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Posted by Jack Shitama ● Tue, May 03, 2022 @ 08:05 AM

Pecometh Story: Not the Best Week of My Life

Erin and Reagan-1

"Not the Best Week of My Life"

The summer of 1967, 12-year-old Mary Hagemann attended Camp Pecometh for the first time. Her parents made her go. “The canoe trip across the Chester River to have a picnic lunch was hard,” she shared. “Halfway through the trip, my canoe partner decided she had enough paddling and promptly stopped. This left me to get us to the other side by myself. The current was strong. All the other canoes were in front of us. It was overwhelming.”

This wasn’t Mary’s only experience with Camp Pecometh. Her parents Harold and Marian Hagemann, lifelong members of Cedars United Methodist Church, began weekend camping in the Family Campground at Pecometh in the early 1970’s. They liked camping at Pecometh because it was close, they felt safe bringing their children and grandchildren there and enjoyed the quiet and peaceful atmosphere provided. For over 25 years the Hagemann’s made annual trips to Camp Pecometh creating multiple and lasting memories. 

Today, Mary is known as Rev. Mary Browne. Despite her struggles with canoeing, she is also the start of multiple generations of Hagemanns/Brownes who attended Camp Pecometh. “You are drawn to the place,” she shared. “It is a place of rest and peace. The whole aura is special.”

In the mid 1990’s Mary was excited when her oldest daughter Erin, was applying to be on summer staff at Camp Pecometh. Mary knew that Erin was in a good environment. “I always knew my way around there,” Erin Browne shared. “That is why I was so comfortable applying for a summer job at Pecometh. The thing I remember most is how welcoming the staff is. It is a good community to be a part of.” 

Pastor Mary Brown saw her daughter grow in confidence and become much more outgoing as a result of working at Pecometh. Erin worked several summers as a staff member and is an active member of the Alumni Association, as well as a program leader for Single Parent Camp. Her favorite title of “camper mom” was given to her by her daughter Reagan. 

Rev. Mary Browne describes her granddaughter Reagan as the “Mayor” of Camp Pecometh. Reagan first started attending as a 6-year-old at Pecometh with Mary coming with her serving as the Spiritual Life Coordinator. Reagan knew and talked to everyone from an early age. This summer will be her 9th as a summer camper. Reagan someday hopes to be on summer staff. “My mom did it and it would get me out of the house for the summer.” Reagan feels like she is a much more patient person as a result of Pecometh. She enjoys meeting new people that she would not have the experience of knowing if it were not for Pecometh.

In 2011, the Riverview Retreat Center was opened on the site of the original Family Campground. The same Family Campground Mary’s parents, The Hagemann’s camped at for all those years. Often found at the RRC is Mary’s husband, Rick Browne, serving as a guest host. “Rick loves being a guest host. He likes being helpful and even more he likes being at Camp.” Mary went on to share how Rick is learning American Sign Language in part because of his work as a guest host when a deaf group visits the property. Another member of the Hagemann/Browne family legacy loving, enjoying and serving at Pecometh. 

Topics: Camp, Camp Staff Alumni, Retreats