THURMOND — “Where ordinary moments become an extraordinary experience.” That is the motto of the new Rocky Ridge Family Campground near Thurmond operated by Roby and Shirley Royal with their son Ethan and their daughter-in-law Dinah. The campground opened up in May and already has had visitors from hikers and campers to church-goers and Boy Scout troops staying overnight on the edge of the wilderness.
The campground is located at the base of the mountains in a remote country setting away from the hubbub of the towns and is a wonderful place for weddings, renewing vows, scout troops, birthday parties, and family get-togethers. The campground accepts tents, trailers and RVs, and pets are required to be on a leash.
The idea for the campground came up around seven years ago.
“A few years back, this was just a cow pasture. We made it for us, for the family,” said campground owner Shirley Royal. “This was my aunt’s pasture and it was given over to me. We had a few little family events and then we had people wanting to use it for church events and get-togethers. My son, Ethan Royal, could see some future dreams and he said, ‘Mama, let’s clean it up and do some gospel singing, some weddings, and camping for people.’ After that we just got started on preparing the grounds and everything went from there. We all started working on it. It has been a team effort.”
The campground has 12 large grassy sites with grills and picnic tables. Many of the activities include horseshoes, volleyballs, cat-fishing at the duck pond for catch and release, relaxation by the South Fork of the Mitchell River, a play area, and a fire pit with a gazebo. The campground may be located on the edge of the wilds, but it is close to Stone Mountain State Park, the golf courses, the Mountains-to-Sea Hiking Trail, and the towns of Elkin and Mount Airy.
“We’re on the list for the Mountains-to-Sea trail guide,” said Royal. “We’re not on the trail, but we’re not too far off in case they want to spend a night here.”
Some of the groups who have stayed at the campground already include members of the Maple Springs Baptist Church who came for their cottage prayer meeting, including services, singing, and making S’mores around the campfire. Cool Springs Boy Scouts also stayed at the campground for one weekend.
“It’s been a team effort running the campground,” said Royal. “My husband built the bridge and cleaned up the grounds. The pond was already there so my husband built onto it. My son, Ethan, also built a see-saw by hand for the kids to use. The whole process was six to seven years with two years spent preparing the grounds.”
The Royals have hopes for expanding the campground in the future.
“We’re primitive and I think that’s one thing that hurts us because we don’t have hookups,” said Royal. “If we ever got into doing power and water for the campground, we’ll be running into a lot of money and a lot of inspection. It totally changes the whole perspective. Right now we’re still getting our feet off the ground, but we have hopes for the future. We also want to keep the campground family-friendly so we don’t allow alcohol, drugs, and profanity on the grounds.”
The campground is located at 370 White Rock Road in Thurmond. Arrangements may be made online at http://www.rockyridgefamilycampground.com or by phone at 336-366-7396. People can rent the entire campground for events and get-togethers as long as they call in advance.
Troy Brooks may be reached at 336-258-4058.