“What is a ‘regular fellow?'”
This is the question posed by Walt Szafran, leader of the 2017 Apache, in his Water Campfire speech this year. (Walt’s speech starts around the 10 minute mark on the video.) He was referring to the line of the Deerhorn Creed that says “To be a ‘regular fellow,’ a pal to other campers, a friend in manner and deed, a booster rather than a knocker, an optimist rather than a pessimist, and a gentleman under all conditions and circumstances.” He said, after reading that full line of the Creed, he knows there is “nothing regular about a ‘regular fellow’.” He says:
“A regular fellow is one who embodies the Creed in silence. One who does not boast about himself and all his goodness. One who strives for positive impact, not recognition. One who spreads sunshine and good cheer, just for the fun of it…It is the actions you do when no one is watching…Being exceptional does not require recognition.”
He questioned what helps make the transition from someone who is “regular” to someone who is a “regular fellow.” And the conclusion he came to is that it is the people at camp you surround yourself with who make that transition possible. Walt and his speech are the perfect example of that impact.
Our Water Campfire comes at the end of D session, full of young kids, many of whom are at Deerhorn for the first time. We always question that…that it would be more meaningful if our last session were C session full of older, veteran campers, who have grown up with these leaders…that maybe all of these new, young kids are just falling asleep on the beach and making sand castles. But then we get a letter like Anton Walvoord’s.
Anton was a first year camper this year for D session, and we are humbled that his ten days, and Walt’s speech, meant so much to him. Anton is truly a “regular fellow” himself, kind to the core, and always making the right choices, even when no one is watching. He is one of those Deerhorn campers who makes camp better, just by being there.
I wanted to share Anton’s letter, so I reached out to his mom, Elizabeth, for permission, which she and Anton gladly gave. She added even more to the story that brought us to tears, telling us about Anton’s last talk with his grandfather:
“He confidently spoke with a low and serious tone and expressed The Creed to him. He told him about Walt. Anton said that he sat listening to Walt speak more broadly about what it means to be a “regular fellow” and he told us through tears running down his face that he was thinking of his Grandpa as he sat near the beach listening with great understanding. He then went on to comfort my dad and speak of other things. He promised to tell his wife and children and grandchildren some day about his “regular fellow” Grandfather. He promised that he remembered all his stories and he turned to my mom and reminded her that he is by far the youngest and that he had more future ahead than anyone. As his Mom, and as my Father’s daughter I felt exponential fulfillment in those moments. None of us will ever ever forget Anton taking the lead he took. My Dad died not long after. He couldn’t respond to Anton but his beautiful, white mustache moved just enough to be language all its own. We knew he heard it all.
Thank you for SO much more than 10 days… It’s good to know your strengths and to go about using them with modesty. Your Creed reflects our family beliefs so accurately.”
But my favorite thing that she said in that email to me was about Anton sharing his camp stories and telling his family about Deerhorn:
“After all, camp isn’t really over if you continue to relive it and walk in the difference it has made to you.”
We hope that your sons continue to relive camp during the winter, that they are learning how to be “regular fellows,” and that you have seen them “walk in the difference.” The world could surely use more “regular fellows.”