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What I Learned at Camp

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What I Learned at Camp

by Pam Brown, Deer Run Alumna

I first went to Camp when I was 64. That seems strange…and wonderful.  I am so grateful that I got a chance.

My husband, Peter, and I were asked to join the Brookwoods and Deer Run senior staff in 2011. Having never gone to camp, I had no idea what that meant. My daughter, Heather, encouraged me by saying ”Oh, Mom, it is so fun.” And she was right.

Little did I know that this experience would add many wonderful lessons to my life. I already enjoyed being mom of 2 Deer Run alumnae, wife of a Brookwoods alumnus, Nana for 4 grandchild campers, and now I would add being a Tennis Coach, Wimbledon Tennis Tournament tour organizer and marketer, Senior Staff Game Instigator (in a good way), and best of all, a chance to be part of Deer Run counselors’ lives.

My “paid” job was to coach tennis for a band of campers during regular activity periods, for 8 weeks. I love playing tennis, so that was perfect. I learned a lot about campers, about parents, about staff, and a lot about myself.

Campers: My class roster included campers between the ages of 9-12, boys who like to hit the ball “out of the park” and girls who wanted to learn a fun sport. A wise 10-year old camper once told me “I want to learn to play tennis because it is a LIFE SPORT.” He was so right. It was fun to watch these young campers who had played before, as well as those just starting out. There is a lot of energy in those little bodies. Campers are quick to laugh and quick to learn. I had the chance to encourage and coach a young man who wanted to make the tennis team at his high school. He signed up almost every week and worked hard to learn good strokes over 3-4 summers.  After outgrowing camp, he became a tennis coach in his town making “tennis HIS life sport.”

Parents. I helped out in Deer Run Lower Lodge on Incoming Days. Nearly every parent I met wanted to stay as a camper. Many were alumnae or had older campers, and they knew what was ahead; they were so excited for their daughters.

Senior Staff: Even though these senior staff had worked a full day—up and down to the lake, or to the archery range, or hiking, or fishing for trout in the lake, or leading a craft/sport, when supper was over and 6:25pm came around, they were ready to play “a little” tennis… the competition rivaled the real Wimbledon Tournament. There were always hoots and hollers and cheering and laughing. It was so good for us all to put aside any distractions of the day to run and play. Campers walking by could see these “old folks” have such fun and show good friendly sportsmanship. A great bunch of friends.

Pam Brown with the Wimbledon in the Woods winners in 2015 ; Mark Pettinato and Paul Voge.

And then of course there was Wimbledon in the Woods. These same staff players sought out campers as “junior partners” in this popular camp tennis tournament, often playing with those campers who entered only to hit the ball “out of the park.”  They showed great attitudes and were good models of Christians growing in their faith…and still playing tennis.

Myself: Peter and I came to Camp for the campers and stayed for the community…for 7 summers. I learned that being part of this community showed me many angles of God—many ways to love Him and love to others. It was fun growing old in my faith alongside this Camp family.

SO, if anyone asks you to “work” at Camp when you are 64, or 74, DO IT. It was the most fun and sign that contract before the sun goes down!

Pam and Peter Brown are retired and living in York, ME. They enjoy tennis, bird watching, lobster rolls, and long walks on the beach. They delight in their grandchildren’s camp stories and share a few of their own. They not only miss their camp friends, but making a run to Bailey’s Bubble at the mere suggestion of ice cream. You can reach out to Pam via email.




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