Phil and Marsha Hurt came to DeSoto full-time in the fall of 1987, but neither was new to summer camping: Phil spent six summers working at Alpine Camp for Boys, and Marsha spent four summers working at Camp DeSoto in the late 70s and early 80s. During that same time, Phil and Marsha met at Mississippi State University, were married, went to seminary together, and began their family. In 1987, Phil and Marsha made their home in Mentone to work for then-director and personal mentor Sue Henry. Since Sue’s retirement in 1995, Phil and Marsha have co-directed Camp DeSoto with deep joy and strong vision.
Phil and Marsha are the parents of three now-grown children: Peter, Stuart, and Sarah. As both parents and Camp Directors, they seek to enjoy and nurture children, helping them discover their true selves. Watching generations of girls grow up at Camp DeSoto and seeing God’s love transform lives is a privilege they feel deeply grateful for.
Phil is the grill-master on Sunday nights and the life of every party. He loves riding horses, after-supper Ultimate Frisbee games on the playfield, and most of all he loves getting to know girls by asking them questions and listening closely to their answers. Phil can make anything fun, and he knows the importance of taking girls seriously.
Marsha loves the magic and wonder of Camp, for little girls and for herself. She is attuned to the spiritual needs of the community, and she knows how to nurture and care for both campers and staff. She’s the best story-book reader, hangs twinkle lights at every party, and encourages girls to discover God in the night sky, the crickets’ songs, and in each other.
"My husband and I cannot express how truly grateful we are for Camp DeSoto. Our daughter attended Camp DeSoto for the first time this past summer. Your camp made her grow in more ways than we could every imagine. You guys are all she talks about and she cannot wait to come back next summer. It is truly wonderful to see the sparkle in her eye when she talks about the wonderful memories of her camp experience."
Sarah Hurt is Phil and Marsha’s youngest child. Sarah was born the same year the Hurts moved to Camp DeSoto, and she was a camper for nine summers and a counselor for four. She graduated from Wake Forest University in 2010 with a degree in English Literature and has been on full-time staff at Camp ever since. She became the Assistant Director in 2015.
From her own experience as a camper, Sarah knows how formative Camp DeSoto summers can be in a girl’s life. Getting to share God’s love with girls, and encourage Staff to do the same, is at the heart of why she feels called to continue the work of bringing Camp to life for girls each summer.
Sarah loves giving girls the same things camp gave her — fun adventures, great friends, and a deep-seated confidence in God’s love. She loves Special Events, overnight camping trips, and singing in the Dining Hall after Sunday lunch. Her favorite sound at Camp is when Juniors sing the last round of “Love the Lord Your God,” and her favorite Assembly Dance is “Shake Yourself Loose.”