Many thanks to our guest blogger today, Mark Deacon. We are so grateful that Mark and his family are part of the Deerhorn Family. If you would like to write a guest blog post, please email it to email@example.com.
My name is Mark Deacon, and I’ve been coming to Deerhorn every summer since 2005. I was a camper for 7 years and have been a counselor the past 3 summers. I’ve been fortunate enough to facilitate 3 of what I think are the most fun and unique activities at camp, which are Horseback Riding, Water-Skiing, and Sports & Games. I’m excited to write my first blog post on the Deerhorn website, giving Amy some well deserved time off. What I wanted to write about today are 3 things that Camp Deerhorn impressed upon me during my first year in 2005, which still affect my life today. That speaks volumes about the impact this extraordinary place has had on myself and countless others. Those three things are independence, values, and friendship.
Despite being only twenty one, I feel as though I’m not too old to say that kids today who are ten to fifteen years younger than me are having a pretty different experience of growing up than I had myself. Sure, our wants and needs are similar, and I’m no different from kids today in that we were both reliant on our parents in childhood for pretty much everything. However, with the technology boom over the past decade, kids are more dependent in an unprecedented way. Dependent on phones to communicate, dependent on social media for self gratification, and dependent on video games for fun instead of playing outside. Insert Camp Deerhorn. You learn a lot about yourself when you’re a camper at Deerhorn, and independence is arguably the first and most important thing. It’s such a crucial life skill to learn at a young age, because independence breeds maturation. Maturation is a byproduct of growth. And at Deerhorn, you do just that: grow. I won’t lie, when my parents dropped me off for that two week session in August of 2005, I cried because I didn’t want them to leave me at this new place where I didn’t know a soul. But man, I sure am happy they did. I had no choice but to go out and make friends. Within 20 minutes, I was playing tennis with a kid I had just met, having already forgotten why I was sad in the first place. I didn’t have a choice but to adapt to my new environment. I was making my own decisions. I was blazing my own trail. I was learning how to be independent.
‘Values’ are defined as a person’s principles of behavior that help guide what is important in life. At Deerhorn, that word can be summed in just two words. The Creed. The Creed of Camp Deerhorn is the basis of what Dr. Don Broadbridge founded camp on. It’s a code of how to treat people, how to live your life, and how to be the best version of yourself possible. It’s a seemingly impossible standard to live up to, yet something impressed upon campers everyday. To live the Creed means being honest, kind, friendly, optimistic, cooperative, strong, modest, humble, and generous. But when you can apply all those fantastic character traits in activities, in koogees, during meals, and in just plain human-to-human interaction, the Creed comes to life, in a way only a Deerhorn camper knows. I highly encourage any parent at home reading this to print out a copy of it and put it in your son’s room, where he can read it everyday. This ultimate code of conduct is something I still strive to live up to, and know so many others do too.
A summer camp without friendship is like a water trampoline with no blob, and Deerhorn without a doubt has an abundance of friendship. It’s not too difficult to find a few buddies when you’re in a group of kids the same age as you, jumping around from activity to activity, doing things you’ve never done before. I had never shot an arrow, fired a rifle, rode a horse, or played games like Klepton and Scalp before coming to Deerhorn. Being able to do such unique things I couldn’t do anywhere else allowed me to bond with my new friends in a really rare way. We were all out of our comfort zone, but perhaps that’s the reason why we were all able to thrive. I’m proud to say that I’m still best friends with many of the guys I met throughout my Deerhorn career. I can also say I won’t be at all surprised if a few of them are standing at my wedding (but that won’t be for a while).
As a soon-to-be college graduate, I can’t put into words how jealous I am of kids who have years left at Deerhorn. The phrase ‘a little slice of heaven’ sums up Camp Deerhorn pretty accurately. So send your kids to Deerhorn, and don’t stop. Watch them grow in ways no summer football or hockey camp can provide. It’ll be the best, and safest investment you’ll ever make.