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Base Camp Cullowhee: Adventure Awaits

By Natalie Spangler

New Possibilities

Ever found yourself imagining ultimate adventures? Ever pictured yourself rock climbing in the remote corners of the world? Finding those adventures isn’t as far away as you may think. Western North Carolina is surrounded with outdoor recreation, and at Base Camp Cullowhee (BCC) it is explored and utilized daily. Student workers often find themselves on a ledge of a mountain with chalk on their hands and climbing shoes on their feet. Free events like the Annual Kayak Demo Day, where you can paddle and race down the East Fork of the Tuckasegee, are often followed with delicious foods afterwards. Associate Director of Outdoor Programs Josh Whitmore has been with BCC for six years now and finds that the flexibility of his job makes it ideal. Day-to-day activities differ for the BCC employees; one day is spent doing paper work in the office, the next day on mountain rock climbing. For Josh and the rest of the BCC staff, these adventures are just part of the job, and, for the community in Cullowhee, it is an amazing and fun experience.

Then and now

In the mid 80’s, a love for the outdoors and a desire to involve others inspired the idea of an outdoor adventure group. Soon, several outdoor trips were planned and some old equipment was purchased, marking the beginning of Base Camp Cullowhee. Since then, the program has grown rapidly as new programs have continually been added and participation has increased. The newest addition took place in 2008 with the 2,100 square-foot indoor rock climbing facility located in the campus recreation center. Today, trip programs are offered nearly every weekend, and in 2009 9,000 participated in Base Camp Cullowhee. 

Safe recreation

What do you think when you hear the word adventure? It is common to think risk, think danger and think fear. At Base Camp Cullowhee, perceived fear and actual risk are constantly explored. Josh Whitmore explains that his job only seems dangerous because few realize the precautions his teams have taken. Josh considers his job to be “especially safe.”


A great way to experience Base Camp Cullowhee is by participating in the offered programs including The Wild Cat Club, First Ascent Program and Catamount Adventure Camp. For those looking for outdoor adventure under professional instruction weekly or even daily, The Wild Cat Club is the perfect fit.  The First Ascent program is a twist on freshmen orientation, allowing Western Carolina University newcomers to bond in unique ways. First Ascent offers a choice between whitewater rafting or a five-day backpacking and rock climbing trip. Base Camp Cullowhee also provides Catamount Adventure Camp, a program that targets local and regional kids. This summer day camp gives kids the opportunity to experience outdoor activities appropriate for their age. These programs are the best way to get involved in the future adventures of BCC. Don’t hesitate to take advantage of your surroundings!

Get involved

For more information, visit www.wcu.edu/8984.asp or stop by Base Camp Cullowhee’s headquarters located in the Cat's Den (old Brown Cafeteria building) open 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday-Friday. BCC can be reached by phone at (828) 227-3633 (Front Desk) or email basecamp@wcu.edu.

These profiles were created by the students in Mary Adams's English 303 (spring 2010) class