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Phil Wislar


As a camper, wanting to be just like the JC’s and Counselors! (Pickett, Domingue, Mayes, Adams, Stuart, and so many others!) As a JC, wanting to escape TM and the power of the pencil! As a counselor, wondering if I could live up to the example of those who came before me!


Sight – Greatest visual memory? The Deerwoode landscape.  Embodies the verse from Taps….From the lake , from the hill, from the sky.  I can still never get enough of the feeling one experiences as you move from the drive into the opening of fields, surrounding mountains, and open sky.  Can’t put a price on it. 

 Site – Best or top of mind spatial or physical location memory? Campfire and Chapel area.  Never felt closer to God.

The swim lake.  Nothing like the stinging of that cold mountain water against your skin.  Don’t think I ever saw anyone jump in the lake for the first time and not break the surface of the water without a loud yell.

Sound – Most impressive sound memory?  Recently had the pleasure of walking the Deerwoode property line with Matt, Andy, Gilly, and Ivan Gilly.  After coming off the mountain and walking along the French Broad, the sky opened up with one of the famous Deerwoode gully washers we all remember.  It was quiet with the exception of the pounding rain. We just walked in silence.  But even in this moment of solitude, I could hear the sounds of all that was going on during a typical day at Deerwoode.  Gator ball on the field, PC bell in the distance, balls bouncing on the gym floor, paddles hitting the side of canoes, Sniffer mounting something in the nature area, Bill on the war path, Buddy Check at the swim lake.  All was right with the world.  

Touch – Physical recollection?  As Charlie Daniels says in “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”……The devil bowed his head because he knew that he’d been beat…. My formal introduction to Aldo Comuzzi and boxing.  During the oiled watermelon game in the swim lake this mad Venezuelan took me under for a death roll, no different than what crocs do with their prey before they eat em.  I came up swinging.  Next thing I heard was a whistle.  As the water cleared from my eyes, all I could see was a two-inch-thick bundle of white tape resting on the creased, tanned neck of The Man.  “That’s to boys…. we will settle this after dinner”.  I had no idea what this meant.  Maybe we will sit down and talk it over with Bill?  Maybe we would get to go and discuss over a sun drop at canteen?  During dinner announcements, Bill stood up in front of the camp like a Vegas fight announcer and introduced the fighters.  The entire camp gathered in the PC gym for the event.  I was able to hang for three rounds…. but the Coozie had whipped me.  I was hurt.  Not just physically, but it was the first time I really understood how important it is to mentally, physically, and spiritually strong.  Coozie was a gentleman and I respected him in defeat.  We became great friends that day!

Smell? The mixture of fruity smells emitting from100 Charms suckers as campers sat on the edge of their seats during a telling of “Cabin on the Beach” by Mr. Hicks. ….”there I was boys…. all alone…. looking at footprints in the sand…….”you boys enjoying those suckers??????”  “yes Mr. Hicks….”

“Then I heard BLAM>>>BLAM >>>BLAM…. then I went boogidy boogidy boogidy

Taste – What’s the best dining hall memory? Cold fish and ketchup for breakfast…. Take what you want but eat what you take.

High speed salad bar son!!!!  Iceberg, tomatoes, and ranch or orange italian dressing.  Simple yet uniquely elegant for Deerwoode.

Fear – What scared you most? As a camper…. the panther and its den along the cliff as you entered Deerwoode.  I just knew that thing was watching me as our car drove by licking its chops.  

As a JC…. what else but The Man……he had the unique ability to be everywhere, at every minute, and know everything.  I still can’t figure out how he did it.

As a counselor…. missing curfew……never did but came close many times thanks to Gilly. 

Embarrassment – I hesitate to mention this as The Man may ban me from the premises after being reminded.  This is potentially the skeleton of all Deerwoode skeletons.  I know this will knock me down many notches with some but so be it…. a man has to own his mistakes.  Following my third year at Deerwoode, I committed the egregious deviation a camper can commit.  Here it is…. I bailed from Deerwoode the following summer and attended the epicenter of wussiness….no, not Camp Carolina, not even High Rocks.  Truth be told……I attended Camp Seagull for a session.  What an awful experience.  Lost the six pack, got soft, weak, and turned in to curdled milk floating at the bottom of the glass of life…. rather than the rising cream Deerwoode inspired.  I am forever shamed to admit it.  Luckily, The Man allowed me to return the following summer and everyone thereafter until becoming a counselor. 

A close second is not finishing the JC program after my peon year.

Triumph? There are many great memories from Deerwoode a young person could count as triumphs while growing up there.  Just think of how many challenges were thrown our way as young boys, and later as young men.  I often reflect on TM’s unique ability to make each and every camper feel like they accomplished something.  For some, it was just escaping camp without blade duty or a lanyard.  For others, it was seeing growth in themselves through PC+F=P.

For Lil Wis (last of three Wislar boys to attend Deerwoode), it was returning to Deerwoode after my first summer of not being able to do a pull-up or jump rope, and significantly improving in all categories of the PC test.  I remember what it felt like to be a proud 8 year old and demonstrating to Bill that I did not spend the year away from Deerwoode sitting on my ass.