Remembering Deer Hill Camp for Boys
Deer Hill was established to train boys through wise guidance, to a better understanding of themselves and others, to respect individual differences and promote a sense of responsibility. In primitive camping a boy turns to fundamentals and so learns what is needed to get along with others.
The roots of Deer Hill Camp for Boys grew out of an older camp on Moultonboro Neck run by Ted Hilton’s mother Mary Rose Hilton. That was in 1948. In 1949 Ted purchased a farm on Red Hill Road and brought his camp to the shores of Lake Kanasatka. Over the next five decades Deer Hill Camp for Boys and later Deer Hill Camp was a important point of activity on our lake. This page pays tribute to Director Ted Hilton and his camp for boys.
About the Camp
Deer Hill had an eight room modernized farmhouse as the camp headquarters. There was an office and rooms for boys needing temporary special care. The “Lodge” attached to the house had a large open beamed room with an ample field stone fireplace. This was used as a recreation room and contained the camp library, a piano and games. On Sundays it was used for a nondenominational church service. A large converted barn accommodated the camp’s wood working shop and was the center of indoor games and rainy day activities.
The water front had a fine sandy beach equipped with docks and rafts as well as canoes, sailboats, row boats and a power boat for water skiing. The trampoline was another popular piece of equipment. Horses were kept in camp giving the boys an opportunity to help care for them as well as ride them. There were many miles of trails for riding after the boy had graduated the ring.
Camp activities and test in pioneer camping, outdoor cooking, mountaineering, swimming, sailing, canoeing, carpentry, horseback riding, photography, water skiing, archery, reading good books, banking and journalism as well as a wide range of competitive sports afforded well rounded opportunities for boys of differing abilities to achieve. Competition was encouraged only to the point where it inspired a boy to do a little better than he thought possible. The stress was always on being in competition with himself.
The varied programs were indeed a rich experience for the youngest camper who had planned his first camping test as well as for the oldest boy who had participated. An old brochure from 1981 advertising the features of Deer Hill can be downloaded here.
Deer Hill was a camp for boys until 1986 when they caught up with the rest of the world and became co-Ed. The Plumfield Camp for Girls closed at about that same time.
The Good Old Days
Ted Hilton [email protected]
Thinking about the “Good Old Days”… When I first established Deer Hill Camp in 1950 I had purchased the old Hotchkis property on Red Hill Road to establish my boys camp. It was 100 acres with farm house and barn. The house had been remodeled in the 1930 when the Hotchkis family bought it from Annie McGuire. One of the interesting things in the house was the old wooden telephone! It was a party line. That is, there are several telephones on the same line. So to answer your telephone you had to listen for your “ring”. Ours was two long rings. So our number was some something like 631, ring two. Any time the telephone rang any amount of rings you could pick up the receiver and listen in on your neighbors call. Of course we never did!!
When you wanted to make a call, you wound up the little crank on the side of the wooden box and the operator would say, ”number please”. You could just say, “please connect me with Chester Davis.” The operator might say, “It’s Thursday afternoon. Chester always takes his wife shopping on Thursday afternoons and he is not home. Shall I ring him anyway?” And of course, you’d say, “I’ll call some other time.”
Once I was calling my mother at her place on the Neck and the operator said, “Your mother has been calling you a number of times and you must have been down at the lake. She is in Laconia at Pynn’s Garage. Would you like me to connect you with the garage?” And I said yes, and when my mother got on the phone she said, “How on earth did you know I was at the garage?” and I said, the operator told me. “Well, she said,” the car will be here all day to get fixed. So if you can pick me up it will save the day for me.” Those were the days…….
How “Deer Hill” got it’s name
Ted Hilton started a camp for boys at his mothers property on Moultonborough Neck in 1948. At that time his mother owned and directed the Plumfield School in Darien, Connecticut and Plumfield Camp in Center Harbor. Since Ted did not have a name for his camp he continued with the name calling his camp the Plumfield Camp for Boys. In 1949 Ted purchased the property on Red Hill Road. He knew he needed a new name for his camp at this new location, but a name did not become clear until one year later. One night Mrs. Hilton saw a very large buck deer standing on the hill right behind the house. They both thought, “Deer Hill”…. that’s what we can name our camp!
Books of Memories
View the ‘Yearbook’ photos from the 50’s and 60’s:
Click here to view a Deer Hill Camp Brochure from 1981