Carolina Information (South Carolina Information Highway – SCIway)
- Within 1 hour drive of Asheville, NC and Greenville, SC; 30 minutes from Brevard, NC; and 45 minutes from Hendersonville, NC.
- 1400+ acre mountain top setting
- Combination of rustic and modern facilities
- Close proximity to many natural recreation areas (Blue Ridge Parkway, Pisgah National Forest, Jones Gap State Park, Caesar’s Head State Park and Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area)
YMCA Camp Greenville is very proud of its very special natural setting. The mountain top campus is situated at 3200 feet above sea level and includes well over 1400 acres of property. Set on the eastern ridge of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Camp Greenville provides excellent panoramic views of the South Carolina upstate area. On its southern side, the camp property adjoins Jones Gap State Park and the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area – opening up thousands of additional acres for recreational opportunities. Its northern property boundary is the North Carolina state line.
- Rainbow Falls – a spectacular 140-foot waterfall.
- Shower Bath Falls – a 15-foot ledge waterfall; when camp was first established, this is where campers went to take their showers.
- 2 Spring Fed Lakes – Lake Sudie for swimming, canoeing and kayaking and Lake Rotary for fishing.
- Numerous Trails – many miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding.
- Symmes Chapel (“Pretty Place”) – Our camp chapel sits on the edge of a cliff and looks out over the Piedmont region of South Carolina. Symmes Chapel is open to the public except for when it is reserved for weddings, special events or camp programs. Thousands of people visit the chapel every year and more weddings are held there than any other single location in the Carolina’s.
- Abundant Wildlife – from deer and wild turkeys to newts and salamanders, Camp Greenville boasts an amazing assortment of wildlife.
- Wide variety of Flora and Fauna
The Camp Greenville Dining Hall
Our chefs give the phrase “southern hospitality” real meaning in our dining hall. Meals are served family style or buffet style, with plenty of chances to return for seconds. There’s always a fresh fruit/cereal bar at breakfast, and a salad bar at lunch. Vegetarian options are always available.
Ridge Top Cabins
The Ridge Top Cabins were constructed in the early 1980s and accommodate up to 32 persons each (14-16 persons per side). There are 3 Ridge Top Cabins – Mulligan, Marchant, and Holmes. Each side of the Cabin has 2 toilets, 2 sinks, and 2 showers. A loft overlooking the sleeping area has a door that connects to the other side of the cabin.
The Adventure cabins are the most rustic cabins and can accommodate up to 20 persons (10 per side). These cabins are not heated or insulated and are only used during the warmer months (late May through early September.) Each side of the cabin has a bathroom with a sink and toilet; these cabins use conveniently located bathhouses for showering.
The Lakeside cabins, renovated in 2005, were constructed in the early 1960’s and each can accommodate up to 44 persons. There are three Lakeside cabins – Symmes-Stevens, Self and Ballenger. Each cabin is divided into 4 areas – one room that sleeps 2 persons, two rooms that sleep up to 16 persons each and a lodge room with a fireplace that can be used as a common meeting space or sleeping space for 6 persons. The cabins have two recently renovated bathrooms and have 3 toilets, 3 sinks and 3 showers each.
The Thomas Parker Lodge was constructed with the help of campers in the early 1930s. The campers helped quarry and transport the large granite rocks in order to build the Lodge. Uncle Johnny Holmes, a camp legend, wrote Rotary Clubs around the world for artifacts to be placed in the walls as the building was constructed. Today, the Lodge serves as a hub of activity and is used for everything from campfire programs to square dances.
The Elks Gym is located directly across from the Lodge. The old basketball gym has hardwood floors. An indoor high ropes course was constructed in the rafters of the gym in the early 1990’s. The Gym contains ping-pong tables and benches.
The Airnasium is an open air gymnasium. Two large stonewalls at either end of the building support the steel roof. Two long porches with benches run the length of the Airnasium. There is a giant stone fireplace at one end of the Airnasium that is used for campfire programs on rainy days.
The Mulligan Center
The Mulligan Center was constructed and dedicated in 1993 in honor of Sudie Mulligan. The log cabin style building serves many functions including: classroom space for the Environmental Education program and large meeting space that includes a fireplace and two breakout rooms.
The Adventure Center
The Adventure has a large meeting room that can accommodate up to 75 persons and be subdivided into three smaller rooms.
Lake Rotary is the fishing and boating lake.
Lake Sudie is our swimming lake and includes two sliding boards, a rope swing, a diving platform and a 30 foot tower. It is also used for canoeing and kayaking.
Ropes Courses and Climbing Facilities
The Stone Adventure Center
The Stone Adventure Center was built in 1998. The facility is the base of all of the adventure program functions (backpacking, rock climbing, whitewater and mountain biking). The Adventure Center houses an indoor climbing room, an indoor ropes course and bouldering wall.
Camp Greenville’s Outdoor High Ropes Course is a course like no other! Constructed in 1998 by Signature Research, our course hosts two levels of high adventure (15 feet and 40 feet) and over 17 elements. In addition, our Outdoor Climbing Wall, Cat Climb, Dangle Duo and 150 foot Zip Line will keep you coming back for more!
A Brief History of YMCA Camp Greenville
Camp Greenville had its beginning in 1912 at a site near Cedar Mountain, North Carolina. About 25 boys attended August 1-15, under the direction of Charles J. Kilbourne, first physical director of the Greenville YMCA. In 1913 the campsite was at Glen Echo, near Brevard, NC, on the property of D. M. Hoke. There followed three 2-week seasons 1914 – 1916 on property of H. P. McGee and W. C. Hagood “on the bend of the West Saluda River just above Blythe Shoals,” where a permanent camp was established under the direction of Kilbourne, Charles Dushan (who succeeded Kilbourne as Y physical director) and John M. “Uncle Johnny” Holmes (General Secretary of the “Y” from 1914 to 1942) directed the camp in 1915 and 1916.
Due to complicating factors brought about by World War I, the Greenville Y had no summer camp for boys in 1917, but Camp Greenville was reborn in 1918 and continued at Blythe Shoals through 1924. One frame building served as kitchen, dining hall, infirmary, camp office, and recreation hall in inclement weather. Floorless army pyramidal tents provided shelter for 60 to 150 campers for as long as seven weeks in the later seasons. An active program of baseball, field hockey, hiking, river hiking, swimming, sliding on the shoals, and campfire programs and initiations provided summer fun, instruction, and inspiration for several hundred boys.
In 1920, Uncle Johnny and his Camp Committee began thinking about obtaining a campsite “higher up.” Mr. J. Harvey Cleveland persuaded the doubtful group to look at a site on top of the mountain beyond Caesar’s Head where, he assured them, there was ample water supply, enough level space for a large athletic field, a commanding view of the valley, and a waterfall 150 feet high. One look was all the visitors needed to convince them that this was the site they wanted. The original survey “for the Greenville YMCA Camp” is dated September 1, 1921. Mr. Cleveland donated 29 acres, including the site of Symmes Chapel or Pretty Place (also named Cleveland Cliff). Mr. T. C. Gower made several trips to Chicago to persuade the Saluda Land & Lumber Company to give 446 acres atop Standing Stone Mountain. The land was “given” to the camp as a perpetual trust with the stipulation that the land would revert to the company should it not be used as a resident camp.
After many months of land clearing, stump pulling, and construction involving new mountain friends, as well as countless old friends, Camp Greenville opened “On Top of the Blue Ridge” in 1925. Five frame cabins and nine tents sheltered the campers that first summer. When the quarters were filled, campers had to eat in two shifts in Geer Dining Hall, located where the Elks Gym is now. Within a few years, Uncle Johnny had a dream of a lodge dedicated to World Friendship. While he collected rocks and mementos (mostly by mail, through Rotary Clubs) from all over the world, the campers and leaders used a daily “service period” to collect native stone, out of which the Thomas F. Parker Lodge was constructed in the space of two years, being put into use in 1931. Uncle Johnny retired in 1944, having already selected the legendary “Monk” Mulligan to be Y Secretary and Camp Director.
Monk, whose service to Camp began years before the departure of Uncle Johnny, would serve in that dual role through the 1967 season. Luther Marchant, who would eventually succeed Monk as Camp Director, joined the “Y” and camp staffs in 1945. Luther Marchant, who came to Camp Greenville as a camper, became Monk’s right hand, serving as a staff member from 1945 to 1967, and directing the camp from 1967 to 1972.
Following Luther’s departure, a series of Camp Directors carried the camp through 1982: Stew Brown, Dan Hackney, Roy Tulp, and Trip Gore. In 1982 Marion Boatwright became camp director. Marion’s energy and talents revitalized the camp in several areas. Marion led a major renovation of the facility (Ridge Top cabins, dramatic improvements in the Dining Hall, construction of a High Ropes Course), and developed a quality Environmental Education program, making Camp Greenville a year-round operation. He also led the movement to make at least part of the summer at Greenville coed to the camp’s benefit. Marion resigned in 1988, leaving Camp a modernized facility with high quality program.
Greg McKee followed Marion after a period with Denise Turney as the interim director. 1990 – 1996 saw rapid increases in enrollment for all programs, especially summer camp. New facility projects have included the Mulligan Center, completed in 1994, which acts as a year-round program/conference center. In 1996, the Eugene and Linky Stone Health Center was completed as part of the Stone Torch Challenge to continue to upgrade YMCA Camp Greenville. Other additions in recent years have included:
- Gilpin-Cuthbertson Cabin – camper/guest cabin
- Symmes Cottage – staff housing unit
- The Standing Stone Outpost – camp store
- Complete renovations to the bathrooms in all three lakeside cabins
- League Pavilion at Lake Sudie
- Current and future improvements to the waterfront area at Lake Rotary – seating for guests and landscaping at Cleveland Point, the addition of a land and a water zip line in memory of former director Luther Marchant, and future improvements to the stone steps and seating at the Lodge
- The addition of a Bog Walk for nature classes at Lake Sudie
- Improvements to the trail systems
Camp Greenville will continue its time-honored tradition of outstanding service to others initiated by the likes of Uncle Johnny Holmes and Monk Mulligan.