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Camp Dellwood

“A lovely spot among the hills,
A sky of blue above,
And trees that bend in graceful form,
These make the camp I love.”
 -Mary Mitchell Westall


Camp Dellwood was established in the 1920s to afford girls aged 9-19 a summer filled with outdoor sports, arts and crafts, socializing, and fun.  Under the direction of Mr. and Mrs. George Mason Swift, it was located near Lake Junaluska in Haywood County.  Among its enthusiastic campers was Mary Mitchell Westall of Asheville, whose relish of camp life is well documented in her poetry, journal, photograph album, autograph books, camp logs, and other camp publications. A study of these materials provides a complete picture of camp life during that period, 1928-1933.

Mary Mitchell Westall is pictured standing at left.

Mary Mitchell Westall is pictured standing at left.

The camp was constructed on the slope of a mountain at 3200 feet elevation, “insuring delightful days and cool nights.” It consisted of a lodge for group activities, a dining hall and kitchen, a craft building, and a nature den. Campers’ cabins, called kiosks, were lit with electricity. Modern plumbing with hot and cold showers was provided, along with “a splendid cuisine to assure the health and comfort of the girls.”

Campers in kiosks; note the electric lights.

Campers in kiosks; note the electric lights.

A spirit of friendly rivalry was encouraged among campers, who were divided into two teams named the Speedies and the Swifties.   They competed in sports activities, which included horseback riding, canoeing, archery, basketball, tennis, hiking, and swimming.

Water sports at Camp Dellwood

Water sports at Camp Dellwood

Campers also participated in craft projects, interpretive dancing, dramatics, and nature study.  Camp fire meetings were held for singing and storytelling and to give the leaders a chance to speak.  “Tonight we had a pajama party in the lodge,” Mary Mitchell Westall wrote in her journal on July 15, 1930.  “I hope that everyone is getting as much out of camp as I feel I am and that they love it as much.”

Ready the camp log and singing a few songs before bedtime.

An evening gathering in the lodge

Walpurgis Night was a much-anticipated annual event held near the end of the summer session.  Costumed campers portrayed Peter Pan, a Fairy Queen, witches, brownies, and more fairies who sang, danced and play acted in a carnival atmosphere.  This photo montage appeared in the Camp Dellwood publication sent to prospective campers.

Walpurgis Night

Walpurgis Night

Summer camp is all about fun and friends, “like a lovely big family,” wrote Mary Mitchell Westall.  Her autograph books also testify to the importance of friendship among campers, many of whom returned to Camp Dellwood year after year.   Photos such as these from her album show the jokes and hijinks that filled their days.




“Because it is a lovely place
With friends so kind and good,
Because it gives me all things fine,
 I love dear Camp Dellwood.”
 -Mary Mitchell Westall

Mary Mitchell Westall, later Mrs. E. K. Large Jr., was the daughter of Jack and Mary Westall of 44 Westall Drive in Asheville.  The North Carolina Room is grateful to her daughter, Katherine Large Wetstein, for the donation of the Westall family collection.

-Blog post by Laura Gaskin, volunteer




One comment on “Camp Dellwood

  1. Bob Benites
    November 8, 2015

    Loved this posting!

    I just wonder how many lifelong “friendships” came out of
    these camping trips! 😉

    — Bob

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This entry was posted on November 6, 2015 by in Local History, Manuscript Collection, New Donations and tagged , , , .

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