Author Archive

Living Water

Thanks to Erin “Tye Dye” Dye for this guest post.  Tye Die is the camp shepherd this summer:

Thursday evenings this summer have been an opportunity for holy moments. Counselors have gotten to know their campers really well by the 5th night, campers submerse in good vibes from the week and excitement to go home, and for our worship times, this evening is a chance to have an “a ha” moment with the theme and how it relates to their own lives. During our Thursdays the last four weeks, we have looked the story of the woman at the well and her unexpected conversation with Jesus. When Jesus offers her living water, he shows us that he cares for everyone, even the unlikely people (a woman frowned upon by society as well as a Samaritan). As refreshing as the idea of living water sounds, this is an abstract concept of cleansing aspects of ourselves that we can’t pinpoint or see. In efforts to visualize the invisible, campers and staff participated in a demonstration to see the implications of receiving Jesus’s living water. Participants had an opportunity to pour something into a communal cup of water to make it cloudy (ketchup, mustard, pepper, etc.), and share something that personally clouds or weighs down their own spirits. Then as a group we enjoyed the visual of pouring overwhelming amounts of clean water (representing Jesus’ living water), flooding the cup and pushing out all the junk that we put in and that weighs us down, leaving us refreshed and free of burden. Campers consistently reported enjoyment of this activity and deeper appreciation of God’s desire to help us carry and bring relief for our burdens. It’s been a beautiful catalyst moment for the spiritual component of camp.

Campers have shared experiencing God at many different points throughout the summer.  One of those experiences I was fortunate enough to witness as God worked through our high school campers. After one of our small group times, the girls of this particular cabin had heavy hearts over the things they shared and put in the cup during the demonstration. In an effort to put their minds at rest before going to sleep, the cabin counselor opted to pray for each girl of the cabin out loud and proceeded to highlight the delightful characteristics and joys each girl brought to the cabin. At the end of the counselor’s prayer, I had planned to pray similar things for the counselor leading the prayer. However, I never got the chance because the moment she paused one of the campers jumped at the opportunity to pray and pour encouragement on their counselor, and when she finished another camper took a turn to pray for me! This moment was not only pleasant to be prayed for, but more so to witness campers receiving God’s love through our program all week and a strong desire to return the experience. This also meant our campers felt comfortable enough to pray out loud in front of their peers, unprompted, and live out the example Jesus calls us to in encouraging and building one another up in our faith. Although the work of camp is long and challenging at times, it is certainly not without reward!

~ Tye Dye

Summer Camps Almost Full

Summer is under way and we are excited!  Summer 2017 is shaping up to be Bethany Birches’ most attended summer in our 53 year history.  You can see the current capacity of camp that remains open and which sessions are full on the 427 page.  If you see a session you’d like to attend and see that it’s full, it may be worthwhile putting your child on the waitlist (as cancellations do happen).  To do that, just sign up like you normally would.

To those of you who helped spread the word about Bethany Birches Camp and our rustic, relationship and skills developing, faith-building camp program, thank you!  Please continue to share with your friends all that Bethany Birches has to offer: from unique and awesome summer and winter camp programs to weddings and other facility rentals.  It takes a village to raise a child and we need all of you to help in that work. If you’re reading this and don’t have children camp age and don’t have use for the facility, consider sponsoring a camper this summer.  Give to the Kids to Camp fund or join us at the annual benefit auction to make it happen.

Pray with me that this summer will be like all the others before it – that God’s presence will be experienced and that each person will be filled with God’s love, mercy, hope and joy.  Come see for yourself as a volunteer.

Brandon “Tuna” Bergey

Bob Walks For the Pavilion Project: Central Market and Pavi History

For the past few months of my Bethany Birches Camp (BBC) WALK, my footprints have trod 20-25 miles of sidewalks in the City of Lancaster, PA, population 59,000.  I chose to walk in an environment different from the countryside, suburbia, and township parks I was familiar with.  The walk concentrated on 110 acres of Downtown Lancaster 1/4th mile N-S-E-W outward from City Square, the Center of Downtown Lancaster.  The Square provides resources of banking, food service, a 297 room hotel, and perhaps the most known and visited icon, the Lancaster Central Market, tucked into the N.W. corner of The Square.  This Square is surrounded by Queen, King, Duke, and Prince Streets, whose names bear the influence of Old English Royalty.  This historical market established in 1889 is visited annually by thousands of locals and tourists, even though it is located in a small corner of The Square.  The Central Market is the magnetic force which attracts so many people nationally and internationally, to mingle with friends and visitors, and taste the vendors’ best of food fare, including shoofly pies.

One day I stopped off at The Central Market on my WALK and visited with patrons seated at a table.  In less than an hour’s time, three of us learned that each was a walker; one, along with her friend, had walked 5 miles together to the market, known to them as a common place of meeting, to strengthen their friendship, and the two of them learned about Bethany Birches Camp for Children in Vermont.  We wished each other well in our individual WALKING lives.  What a nice memory!

My intentional WALK experience Downtown found me reviewing 50+ years of footprints at Bethany Birches Camp located on 100 acres tucked into a small mountain top beside Lynds Hill Road in Plymouth, Vermont.  It was begun in 1965.  BBC is by now experiencing an adolescence of growing and developing an exciting camp program which is meeting the needs of a growing number of children, youth, and families, many of whom lack a significant church family life.  The establishment of BBC was not influenced by Old English Royalty but by newly immigrated residents, a married couple from Pennsylvania who invested in land.  Their hope was to establish a camp which would help youth and children develop a relationship with God.  The Camp “square” is the Pavilion (PAVI) which contains the main support services of the camp and from which many activities flow.  The PAVI is not surrounded by streets influenced by banking and commercial influences, but by trees, mountains, and open skies.  It provides a view of mountain ranges for a distance of 4 to 5 miles (quite unthinkable for market-goers gazing anywhere within 1/4th mile of Lancaster city square). Rainy weather, though not necessarily welcome, is managed well since the open side of the PAVI can be quickly enclosed with solidly constructed curtains and storm doors; so most activities can continue rain or shine.  From the PAVI, a road extends into the woodland which leads to five cabins for girls on one side, and five cabins for boys on the other.  Each cabin bears the name of a bird, not inspired by Old English Royalty, but by the fact that the “ten birds” are at home in the mountain top.  The camp is blessed with resources such as; a caring Christian Director and Administration, trained counselors, pastor, swimming pool, nature trails, Bible and nature classes, and most importantly, the prayers and support of committed board members as well as many financial supporters.

Central Market in Downtown Lancaster, PA, has a 125 year history of providing experiences for people who can satisfy their food tastes, along with meeting new people, and renewing older and lasting friendships.  They return year after year to experience more of the same.

BBC in Plymouth, VT., has a 52 year history of providing an experience for children and youth to have safe and secure camping activities with new and former friends, and to become acquainted with God who loves them.  And yes, they return year after year for more of the same.  Can you imagine my smile as I tell you my wife Anna Mae and I are planning to spend a week at Bethany Birches Camp this summer?

~ Bob Weaver

Pavi Project Update: Kitchen completion continues

Since the last pavi update more progress has been made!  A faithful supporter gave $9,000 toward kitchen equipment so we bought the convection ovens and slicer. Huge upgrades!  You can see the updated cash and pavilion project punch list below.

Here are the ovens being delivered:

And the ovens in place!

 

And the slicer:

 

And here is the punch list.  You can compare this to the one from a report this past December to see progress made.  Very exciting!

 

Onward toward summer. It’s so close now!

Brandon “Tuna” Bergey

Bob Walks: Tree Houses, A Pine tree and Dementia

My wife Anna Mae and I recently completed a driving trip from Pennsylvania to South Dakota.  We visited our empty-nest daughter Jenelle Miller (a former BBC camper and years later, counselor) and her husband Craig.  This trip allowed me opportunity to exercise “out-of-the-box” activity recently encouraged by my health care specialists for management of my mild dementia.  It is hoped that this type of activity will help my mind to “connect the dots” of my life’s everyday experiences so I can feel better connected.  The challenge of this new dementia-dimension of my life has contributed considerably to my decision to begin my BBC WALK.

During this 13-day trip, my footprint was left on the roadsides of the 8 states we traveled through.  In our 2,688-mile round trip travels, I noticed the ability, particularly in the Prairie States, to sight single objects at increasing distances away from the eye.  In the final leg of our trip west we were approaching the SW corner boundary of Craig and Jenelle’s farm and we noticed an 80-90 year old scotch pine tree in the distance.  Days later, this corner tree was sighted 2 miles away as I walked westward on the county road.  The tree can also be sighted 3 miles away from east to west. It has marked the Miller farm for four generations, a “connecting dot” for all their family that they are nearing home.  This is experienced by all as change and renewal.

There exists another stalwart tree located in the BBC community.  It is known as the tree house which provides shade for flowers, a perch for the birds, and a resting, out-of-the-ordinary place for campers to which counselors take them for an evening fireside and night sleepover away from the hustle and bustle of daytime camp activities.  The tree house is built at a height where campers can look down on the flowers, and across at the birds; a “connecting dot” for both campers and their environment.

When Anna Mae and I visited the tree house years ago, we wanted to linger for some time.  Just imagine a camp cabin of Warblers and their counselor flocking to the tree house/Nest . . . (new name?)  for a sleepover!  This BBC “point of interest” provides one of many opportunities for children to be introduced to Jesus, a super “coming home”.

– Bob

Visit the fundraising page for Bob’s walk to support BBC.

Acceptance and learning relationships

One of the founding principles of Bethany Birches back in the 60’s was to “provide a camping experience for youth where counselor and camper together can engage in learning relationships which will prepare them for future responsibilities in life.” As you probably know it’s easier to have a learning relationship with someone you trust and respect.  And it’s easier to trust and respect someone who accepts you for who you are.

During staff training we teach the importance of being with campers in the daily routine of camp; Befriending them, learning to know them, accepting them for who they are. I recently heard from a parent about her daughters experience from this past winter.  Her comments warmed my heart and pointed to an effective season of camps.

This young camper is a strong and talented girl.  She’s pretty and smart and her peers like her.  So I was a little surprised to get this email from her mother:

“Thank you all so much for providing such a wonderful place for [my daughter] to feel love and acceptance. She has been struggling at school feeling like an outcast .  She came home with a great outlook on life again and seemed so much happier. It is with tears that I write this.  Thank you, Dana”

I am thankful for caring staff  that can create this kind of experience.  I am thankful for a God that loves us and gave us examples of love and acceptance. Pray for us as we strive to mirror this blessing and pray that each camper will grow in their confidence and strength as they learn to see God through us.

Brandon “Tuna” Bergey

Waiting Lists at Winter Camps!

This past winter has been interesting weather-wise.  Another interesting trend is the uptick in attendance for winter programs.  For the three overnight programs we saw 168 camper days which is 95% of total capacity.  On top of this, there were waiting lists for all three sessions!

As many of you know, winter is so busy for many families in central VT.  We continue to believe that what we’re doing at winter camps is unique and special and that almost all campers would choose it over other activities once they realize how fun and meaningful the weekends are.  It makes mission accomplishment possible if a camper can be here at least once in the summer, once in the winter and one or two other times between.

We are deeply indebted to the many staff and volunteers that make these weekends possible.  Gigi, a college student and long time BBC-er came to be Assistant Program Director three weekends in a row.  A group from PA drove 7 hours each way to help run one of the weekends.  Lots of other staff and volunteers sacrificed rest and relaxation to make winter camp all that it was.

Plan now to join us next year for one of the fun-filled, faith-building weekends as a camper or volunteer in the #BBCsnowGlobe.

Till then,

Brandon “Tuna” Bergey

Backcountry Ski Experience!

Finishing The Pavilion One Step At A Time

This past summer a camp supporter, Yogi, noted that the kitchen was not near complete. He asked me what one of the next steps was to finish it.  A week later, a friend of his and camp supporter, Mark, asked him what else was needed at camp on the pavilion project.  Yogi told him quite simply, a stainless steel table.  This wasn’t just any table, as you’ll see in the photos below.  It took design and special manufacturing and would be expensive!  The table was envisioned especially to help with the famous BBC fire side cooking.  This table is the backbone of the crate packing and storage process.

To make a long story short, Mark mentioned the mini project to one of his friends Wil. Together they paid for the table and got the project under way.  Today, during Lynx Winter Camp, the good folks over at Steiger Supply North dropped the table off and helped to set it in place.  Campers even pitched in to peel off the annoying protective tape.

For me, this web of people making this small project happen in cooperation and team work is a vision of the community of God.

Brandon “Tuna” Bergey

 

Mission Success

It is challenging to gauge success when trying to accomplish a mission like Bethany Birches’.  We do some surveys after summer and winter seasons to see how we did in a couple different areas.  I just LOVE what came from the surveys this past summer.

33% of survey respondents (parents) rated their child’s experience a 10 or “the best time imaginable.”  33% more rated their child’s experience as a 9. And 24% an 8. Half of all survey respondents said their children “seem more loving or kind” after their week at camp. As I read through survey’s from camper parents post summer I saw this report from a mother about her two campers:

“They both came home singing great pre-dinner songs like, “thank you God, for giving us food!!!!” We loved learning these songs and still sing them before meals! They also learned about how to be a good friend, and how to work well with others. They learned how to do their own dishes which made me very happy!”

I think that part of the reason most campers loved it here last summer (ratings of 8, 9, 10) is because they felt loved, accepted and cared for (fun, great people and great activities didn’t hurt either!).  “Proof” that we are creating the type of atmosphere required to accomplish our mission.  I also take great encouragement knowing that half of the parents surveyed said their children “seem more loving or kind.”  This reminds me of Jesus’ teaching to love God and to love people.  We must become a person filled with God’s love and love for those around us to accomplish this.  If parents are noticing their children becoming “more loving or kind” I bet it’s because what happens at camp is helping people live out this teaching of Jesus and develop a relationship with God.

Mission Success!

Brandon “Tuna” Bergey

Backcountry Ski Experience

Parents. Campers. Donors.  Friends!

Backcountry skiing?  What’s that?  Well,  basically, it’s when you get some skis and go into the mountains and ski… it’s beyond the resort.  It takes human power (your legs) to get yourself up the hill.  And then it takes gravity to get you down.  The going up looks a little like this:

 

 

And my favorite part, going down, looks a little like this:

 

OR THIS:

 

So what’s happening this winter at camp?  We are doing backcountry skiing!  We have some good areas for this.  The hill above the pond (wide open, steep, safe). Nearby hills that are similarly open.  If the snow is fast (i.e. icy), we’ll ski on flatter terrain in a more cross country style.  If the snow is slow (i.e. powder) we’ll go all over the place and make turns!

Your child will learn basics of skiing and attempt telemark turns. They will get plenty of exercise and take skiing to a new level and beyond the resort.

You can sign up for this unique program within our winter camp program when you register for winter camp.  There is no extra charge for backcountry skiing.  Each session is an hour and a half and fit within the normal schedule. Your child will still be able to tube, skate and do all the other good stuff winter camp has to offer.

Hope to see you on the hill,

Brandon “Tuna” Bergey