Blue Ridge Mountain Camp Goes Eco

Eco-Friendly Cabin

Former campers and design professionals volunteered their time and expertise to create a new, eco-friendly cabin village at Camp Judaea in Hendersonville, North Carolina. Designed to replace aging facilities, address waiting lists and preserve the camp’s rich history while appealing to a new generation of campers, the new village, which was completed just in time for the 2013 season, features five spacious cabins and a central community area.

Eco-Friendly Cabin

Eco-Friendly Cabin

This unique collaboration was conceived as a response to the camp’s need for new structures after part of the camp’s property was declared a flood zone by FEMA in 2009. A leader in an environment-friendly culture and practices among the camps in the U.S. Southeast, Camp Judaea recognized the opportunity to develop modern and sustainable facilities, which would meet the demands of its current and future population. The same year Michele Burger, a former Camp Judaea camper and current Board member, spearheaded the project by gathering six architecture and design professionals who were willing to consult on a pro bono basis. The highly collaborative design process took nearly three years. Working closely with the camp’s executive director, Tom Rosenberg, the team toured other camps, met for design charrettes and conducted focus groups gathering input from the campers and staff on the aesthetic and practical aspects of the facilities. At the conclusion of the design phase, the team created concepts that were then presented to the camp’s Board of Directors and prospective funders.

CampJudaea3“Ideas came from friends who care about design, some of them having no direct connection to this camp or camping in general and at the end of the day, renderings and design concepts happened,” says design consultant Roberto Espejo.

“The kids told us what they liked or disliked about their current cabins,” adds Michele Burger, “They told us why the cabins were a meaningful aspect to their camping experience, and the architects just dreamed how to make them beautiful, functional and eco-friendly.”

The new cabin village fits harmoniously into its natural setting and the neighboring facilities. The structures have a consistent camp cabin design that artfully admits light and are fully equipped with electricity, hot water, all necessary amenities and storage space. All new cabins have internal wheelchair accessibility with one fully meeting ADA Standards for Accessible Design. The structures were built using sustainable materials including locally sourced wood, concrete mix containing post-consumer recycled content and low-VOC finishes and paints.


The project team:
Michele Burger: former camper, chair-elect Camp Judaea Board of Directors, owner, Bugs Burger Bug Killers, commercial exterminating, Miami Beach, FL

Roberto Espejo: principal at c-studio, design consulting firm, New Haven, CT

Daniel Karchem: architect, Karchem Properties, commercial real estate development, Chevy Chase, MD

Barbara Extein: Camp Judaea Board of Directors chair, Boca, Raton, FL

Rachel Elias Wein: architect, principal WeinPlus, real estate construction evaluation and strategic consulting, former camper and staff member, Tampa, FL

George Gatta: architect, professor, Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland, Ohio

John Yurko: architect of record, Yurko Design & Architecture, Asheville, NC

Tom Rosenberg: Executive Director, Camp Judaea.

About Camp Judaea
Established in 1961, Camp Judaea has been a second home to thousands of campers and staff. Camp Judaea’s Jewish and Zionist programming is intertwined with the importance of environmentalism. Camp Judaea represents the pluralist American Jewish community and educates about culture, respect and diversity. Jewish identity building is a core product of our program that translates to future Jewish leaders that take action in the Jewish value of “tikkun olam,” repairing the world. Camp Judaea takes advantage of our beautiful setting in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina to provide each camper with an outdoor experience that will heighten his or her appreciation of nature and the outdoors. All campers accepted, regardless of race, color, age, sex, handicaps, religion or national origin.


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