A Pilgrim Returns to Look to the Hills

By David DeCamp ’76 P’13,’15; Washington, D.C.

Look to the Hills… could have been a lyric from one of the old Deerfield Academy songs. I forget a lot of those words. Maybe I forgot “look to the hills.”

I’ve been back twice for Deerfield’s summer weekend for alumni, parents, and friends. The experience eludes simple explanation. You sign up for a couple of classes that are led by a selection of the Academy’s best teachers. No grades. No such thing as a bad question.  They take us on–gladly–as they find us. Look to the Hills is part institute but more of a festival for Deerfield’s pilgrims. Days are filled with food, learning, and laughter along with some exercise and refreshment. 

As a “student” in Look to the Hills, I can’t help but remember those old school days when, despite teenaged self-absorption, my horizons expanded.  Thanks to a gifted teacher, who in the pursuit of his or her obvious calling, made the “light bulb” blink on in my brain.

I walk the path from the Dining Hall to a class after breakfast–the same path my children walk today.  From the past, present, and future, I ponder the shared joy, the trepidation, the accomplishment, the uncertainty, the awakening, and the struggle.

Am I going to grow?  Can I succeed?  What does it take?  We see our children grow through these progressions.  We know from experience that it is going to work out.  They are going to grow.  You did.  They will too.  You can … again.

Along about the second laid back summer afternoon up there, Look to the Hills awakens these feelings in my soul.  I have this shared experience with dozens of other Deerfield pilgrims and have grown easy and close to them as a result.

As the wise Gandalf said at the outset of his particular journey:

“Quite a merry gathering!  I hope there is something left for the late comers to eat and drink!  What’s that?  Tea!  No thank you! A little red wine for me.”

Chapter One – An Unexpected Party                                                            The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Look to the Hills takes place at Deerfield this summer August 2-5, 2012.  Sign up and find more information.

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