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PC Classes, Rain or Shine…

When Only Your Best Will Do!

by Tim Stuart

Super 8 footage from 1978

The Physical Coordination Program, or “PC” was one of the mainstays of the Camp Deerwoode experience and reflected the strong work ethic of its creator, Bill Mayes. Part of Bill’s philosophy was that one doesn’t need expensive equipment to be physically fit. What is did require, however, was 100% commitment to every exercise. He firmly believed that most of the youth of the day did not know what it meant to give 100% — to work oneself to exhaustion. The PC Staff was there to push and cajole the campers to work their hardest. We were also expected to set an example by demonstrating proper form, if needed, and staying active for the duration of each session.

The basic idea of the program was not new – it consisted of individual stations that were designed to work out a specific part of the body for 15 seconds each. Even though there were several stations that involved light weightlifting, there were just as many exercises designed for flexibility and balance. After completing the 50 or so stations, each camper or counselor who participated should find themselves drained, drenched in sweat, and worked out in every area of the body.

Inevitably, everyone learned what 100% effort meant. Those that had the personal fortitude to maintain that effort were rewarded with steady improvement in their strength, stamina, and balance. “Did you give your best effort?” was a question Bill asked frequently of the campers, as well as the staff. Bill had (and has) a way of looking you in the eyes and forcing you to honestly assess your effort. Ultimately, everyone began to understand that true progress was only achievable when the individual desire was there. This was one example of the Bill Mayes philosophy being inextricably linked to the Deerwoode Experience. Bill knew that the campers would only have a few weeks in the summer to not only experience the many fun activities that were available at camp, but also to achieve a measure of personal pride with the understanding that hard work and effort would be a key component of success.

My scores from 1974

In 1966, the United States Government established the President’s Council of Physical Fitness goals. In the mid-70’s, Bill incorporated ten standard physical tests (Pull ups, Rope Jump, Mile Run, etc.) along with the percentages set up by the national program. To qualify for the Presidential Physical Fitness Award, each camper had to achieve the score listed for the 85th percentile in all the events. Few would achieve this herculean task, but many came close and almost everybody showed improvement by the end of the camp session. I have posted my first set of scores. Yes, Bill, I am aware that my improvement was inconsistent — especially for a future PC Man!

Unfortunately, Bill became increasingly frustrated in the work ethic of most of the campers he was getting throughout the late Seventies. This was, of course, symptomatic of the physical decline nationwide as obesity and lethargy established a toehold on society. Bill has frequently referred to “The Decline of ‘79” as when this trend became most evident. Campers’ increasing resistance to the counselors’ encouragement to work their hardest took its toll on our own enthusiasm.

Of course, there were still some campers who demonstrated athletic prowess and hard work (as Hank Lewis would put it, “The cream will rise, boys!”) and many would still show improvement, but as the years wore on, it became more and more difficult to push them.

Bill believed in the PC program so much that he published a book on the subject, illustrated by his artistic wife, Elizabeth.

As the decline became unbearable, Bill’s frustration level reached it’s peak, and he closed the doors to Camp Deerwoode at the end of the Summer of 1991.

Photo Courtesy Pepper Graham

Still dedicated to the idea of physical fitness, he converted the PC Gym into a state-of-the-art workout center for adults, while still retaining some of the simple, but effective, exercises from the inception of the program. He generated some income from the community who came to workout, but that was never important to Bill Mayes. He was as demanding of the adults as he was from the campers – perhaps even more so, as he had little patience for laziness from those who should know better.

In August, 2015, Pepper Graham offered additional insight in his Facebook caption to the photo on the left:

Ive always enjoyed Bill’s motto, “it’s not all about the almighty dollar’. He told me last weekend, a few years before he closed the camp, he started interviewing gym owners in the towns he visited so he could gain some wisdom. Bill said they all gave him the same advice, to get people to pay you, draw the money out of their bank account each month.

TM then told me about his rule with really overweight people that want to join the gym – they have to lose 25 lbs. in the first 3 months or they will be asked not to come back.

“I opened the gym to make a difference, Pepper.”

He eventually ran almost everybody off who was not willing to give 100% effort and shut down the fitness center around 2016.