Smith Mountain Lake fosters good family relationships. Blair Goldstein of Lynchburg News & Advance tells a sweet story of how one generation after another in the Craighill family finds connection and enjoyment in their home there.
Rob Craighill has watched Smith Mountain Lake grow.
As a child, he would leave Lynchburg to spend weekends at his grandparent’s lake house. He even remembers standing on the soon-to-be shore, watching the water slowly creep up to his family’s dock for the first time as the valley flooded in the 1960s.
Now Craighill, 43, said his three children have a chance to experience the lake as well.
About five years ago, Craighill’s parents bought a house on the Bedford County side of the lake for their three kids and 10 grandkids to enjoy.
“My father wanted to get (the house) so all of the family would be together,” Craighill said. He and his wife Missy have three kids: Lawton, a rising 10th grader; Stuart, a rising ninth grader; and Mercer, a rising second grader.
The four families all live in Lynchburg and share the two-story stone and wood house on the lake. The six bedrooms are divided among the families. Each of the adults has their room. The male grandchildren share a room and the female grandkids share another room affectionately called the “dungeon.”
“It’s like being in the dungeon because it’s a dark thing with no windows,” said Craighill. Stuart, who sleeps there, laughed in agreement. “It’s dark in there,” she said.
When Craighill’s parents purchased the house, the families got together to establish guidelines for using it. For example, each family gets one week in summer to use the house on their own. During shared times, each family can only bring one guest.
“One Sunday-to-Sunday it’s your place and no one else can come,” Craighill said. “Other than that, we keep it as a family place.”
Each of the three brothers owns a speedboat, and Craighill owns a Seadoo, as well. In the past, a sailboat and canoe were also stored at the dock.
Their days, which Craighill called “organized chaos,” are full of activities. Lawton said he likes to water ski and jump off nearby cliffs into the lake. Stuart likes to tube behind the boat and freeboard, which is like skiing only with a surfboard. Mercer enjoys fishing.
Her favorite fishing spot is Smith Mountain Lake Docks, a marina where the family refuels their boat.
“The reason we go there is its cheap gas, but there are thousands of carp,” Craighill said. “If you were a light child you could walk across the water on the fish.”
The lake house is only an hour from the family’s home near Boonsboro Road. They often spend weekdays in the summer at the lake, when the water is less crowded, and Craighill commutes to work.
The family said the only one who enjoys the lake more than them is their yellow lab, Maddi.
“We laugh because she can lose a couple of pounds on a weekend,” said Missy. “The dog is a nut. It’s in its happy element up there.”
Lynchburg News & Advance