High Country Association of REALTORS News

NEIGHBORS: No modern life allowed at Turtle Island

Turtle IslandBuried deep in the valleys of eastern Watauga County is a living time capsule to life before electricity. It's called Turtle Island Preserve, and during the summer it's home to several youth camps ages 7-18, both boys and girls. Imagine, more than a dozen preteens going a week with no hot water, cell phones, microwaves or television. Instead they get ... chores!

Our programs are full of lifestyle practices of earlier people from our great grandparent's time and back into prehistory. ... We plant and harvest in our gardens, milk goats, make butter, soap, bowls, spoons and tools of all size and description.


The preserve is overseen by Eustace Conway, who is profiled in the latest issue of Our State magazine. The story tells of work done willingly by college students staying at the preserve.


Several days after the preschoolers’ visit, students from Elon University heave rocks from a garden patch into the back of a beat-up Toyota work truck. The sun’s been up only a couple of hours, but this isn’t their first job of the day. They’ve stacked logs, cleared a culvert, and hauled firewood. Before the sun sets, they will have dumped the rocks into ruts washed out by the same storm that clogged the culvert, helped cut down and clear away three trees, and filled in an area of eroded ground outside the mules’ stables.

Conway works these students hard, not just because he has a lot of work that needs to be done, which he does — he carries a small notebook with pages crammed full of to-do lists — but also because he has high hopes for them.


Turtle Island Preserve is located in the Triplett area, about 10 minutes east of Boone.