Return to Memories

Jeff Edwards


The following are excerpts from an email I sent to Bill Mayes prior to visiting Deerwoode with my family in the summer of 2002:

I still have a few souvenirs from camp days: photos (including, I think, a “professional” one with you and us campers playing basketball), pottery we made, Deerwoode “canoes” strung together for each year at camp, and a brochure. My parents may also have some family movies. Of course (if you will allow me a little sentimentality) I’ll never forget my many camp experiences:

Fellow campers, wonderful staff and counselors, yourself (you were so tall! — and, Mr. Basketball), and Gordon Sprott (sp?)

The “though-the-night” train rides from Daytona Beach/Jacksonville to Hendersonville arriving at sunrise to meet the Deerwoode bus and your “recruiting” trips to our house in Jacksonville with camp movies to show

The cabins with decades of names scratched into the wood, metal cots, those impossible to sweep clean wood floors with knotholes to slip the sweepings through to the ground below, the ever-tough cabin inspections, cool summer nights with the lone Brevard “contemporary” radio station playing the songs of the 60’s as we wrote letters to home during “quiet hour” after lunch, the community bathrooms with cold concrete floors and nearly “as cold” showers due to the finicky hot water

Dances, boxing, and dodge ball (when it rained) in the “old” gym Basketball, recycling shot gun shells, the canteen in the “new” gym, and everyone gathered on the cement gym floor “late” at night watching Neil Armstrong land on the moon on a color TV in July, 1969

The craft house, home of the pottery kilns (and I forget the nice “older” man who ran it?) lanyards, and leather goods crafts

The rifle range and campfire/vesper circle up on the hill in the woods, the clay tennis courts we had to roller after a good rain, the “runs” around the edges of the “golf course” and French Broad

The lake with wood diving platform in the center (home to the occasional counselor’s bed canoed to it as a prank), frogs and salamanders aplenty for us to catch and the lawn in front of the “big house”

The dining hall, home to bingo nights where the winners won canteen goodies, the much anticipated “mail call”, inspection contest reports, the archery, swimming, and rifle award announcements and accomplishments, counselors’ favorite stories of the day, birthday celebrations of ice cream and cake (mine was August 13th, usually the last week of camp), “home cookin'” (chicken and dumplings, mashed potatoes, and biscuits was the specialty as I recall, with “steak” night banquets at the end of three and six weeks) and the blackberry pies the cooks would make us if we picked enough coffee cans of blackberries. Though I never really took to the “bug” juice.

The canoe house building by the river and the white “O.D.” building at the entrance

The “cattle truck” we rode in to the ski lake (and all the times we got motion sickness in it from having only slivers of light in the slats to look through) and the Deerwoode school bus barely navigating the dirt entry road with the French Broad River straight down on one side and the mountain straight up the other and full of campers endlessly singing “100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall”

The canoe trips, complete with peanut butter and jelly sandwich sack lunches, on the French Broad in those heavy multi-colored wooden canoes, the surprise “water attacks” dropping from the overhanging trees onto the less experienced campers and first time counselors, and the cable “bridge” over the river

Sliding rock once a week, “Capture the Flag” complete with secret coded messages, the decathlons, the candlelight march at the camp’s closing ceremonies as we sang Kum-ba-ya (which still makes my mother cry to this day), the trips to Cherokee and downtown Brevard once a session to see a movie or go to a “real” store, usually the 5 & 10, campouts in Pisgah National Forest complete with the all-in-one foil wrapped campfire meal, visits to the Fish Hatchery, Looking Glass Falls, Chimney Rock, the track meets at Brevard Community College