Building Community at Laurel Ridge

view from Laurel Ridge

What will Laurel Ridge Camp, Conference and Retreat Center look like when it is 120 years old?

In 2020, Laurel Ridge reached its 60th birthday.  Due to the pandemic, celebrations of this momentous occasion were delayed (see accompanying story). But efforts to prepare the Southern Provinces’ “jewel on the mountain” for its next 60 years and beyond are in full swing.

Much has changed since Laurel Ridge opened its doors. While it started as a summer camp in 1960—and summer camping ministries for Moravians and others are a central part of its mission–Laurel Ridge has grown to become a place that offers youth, families, churches and organizations an incredible mountain location for relaxation, recreation, reflection and renewal.  Today, Laurel Ridge offers programming year-round, with events and accomodations at Higgins Lodge and Tise Lodge.

For generations, leaders at Laurel Ridge have taken great care to steward our facilities to continue to serve children, families and congregations of the province.  The growing use of the Laurel Ridge facilities has allowed us to stabilize operations and strengthen our ministry, and continuing to increase that usage is critical to our long-term ministry.

Today’s adult guest requires a different level of comfort. Many guest groups do not utilize the Bishop’s Wing in Higgins Lodge due to shared bathrooms and the lack of air conditioning; others have issues with the less than adequate furnishings at Tise Lodge.

As many groups choose not to book because these are our only accommodation options, we recognize that improved comfort levels will lead to increased meeting space and will allow multiple groups to be on-site at the same time.  This can contribute significantly to the revenue generation for Camp, the marketability of our ccommodations, and, ultimately, the sustainability of our ministry.

As such, Laurel Ridge Board members, volunteers and staff are tremendously excited and enthusiastically supporting the 2018 Synod-approved Building CommUNITY capital campaign and are delivering on a plan for:

facility improvements and upgrades (primarily in the Bishop Wing of Higgins Lodge and Tise Lodge); 

  • installation of alternative energy components;
  • increasing reserves and endowment funds; 
  • eliminating all financial debt obligations.

We now have the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of Paul and Margaret Kolb who persevered in the quest to find property for a youth camp after the first choice for a camp was sold.  We can be inspired by young people who raised the $12,000 needed for the original property purchase (about $113,797 in today’s economy). 

As the familiar saying goes, “it takes a village to raise a child,” I believe it takes a province to help Laurel Ridge continue to provide a comfortable and modern mountain sanctuary. 

Fundraising is never easy.  But just like a walk to the eastern overlook, it is a challenge worth undertaking. With your help, we can ensure that the view is available to Moravians for another 60 years.

Michael Sawtelle is assistant director of Laurel Ridge Camp, Conference & Retreat Center in Laurel Springs, North Carolina. Learn more at