Plug Into Summer Fun at Camp Watia

Families from around the world send their kids to the mountains of western North Carolina for summer camp. They’re drawn by the promise of fresh air, gentle streams, and starry nights unspoiled by city lights.

But did you know that 95 percent of the region’s campers come from 500 miles away or more? Unfortunately, many local kids don’t get the opportunity to experience the magic of overnight camp.

The Y is already well-known for its day camps, but to help make overnight camp more accessible for local families, in 2016 the YMCA of Western North Carolina built its first overnight summer camp. Located on over 100 acres of pristine wilderness near Bryson City, YMCA Camp Watia offers all of the great activities you expect at camp: swimming, archery, sports, crafts, mountain biking, a climbing tower, and more.

It’s a perfect place for children to unplug from devices and make new friends, explore new interests, and explore the feelings of independence and self-confidence that come from being away from their families. Children from throughout the region, from all different backgrounds, come together and are led by energetic counselors in activities that help them test their wings and start to grasp the limitlessness of their potential.

With the support of the staff, campers are instilled with the Y’s four core values of caring, honesty, respect, and responsibility through activities that are fun and age-appropriate.

“The best parts about camp are those little things,” said Ryan Hove, executive director of YMCA Camp Watia. “It’s singing songs in the dining hall. It’s doing crazy and fun things with your counselors and the rest of the kids in your cabins. It’s seeing the stars in a totally different way at night from growing up in the city. It’s those very special moments that are really hard to explain to people who haven’t experienced camp before.”

To make sure that Watia is truly accessible for local families, there is also a generous financial aid program.

Make this summer one to remember for your child. Learn more at

About Shelby Harrell
Shelby Harrell is the editor of the Biltmore Beacon, editor of The Guide arts and entertainment publication and is a staff writer for Mountaineer Publishing. Originally from Asheville, she has worked in journalism for seven years and currently lives in Clyde, NC.