More on Deer Run Campground, including a mini-interview with new owner
By Chuck Wiser, I write the words to share what my eyes see and my heart feels
As I begin this previously promised (or threatened) nostalgia piece on the Deer Run Campground my intention is to share some real time information on the renewed opening of the campground and some nostalgia reflecting on what made this place so special to us, and so many others, in the first place. First the updates.
First off, you can access Deer Run Campground directly on Facebook by searching the name. One caution, however. There are a few other campgrounds around the country by the same name. Make sure that the site you are looking for displays the Logo/Picture as shown above. You can obtain additional information directly from the campground at their Facebook site.
The campground has been issued an initial permit from the Department of Health following their inspection and testing and allowing an official opening and acceptance of campers. Questions and Reservation requests can be directed through Facebook “Messenger” at the present time. Visiting their “virtual” site on Facebook is a good way to get a feel for the beauty and grandeur that awaits you.
Note: Deer Run was fallow for many, many years, and its re-opening is a work in progress, and will be in phases. Justin has done a magnificent job getting to this point and it will get better and better as time goes on.
Not being a typical newspaper reporter or columnist, I asked Justin Cuttin, the owner, some questions that I would have as a prospective camper.
As I embark on my Wrambling Wrembrances you’ll have to indulge and forgive me for any errors in judgement or recall as these memories go back to the 70’s, by an old fart well into his 70’s. Hmmm! That reminds me of a poem I wrote. If I am not yet at 20 pages of this article, I may include that at the end.
While a member of the Genesee Valley Chorus back in the 70’s our annual summer picnic was held at the Deer Run Campground. Chorus member Craig Braack had made the location suggestion having become familiar with the campground through Stuart Pools out of Almond, NY. We were immediately captivated by not only the beauty and friendliness of the campground but also by the owner at the time Dan Spangler and his family, wife Lee and daughter Ann. We had camped a few times borrowing my parents’ “pop-up” camper and had recently purchased a slightly larger, but still “pop-up” camper. We reserved a site and our first camping outing at Deer Run convinced us immediately that we wanted to be permanent summer residents and so we signed up for a seasonal site. Dan showed us a “planned” section of the campground, not yet fully developed but already named the G Loop.
My memories from that long ago are somewhat challenged these days so my recollection may be a little out of sequence or context but other than chronologically, are correct.
Our first few camping adventures there were spread around the campground somewhat and that is where/when we met several of the people whose names are mentioned herein. Soon after our camping commitment, we convinced, or coerced, the Muscato family, members of the Family of Three, to join us in that still nearly primitive, G Loop. Many evenings and weekends were spent cutting and clearing, hauling flagstone rocks, gravel, and logs for fencing to gradually develop our “Loop” into a picturesque camping scene of beauty. By this time the 3rd of the “Family”, the Geyer’s, had joined us. One of the recreational highlights of camping there was the learning and playing of “Frisbee Golf”. I doubt that any of us knew what the game was until the Spanglers built a course meandering among the sites of the campground. Our site was in the middle of the course so to speak, and as Golfers and other visitors and resident campers would walk around the campground, they would often stop by and comment on how intimate and beautiful our sites were.
Begging forgiveness here for mis-wremembered or misspelled family names, but other families that would become a part of, or adjacent to the G Loop were the Naulmilkets; Don Smith family; Bubba Greene family; Bonnie Seth; Bob and Jackie Wiley; The Hacketts; The Schaeberlies; The Woughters, Chuck Ball family, and some I have overlooked.
Not overlooked at this point, but deserving of a paragraph of their own would be the families, primarily from the Rochester area, that made up the E Loop. Neil and Kathy Greene, now sharing their “camping lifestyle” at Keuka Lake, were the Patriarch and Matriarch of the E Loop, and were surrounded by the Russo’s, the Stebbins, the Bungo’s, and the Bossard’s. The Vesparellie’s (sp) were somewhere in that mix of Rochester area people, and I know I fractured that name.
Tongue in cheek as they (or I) say; the best way to see if someone read what you wrote about them is to misspell their name.
Over the span of years, we camped at Deer Run it was owned first by the Spanglers having started their tenure following Red and Dot …and thus named the Red-Dot Campground, which name had been changed to Deer Run. The Spangler’s ownership began in 1972 and upon their move to York PA., the ownership transferred to Dave and Lois Helveston, who took over in 1986 running it until 2008. Many of the camping traditions began prior to the Spangler’s and continued with the ownership of the Helveston’s. Deer hunting, in particular, was a mainstay of the campground in late fall and winter, and thus I guess, the source or inspiration of the name.
I could very likely fill a book with all of the memories of the camping days and specifically the Deer Run Campground, if I could only but remember them as I write. Uninterested in my topic (she says), my wife continues to remind me of things that happened, or I did, that made the strongest memories in her mind. The following is a bulleted list of memory snippets, each of which could easily fill a whole page if I went into detail.
- Dan gathering all the kids on “rock detail”. He would pull the wagon with his tractor and the kids would earn an ice cream cone following along and picking up rocks from the road and putting them in the wagon.
- One Wellsville Balloon Rally weekend, Dan, as part of the Rally committee, filled the campground to overflowing with balloonists and their families. No balloons launched there.
- On the hill, across the creek and above the campground, much of which became the “Back Nine” of the Frisbee Golf course, was the largest blackberry patch you can imagine. Many pies were made thanks to those berries after Dan introduced us to them.
- Kids would take off from the campsites with containers and wander the stream, which wasn’t much more than a trickle at the time, find any and every kind of slithering creatures.
- Every 4th of July a contingent of campers would make their way to Andover to witness the Andover “Independence Day” celebration fireworks.
- The frisbee golf course was a major attraction and featured many impromptu tournaments. I maintain that our “expertise” would rival any of the experts of today, as they have a “large” basket to catch the frisbee. We had to hit a 4” X 4” post driven into the ground. We were good! I remember several rounds 12 or 13 under par, but I’ve already exposed the unreliability of my Wremberances.
- Swimming Pool: The swimming pool was a major source of enjoyment at the campground and many stories could be told about that feature as well. Our children, and the children of most other campers, learned to swim in the pool at Deer Run. There was always a lifeguard, or at least a responsible adult, on duty if the pool was open. The pool no longer exists, but according to the new owner it is in the plans for the future. “Adult” swims happened a couple of times during the early camping days and there is mixed opinion as to whether they were “clothes optional” for all interested participants or just the men. If you want to see what a very large erect standing skunk looks like, a moonlight view of Neil Greene and this writer, very well-tanned over 85% of their body looked like in the buff, would put a vision in your head that cannot be erased.
I have exhausted my current memory and typical space allotted for my Wrambling’s, so will publish this now with a thought to perhaps re-visit the topic in the future as input comes in from those readers familiar with the enjoyment we shared, is passed on to me. I had reached out to several of the younger generation of campers but didn’t receive any of their input. From our “Kids” perspective many chapters of this story could continue. I hope that this “Wremembrance” brings more pleasure than pain.
I can be found on Facebook, as also can the Deer Run Campground, and welcome any and all comments, suggestions or corrections. If I have committed any egregious errors, I will publicly correct them. I can also be reached via email at IM.Wiserdad@gmail.com.