Camp Merrie-Woode suspends 2020 summer camp operations

Camp Merrie-Woode, a traditional overnight summer camp for girls located in Sapphire, NC, has suspended its 2020 summer camp season. The Board of Trustees of the Merrie-Woode Foundation, Inc. announced the decision jointly with Co-Executive Directors, Denice and Jim Dunn, in an email and video messages to camper families, staff, and alumnae on Monday, May 11.

In continuous operation since 1919, Camp Merrie-Woode is one of the oldest camps in Western North Carolina, and recently celebrated its 100th summer in 2018. Merrie-Woode offers three sessions ranging from two to five weeks, and welcomes approximately 600 campers, ages 7 to 17, and nearly 100 staff members to camp each year.

“Our first priority and highest responsibility is the health and protection of our beloved campers, staff, and community,” said Jim. “We have been closely monitoring the NC Governor’s directives and local Jackson County orders, as well as guidance from the American Camp Association and the North Carolina Youth Camp Association on protocols for the operation of summer camps developed in cooperation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.  With many of the regulations still unwritten at this time, we did not see a clear path forward to open this summer.”

In light of its decision to suspend operations for the 2020 summer, Camp Merrie-Woode has created a special policy allowing families to roll this summer’s tuition forward to next year, request a refund, or make a tax-deductible donation to the not-for-profit Merrie-Woode Foundation, Inc. (

Camp Merrie-Woode owns and maintains a large portion of the trail surrounding Lake Fairfield, a highly-popular destination for residents and visitors to Sapphire Valley and the Cashiers area outside of the summer camp months. With the Governor’s 3 Phase Reopening Plan in place, Merrie-Woode plans to keep the Lake Trail closed for the duration of that plan.  They ask that the community respect the health and safety of the Merrie-Woode staff families that live on the grounds and refrain from using the Lake Trail until it reopens.

“While we are heartbroken about the decision to close Camp this season and will miss our time this year, we look forward to reuniting with our community in 2021 to rekindle the Spirit of Merrie-Woode that we all love so much,” said Denice. “We know each of our campers, staff, and alumnae hold on to the tiny spark of fire within that represents the Merrie-Woode spirit, and we ask them to share that spark with those around them to keep the Merrie-Woode spirit shining brightly throughout the summer until we gather together again.”

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