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What is AMMWCT and how did it begin.

The first trip happened in February of 1983 at the Campbell Christmas Tree farm in Surry County NC.  It included, Arnold Watt, Steve Pope, Raymond Lewis and myself Jim Campbell.  The weather that day called for about 6” of snow.  

Snow started falling hard about 10:00pm that first night.  Arnold left soon after midnight the first night  early because he was afraid that he would get snowed in.  This also earned him the honor of being our first “Fair Weather” camper.  When we woke up on Saturday morning we had about 8” to 12” of snow.  It was about 6:00am when Ray and I were awaken to Steve’s rendition of the Door’s song “Riders on the Storm” belted at the top of his lungs for about the hundredth time.  He was doing this while he was chopping wood.  Remember it is still 6:00am in the morning.  We thought of what manly men we were to have stayed and camped out in this weather.  And, it was then that the tradition of “Annual Manly Man’s Winter Camping Trip” was born.

 All morning long, it was:

Riders on the storm….CHOP CHOP CHOP

Riders on the storm…. CHOP CHOP CHOP

Into this house we’re born… CHOP CHOP CHOP

And so on through the entire song, then he would start over…. 

 At some point Raymond and I looked at each other to decide which one of us was going to have to deal with Steve so early in the morning.


When do we do this?

The trip always happens on the 3rd full weekend in January.  Rain, Snow or Sunshine we are in the woods.  Our group’s charter philosophy is, if the weather keeps you away…. You are not a “Manly Man”


Are there Rules?

The rules are simple…….

  • What happens on the mountain, stays on the mountain.
  • No fighing
  • No gunplay when drinking
  • As a general rule, NO ONE UNDER 18 years old – unless accompanied by a parent and pre-approved by the Elders

Where do we camp each year?

It has varied over the years but we seamed to have found a home at a dead-end road in Wilson Creek Backpacking area of NC.  This area is part of the Pisgah National Forrest, and about 18 miles north of Morganton, NC.  Many of our earlier years we could camp inside of the Wilson Creek Gorge where “Spewing Rock” still stands as a memorial to our escapades..

 Can women come?

NO…  You must have a “Member” to be a Member.

 Where have you camped in the past years?

The Apple Orchard, The Steel Bridge and the river front property beside the river in Wilson Creek Gorge, in the saddle between the two lost Cove Cliffs, Uwaharrie National Forrest, Linville Gorge, Bubba’s Slide, New River State Park, Shinning Rock, Looking Glass Falls, Nantahala National Forrest, Cape Lookout National Seashore, Grandfather Mountain, and the Black Forrest.

 Who can go on this Winter Camping Trip.

First let me say that the woods are open to anyone. But, the people that are actually called Manly Men have been invited over the years.   In years past we have had altercations with people who have not learned to control themselves.  When someone acts up or starts an altercation with someone else they generally are not invited back. 

A couple of years ago when this happened, some dedicated, caring and long campers did not come back for a while because they were so disappointed.  Some will probable not ever return.  And, for a couple of years, no one new was invited to the AMMWCT.  Since then we have invited some wonderful people to join us through the years, they in turn have invited some great people.  Our family has people from Georgia; Texas; South Carolina; Indiana; Charlotte, NC; Gastonia, NC; Wilson, NC; Union Grove, NC; Harmony, NC; Southern Pines, NC; Raleigh, NC; and of course Statesville, NC

 What do I have to bring?

Everything that you would need to camp in Rain, Sleet, Snow, Sunshine, -5 degrees cold or 45 degrees warm.  Bring your tent, sleeping bag, warm cloths and anything else that you need for you survival.  Please leave your TV’s and Radios at home. We want to get away from these things for a while.

 What Activities do you do?

Through the years we have hiked many of the trails in this section of the National Forrest.  We have been to Big and Little Lost Cove Cliffs, Upper and Lower Harper Creek Falls, Linville Gorge and many others.  We have been on night hikes to the top of the Cliffs.  We have had snow blizzard hikes.  We do competitive fireballs for which Jim holds the only record (he almost barbequed all of his fellow campers in one try).  We have fun laughing at people that fall asleep beside the fire.  We work at keeping warm and keeping dry.  We have been rappelling, skeet shooting, playing in the snow, fishing and the all time fun thing of surviving in the wet, cold rain - which we have become really good at.  We have even played on Wilson Creek when is was completely frozen over.  This year  a 15 mile cross country bike trek is planned. 


Can women go?

NO, NO… see above.


Can children go?

No.  We would suggest that anyone be older than 18.


What do you eat?

You name it we have tried it through the years.  We have fixed Bar-B Que both Deer and Pork, Deep Fried Turkeys, Shrimp, Buffalo Wings ( This created the famous Fireball at Linville Gorge), we have down Chinese, Filet Mignon, Pork Tenderloin, Homemade French Fries, Wonderful Deer Sausage and so much more.  We have seen an indescribable display of burnt beans in our Dutch oven thanks to Bubba.  We started Frying Turkeys before it was a cool thing to do at home.  Our group has seen some of the best cooks in the woods.  Folks like Bill Abel, Arlie Brewer, Greg Price, Kurt Reichstien, Tim Fraser and so many more.


Do you have any structure to the AMMWCT?

YES!  This is an important part that everyone will want to absorb.  The “Elders” and Jr. Elders were created about 7 years ago.  The original “Elders” were Lee Head, Raymond Lewis, Arlie Brewer, Sandor McSwaim, Bill Able Jr. Harold Yount and Jim Campbell.  Three years ago Harold Yount, because of other circumstances, no longer could be a part of the AMMWCT.  Last year his seat on the “Elder” council was filled by a unanimous election of Cory Fox.  The elders have been a part of the winter camping trip for many, many years.  They have showed years of dedication in all kinds of weather.  They have been the ones that have been calm during the storms (unless they were the cause of the storms).  


“Jr Elders” were created as a step for Happy Campers to strive for and to assist the “Elders” in managing and planning the AMMWCT.  Currently we have 6 Junior. Elders: Brian Abel, Clark Ireland, Morris Abercrombie, Greg Price, Mark Martin, and Chris Ritter.  “Jr.Elders” have a variety of responsibilities for organizing and helping to maintain the AMMWCT.  In the event that a “Jr. Elders” or “Elder” disgraces their position on their council, they can be removed from the Council by an Elders vote only.  This can only happen by a vote of the Elders at a Winter Camping Trip or at a Council Meeting.  This only happens in extreme circumstances and is the only side of this group that is discussed in private.  It is done so to protect the integrity and dignity of everyone.  It has only very few times in the past and has happened because of events, which damaged the spirit of the entire campout.  It is undoubtedly the least desired function for and Elder to perform.


In December 2002 the Elders held their first formal Elders’s Council meeting at Joe Phiffer Barbeque and Hot Wings in Statesville, NC.  The ideas that are set forth in this document were created at this meeting. 

It was also decided that the “Junior Elder’s” should have a voice on this council.  As a group the the “Junior. Elders” must elect one “Junior Elder a two-year term to represent the “Junior. Elders” as a non-voting member at the Council meeting.  This person at Council meetings can voice the concerns of the “Jr. Elders”. 

 The “Junior. Elder” and “Happy Camper” representative will have the opportunity to join the council on the Elder Evening and the Elder dinner held the day before the official start of the AMMWCT.


How can I become a “Jr. Elder”

This is new beginning in 2003, so please pay attention.  We had to draw a line in the sand and so, starting now…

 In order to become a “Junior.Elder” you must have 7 years of dedicated camping with the AMMWCT.  If you miss a year for illness then an Elder can grant a 1-year pass.  If you miss it for weather or some other lame excuse you may have to start all over.  You can petition an Elders for a 1 year pass.  It is a group decision amongst the Elders.  No one Elder can make this decision for the group.

The person that wants to become a “Jr. Elder” must also take on the responsibility of heading and organizing the apparel for one year.  The person that wants to do the apparel must submit their request via e-mail, mail or fax.  THIS IS A MUST.   No one will be considered for Jr. Elder Status until they have completed the apparel for one year.

A “Jr. Elders” must nominate any potential person to become “Jr. Elder”.  This nomination must happen before Dec25 of any given year.  The nomination should be submitted to any Elder in writing (e-mail is ok) with why this person should be considered.  “Elders” will then vote on whether the person will move to “Jr. Elder” status.   Written notification can be made via email, snail mail or hand delivered note to any of any of the “Elders”.


How can someone become and “Elder”

Elders can nominate a Jr. Elder to move to Elder Status.  Every Elder must be in agreement that a Jr. Elder can move to Elder Status.  The Jr. Elder must have taken responsibility for the creation of Apparel for one of their years as a Jr. Elder.  They will have had to be the main person in planning the Apparel not a backup person.


What is this Apparel thing?

Every year since 1997 an “Elder” or “Jr. Elder” has created something to be worn by the group. We have had T-shirts, Sweet Shirts, Henley’s, Denim Hat and Wind Breaker Jacket.  Mr. Greg Price “Jr.Elder” created the actual design of our logo.  It consist of a legendary man of unknown origin, who’s name is Ralph Boone, cutting down trees in the great outdoors.  This logo is consistent on all of our apparel.   The “Elders” and Greg Price must approve any changes to our Logo.  Our T-shirts have had a larger size of Ralph Boone sporting a backpack with the words “Too Bold To be Cold” and “One Man’s Adventure is another Man Dream”.  He also has a tattoo on his arm that is “AMMWCT”

Look to a future news letter for the Legend of Ralph Boone – Only a few of the old ones have looked Ralph in the eye and lived to tell the tale.  And no one who dared were left unmarked.


Who has gone in the past?


Raymond Lewis

Mark Gaither

Roman Morris

“Super” Dave Snyder

Arlie Brewer

Preston Brewer

Ron Stark

Todd Snyder

Lee Head

Dale Hood

Kurt Reichstein

Scott Carawan

Sandor McSwaim

Kevin Frye

Lee Marlow

Todd Moose

Corry Fox

Richard Lewis

Phillip Lewis


Jim Campbell

Mike Campbell

Phil Elmore

Mark Gaither

Bill Able Jr.

Bill Able Sr.

Randy Tracy

Alex Brown

Clark Ireland

Fast Eddy Fontain



Brian Abel


Alex Brown


Morris Abercombie

Danny Yount

Dirk Smith

Bill Campbell

Mark Martin

Dany Weeny

Ken Massingale

James Houbon

Greg Price

Cameron Fraser

Tim Fraser

Tim Hollar

Chris Ritter

Will Sanburg

Arnold Watt

Steve Pope







Know, as you read all of this you must be saying to yourself that some of this sounds like a lot of bull.  Well, your are right!  We are just a bunch of good ol’boys that get together and have some fun in the woods. 


Remember, the rules are simple….

  • What happens on the mountain, stays on the mountain.
  • No fighting.
  • No gunplay, knife throwing, axe/hatchet throwing or extreme fire sports when drinking.
  • No women.




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Last modified: January 20, 2010