Full Circle

by Amy Holbrook Nichols, Deer Run Alumna

I still remember the drive up to camp. I was 8 years old and I had never been that far away from home and I was terrified. I spent the entire car ride so nervous I thought I was going to throw up! Two weeks later I was calling them on the camp phone asking if I could please PLEASE stay two more weeks.

Camp is special like that. It is magical. It makes you want to stay and experience more of what it has to offer. I loved it all, from the days on the beach, to cabin nights, to the horseback riding lessons to all my new friends. I loved it so much I came back, 15 years later…I was looking to do something different the summer in between my junior and senior year of college. The Lord brought camp to mind and I decided to give them a call. Turns out they needed a Horseback Riding Director, but I wanted to be a counselor. Camp very graciously gave me the opportunity to do both.

When I arrived at camp, the term “Horse Chick” (we know how girls love horses) was affectionately batted in my direction. Not only do we have a special nickname, we also have special housing, fondly known as “The Chicken Coop” or “The Coop” for short, located at the top of the camp road. Since horses smell, and this smell is clingy—Horse Chicks preferably need housing close to the Stables in order to clean up before taking that lovely odor down to the Dining Hall to share at mealtime! In retrospect, I think my dual job of counselor and horseback riding instructor saved my reputation. I lived in a cabin and yet could spend my days at the Stable. I lived and breathed camp. I vividly remember calling my parents (from that same camp phone that I used when I was 8) and telling them that I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was exactly where God wanted me. I felt His pleasure in my joy and love of camp. During the day I taught students how to ride and in the evenings I had the joy of impacting kids for the Lord in our cabin.

And now I find myself passing the proverbial torch. My 18-year old daughter, Anna, has caught the camp bug. Two years ago she spent a summer at Moose River Outpost. The wild Maine setting combined with great friends and a great counselor, had such a positive impact on her. This summer, she decided that she wanted to go back to camp, but she wanted to work with horses—SHE WANTS TO BE A HORSE CHICK! And so, I will live vicariously through her. I will walk the road through the woods from the Stables to the Main House. I will swim with her in the clear cold waters of Lake Winnipesaukee. I will eat ice cream with her at Bailey’s. I will sing songs with her after dinner in the Dining Hall. I will pray for her to grow spiritually and to have the same assurance that God has placed her at that place for that time. And, I will encourage her to wear the title (and fragrance) of Horse Chick with pride!

Amy Nichols (pictured on the right) lives in Fountain Hills, Arizona with her husband, John who is a pastor and their two kids. She is an instructor of education courses at Arizona Christian University. In her spare time, she reads, runs, and still dreams of owning her own horse someday. Reach out via email, aenct71@gmail.com