Author Archive

Success by Vision or Trial? Guidance by Serendipity or Divinity?

Prior to the winter of 2007, the mother of a teen camper asked if we could host a reunion of sorts during the winter for the teen campers. That year Polar Bear Snow Camp for 14-18 yr olds was replaced with a 24 hour teen reunion. It was a hit! Since then the teen reunion has evolved into three 24 hour gatherings for teens to come back, reconnect, relax at camp and discuss relevant life topics. We call these events Connect.

And even more recently, we started inviting/ asking/begging our teens to come join us for work days, the Annual Auction and anything else we can use their help with. Connects plus volunteerism plus the BBC Internship program in the summer has led to a handful of our recent teen campers joining the summer staff. Voila! We have stumbled into what we were hoping for: a way to connect on a deeper level with campers year-round. Was this mother’s request in 2007 serendipitous or guided? Yes. Was her desire and her child’s and ours God-given or simple luck? Yes. Is it more possible to carry out the Great Commission (one of our main goals at camp) through an intense experience or ongoing relationship? Yes.

And this ongoing interest in more camp throughout the year is one of several significant reasons it’s time to rebuild the pavilion.

Cheeks & Tuna

Comments from Connect Campers

“The best part is being with friends and learning about God and love” Angie

“The best part was hanging out with friends and going somewhere you feel apart from the rest of the world” Tori

“It’s fun to express your religion and talk about it with other people with- out feeling ridiculed or anything of the sort. It’s also great because every year I meet new people and get new friends and great memories.” Miquela

“I love relaxing, playing games, meeting new people and seeing old friends. It’s the best place to be!” Taylor

“What is NOT good about it? I love the milk challenge, games, seeing friends etc.” Max

“It’s rambunctiously full of Jesus.” Becca

 

In Memory of Joan Landis Alderfer

Archbold, Ohio: Joan Landis Alderfer, (September 1, 1940 – March 18, 2011) age 70, of Archbold and formerly of Woodstock, Vermont, passed away Friday, March 18, 2011 in her home. Prior to her retirement she had worked as a pri- vate duty Registered Nurse. She also volunteered at 10,000 Villag- es in Archbold. She thoroughly enjoyed her grandchildren who called her “Oma”, and she also enjoyed trips to the Jersey shore, gardening, music, reading and birds.

The family requests that in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions be given to Bethany Birches Camp, 2610 Lynds Hill Road, Plymouth, Vermont 05056, where Joan and the children had been involved since the early stages of the camp as volunteers, workers, and also as campers.

This text was taken from her obituary at meaningful funerals (meaningfulfunerals.net).

Thanks to each of you who have honored Joan in your giving. She and her family have been involved here for many years and her grandchildren still come to camp here – all the way from Ohio! You may still give in honor of Joan on our website (www.bethanybirches.org/give-now) or by sending a check and including a note in the memo.

Dapper Dan on The Camp Experience

It’s hard to find real people.  People who will be open enough to expose their real thoughts and feelings, and safe enough to listen to yours.  I’ve had a lot of friends, and I would have a lot of fun with them … but fun is just one aspect of life, and often times I would leave craving something more.  Something deeper.

What I loved most about camp was that it wasn’t just a place for fun, but a place to be real.  I was able to hang out with people who would do crazy, awesome, fun things, and then turn around and have a serious, deep conversation.  I was able to share and listen as we opened up and exposed what we really thought and felt, who we really were.  And connecting at a level like that, just made the fun times so much more amazing!

My prayer for this summer is that camp would once again be a safe place for people to come and be real.  That both the staff and kids would be open to sharing and listening, and that through it all they would help each other grow.  Grow closer to each other, closer to God, and closer to the wonderful person God created them to be.

And of course to have a lot of fun along the way!

Dapper Dan

New Arts and Crafts Program

Thanks to one Beth Horst, we are doing a bunch of new arts and crafts activities this summer.  She has much skill in this area and managed to put together a set of new activities for us.

Pictured is Cheeks holding the book and a sample necklace.

Thanks so much, Beth and family, for this great gift!

This brings me to another point. Mike, her husband, recently bought us a set of GPS devices that we’ll use to introduce Geocaching this year!  And don’t even get me started on the map that Mike has created for us.  So sweet!

Thanks to the Horst family (Mike & Beth) for continuing a long tradition of Kingdom building at Bethany Birches which Mike’s dad, Earl started when he came with a bunch of relatives that we refer to as the Musser Woodcutters.

God will provide.  Sometimes God’s providence has nothing to do with our desires and that confuses us.  How can a father turn away his hungry child when his child asks for bread? And you reply by asking, what about all those starving children in Africa?  That brings us to the Bread of Life.  And sometimes, the bread that we have been charged to offer our brothers and sisters in Africa is different from the bread God is offering to all.

Tuna

Counselor Skittles coming back for 2011

I am super excited for camp this summer!!! It is such a blessing for me to be able to come back and see all the
wonderful campers, staff, and others that I met last year AND to establish even more friendships this year!  I hope everyone else is just as excited and enthusiastic to come back as well.

Bethany Birches is such a wonderful place to learn about God and Jesus, build and strengthen relationships with others, and to have an awesome time!  There were so many amazing memories from last year that stick out to me.  Some of my favorites are the deep conversations I had with others about God and Jesus.  I have also enjoyed the fun memories of laughing and rolling around in the grass with my campers with not a concern on my mind. I was truly at peace and full of joy.  I can tell that God is very present at Bethany Birches.  I look forward to continuing to learn about Him alongside the fantastic people who come to Bethany Birches!

How can one not be excited about crawling in mud, running in the grass, crouching in the woods in the dark, dancing at fireside, splashing in the water, and laughing with friends?!  I hope each and every person that reads this can come to camp this summer (adults too).  It is such a astonishing experience for me and I hope that you can share that with me this coming summer!  May God be with you this summer and always.

Skittles :]

Counselor Bobbi coming back for 2011

So last summer I landed a job at this really cool place that grew to become my home for 8 weeks.  Even on a hundred acres of beauty, it didn’t take long to become familiar with the layout.  I traversed creeks and hills and did nature scavenger hunts and slept out in a tree-house and swam in a pond and played in a mud pit.  I slept safely in a shelter with the sounds of crickets lulling me to sleep every night.  And I got to know some wonderful people who would become like family to me.  New kids would come every week – each one of them bringing something special to the group of girls I was responsible for having fun with (not usually a hard task).  We laughed together, cried together, smeared paint and shaving cream on each other and washed paint and shaving cream OFF of each other, swam in the pond together, cooked meals over the fire together, and got to know other groups of kids together.

Bobbi PictureBut you know what the coolest thing is about this place I worked at?  Jesus is there.  Now I know Jesus is everywhere and that’s one of the things I love most about Him.  But Jesus is very present, active, and moving at this place.  I could see Him in the activities we did.  I could see Him in the smiles of the kids as they accomplished things they did not know they were capable of.  I could see Him in the learning that took place.  I could see Jesus every day in a thousand different ways.  And that is what made this place so alive and inviting and fun!  We serve an awesome God and when we worship Him together, well, a summer can’t get much better than that!

Welcome to Bethany Birches Camp!  Get ready to join the fun!

Bobbi

Many Fall Away From Church

I was out to dinner last night with some friends.  We were discussing, in part, a book by Author and Pastor Rob Bell. It’s called Love Wins. In it, he argues that God is indeed love and that we often fail to understand the expansiveness of that love. He looks at the Bible as a whole and discovers that our ideas of Heaven and Hell in American Christianity aren’t exactly a picture that the Scriptures paint.  As we talked, it seemed that each of us who grew up in the church had a significant falling away from Christianity at some point in our lives. More than half at the table are currently distant from Christianity. We all very much appreciate Jesus and uphold his teachings.  But, some of us haven’t found a deep connection to the religious tradition that followed the death of The Christ.  Here’s an excerpt from a blog post from Christian Camp and Conference Association on this very topic:

http://cccapresident.wordpress.com/2011/05/06/fostering-sticky-faith/

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“…First, Kara mentioned that in her research with 500 teens, the kids were asked to define Christianity. One in three youth did not mention Jesus in their definitions – and these were church kids who were active in youth groups across the country.

Kara also mentioned that in her studies, 40 percent of committed Christian high school kids walked away from their faith in their first year of college. The number struck home when Kara said something like: “So picture five great high school kids you know right now; then draw a red ‘X’ through two of them, because they are not going to hold onto their faith as they go through college.”

Why is that? One of the reasons Kara and her team believe kids walk away from their faith is that it isn’t deep, isn’t “sticky.”

She talked about Dallas Willard’s concept of a “Gospel of sin management” that replaces a real, vibrant relationship with Jesus, and instead presenting a list of do’s and don’ts, because that’s the easiest thing for parents and youth leaders to identify, to discuss and teach….”

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Our mission is to help youth develop their relationship with God. This is a larger commitment than one week of summer camp. That’s the main reason we’re developing winter program.  As we, the community of BBC, gather more, it becomes more possible to encourage each other along this road of following Jesus.  Two of the key items we pack in our bags along this road is honesty and openness.  I believe kids veer away from the church because they aren’t encouraged to express their views and share what they’re learning.  When they do, they are sometimes met with answers rather than a listening ear and a desire to understand.

Here’s to trusting in a God that will honor our questions and concerns and use them to draw us nearer to himself.

Brandon

Facebook Landing Page Video for Bethany Birches Camp

Well this is just silly (the video, I mean). But it says something, right?

This video (below) will be live on our Facebook Landing page this week. If you haven’t been to our page, you can see it here. You don’t even need to be a Facebook user.

The goal of the video is to quickly show new visitors a bit of camp. The hoped for result is that they would be interested enough to learn more. Do you think this does those three things?

– Tuna