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Costa Rica Kayak Adventure


Growth through friends and adventure.

It’s something that we talk about a lot around here, something we strive to weave into every aspect of our program. But it’s not every day that you get the chance to see all three happening simultaneously, like I did over new year’s down in Costa Rica with six of our strongest kayakers. The week long adventure was full of too many stories to tell here (watch the recap video!), but I’d like to briefly share the incredible ways all three elements of our mission came life in Costa Rica.


Adventure: We’ll start with the easy one. Over the course of seven days, we had the chance to kayak through Costa Rica’s beautiful, rugged and challenging rivers and landscapes. Paddling class II-IV rapids, camping out by the river’s edge with only the gear we paddled with, hiking to and swimming under waterfalls, and exploring local markets hardly begins to scratch the surface of the adventures we shared.  


Friends: Six campers across all three of our session spent a whole week, living, eating, working and playing together. As men (and young men), there is a unique bond created when we walk (or in this case paddle) shoulder to shoulder and side by side, looking forward, and pushing one another towards a goal that would be out of reach if approached individually. To watch these bonds grow and strengthen throughout the trip was a privilege for me.


Growth: Where do I even start? Not only did each guy grow leaps and bounds in his kayaking experience and abilities (these were not the same boaters leaving that flew down at the start of the trip), but they learned to navigate a new country and culture, some of them for the first time. Way to go Jack, James, Joe, Ford, Cameron and Trey. We are so proud of you.


It was the trip of a lifetime and an absolute blast to be a part of. Be sure to check out the recap video and join us on our next Timberlake adventure!


Great Camping,

John (and Hank)


The rumors are true.

After months and months of anticipation, the announcement is official. Timberlake is bringing back guitar class, and oh man, are we excited.


So why all the hype over one more activity option? The answer is simple: we believe that teaching guitar brings us closer to achieving our mission of helping our campers grow through friends and adventure.

Here at Timberlake, we strive to be a community where every boy who comes to camp is known for their best qualities. We want to be a place where those qualities are celebrated and where boys feel free and encouraged to try new things: things that might be outside of their comfort zones, or things that they just might fail at. For some of our campers, these opportunities come in the form of combat rolls on their first kayaking trip or spending the night out on the trail on a big backpacking trip. For others it comes in arriving to camp for the first time not knowing anyone, and learning to connect with new people socially in the cabin or at dinner. And for still others it will happen in guitar class, a different kind of challenge, a unique creative outlet.


Anyone who has spent time learning an instrument knows that it is hard! And here at camp we think trying something hard is good. Some of our boys will find that the C, and G chords are harder to master than shooting a bow and arrow or climbing the tower, while others, who might be struggling to get that accurate grouping in riflery, will discover a new passion and talent on guitar. Both of those scenarios will happen this summer, and they are both worth celebrating as our boys learn how to stick with things that are tough, and discover new gifts that they didn’t know they had.


So join us this summer. Join us for a summer of discovery and of growth, of trial and error, of great friends and enduring memories. Join us for our best summer yet.  

Great Camping,


How to choose the right camp

It’s time.

Catherine has been thinking about sending her kids to summer camp for the past several years, but hasn’t yet taken the plunge, partially due to the huge variety of choices. She knows her kids would like to go to camp and believes they are ready, but where? For how long? Where should she even start?

Picking a summer camp for your child can be as overwhelming as it is important. The good news is that there are lots of quality camps, but this can make narrowing the choices down to the right camp a challenge. There is no magic formula for picking a camp, but there are a few things you should think about when deciding where will be the right fit for your child.

  1. Program

The first step is to narrow down what type of camps you’d like to investigate for your camper. Camps are structured and feel drastically different from one another depending on their mission and focus. The way to decide which type of camp is to ask “Why am I sending my child to camp?” and then find a type of program that meets that goal. Boy Scout and Girl Scout camps do a great job helping campers towards the goal of earning their Eagle or Gold award. High Adventure wilderness camps will challenge campers physically and mentally as they learn to be out on the trail for days on end. Sport camps will sharpen skills that prepare campers for varsity and even collegiate competition. Traditional camps excel at fostering social development and growth in their campers, through activities, trips, and a shared community. There’s no right or wrong answer to the question of “Why?”, but thoughtful consideration of why you are sending your child to camp will help ensure that you select a program where your child will thrive.

2) Demographics

Another important factor in camp selection is deciding whether a single gender or coed camp is the right fit for your child. There are outstanding programs in each category, but there are some inherent strengths and weaknesses to each type. Single gender camps pride themselves on providing safe environments for their campers to try new and different things and even risk failing. The lack of the opposite sex often lowers the stakes of trying and failing and gives both boys and girls the confidence to push themselves

Conversely, Coed camps, view the presence of the opposite sex as a central strength of the program, because camp is one of the best places to learn how to interact and  work and with the opposite gender. The two genders bring unique things to the table in a coed camping community.

For some campers, the summer is a chance to experience a single-gender setting which contrasts with their coed year-round school experience. For others, it is a chance to develop vital social skills of interacting with peers of both genders. Strong communities are built in both types, particularly among traditional camps, but campers will grow in different ways depending on the demographic and thinking about how you’d like your child to grow is crucial.

3) Staff

Finally, likely the most important consideration when choosing a summer camp is the quality of the staff. The quality of any camp program rises and falls with the quality of the counselors and staff members. Asking what the ratio of staff to campers is a good start (anything greater than 4:1 should be a red flag), but parents should consider many questions when evaluating staff. Some of these would  include:  What does the hiring and interview process look like for your staff? How many references do you contact and do you run the proper background checks? How many of your staff are former campers? What qualifications do they have to teach in their area of expertise? What training do you have for them once they are hired?
While this is no means an exhaustive list of questions, it is a good place to start. It important to know how a camp selects their staff, as they are the men and women that will serve as role models and mentors for your child.

To close, summer camp can be a time of incredible growth, development, and fun for your child. In order for campers to get the most out of their summer experience, however, parents should evaluate camps across a number of key criteria. The program, demographic and staff are key components that parents should consider when selecting a camp for their child. Engaging in a thoughtful camp selection process will help ensure that you select the right camp for your child and that they are able to learn and grow at camp, all while making memories and friendships that will last a lifetime.



John Menendez

Director, Camp Timberlake for Boys



Food brings people together. We gather around a table to share favorite recipes, reminisce on delicious dishes, or celebrate special moments. Mealtime is a big part of family life, and it’s a big part of life at camp too. We walk from archery down towards pottery, hoping to catch the scent of what might be for lunch (smells like taco’s in a bag!). We walk to rest time, debating the best desserts camp has to offer(S’more pockets? Ice Cream Sandwiches? Rice Krispie Treats??).  And let’s be honest, nothing gets us out of bed faster than the prospect that, yes, today just might be the day when geometry breakfast comes back.

Meals are important, and at Timberlake we take them seriously. That’s why we eat family style, always. At camp we live like family, and we structure our meals to reflect that, sitting by cabin with our friends and counselors. At the start of each meal, we sing the blessing (put your hands on your hips!), and then a director says the blessing. Once we sit down, a cabin counselor gets the food and serves each camper his first plate individually, and then we tuck in together. Calls of “pass the chicken!” and “more rolls please” echo around the dining hall, and yes, if you do “kill” the last of the mashed potatoes, you have to go and “fill” it for the rest of the table. As we sit all together laughing and telling stories, or guessing what might happen next (Do you think it’s Pirate ball tonight??), we are growing closer as friends, as a community, as a family.  

So yes, food is a big deal to us. And it goes beyond having a healthy bar option and salad bars to make sure we’re getting good healthy fuel for our day. That’s an important part, but we see a bigger purpose in how we eat: One that brings us all to the table, to a place where everyone belongs. We call it family style.


Alumni Spotlight-Cody Anderson

Catching up with Cody.


We talk a lot about leadership here at Timberlake, and how leadership opportunities help our boys grow. One of the most prestigious opportunities a camper can have is to become chief of his tribe, an honor and responsibility bestowed upon him by his peers. Keeping in touch with former campers and staffers is one of the best parts of my job and I recently got the chance to ask a good friend and Timberlake alumni, Cody Anderson, about his experiences serving as Seminole chief. Cody, now 21 is a junior at Appalachian State University, was a camper for 5 years and Chief for 2 years. Here’s what he had to say!

What was the most challenging part of leading your tribe? The best part?

The most challenging part was talking to the younger campers after we lost, the best part was being able to paint up 🙂

What made you want to be chief of your tribe?

The Seminole’s were not doing very well and there was not much leadership, so I guess I wanted to do my best to fix that.

What do you feel like you learned from leading your tribe at camp?

I learned that you can’t please all of the people all of the time, but as long as you keep doing your best to do what is right, it all ends well.

What are you up to now?

Today I am currently the Water-Based Programmer for the University Outdoor Programs. I also lead trips (caving, rafting, backpacking, kayaking) through ASU OP. This past summer I worked as a raft guide on the Upper and Lower Animas River in Durango, CO, and was given the amazing opportunity to guide the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon with the Grand Canyon Dories.

Tell me a little bit more about that Grand Canyon trip.

The Grand Canyon was one of the most amazing, most challenging experiences I have had so far. I learned so much about boating, geology, ecology, and mainly, about how much I have to learn! I was on the clock 24/7 for 16 days, rowing an 18’ gear raft alone through all 294 miles, dam to dam. What an adventure it was!

How do you feel that your time at camp prepared you to lead in these other areas?

Camp taught me a great deal about who I am, through both positive and negative experiences. Camp showed me ways to healthily recreate, which is one of the most humbling things someone can do. Camp also showed me the impact that one person can have on another, teaching me how to interact & work with others, which are two of the most important skills a leader can have.

What was your favorite Evening activity? Favorite camp meal?

Easy, Battleball & taco in a bag, duh.

Favorite memory from camp?

The love the counselors show for each other and the campers.

To put some of what Cody said in perspective, he plans all of the waterborne trips for App State (a school of 18,000) University Outdoor program, and he was solo rafting (picture above) an 18 foot gear raft for 16 days, 284 miles down the Grand Canyon!  To say that I’m proud of Cody would be a major understatement. I’m thankful Cody is a part of the Timberlake family, and thankful that we at camp get to play a part in preparing these fine young men for the amazing adventures that await them!





It seems as if the echos of the last morning yell of the session are still reverberating off the mountains that surround Timberlake, yet we are already hard at work preparing for next summer! Walking around camp this morning, the sound of clanging hammers greeted my ears as construction is already underway in the cabin of Stomper’s Knob.


We are putting in a brand new bathroom in Stomper’s Knob and while this may seem like a small detail, it is one that we are really excited about. If you’re wondering “why is John so excited about new toilets and flooring”?, the answer is simple: we want everything about your son’s camp experience to be excellent. We want it to be the best that it can possibly be. From adding a ‘healthy bar’ at meals to give our boys more options for good nutrition, to updating the riflery range this summer, to the thousands of water balloons filled up for each game of Commando, and yes, even down to the bathrooms we use to shower and stay clean.


Here at Timberlake, we are constantly talking about growth through friends and adventure. It’s something we love to see and celebrate in our campers. But it’s also something we want to model for our boys as a camp. Sometimes the growth and adventures are obvious, like the advanced kayakers who are preparing to take on some of the most challenging and beautiful whitewater around in Costa Rica this December. Sometimes it’s less obvious, like a boy shooting his first grouping on that new riflery range, or returning to camp to joyfully find that old friendships pick up right where they left off last summer, and that new ones form quickly and seamlessly. Sometimes it’s as simple as a brand new bathroom.


Each of these moments is a part of the journey, and they all matter. It’s a journey that we here at Timberlake are honored to make alongside your boys as they grow into young men. So here’s to you Stomper’s Knob, and here’s to the boys that will call you home next summer!


283 Days until camp,


All Good Things Come To An End

_46A7610smToday at Camp Timberlake, from the moment boys awoke, to dinner time, all things lead to one pinnacle event. The boys worked in their activities and during free time to earn last minute bars in anticipation of the Final Campfire.

Final Campfire is a big deal here at camp. It’s the last opportunity for the young men to be recognized for their achievements in activities, as well as earn commendation in their cabins. The bars in activities and commendations are counted as part of the Little Chief system, and some boys were able to earn promotions in their Little Chief rank through these. There are two types of commendations for the boys to earn; camper and counselor. Camper commendations are voted on by the boys in each cabin, based on a variety of reason such as leadership and overall caring of others in the cabin. Counselor commendations are basically the same, except they are chosen by counselors of each respective cabin. Commendations that were earned tonight are listed as follows.


Counselor – Gary M., Michael S.

Camper – Benjamin C., Cooper G.

Little Piney

Counselor – Luke F., Connor G., Samuel H.

Camper – William S., Spencer V. G., Blake W.

Big Piney

Counselor – Adam B., Eiji T.

Camper – Connor B., Andres D.

Stomper’s Knob

Counselor – Adam G., Drew J., Clark W.

Camper – Ben A., Adam G., Benjamin L.

Little Slaty

Counselor – Rawson B., Pablo D., Daniel Y.

Camper – Edward C., Enrique D., Geoffrey M., Chase R.

Big Slaty

Counselor – Alex A.

Camper – Chase R.


Counselor – Joe B., Timothy M., J.

Camper – Joe B., Harper C., Bennett D., Charlie D.

All of these commendations earn the boys “marks” which are entered into the Little Chief rank. There were many significant promotions this evening. Lower cabin promotions were as follows:


James C., Benjamin C., Cooper G., Gary M., Logan M.,

Michael S., Spencer V., Blake W.


Brayden C., Luke F., Eiji T., Lucas Z.

Upper cabin promotions are listed below. It is important to know that the rank of Little Chief is the highest rank on the system, and four young men earned that rank this evening. It is a very big deal around Camp Timberlake and these men should be very proud of themselves.


Zach C., Gresham C., Adam G., Benjamin L., Jack M.,

Henry S., Chase S., Clark W.


Edward C., AJ C.


Harper C.

Little Chief

Frederik E., Timothy M., Joseph V., Alexander Z.

As the sun set over the great smoky mountains this evening, the boys celebrated their promotions as well as spent some time remembering the great memories made this session at Timberlake. Following this, everyone gathered in a circle to sing the Camp Hymn one more time as brothers of Timberlake. After this, the battle on spencer’s green AKA Commando ensued, and tonight, as the trumpet signals bedtime, every boy here at Timberlake will dream about all the great times they had this session.

Signing off,

Joey Dean

DJ Dean

Proud Iroquois

Timberlake Tuesday

DSCN9395The last Tuesday of camp. A bittersweet thing to wake up to but, just like every day before the guys got out of bed and marched down to what may be the best breakfast, Geometry breakfast! Circle eggs, biscuits, sausage patties and oval hash browns, what a way to start the day! This morning at Chapel, John talked to everyone about the true importance of Jesus’ resurrection and how it truly shapes our Christianity. After Chapel, everyone went back to their cabins to clean and then headed on to first period.

In climbing, Pablo D. and Alex A. got their silver bar by climbing the ascender line in the Mike! In cooking Jack D. made some really good Cheerwine Ice Cream, I’m sad I missed out on that! Finally in Canoeing, Ted Q. and Connor B. earned their bronze bar and shredded the lake! For lunch today, we had tacos…NOT in a bag. A big shock for much of camp. At the end of lunch it was announced that Greybeard had just edged out Big Slaty to win today’s cabin clean-up, but with only 4 campers here I’m still proud of the men of Big Slaty. We also found out today that the SEMINOLES won last night’s game of Search and Destroy. This makes the race for this session’s banner literally as tight as it could possibly be. Lastly at lunch we had one more promo with Rex and Jeff Kwon-Do as the two karate masters split a whole rock in half!!! Then they defeated the Ichabod Illusionists in a broom race to really send those guys packing for the summer.

In the afternoon there were many tournaments that went on including a football tournament held by Gary M., a soccer tournament held by Michael A., and an Air Soft tournament held by Alex A. During this afternoon’s activities, more bars were earned! Keegan K. earned his bar in Mountain Biking! In Swimming, Connor B. and Jackson H. earned their silver bars! In Paintball today, the guys got warped on the course and Charlie O. went, as counselor Winston H. put it “ham”! Finally, William J. and Henry S. crushed it today in tennis! For dinner tonight, we had cheese ravioli and vegetables with cheesy garlic bread. At the end of dinner we learned that tonight’s evening activity was MISSION IMPOSSIBLE!! This will be a huge night for both the Seminoles and the Iroquois, as tonight’s outcome could possibly decide the banner.

Tonight, after evening activity Greybeard will be playing with the puppies, Little Slaty is roasting marshmallows as well as Stomper’s Knob. Little Piney is raiding the trading post and Big Piney and Tomahawk are having a dance party and tether ball tournament! But most importantly, Big Slaty will be continuing their game of Risk from last night. It’s a close and intense battle right now for complete world domination!

As we wind down the days here at camp, I only hope that every boy and staff member cherishes every minute that have here. This is truly a special place that is dear to my heart. If I could save time in a bottle the first thing I would like to do is to save every day until eternity passes and just spend them here at camp.


Max Hartman


Big Slaty Counselor

Roll Tide

One More Week!


Were right back at it again! Timberlake enjoyed their day of rest, but the nitrous has kicked back in. Reveille rings bright and early and thunder rumbles as the campers stampede down to breakfast. Pancakes are for breakfast, good and hot! Chapel was led by Big Piney counselor James Cloutier. Then, activities jolt back into full swing.

For Climbing, Michael A. bouldered. In Swimming, Harper C. and Ben L. got their bronze. Also, Henri F-P. got his silver. Keegan K. killed it in Airsoft today where he earned his bronze. Jack G. got his silver and gold, won a 4 v. 1, and hosted a successful tournament. Big Deal! Awesome job Jack G.!  Mountain Biking worked on cornering today. Team sports gave out bars today to those campers brave enough to answer the call. Rocketry Launched today and AJ Clemente and Will Gabrielle both got Gold. In mountaineering, Chase Robinson showed the class how to use the Platypus water filtration system after returning with five other campers from the two night Mt. Mitchell fourteen mile hike. In Pottery, pieces were glazed, and he first set of finished pieces should be done in a day and a half.

Three trips went out today. A Backpacking trip left early before sunrise to have breakfast enjoying the majesty of the surrounding mountains and the beautiful sunrise. The youngsters from the cabin Tomahawk went on a canoeing trip down section 4 of the French Broad River system.  Also, nine campers got to shred the waters of lake James in an exciting water skiing trip with Nick Bean.

The evening activity was… … Search and Destroy! The kids erupted with excitement when they heard it announced. This is only the second time this big game has been played and it is quickly becoming a camp classic. In Search and Destroy campers of all ages take risks planting “bombs” in the opposing tribes side. This games stretches across camp and if planting  “bombs” isn’t exciting enough then the campers can search for an imprisoned counselor from their tribe that is hidden behind enemy lines with the “Big Bomb”. All these objectives are performed with flags on their sides that could be pulled, a la capture the flag style. Right Now the game commences, check in tomorrow to see if your camper’s tribe won. The results of yesterday’s battle of Tribal Soccer is the Seminoles. Congratulations boys. Good luck both tribes in Search and Destroy.

Andrew Daeger

Little Piney Counselor


Big Chief

I Met Jimmy Fallon Once

Proud Iroquois

Sunday’s are the Best


Sunday’s are Different and Sunday’s are the Best

            Hello parents! As I am typing this, all our boys are either sleeping or getting ready to go to bed. It’s been an exceptional day here at camp and everyone is already looking forward to what tomorrow has in store.

But, I want to talk about today, and what makes Sunday’s here at camp different and what makes them special. On Sunday’s camp does not look like it normally does throughout the week. We get to wake up an hour late, do not have our usual four daily activities, we sing a couple more songs in chapel, we perform skits at evening “vespers” and best of all (for counselors), we get an extended free time and rest time. We do Sunday’s this way because God commands that the Sabbath day is to be different than any other day of the week. On Sunday’s we rest more, we worship longer, and we enjoy God’s creation at camp in a unique and beautiful way.

            In the mornings, we were treated to a great breakfast of cinnamon rolls, and then headed up to chapel, where we sang more songs than normal, and then instead of having a typical “true story”, the staff prayed for the prayer requests of each of their cabins. Then after cabin cleanup, because cleanliness never takes a vacation, we headed out to some epic tournaments including frog catching, dam building, sandcastle building and, a tradition unlike any other, Sunday at the Masters (Frisbee Golf edition).

            Lucas Z. and Adam G. crushed it on the links at the Masters, Andres D. and Philip S. constructed some awesome castles, Team Piney clogged up the creek in the Dam building contest and everyone over at frog catching searched valiantly for a killer frog. We had a classic Sunday lunch of fried chicken and then it was off to the best hour, rest hour! After rest hour, there was an awesome afternoon consisting of a free swim, basketball tournament, trading post, and great conversations until it was time to head on up to the Mark for the much anticipated Sunday cookout. We grilled up some great burgers and dogs and listened to some great America themed music. Once everyone’s bellies were full, we all headed down to chapel for Sunday Vespers. Vespers is one of my favorite things we do at camp. There are skits; some popular songs and we close with a “true story” about Jesus. The men of GreyBeard stole the Vespers show by performing the first all camper skit Camp Timberlake has ever seen! It was an incredible display of synchronization, technique, humor, and downright ridiculousness. Be sure to ask your son about the epic GreyBeard Vespers skit. Skits also featured another visit from our heroes Rex and Jeff KwonDo and the evil Isaac and Eric Ichabod. Rex and Jeff have been stretching the limits of what I thought was humanely possible this session with their daring feats of Tae Kwon Do and Isaac and Eric have consistently attempted to perform illusions, which have predictably fell flat.

            After Vespers ended with a true story about how Jesus is our ultimate source of joy, it was time for another Sunday tradition: The Tribal Soccer game. The highlight of the game came late in the second half when Seminole striker Pablo Diaz Del Castillo sent an absolute lightning bolt from the quiver of Zeus into the upper corner to win the game 2-1 in favor of the ‘Noles! It was truly unbelievable action up on Spencer’s Green!

            Once the final whistle blew, our younger cabins enjoyed some chill time up on Spencer’s while our older guys took to the lake to end their day with a free swim. It was truly a Sunday to remember here at Camp, and I can’t wait to see what is in store for us tomorrow.

Signing off,

Brandon Chase

Program Director

Former Back2Back Skip Prosser Basketball Camp Free Throw Shooting Champion

5-Time UNC Intramural Champion

Inner-tube water polo enthusiast

#LPFL (Little Piney for Life)

Former Middle School Student Body President

Former coach of the U-9 YMCA girl’s basketball girl’s team: The Rainbow Warriors

Former Chick-Fil-A Employee

Proud Tar Heel

Proud(er) Seminole

Proud(est) American