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A tour of Vade Mecum

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Most of the readers of this blog are not from Stokes County, or even from North Carolina, so I need to explain what Vade Mecum is and why people in Stokes County are so concerned about it.

A hundred years ago and longer, Stokes County was a tourist destination. People would come into Walnut Cove on a train, then travel by wagon to one of the resorts. The resorts were clustered around what is now Hanging Rock State Park. There are cool-running springs there, particularly on the shady north side of the park. It was a cool place to be in the summer. Most of the old resorts, which were built of wood, are gone. Only one remains: Vade Mecum.

Vade Mecum was never exactly abandoned, but it was a bit of a white elephant, and no one knew quite what to do with it or how to deal with the expense of keeping it up. It belonged to the Sertoma Club for many years, and for that reason it’s often known by another name, Camp Sertoma. In recent years, it has been managed by N.C. State University. However, N.C. State was losing money on the property and abandoned it on short notice last year. The Stokes County commissioners scrambled to figure out what could be done with the property. Interested citizens floated a business plan, but the plan never flew. But at present, the North Carolina General Assembly is considering a budget bill that would include some money for Vade Mecum and attach Vade Mecum to Hanging Rock State Park, which is just a stone’s throw away. It seems likely that the bill will pass and that Vade Mecum will be saved for the people of North Carolina. But people in Stokes County aren’t counting their chickens yet.

Yesterday there was a tour of Vade Mecum. Many people who are very interested in saving the place had never been inside, including me.

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The dining room

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The kitchen

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Just inside the main door

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Robin, superintendent of Hanging Rock State Park

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Friends of Vade Mecum and leaders of the tour

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A bedroom on the third floor

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The chapel

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The chapel ceiling

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The gym, which has a stage at one end…

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… and a fireplace at the other

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The big porch in front of the gym

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A vast swimming pool behind the gym

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Some of the cabins

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The main building

12 Comments

  1. Jo wrote:

    Your pictures indicate this place has a lot of potential. The proximity to Hanging Rock State Park is a plus. Am wondering if an initial “cleanup/fixup” day(s) could be organized and high school and college youths recruited to help out.
    Also, has this treasure been featured in a newspaper, i.e. Winston-Salem Journal? Hope a “Save Vade Mecum” campaign will generate interest and this beautiful site will flourish again.

    Monday, June 9, 2014 at 11:56 am | Permalink
  2. daltoni wrote:

    Hi Jo… The people in Forsyth County haven’t been as fired up as the people in Stokes, but we definitely have a lot of community support for this place. As for the young people, many of them love the place, because there were 4-H and other camps there for years.

    Monday, June 9, 2014 at 7:14 pm | Permalink
  3. Dale Armstrong wrote:

    I attended Vade Mecum from 1959 until it closed…but made the journey as long as I could remember as my parents and I took my brother to camp and then picked him up. We were both campers then camp counselers. This was my sanctuary & very important place in my heart. It is a special place that deserves to be preserved and used for future generations.

    Tuesday, July 28, 2015 at 9:00 pm | Permalink
  4. Cliff Hale wrote:

    Is the camp available for reservation? If so, who can I contact?

    Thank you,
    Cliff Hale

    Sunday, May 1, 2016 at 3:06 pm | Permalink
  5. daltoni wrote:

    Vade Mecum is now part of Hanging Rock State Park. Some renovations are to be made with some of the bond money that N.C. voters approved March 15. I’m sure that it will be a while before the renovations are done and the place opens to the public.

    Sunday, May 1, 2016 at 3:48 pm | Permalink
  6. Cliff Hale wrote:

    Thank you. I will contact the state park.

    Sunday, May 1, 2016 at 10:28 pm | Permalink
  7. Martha McDaniel Park wrote:

    I went to camp there about 45 years ago. I remember the main building and cabins and especially the chapel. It was called Camp Vade Mecum then.

    Saturday, May 28, 2016 at 2:33 pm | Permalink
  8. Jane Cheshire-Allen wrote:

    Both my father and I attended Camp Vede Mecum as children. It was run by the Episcopal Church back then. Such fond memories of the cabins, chapel, singing in the gym, and waking to a recording of revele played over the PA system. It is a treat to see these photos after wondering what happened to my beloved camp.

    Tuesday, May 31, 2016 at 4:46 am | Permalink
  9. Rhonda Hayter wrote:

    My father Ron Hayter ran the camp the last two years before it closed. My sisters worked on staff and I got to “go to camp” when my age group of campers came through. It was a beautiful, beautiful place and I’m so glad that people have fought to save it.

    Saturday, December 31, 2016 at 12:37 pm | Permalink
  10. Debbie wrote:

    Friends of Sauratown Mountains is hosting an open house at Vade Mecum on Janaury 28, 2017 from 1 to 5pm. This will be an opportunity to tour the grounds of Vade Mecum and talk with the design team that State Parks has hired to come up with a plan to revitalize the property so people can one again enjoy it. Steve Shelton, local historian will give a talk at 3pm on the Vade Mecum Springs Resort in it’s glory days. Hope to see you there. Debbie Vaden, FSM President

    Sunday, January 8, 2017 at 4:17 pm | Permalink
  11. Monica wrote:

    I am so happy to know that something is being done to save this wonderful place. My youngest daughter had her wedding there on 12-21-13,the last event before it was slated to close. We have lots of photos and great memories. Soooo happy that this will be restored.

    Friday, January 27, 2017 at 11:16 am | Permalink
  12. William J.(Bill) Haw wrote:

    I used to practice music at Vede Mecum.
    It was and IS a Wonderful place!
    Bill

    Sunday, January 29, 2017 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

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