A Long Tradition

Bob Barrus and Dorothy Somers first met on a camping trip. They were hiking with their fathers to climb Mount Marcy, the highest point in New York State.

Camp Celo Boys Tent 1965

Camp Celo, 1965. Left to right: Burnie Bass, Gib Barrus, John Morgan, Tony Mace, Jody Pred

After World War II, Bob traveled to Italy to work with the American Friends Service Committee doing reconstruction of villages destroyed by the war. Dot soon joined him and worked as his secretary. In 1946, they were married in Rome, Italy. When they returned to the United States, they lived in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where Bob was director of the campus YMCA at the University.

Bob and Dot Barrus moved to Celo in 1951 in search of a supportive community to raise their family, especially their daughter Rommie, who was intellectually disabled.

In 1955, they joined with Ernest and Elizabeth Morgan in leadership of Camp Celo. They were not very confident about running a business, but they had experience teaching and working with children.

Camp Celo Pioneers 1969

One thing Bob and Dot were sure of was that the world would be a better place if children learned to live, work, and play together in a loving setting focused on cooperation.

From the very beginning, creating a diverse community of campers representing all races, religions, and economic classes was a top priority for them.

Camp Celo 1991

After a few years, Ernest and Elizabeth moved on to other projects. Ernest had his printing business and Elizabeth started the Arthur Morgan School.

Camp Celo ephemeraCamp Celo became established as a family business with a goal of furthering Bob and Dot’s Quaker values of tolerance, non-violence, and cooperation.

Camp Celo 2000Finding an integrated, diverse camper group was a challenge in those early years. Much of the effort spent on recruitment was dedicated to diversity. Bob and Dot wanted Camp to be accessible to all children, so in addition to keeping the tuition low, they gave tuition discounts to encourage minority enrollment.

In 2011, Friends of Camp Celo, Inc. was established to support and further Bob and Dot’s original goals. Since that time, Campership grants have greatly increased Camp Celo’s ability to serve a diverse camper community.Camp Celo 1990


In 2023, we provided $28,099 in Campership awards, enabling all 24 children who applied for funds through Friends of Camp Celo, Inc. to attend Camp.

Our goal for 2024 is to raise $29,000 to continue our support of Bob and Dot’s vision.

Friends, please be a part of this long tradition by making a contribution to our campaign.

You can donate online or mail a contribution to:

Friends of Camp Celo
P.O. Box 2392
Asheville, NC 28802

From the Friends of Camp Celo board of directors – Thank you!

Clark Rinard (President), Tony Mace (Vice President), Evan Raskin (Treasurer), Maria Ikenberry, Lizzie Ellis, Christina Hubbard, Daniel Seltz, Eliza Gordon, Ruby-Beth Buitekant, Adelyn Luke, Mary Lane

Camp Celo 2023