Author Archive

Cheeks is Pregnant!

Yes, it’s true. Her due date is June 26. We’re posting here to make sure the whole Bethany Birches family knows this exciting news.  This will be our (Tuna and Cheeks) first child.  We were so busy with camp for many years that we didn’t consider children.  One day, Cheeks turns to me (Tuna) and says by the time I’m 30, I want to know if we’re going to have children. I said OK.  30 came and went.  So did 31.  By the time we were 32 we were ready for a child.  And in our 33rd year, we will have a baby, Lord willing.  It’s amazing how God works in our hearts and adjusts our perspectives over time.

As you know, June, July and August are the three busiest months of the year here at camp.  Probably not the ideal time to welcome a new person into the world.  But, we are.  And we are thankful for the opportunity to have a child.  So the camp started looking for an interim program director since Amber will not be able to do her job this summer.  We offered the position to Dan Laubach and he accepted.

The full story on staffing at camp, in case you’re wondering:

  • I (Tuna) will continue to be the Executive Director
  • Cheeks may or may not return to her post as Program Director (she is allowed a little more time to decide that)
  • Dan, the interim Program Director, is committed through October at least.
  • Many of the summer staff are returning from prior years.

If you’re at camp this summer, you will recognize many of us from past summers.  And you might even see baby Tunacheeks!

Hope to see you at camp soon!

Tuna

(aka Brandon)

 

 

Construction Update March 9-27

Construction Update – week of Mar. 9:

Most of the windows are in!  Electrical has begun. Porches are making fast progress.  Staining is happening all week.  The mudroom is being framed.  Many volunteers are in and out and it was great to see 10-15 people on site today including volunteers from Bergey’s Electric and Andy Bird!  Other volunteers this week include Larry Derstine, Roy Schnell, Esther & Ann.

east large porch posts being set

Construction Update – week of Mar. 23:

Electrical rough-in is over half finished. Some foam insulation in the basement area is happening this week. Staining, staining and more staining.  Volunteers continue to be needed on staining and painting.  The mudroom framed and exterior insulation has been added.  After 2 weeks of 10-20 people every day, this week will be slower. Oh, and the big porches.  Doton Design is putting those up as I type.  The biggest posts are 13′ tall and 16″ around at the base.  They look quite fitting next to the 12x16s in the timber frame and the 16″ square steel posts.

Pavi Construction Update Week of Mar. 2:

Weather is getting better!  Today (tues.) being town meeting day meant very few people on site. Happy Birthday to Jerry (of Jenne construction) and a big thanks to Rich Landis and Nanuk for putting a full day in today.

This week brings more heating system work, framing the mudroom, blocking in the walls and the beginning of siding staining.  A big thanks to Fred Schlabach and Paul Derksen for putting in windows yesterday.  Most of the windows are in now which is very exciting.

Volunteer opportunities for the very near future include mudroom framing (skilled), radiant tubing help (un-skilled) and siding staining (un-skilled).  Contact Amber (802-672-5220) to help.

Pavi Construction Update: week of Feb. 23:

VERY cold this week.  This morning was -20.  Needless to say we got a late start.  But not Nanuk.  He was ready to go at 7! He’s from northern VT so -20 is no big deal for him.  He is a camp employee working on the building.

Anyway, this week holds work on the main entry porch. That roof structure will be completed this week. Jenne Construction is finishing the exterior insulation.  Nanuk and Rich Landis are following them with house wrap.  Preparation is being made for siding staining.  Some volunteers will begin staining next week.

Volunteer oportunities for the very near future include window and door setting (skilled), radiant tubing help (un-skilled) and siding staining (un-skilled).  Contact Brandon (802-672-5220) to help.

IMG_7952IMG_7946

Pavi Construction Update: Week of Feb. 16

Plumbing rough-in was almost completed this past week thanks in part to a group of volunteers including Austin Landes (Make It Rain), Ben Leatherman and Jon Studt.  Four others helped (Kyle Nyce, Jim Frankenfield, Eric and Frank Sirianni) to make the trip a success. Today (Feb 16) was so cold that very little work was done other than prepping for the close-in of the main entry porch.

Greg Jenne tries Funny Cake for the first time

Site Supervisor Greg taking a break from the cold to try funny cake for the first time!

 

If weather is decent, that porch structure may be wrapped up this week. The main job for this week is exterior insulation. This will help protect sheathing, give increased R-value and be our main air barrier in the stick frame part of the building.

Volunteer opportunities for the very near future include window and door setting (skilled), radiant tubing help (un-skilled) and siding staining (un-skilled).  Contact Brandon (802-672-5220) to help.  Or sign up here.

Challenges Experienced in Pavi Construction

Greetings all.  I have been somewhat silent lately related to the pavilion project.  I had been hyping it for so long and I was so excited about it… I was always talking about it.  And then we ran into challenges.  And I got a little lost for a time.  And you may not have heard much from me in general nor about the project.  I’d like to use this space to share about some of the challenges we’ve experienced and how things are going now.

Some challenges I’ve experienced as a member of the pavi design team and owner’s representative:

  • Alternative building and contracts model – we received counsel (from a trusted advisor) that money could be saved by utilizing what’s known as an agency approach.  This is different than the General Contractor approach in the sense that the lead contractor receives a fee or salary rather than making their money on markups and changes.  If done well, this provides freedom to alter plans as well as savings.  In our case, it seemed ideal because there are materials donors happy to offer discounts directly to the camp without going through the contractor.  Well, this approach is somewhat new to some on the design team and we are learning.
  • Relationships – human relationships are often one of the most challenging (and rewarding) aspects to anyone’s life.  This has been true in our working relationships as well.
  • Budget – this has perhaps provided the greatest source of stress for me.  Related to the two above challenges, it was a challenge to finish construction documents. Resulting from that was an incomplete understanding of budget.  Resulting from that was a design that was more than we budgeted.  To be clear, the building that has been designed, and is being built, is an awesome building.  It’s exactly what the camp needs to maximize ministry and program.  It’s the building the board wanted and approved.  It’s also more expensive than we wanted it to be (up from the desired $1.4 million to $2 million).
  • Timeline – And almost all of this could have much more easily been overcome if we did not have a tight timeline.  Because the new pavilion was to replace the old in the same exact location and because skipping a summer of camp was not an option, we had only from mid August till the end of May to complete the project.  Doing things fast and well typically costs more than if you can do them slowly and well.  And constructing this building poorly was not an option.

So what are we doing?

We decided to move ahead with the preferred design in the face of budget challenges and look to save in two ways:

  1. Phasing whatever did not have to be completed to use the space for summer 2015
  2. Seeking volunteerism wherever possible

With phasing, volunteerism and a loan of $400,000 we are hoping to complete the building enough to get a certificate of occupancy by the end of May, 2015.  We hope then to finish the building entirely over the following couple years and pay off the loan at the same time.

This is both not what we planned and not uncommon for large building projects (so I’m told).  We knew from the very beginning that a project of this scale would be a great challenge for Bethany Birches Camp.  We knew that using volunteers and keeping a tight budget would add to the challenge.  We even felt at times like it was an impossible project.  And that’s why the name Mission Possible: The Pavilion Project was selected.  It harkens back to something Jesus says in Matthew 19:26: “with God, all things are possible.”  We know this is true and we continue to put our trust in God.

We welcome your gifts of time and money, as God leads. We thank you for your ongoing interest and support of Bethany Birches Camp.   Pray with us that all who use the new pavilion will be blessed and experience God’s love.

Tuna

aka Brandon Bergey

Executive Director

View from the dishpit

Today I was walking around the new pavi.  In part cause I had to do some shoveling in what will become the kitchen.  We still have snow in there from the big storm.  And now that room is getting closed in so we have to get the snow out!  Here is Gary Parker helping to shovel:

Stick Frame - Shoveling out the basement Gary Parker2

It occurred to me as I was shoveling that the folks doing dishes in the new dishpit will have this very view shown above.  How cool!

 

And then I realized that people would climb on the new climbing wall right here:

Stick Frame - Climbing Wall Sheathing

Then I started looking around for other future uses… here’s where campers will go up the stairs to see the nurse!

Stick Frame - looking up through stair well

I got so excited I just had to share this with you.  Speaking of excitement, it’s almost Christmas time.  If you’re still looking for a unique gift for someone, consider buying them a piece of the pavi! Honestly, you can do it right here: bethanybirches.org/shop/. This is the camp’s current wish list.  It will continue to grow.

Wishing you the very best Christmas, full of fun, relaxation and great food!

~ Tuna