By Brittany Canter
For the past 20 years, I counted down the days of the year as I waited for camp to begin. Deer Mountain Day Camp is the place that has shaped and nurtured almost three-year-old Brittany into almost twenty-three-year-old Brittany.
With two older sisters who attended Deer Mountain, constantly raving about what fun it was, and a mother who worked in the office there, I could not wait until it was finally my turn to go. I needed to see what all the hype was about; to see what exactly made my sisters run off the bus each day squealing with delight, anxious to return to camp the next morning.
Ever since the van approached my house on the last Monday of June in 1996, I have never been the same. I started off fearful of the unknown, but once the bus pulled into the parking lot, my fears melted away. The welcoming faces, the positive energy, the beautiful landscape, and the many choices of activities made me excited for the days ahead. I knew this place was going to become my home away from home. That I too would be able to share in my sisters’ delight. The rest is basically history.
After my first summer in the nursery, I came back for my second summer, still part of the nursery division, since I was not yet four years old. As you can imagine, my love for Deer Mountain continued to grow as I grew, moving through each division year after year. I never missed a summer, quickly becoming a freshman girl, then a Junior, an Inter, a Senior, a Teen and eventually a CIT. My happiest memories are from my summers at Deer Mountain, memories I still talk about years after they have occurred. Each summer, there was never a question as to whether I would be going back to Deer Mountain or not; of course I would be.
I learned a tremendous amount of things while being a camper at Deer Mountain. Not only did I learn skills related to sports, crafts, performing arts, and outdoor adventure, but I also learned important life skills that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I learned how to be a team player, how to be responsible, and how to be whatever or whoever my imagination led me to be. I could be an Olympic athlete at sports, a dolphin in the pool, or a professional chef at cooking. My options were endless.
When I was too-old to be a camper, I became a counselor for the Freshman Girls division, where I stayed for five years. My counselors, in addition to my friends, played a huge role in my time at DMDC. I viewed my counselors as role models and I relished in everything they did. I knew when it was my turn, I wanted to give my campers an experience as meaningful as mine had been. I shared that it was here at Deer Mountain Day Camp where I learned my most valuable life lessons, where my interests became my hobbies, where my character developed, and where my friends became my family.
As I mature, the almost three-year-old Brittany still resides in me; I still squirm anxiously for that last Monday in June. I cannot wait to go back to the place where I have spent nearly every summer of my life. After 20 years, it is still not a question as to whether I am going back to camp or not. The answer remains the same: of course I am.