John Lindsell, Brookwoods alumnus
Brookwoods is many things for different people. For me, it is community. My connection to Brookwoods goes back to birth. I spent my first summer there as a baby in 1952. No memories there! In 1957, Doc A. (Lawrence Andreson) and my dad, Doc L. (Harold Lindsell), travelled to Europe for the summer with their wives. The children—the Andresons and the Lindsells—spent the summer at camp. Donny and Jimmy Andreson were proper campers. The rest of us, we were just staff kids. We lived in the Eagle cabin, cared for by Aunt Claire and Uncle George Olson. With their two girls, we totaled seven kids under one roof.
It took a village and the community looked out for us all. Uncle J.J. (Thomassian) threatened to put me in the potato peeler—dangling me above the scary looking machine. I also spent time looking for the “pitcher squeezer” in the kitchen, a favorite prank pulled on the younger members of the community.
I returned in 1961 at age 9 for my first experience as a camper, living in the Porcupine Cabin for the month of August. It was a tad overwhelming to be without my family for the first time and for such a long time. But men and women like Uncle Woody and Aunt Dawn (Strodel), Aunt Grace (Strodel), Aunt Jennie and Uncle Carl (Berggren) came along side us to comfort us when down and to encourage us in our successes. Once again, community at work. Uncle J.J. would lead us in special Christian Camp songs, singing scripture verses and the like. Those are sweet memories and helped establish my Christian faith in those early days.
In Junior High, I went to camp each summer. I was a Bear and then a Ranger for two years. The camp also had a new addition—girls at Camp Deer Run!
My second year as a Ranger, I was a CIT and worked at the Boathouse. During this time, various people poured into my life. Our counselors were always helpful and tough. After all, we were Rangers! I am especially grateful for Uncle George (Egli) at the Boathouse. He took an interest in me that led me to earning my skipper’s certification in sailing and my eventual assignment at the Boathouse. During those years, community was again a constant theme. The very people who had watched over me so carefully when I was a boy, also watched over me as a teenager, investing in my character and spirituality.
College, work, marriage, and children followed. Our girls both went to Deer Run as campers and then in college joined the staff as counselors or other roles.
In 2001, I got a phone call from Bob Strodel asking if I wanted to drive ski boats for the summer. I signed on. My wife, Stephanie, worked with Aunt Rose (Thomassian) in the Craft Shop. Both of my daughters were also on staff that summer. It was our turn to give back and help lead the community, serving young people in a meaningful way.
In 2013, I came back to serve as Waterfront Director, walking in the footsteps of people like Uncle J.J., Uncle George, and many, many others. And now my grandchildren and grand nieces and nephews are campers, the fourth generation!
Camp is a community of men and women, boys and girls, who gather together for about 10 weeks each summer. Together, we serve God and learn how to deepen our relationship with Him, and how to serve one another. We do so at one of the most beautiful spots on God’s green earth, using camping and other outdoor activities as the tools to hone our character, skills, and our relationship with Christ.
Over the 75 year history of Brookwoods, the leadership has employed a variety of ways to help bring us closer to Christ: Sunday services overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee is always a special time, early morning devotions (PQT), songs sung during meals, small group discussions in our cabins, exposure to nature through spending time in the woods, mountains, on waterways, time spent counseling with the Camp Pastor—all with the goal that we might understand we are fully known and deeply loved by God, our Savior. Camp Brookwoods, Deer Run and Moose River Outpost are communities of fun, communities of learning, and most importantly, communities of faith.
My family, and my sisters’ families, are all looking forward to returning to Brookwoods this July to celebrate its 75thAnniversary. We hope that you’ll join us; we can share more camp stories around the campfire.
John Lindsell has spent most of his working career as a head of school, serving schools in the southeastern United States. He is currently the Head of School at Oakbrook Preparatory School in Spartanburg, South Carolina. The extended Lindsell family has been deeply involved in the Ministry of Camp Brookwoods and Deer Run since its inception in 1944.