Name: Bruce Woodall
Camper: Early 70’s
Staff: Late 70’s
Now: Family Physician
Coming up after baptism at the Jefferson Street church of Christ on a Sunday evening in March of 1973, I was immediately surrounded by well wishers — the spiritual family that had raised me into the faith I was publicly committing to proclaim as my own. Among the many embraces was one from a stern yet loving man I had steadily grown to respect. Taking a shoulder in each hand, E.H. Smith looked me in the eyes and said, “Bruce, I know who I’m looking to be one of our group leaders at Camp Deer Run some day.” It was a sincere and brilliantly directed arrow to the heart, an honoring vote of confidence – and a challenge.
I would proceed through adolescence attending public school facing strong moral and spiritual challenges, but I would, albeit imperfectly, hold the course I’d been challenged to accept. Peers from an identity in the CDR culture would hold my heart captive and overshadow the influence of secular friends even from my hometown. I would continue to look up to CDR staff as the example of every good thing I hoped I could someday become, and to this day I credit CDR with giving me the best, most wholesome friends of my life.
In 1979, I was 16 and anticipating being a camper again. One week before first session, Leonard Cannon called me sounding uncharacteristically anxious. It was a week before camp and his wranglers had backed out. He was anticipating the delivery of a dozen horses and had no one to manage them. Thus I made the jump from camper to staff. After three sessions as wrangler, I was moved to counselor. Two years later I became a group leader.
Much like Old Testament patriarchs, the Smiths and those who with them founded places like Camp Deer Run understood the power and necessity of legacy — the gift of inspiring and teaching the next generation in what is good, holy, and truly of value. The transmission of legacy requires vision, faith, and hard work. They had all three.
Prayer: As we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, may we continue to carry the tradition forward at Camp Deer Run in our churches, our communities, and our world.