The Deerhorn Creed was written in 1930, and for 85 summers it has provided the foundation upon which our camp was built. We are often told by parents that their son comes home from camp spouting lines from the Creed and telling their siblings to “be a booster, not a knocker.” Many parents also tell us that their sons have copies of the Deerhorn Creed on their bedroom wall. What is amazing is that although the vernacular has changed somewhat in the last 82 years, the meaning behind them has not. We want boys to leave Deerhorn not just full of great memories, but with an understanding of what it is to strive to be a better person. A summer spent at camp creates a safe, nurturing environment where kids learn and grow without even realizing it! You can find our Creed at the top of the page, but here are some of our favorite lines:
“To enjoy the Great Outdoors as one of the gifts of life”- Watching kids dig in the sand, catch fish off the dock, go mudsliding in puddles, canoe in the lily pads, ride bikes through miles of trails in the woods…a summer in the Northwoods is an amazing gift to the growth of a boy.
“To spread sunshine and good cheer, just for the fun of it”- Camp feels like a place where the sun is always shining. (Of course, we also like to say it never rains at Camp Deerhorn!) Watching kids running around with smiles on their faces and the giggles in koogees at night… “Spreading sunshine & good cheer” at camp comes as naturally as breathing.
“To play every game on the level, win modestly, lose gracefully, and have a kind word for the opposing side”- This one is learned on a daily basis at camp. It’s pretty cool to watch kids who are on different teams hug each other after a game was over, or give each other high fives.
“To aim for self improvement”- Deerhorn definitely has competition for those who seek it, but our central focus is improvement. Awards are given at the end of each session for “most improved” in each activity, and the activities offered are what we call “lifetime sports.” Camp provides very tangible proof of improvement, as kids get higher scores in riflery or archery, or try over and over again to finally get up on skis for the first time. And it’s not just about the activities. When kids are asked about their proudest achievement at camp, many also respond about how many friendships they have made over the years.
“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”- One of the best parts of camp is watching boys of all ages become friends. In school, second graders tend to play with second graders because that’s just how school is set up. But at camp, it’s common to see 8 year olds in a basketball game with our 16 year old leaders and 21 year old staff members. And many kids over the summers have been surprised to tell us that, as a 16 year-old, some of their best friends were 10 & 11. There aren’t many places where that can happen other than camp. It’s really special to watch older campers treat the younger ones as equals. And they have learned it by watching how our staff treat them. One of our favorite camper quotes was when a boy told his mom that “Camp Deerhorn is just a really nice place where everyone is friends.”
Do our campers have amazing amounts of fun? No doubt about it!! But Deerhorn is so much more than that. This fun is intertwined with a strong intent to facilitate your son’s development into a kind, self-reliant young man. Our hope is that the Creed and a summer at camp can be a part of a foundation for a bright future for your son.