It all started with two brothers from Fort Lauderdale by the name of Fisher.
The older, Pete, was shorter and wore thick-framed glasses wherever he went.
The younger, Paul, was taller with black hair as dark as the Carolina night sky.
Both were musically inclined, both were state champion swimmers at Pinecrest Preparatory School, both went on to enjoy successful careers as lawyers. And for several years, in the 1960’s and early ‘70’s, both spent the dog days of summer at Camp Highlander - which is where our story truly begins.
As best we can guess (and we are open for correction!) it was summer in the late 1960s (perhaps 1968 or ‘69) and Camp Highlander was still located on our first mountain in Highlands, NC. Color War was drawing to a close and, in keeping with our longstanding tradition, both teams were required to write and perform an all-new alma mater.
And that’s where the Fisher brothers come in.
Pete, the composer, carefully selected and arranged each chord as he strummed away on his guitar all afternoon, his talent echoing across the mountainside.
Paul, the lyricist, skillfully penned each line, weaving together imagery, emotion, and personal experience like a seamstress with fine thread.
When the work was complete, both musician and singer stood before all of camp and performed, for the very first time, a simple song that would slowly become an irreplaceable audible legacy.
But the song wasn’t a camp sensation overnight. Like most good things in life, it took time to sink into the hearts of each and every person who has ever called Camp Highlander their home.
You see, in addition to pioneering the Highlander Adventure Wilderness Kamp (or HAWK), which was, essentially, an extreme wilderness program complete with challenging events like four-day off-camp overnight trips, Pete and Paul led campfire each week.
Naturally, like most talented musicians, the Fisher brothers sprinkled in several of their own songs while covering some of the more traditional campfire hits of the day. And, chief among those original tunes, was ‘More To This Mountain’, which they began singing to close out each weekly campfire.
Over the next several years, the song was occasionally used to close out other EPs as well, especially ones that required campers to put themselves out there (like Talent Show) because it was a tremendously uplifting song that brought everyone together as one camp. Then, in 1974, when Gaynell Tinsley took on a more prominent leadership role, he decided camp songs/cheers should not be used during Color War. And thus the song, officially designated for campwide use only, became a campfire staple - to be sung nearly every week of every summer for the next four decades (and counting!)
And isn’t that the very spirit of tradition? Like a tree, a seemingly small seed is planted, shallow roots begin to grow, and bit by bit, inch by inch, year by year, it slowly transforms into something larger until it becomes an integral part of the environment which created it.
The song itself was no exception. Though it now pulls at the heartstrings of every Highlander camper, counselor and alumni, it was once nothing more than a new tune sung by two brothers from Fort Lauderdale. As it turns out, there’s also more to this song than the eye can see … and it, too, belongs to you and me.