Author Archive

Auction Items Spotlight

It’s almost time for the annual benefit auction.  I am excited!  Why?  It’s so fun!  Even better, there are so many great people and lots of great food!  Sandy, the auctioneer is a great entertainer (and will convince you that you need to keep bidding… which is good for the kiddos who benefit from your bidding).

In my excitement for the food and people and fun, I forgot about all the cool stuff you could win!  Each year in the week or two leading up to the auction we highlight some of the items just to give a sense of some of the cool stuff on offer.   As usual, there are a handful of services you can purchase.  You can give to benefit campers and in return, get your house clean, go on a date and leave the kids at home or host an upscale party complete with professional cellist, wine and cheese.

The house cleaning was donated by Goldcoast House Cleaning.  Owner of Goldcoast and camper mom Sarah, will send her lovely staff to your residence or vacation home if it’s near Bridgewater, VT.  She will include cleaning basket of natural sponges, clothe essential lemon oil, and a bottle of Thieves Cleaner for you to do your own cleaning next time.  You can visit Goldcoast’s website and learn about the specific cleaning they will do for you or place a bid online here using code GOLDHC.

Bethany Birches’ very own program director, Courtney “Wonder Woman” Hollingsworth is providing a date night in Woodstock.  Speaking from experience, I have seen her educate, have fun with, and take great care of young people of all ages.  This item not only includes 6 hours of her time but it also includes a gift certificate to the Woodstock Inn’s restaurants and movie tickets to the Town Hall Theater.  She’ll drive up to 45 minutes from Woodstock.  Visit this listing or place a bid online here using code DATENI.

Last and certainly not least is the opportunity to enjoy an intimate evening with friends as you listen to a private recital of a seminal piece of the cello repertoire, Bach’s Solo Suite for Cello no 1 in G Major. Wine and cheese will beprovided to further your enjoyment of the evening. Location of your choosing within 30 miles of Hartford, VT.  Visit this listing or place a bid online here using code BACHWI.

New Program Director Hired!

Greetings Friends, a little while back I announced that Dan “Chick” Laubach was moving on from Bethany Birches at the end of August.

We launched a search in March and received 27 applications by the time we closed the application period this summer.  After extending an offer to an applicant and receiving a “no” from him, I opened a discussion with a friend familiar to Bethany Birches.  We call her Wonder Woman.  Outside of camp she is known as Courtney Hollingsworth.  She has volunteered as Camp Shepherd, Day Camp Manager, and Kitchen Aid, among other things.  She’s filled with energy and love and was looking to get back into ministry of some kind after supervising the front office at the Woodstock Inn.  Prior to that she was in seminary and before that she was a director of high school youth ministry at her home church in CA.

The only agreement we have come to at this time is that she will be full time through next summer.  Her and I will consider her fit after she’s been here a few months and see if we would like to arrange a longer tenure or not.

She has already begun!  She has an email address (courtney@bethanybirches.org). Feel free to reach out to her and introduce yourself.  She is currently working from a distance lightly and will start here at camp on the 27th of Aug and overlap with Chick for a week and then take the reigns.

Courtney/Wonder Woman with a baby sea turtle

Thanks to each of you who have been involved with the camp and have helped to cause our ongoing success.  Please welcome Wonder Woman warmly.  I hope you’ll come out to camp soon if you haven’t been recently.  Next option to be here is the Benefit Auction September 29.

Brandon “Tuna” Bergey

Reflections

Below is a guest blog post written by Will “Creek” Williams, the shepherd during the first week of camp this summer. Creek has been coming to camp for a number of summers now and had some really incredible messages to share with the campers as well as some great response from the campers. I asked him to share about one message in particular that received a wonderful response from the campers.

Chick

———-

One of the hardest things in youth ministry is coming across youth who feel like no one cares for them or loves them.  Often times it can be the youth that you would least expect to have these feelings.  Self-worth is something that we find in three places – we find it in ourselves, we find it from the positive affirmations from our friends, family and community, and ultimately we find it from God.  As our youth continue to grow physically, mentally and spiritually, we as a Christian community need to find ways to build our youth up in ways that will help them find their self-worth by showing them what God’s love is truly all about.

One example of this is through a shepherding experience I had at Bethany Birches camp.  Late in June 2018, my family took a week to go up and serve at camp.  My eleven year old son and my six year old daughter were campers and my wife served in various roles throughout the week.  I was asked if I could be the “Shepherd” with my background in youth ministry and having previously served at the camp.  Immediately I jumped at this opportunity as it is my passion to serve in various roles in camp ministry and share in the community experience that Bethany Birches provides.

On Tuesday night that week at the evening devotional, “Fireside”, I wanted the youth that were attending to understand what it meant to be made in the image of God and to see what self-worth is supposed to be through God’s eyes.  With the theme of the week being water, I thought it would be a cool idea for us to spend time at the pond and look at our reflections.  Looking at your reflection can be a simple exercise of seeing your own face or it can be an eye-opening opportunity to see just how much God loves us and how we are created in a unique and special way.

Most people when they look at their reflection are looking to see the negatives that are staring back at them.  Even if it is used as an attempt to fix their hair, makeup, shave or wash up, it is to remove any blemishes that they may have.  That is only on the surface.  Some people, when they look closer, see negatives that are much worse and can be very damaging.  Youth and adults alike can see things that other people never see and never hear from that person.  Things such as “I am not pretty enough”, “People don’t like me”, “I am being bullied and no one even cares”, “No one loves me”, “My family hates me” and the list can go on and on.  I have heard youth speak these words when looking at their reflections and I wanted to find a way to turn it around.

My challenge to the campers was to find one good quality that they could see in themselves.  Once they found it, I asked them to go to a picnic table or spot around the pond to share that quality with their cabin.  This is a great way for the youth to begin to see that God has planted something inside of them and that they just need to take the time to find it.  Then I wanted the other campers to affirm and share a quality that they see in that person to help build them up.  So thoughts could turn from “I am not pretty enough” or “I am not good enough” to hearing other people share that they are beautiful, that they are kind, that they are helpful, that they are awesome and that they are a part of a community that loves them.  Hearing the counselors join in to affirm and lift up each of their campers allowed the reflections that were seen by each individual to be fully realized by seeing the true image of God the way that it was intended to be seen – one of hope, one of love and one of a positive self-worth.  We need that in today’s world and it was amazing to see God working in that way.

Maybe it is time that we all sat around a picnic table, thought about the good things that God has blessed our lives with while surrounding ourselves with people that will be there to lift us up and love us when we need it most.  If we can find a community to do that, then we will begin to fully realize the image of God as it was truly meant to be.  At Bethany Birches Camp, we intend to shaping the lives of the young people and the community we serve to fully see the person God made. I pray this will happen ongoing for generations to come!

Shamu reports from India

Counselor Shamu is back for another round!  He checked in a few weeks ago from India. He’s tired and thankfully, will have time to rest up before summer camp.

Prom: a fun evening!

We were very glad to host the Woodstock Union High School Prom here at camp last weekend.  Thanks to you juniors and planning committee for selecting Bethany Birches.  We hope to see you back again next year!

Check out some of the pictures here from the Vermont Standard.

Brandon “Tuna” Bergey

p.s. a big congrats to Margo Marrone on her recent retirement.  We were also very for her party to be hosted here at camp this past weekend.

Work Day Cancelled

Friends – it pains me to make a call based on the weather around here.  As they say, if you don’t like the weather in Vermont, wait 5 minutes. But still, we’re cancelling the work day tomorrow.  Often within 24 hours forecasts are fairly accurate (that’s why we waited until this afternoon to cancel).  We value our volunteers’ time and so here’s what I’m going to propose – you think about a time that works well for you.  Saturday.  Wednesday morning.  Whatever it is.  You let us know and you can come work on any of these projects:

  • Bathhouse floor painting
  • Boiler shed siding
  • Replace the bathhouse walkway
  • Putting in the water trampoline
  • Cutting trees for the new fireside
  • Woodcutting (we plan to hook up the wood boiler to the cabin this year and need a little more wood!)

Contact me in the office at 802-672-5220 or Amber by email amber@bethanybirches.org

Hope to see you up here soon!

Brandon “Tuna” Bergey

Wood Boiler Update

The boiler has been running for a few months now and it can heat (we have burned 6 cords which is all we set aside for this winter)!  These two video updates from Tuna demonstrate the latest.  Summary: the boiler can heat the cabin in addition to the pavilion (if we burn lots of wood).

Two months later, test # 2. Not only can it heat multiple buildings, it doesn’t burn as much wood after some programming changes!

You can see the photo/video album of the project here: https://www.icloud.com/sharedalbum/#B0f5n8hH4GTJMha

Program Director Application Period is Open!

That’s right folks.  This is your chance to apply for your dream job.  Being the Program Director at BBC is perhaps one of the most fun (and most challenging) jobs out there.  Just think – it could be your job to run (or delegate) Wet and Wild Wednesday.  It could be your job to run (or delegate) the annual cardboard sled and boat races.  I mean, how awesome is that?  Not to mention recruiting and training staff, budgeting, performance reviews… oh wait, those perhaps are not the most fun parts.

Seriously though, if you have any interest, apply now!  I hope to select the next BBC Program Director by June 1 of this year.  That gives you a month and a half to finish your application and tidy up your resume. Start here: http://www.bethanybirches.org/pd

And if you’re not going to apply, would you pray for the process?  Pray that God nudges an ideal fit this direction and that we have the wisdom to see that person when they show up.

Brandon “Tuna” Bergey

Executive Director

Program Director transition: you will be missed Chick!

Why do all good things come to an end?  So that new good things can begin!

Dan “Chick” Laubach has served as program director since May 2015. He has decided to finish his service at Bethany Birches effective the end of August 2018. He has made important contributions (and will continue to this year… and he evens plans to volunteer beyond this year).  While he was program director, summer and winter registrations were opened earlier than ever.  I believe that has contributed to the ongoing increase in attendance (in fact, half of programs offered in a calendar year have waiting lists… we’re expecting even more waiting lists this year).  Chick has also contributed to a professionalism in the office.  He has helped to upgrade policies and procedures and has sharpened some of our marketing and communications plans.

I very much appreciate the amount of time he has allowed us for making the transition.  He is going to continue managing the program throughout this winter and summer.  He will depart at the end of summer 2018.  If a replacement is found in time, I would consider him/her starting as soon as May 2018 for maximum transfer of knowledge, ideas, practices etc.  However, if an ideal fit is found, we would start them whenever works best for them.  The search for a new program director will begin shortly.  We have some backend work to do to clarify the type of person we’re looking for and finalize some details.  In the mean time, if you or someone you know has interest, please do reach out to me.  Call the office, email or even text if you have my number.

We give Chick a big round of applause and wish him the very best in his future endeavors.  Most importantly, may you be guided by God’s spirit and at peace into the unknown.  Thanks for your service and can’t wait to see you back here as a volunteer.

Brandon “Tuna” Bergey

God in growth

Greetings this Thanksgiving holiday!  I am thankful for you and for all the ways God prompts people to engage at camp. I am thankful for the ways God can be seen here.  One way I’ve seen God this past year is in the ongoing growth at camp.  Allow me to give a handful of examples.

Our program director, Chick, continues to grow and learn and seems to not weary of the learning process.  This is a great model for all of us to push through the challenges that come with the learning process.

I am experiencing similar growth. As camp grows I am stretched to get better at strategic and future thinking. 1 Cor. 13 comes to mind, that famous passage about love. Picking up at vs. 8 “Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.  13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”  This is relevant to me right now.  I am growing up, yes.  I am also increasingly aware of the need for love.  Over doing a good job. Over getting it right. Over everything.

On the topic of growth, this summer was the most attended in our 53 year history.  I chalk this up to the movement of God’s spirit in three people, among others.

Jane Glick, school nurse at Rochester who asked the school board to promote the camp among all the students.  After getting their permission, we offered BBC’s tiered pricing as well as additional subsidy from Taftsville Chapel. Over 30 new campers attended camp this past summer through her efforts.

A second woman named Beth Ann Maier, leader of Camp Agape (CA), made a way to send CA campers too old for the CA program to the BBC sessions that would be age appropriate. That accounted for 30 additional attendees.

A third person contributing to the attendance growth this summer is a young camper named Nick. He hosted his birthday party at camp in January.  Facebook ignited after we posted a video of the party and 20 registrations were received the three days after the posting of that video.

It’s partners and champions like this that fill camp with people.  I believe each of these three are responding to inner promptings they experience from God.  To be clear, I am not trying to promote a type of prosperity gospel, but rather an image of a God who longs for our presence and desires each of us to be in tune with Himself.

Join me in sitting still for a moment this holiday.  Consider meditating on how God might be prompting you.

Brandon “Tuna” Bergey

Executive Director