In loving memory of Bobbe Hackman
It is with full and heavy hearts that we remember Eileen “Bobbe” Hackman, our much beloved friend and Deer Run hero. Bobbe served as the first Deer Run Director, from 1964-74. She set Deer Run’s standard for “Camping with Excellence.” Deer Run has evolved since her tenure, but you can find her fingerprints everywhere.
My friendship with Bobbe was one of the highlights of my job. When I first walked into her condo in Wheaton, IL 14 years ago, I had no idea how this lovely and wise Deer Runner would impact me. Life would take me to Chicago once a year and getting on Bobbe’s calendar was always my first priority. I treasured my visits with her; we could have talked for days. I loved her camp stories—the time they did a night hike up Mt. Washington (she admits that this might not have been a great idea) and when it was just girls eating in the Dining Hall. She was happy to hear my camp stories from the 1980s and to look at the current pictures I pulled up on my laptop. Every time I left her house, I thought to myself, “I want to grow up to be just like her.” So confident, so generous, so smart, so thoughtful, and last but not least, stylish‑way more stylish than I ever will be. We exchanged many notes over the years and I hope that I still have them. She was always happy to take my call. I smiled ear to ear when she sent See’s Candies for my counseling staff the summer I directed Deer Run, and I was overwhelmed when she remembered my 50th birthday.
Close friends with Miles and Grace Strodel from Wheaton College, Bobbe was recruited by Miles in 1951 to be the first girls camp director at Camp Sandy Cove, located in North East, Maryland on the headwaters of the Chesapeake Bay. (At the time, Miles was directing Camp Sandy Hill, the brother camp located 5 miles down the road.) Bobbe directed at Camp Sandy Cove for three summers. After leaving Sandy Cove, it didn’t take her long to get back into camping as she went on to serve as the girls’ program director from 1955-58 at HoneyRock, Wheaton College’s camp, in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. While at HoneyRock, Bobbe started the candlelight tradition where campers, holding their candles, walked from the chapel to the pier. There was an anchored boat at the pier, which held a large cross where the campers placed their candles. Gathered around, campers recited verses, shared their testimonies, and sang choruses as the cross was towed across the water by canoes. Bobbe would later go on to serve on HoneyRock’s Board of Directors.
In 1964, Miles and Grace called her again. When Laurence Andreson (Doc A., Brookwoods’ founder and owner) and Uncle Miles started seriously looking for property to start a girls’ camp, Miles told Doc A., “If you‘re going to start a girls camp, the only person you should hire is Bobbe Hackman.” At this point in time, the Strodels had lost touch with Bobbe. They located her in Denver, CO and she agreed to come back east and start Deer Run. Bobbe served through the summer of 1974. She enjoyed the challenge of establishing new programs, activities, and traditions. Bobbe brought the tradition of candlelight campfires to Deer Run that we still enjoy to this day. (In the Deer Run files, there are notes of those sacred campfires down by the water—staff in their canoes at dusk.)
Bobbe was the epitome of class, always wearing “crisp whites” on Sundays to Chapel, (we might argue, she was the first person to be “Staff Sharp”) as well as white gloves for White Glove Inspection. She was known for always being available to talk to her staff and made sure each camper felt welcomed. Bobbe encouraged campers to be creative, to try new things, and to accomplish goals that they never dreamed of attempting. At each session’s closing campfire, she made a point to recognize staff and camper accomplishments alike. As I talked to those who knew her well, one thing in particular came up several times—they deeply admired her and also wanted to be like her. She was professional, authentic, full of class and grace, thoughtful, and hard working.
Bobbe was dedicated to education and learning. She completed her Bachelor’s degree at Wheaton College in 1944 and received her Master’s degree from University of Pennsylvania, both in the field of Physical Education. She started a doctoral program, but gave it up to spend her summers working at Deer Run. Her teaching career included Denver Public Schools, Assistant Professor at Wheaton College, and she served as an Associate Professor at Elmhurst College (IL) for nearly 30 years. Bobbe was not only the Chair of the Health and Physical Education Departmentat Elmhurst, but she also coached the women’s basketball team to a winning season in 1972-73 (10-4).
Over the years, she enjoyed photography, listening to jazz, bird watching, playing tennis, sailing her Daysailer on Lake Winnipesaukee, crossword puzzles, and travel. As a life-long learner, Bobbe enjoyed engaging conversation on nearly any topic.
Throughout her life, Bobbe was motivated and sustained by her faith in Christ and her unwavering trust in the love and goodness of her Lord. She will be greatly missed by her friends, neighbors and family. I’m thankful to have known her. Her shining example and love for me will live in my heart forever.
Eileen “Bobbe” Hackman was born July 4, 1922 in Coopersburg, PA and joined her heavenly Father on December 20, 2018 at the age of 96. If you would like to make a donation to camp in her memory, here is the link.
Melissa Yonan is the Director of Alumni Relations for Camp Brookwoods, Deer Run and Moose River Outpost, since 2005. First arriving at Deer Run in 1982, she can name the Deer Run Directors in order! These days she is busy planning Brookwoods’ 75th Anniversary. If you have camp stories you’d like to tell, she’d love to hear them, contact her here.