Nestled in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Laurel Ridge Camp offers summer camps, mission camps, year-round programming, and rental facilities to communities of faith, non-profit organizations, businesses, and individuals for their use and enjoyment. Owned and operated by the Southern Province of the Moravian Church of America, Laurel Ridge has offered youth, families, churches, and organizations an incredible mountain location for relaxation, recreation, reflection, and renewal since 1960.
In May 1953, a group of dedicated members of the of the Moravian Church, Southern Province had the vision to purchase land to serve as a place where the Province could hold summer camps and annual conferences. Located above 3,600 feet in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Ashe County, North Carolina, Laurel Ridge began with 115 acres of land purchased with a gift of $12,000 from the young people of the Moravian Church. Over time, with additional gifts and land purchases, the camp grew to a total of 688 acres. Since the opening of the Summer Camp in 1960, Laurel Ridge has seen many changes and much growth. We thank God for the vision and the faithfulness of the many people who were instrumental in starting and maintaining this ministry.
Our diverse, experienced staff ensure that camp visitors have an unforgettable experience at Laurel Ridge Camp, Conference, and Retreat Center. Whether you are a camper, parent, retreat participant, volunteer, visitor, or friend, our dedicated staff is here to serve you!
Feel free to contact any one of our staff with questions or ideas!
Tres Fordham | Executive Director
A longtime Moravian, Tres comes to Laurel Ridge Camp from the YMCA of Northwest NC, serving as Executive Director of the Yadkin Family YMCA. He received his Bachelor of the Arts in Recreation Administration from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and his Master of Science in Leisure Studies from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Tres has been married to Dawn for over 30 years, and they have two children, Jay and Mollie. Tres enjoys anything to do with “The Lake” and spending time with his family.
Favorite Snack: “You mean I have to pick just ONE…not sure I’ve ever met a snack I didn’t like.”
Michael Sawtelle | Assistant Director
Michael Sawtelle joined Laurel Ridge as Facilities Manager in 2018. He graduated from the College of Natural Resources at North Carolina State University. As a son of Friedland Moravian Church, Michael’s love for Laurel Ridge began at a young age. He spent many summers volunteering and working at Laurel Ridge before joining the full-time staff. Michael and his wife Macy are Regional Youth Council (RYC) sweethearts, marrying in October 2016. You’ll be sure to see his two dogs, Lucy and Zinger, running around at his private residence.
Favorite Snack: Chex Mix
Scarlett Dowdy | Program Manager
Scarlett, Mt. Airy native, spent 12 years as the Director of Christian Education at Grace Moravian Church before joining the staff as Program Manager in 2014. As Program Manager, Scarlett coordinates programming and logistics for Summer Camp as well as other Laurel Ridge events. She has been married for over 30 years to Bob (Tree Bob), and they have a daughter, Meredith.
Favorite Snack: Goldfish Crackers
Karen Eagle | Guest Service Coordinator
Karen Eagle joined the Laurel Ridge team as a housekeeper in 2017, making sure every guest had a wonderful experience. Karen is now our Guest Services Coordinator and works with groups as they plan their visit to Laurel Ridge. When you visit Higgins Lodge you may see Karen and her dog Jay out on a walk around the mountain!
Favorite Snack: Laurel Ridge Brownies
Teresa Cude | Office Manager
Teresa joined Laurel Ridge with almost 30 years of experience in administration, financial management, and customer service at US Airways and Inmar, Inc. As Office Manager, Teresa is the first point of contact for guests & groups and enjoys helping arrange visits. Teresa and her husband Mike have a grown son, Kent Hayes (wife, Brittany), and a little Boykin Spaniel, Maggie Mae.
Favorite Snack: Butterfinger Candy Bars
Rexanna Harris | Food Services Coordinator
Rexanna Harris is a vital part of our Laurel Ridge team. She makes the food! As our Food Services Coordinator, Rexanna creates new and delicious meals for each group visit. She always has our guests’ best interest at heart and can accommodate any special dietary needs. A native of Wilkes County, NC, Rexanna is at home in the mountains and always shows up with a smile on her face. She loves to read and fish in her spare time.
Favorite Snack: Chex Mix
It’s More Than a Job. It’s a Calling.
Thank you for your interest in joining our team! Our team consists of people dedicated to creating a safe, fun, and positive experience for our visitors and campers. We are looking for employees with positive attitudes who are passionate about providing great service, building relationships, strengthening their communities, and growing in faith, love, and hope!
Laurel Ridge Camp, Conference, and Retreat Center is led by a Board of Directors. Our Board is comprised of fifteen members who represent the congregants within the Moravian Church, Southern Province. They work with the staff to provide guidance and direction so that Laurel Ridge remains true to its mission and focused on its vision.
Feel free to contact any member of the board with ideas, thoughts, or proposals!
Our Moravian Heritage
For Moravians, Christianity is grounded in the living experience of faith in Christ, active love for others, and joyful hope. We believe that this living relationship with Christ is born and nurtured in local faith communities, in relationship with and in service to one another and the world. Our Moravian camp experience is one such community, helping campers grow in their Christian faith as they become physically and spiritually healthy individuals capable of living and working with others while creating lasting friendships amid the beauty of God’s creation.
The Moravian Church is one of the oldest Protestant churches in the world. Followers of Czech reformer Jan Hus began what was known as the Unitas Fratrum 60 years before Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation. German religious reformers and refugees reimagined the church in the 18th century and became pioneers in mission.
When the early Moravian Church was founded in 1457, our spiritual ancestors embraced the idea that the New Testament tells us clearly what is essential: everything the church does should be for the purpose of building people up in faith, in love, and in hope.
Moravians share common beliefs with most Christian churches. Our guiding principle captures the essence of Moravians well:
In essentials, unity;
In non-essentials, liberty;
In all things, love.
According to Moravian teaching, these are the essentials:
- God’s grace: God creates, God saves, God blesses us; and
- Our response: We respond in faith, love, and hope.
We have faith in what God has done and is doing; we love God, love ourselves, love our neighbors and love our enemies. Above all, we face the future with
hope because God is with us and we are with God now and forever.
The members of the modern Moravian Church Southern Province embrace and practice these essentials throughout our daily lives, bringing us ever closer to living as God calls us to live.
The Moravian Church is a worldwide church, with over a million members across the globe, most in Africa, and about 40,000 members in North America.