Fifty-year-old, 150-acre Camp Kanata, which is owned and maintained by the YMCA of the Triangle, keeps alive many beloved summer camp activities, including canoeing, horseback riding, team sports, group singing and skits, and campfire gatherings. WithersRavenel assisted the YMCA in updating their master plan for the camp to fulfill a desire to create more public–private partnership opportunities by making some facilities accessible to other user groups.
Now, visitors to the camp are admitted via a new entry that creates a sense of arrival within the more rustic, resident-oriented areas of the camp. The waterfront activity area, which was previously an unremarkable grassy slope down to a small beach and the lake, has been enhanced with a series of tiered stone retaining walls to create an amphitheater facing a wood-decked stage with fire pit. A series of stone steps at the center allows campers to make their way safely to their seats.
To preserve the site’s connection to its natural surroundings, an existing oak tree on the site was left undisturbed and native plantings were added to fill in around the stage. Improved drainage patterns corrected issues around the amphitheater and improved the overall aesthetics through landscaping. A new boardwalk behind the stage provides a way to enjoy the lake from any vantage point.
The amphitheater was designed to accommodate groups of 350–450 people—a full cohort of campers and counselors—but groups of 1,400 people have fit into the amphitheater and its surroundings. In addition to Y Guide outings, the amphitheater hosts outdoor movies, camp cookouts and meals, and other outdoor entertainment events where the entire camp community may come together.