Highfields, a camper's perspective.
By Willis Keene

I look at Highfields from two perspectives, first as a 9 to 13 year old, then reflecting back 50+ years later.

From 1952-1956 I was a camper for 2 to 6 weeks each summer. Like my fellow campers, some activities we liked and some were just boring. I loved tennis, baseball and a game called capture the flag. Many inside meetings and story telling were boring. Swimming helped us all pass our junior life saving certificate. For me the scariest episode was how to deal with being grabbed from behind by the instructor and learning how to get out of a strangle hold while in the water. I passed the test after several tries but I remember this event clearly. The best memory I have is when the older campers 12 to 13 years old got to go on a canoe trip to a lake far away. Riding on the back of an army troop truck, we took our canoes and camped on a little island in the middle of the lake. I remember a large deserted cabin with magazines of western stories. This was the time of western stories on TV, and in comic books that were popular with kids our age. In my 13th year I only spent two weeks at Highfields and was happy to return to our summer cottage. The rest of the summer of 1956 I spent riding my bike around Hope with my pal Ronnie Smith earning a little money helping tourists move in and out of Hatchet Mountain cabins, the old site of Hatchet Mountain Camps. We also raked blueberries for the nicest crew boss ever, Jimmy Carver.

Looking back as an adult, Highfields had campers mainly from Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts. It taught us a little military regimentation. We were in uniforms and had flag raisings and lowering each day. The owner, Cleo Goderre, was a marine colonel. All of my age group faced one big issue about 10 years later, the drafts and Vietnam. Each summer I was a friend of John Godere, the Colonel's adopted son. He was killed in 1966 by a land mine in Vietnam. I was lucky in Vietnam most of us draftees were simply given a ??? for 3 months. I experienced just small firefights, and then with an immediate family member dying I was sent home. Two months later my company was ambushed and one of my friends from Camden was killed. Since then I learned other Highfields campers were lost in Vietnam.

Basically you can remember activities fun and not so fun, but your childhood friends and faces you always remember and Vietnam took many away. Sorry for being so nostalgic about Vietnam but that's the age group we look back at. Highfields gave us the faces we will always remember.

One humorous note, I learned later that a few of the campers had fathers in the mafia and sent their kids to camp in Maine saying that it "is the safest place for them".

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