The Gift of Camp

The Gift of Camp

Guest Author: Elise Vasko, Deer Run Alumna

It is hard to overstate the value of giving the “gift of camp.” I know this first-hand, since I came to camp on a scholarship.

My first summer at Deer Run was in 2006, just two years after my family’s sudden loss of my dad. At the time, I didn’t have any knowledge of the cost of camp or the details of how my tuition was paid. All I knew was that people who gave to camp were helping to support me and that I was excited to go.

I was one of the campers who loved camp instantly. I loved the independence of walking the trails between activity periods, I loved the camp traditions, and I loved that every night felt like a sleepover with my new best friends.

I’m pretty sure the first thing I said to my mom when she picked me up that summer was, “Can I come back next year please?!”

Because of camp scholarships, the answer was “Yes!” I was blessed to return to camp for many years as a camper and then LDP, and eventually for three summers on staff as a counselor.

There are plenty of first-time experiences I had at camp: waterskiing, horseback riding, sailing, and paintball. While these may seem small on their own, trying new things and failing, re-trying and succeeding, in an environment that’s challenging but safe, gave me a sense of competence and confidence—qualities that make a difference outside of camp, too.

Most importantly, living with other girls (or boys) your age, eating meals, going hiking, playing Ultimate Frisbee, and then having those girls be the same ones you sit down with in your cabin to talk about meaningful spiritual truths, makes faith feel all the more real and practical. You realize God is in the everyday and at camp we open our eyes a little more to His goodness and daily grace.

I remember my first summer on Deer Run Staff as a counselor; I felt like I was finally at the point where I would be giving back to camp. Surprisingly, I was wrong. During my staff summers, camp continued to give more to me in friendship, adventure, and spiritual growth.

I could never repay in any monetary sense the “gift of camp,” and I will always feel a deep-deep gratitude toward the people who made it possible for me to come to camp. Now, I give to the Scholarship Fund because I want to make camp possible for the next 9-year-old girl like me. Will you please join me in giving to Brookwoods, Deer Run, and Moose River Outpost during the 2021 Weekend of Giving? Next weekend, every donation given to camp during the Weekend of Giving will be matched up to $75,000 with a gift to the Scholarship Fund! Indeed, our God is one who multiplies.

Editor’s Note: The Weekend of Giving starts next weekend—Friday July 23rd through Sunday July 25th! A group of generous donors have come together to pledge a combined total of $75,000 to the Scholarship Fund if we receive donations totaling $75,000 or more over Changeover Weekend. We invite you to “Join the Journey” and be a Changemaker during Changeover and help us raise $150,000 for Camp! You can make a gift here.

Elise Vasko is a Deer Run alumna and current first-year medical student at the Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine in North Haven, Connecticut. She loves Lazy Days, Cabin Nights, and the first campfire of the summer…complete with s’mores, of course! You can reach her at



Sign-Up to Receive Email Updates About Our Latest Blog Posts

Select list(s):