Archive for the ‘Donors’ Category

Construction Update – Week of June 8

This week has been stressful! We had an electrical inspection on Monday (passed). Building inspection on Tuesday (allowed access to a couple areas). We are still needing a visit from the health department.  And, on top of that, staff are showing up.  In fact, summer staff orientation starts on Saturday!

In the building lots of progress has happened.  Wall finishes are going on.  Fire alarm has been completed. The kitchen is almost entirely set up (and is now being clean).  Final grading and seeding has happened everywhere. Porch railings are being installed.  The boiler is supposed to come on line Friday.

And yet, there is still lots to do.  Some lighting fixtures have to be installed and there is plenty of finish carpentry to do. And of course after that, the upstairs has to be finished, chimney installed, big garage doors and wood boiler installed, climbing wall built and some other things.  But, we are headed toward completion on phase 1 and that feels good.

Check out the latest photos.

Construction Update – week of May 3:

The week is shaping up to be a great week for pavi progress! Martin Excavating is scheduled to return to begin the final grading so keep your eye out for large machines back on the hill! Bill Derstine, Ralph Leatherman & Rich Leatherman (all of the Southeastern PA area) are joining Harold Bergey and Andy Bird to keep going on the rough wiring and service hook up. Inside the building you’ll also find drywalling in the kitchen continuing by the crew of Jenne Construction and PEW Builders. The large trench you can see off the front right corner of the building is thanks to Dale Snader of Dale’s homes who came up last week to do some digging for the electrical hook up. If the pavi cam could pan the rest of the camp you’d see there is much clean up and work to do before summer which starts in less than 2 months! Can you come help us get ready for summer?

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)

 

 

Pavi Construction Update April 1-30

What a month! The pavi has been transformed from a partly finished shell to an almost summer-ready building…well, parts of it.

Progress could not be made without the help of so many volunteers! People have come from far (PA) and close (Lynds Hill Road) to help get the pavi ready for Summer 2015.

Progress also could not be made without the daily efforts of the Jenne Construction Crew. We’re thankful they braved the mud season & cold spring temps to keep moving the pavilion closer to finished!

Despite all the progress that’s been made during the month of April there remains quite a ways to go! Do you have anytime during the month of May to join us in getting the pavilion ready for summer? Email us or call the office to let us know when you can come. If you can’t come to help in May be sure to join us this summer! Bring a camper or come volunteer!

Read on for a recap of pavi work throughout the last month.  Click the link to see Pavilion Progress Pics and the people who have been doing the work.

Pavi Construction Update week of April 6
Another exciting week at BBC! A group of 13 are here from Salford Mennonite Church (Harleysville, PA). In one day (Tues) they’ve put decking on the porch roofs, started shingling, aided Harold Bergey with the electrical progress in the kitchen and continue to prepare the downstairs for insulation and sheet rock.  The crew of Jenne Construction continues to steadily move the pavilion towards completion. Pray for good roofing weather this week as many hands make the work light!

 

Pavi Construction Update: Week of April 13

There continues to be lots of action on the hill this week to move the pavilion towards a certificate of occupancy by June 1! Inside the building a team of electricians are finishing up the rough wiring and spending time on a lift to prepare the high pavi ceilings for lights. Many thanks to Harold Bergey who’s here for the third straight week and his posse of volunteers: Will Bergey, Marlin Bergey and Neil Bergey from Bergey’s Electric (Hatfield, PA). Andy Bird (Bridgewater, VT) has been volunteering his VT Masters license all week too! Roy Snell (Woodstock, VT) Ken Hershey and Larry Derstine (Bridgewater, VT) have spent 2 days shingling and siding. Nancy and Russell Pejouhy and Jeremy Ebersole (Tafstville, VT) have spent time staining interior boards. RFactor is here spraying insulation downstairs. On Tuesday Nevin and Job Mast (Oley, PA) spent the day installing piping for a central vac. Audie Bellimer (Bridgewater, VT) is making sure propane is ready to be used in the kitchen. Jon Blanch (Wallingford, VT) continues to spearhead the heating efforts. And the crew of Jenne Construction steadily contributes to pavi progress each day!

Pavi Construction Update – week of April 20:

Today marks 6 weeks exactly until we would like to gain conditional occupancy and start moving into the new pavilion.  In some ways, that seems like a long time. But it’s not!  There is much to be done before that point. If you’re able to give some time (or $$$) between now and June 1, please do!

This week a group of 10 guys from Blooming Glen Mennonite Church is volunteering.  R-Factor insulation experts are on site doing spray foam.  Jenne Construction is here, of course.  Local volunteers (Betsy Tonkin, Marcia Bender, Calef Hepler, Naomi Moyer, Joanne Hershey and others) are staining board after board.  Porches are being finished and then siding will continue with help from Ken Hershey, Roy Snell and Larry Derstine.  Roofing will continue as weather allows (it snowed some today, April 20).  Electrical rough in is nearly done and finishes are starting.  Pray with us for ongoing safety and good times.

Pavi Construction Update – Week of April 27: 

Harold Bergey is back to work with Andy Bird on underground electrical needs. Dale Snader of Dale’s homes donates time and machines to dig trenches. Ken Hershey and Larry Derstine contribute their carpentry expertise to every aspect of the building. John Blanch continues to move the heating work towards completion. Jenne Construction completes the shingling on the 2 story part while making headway on drywalling the kitchen. Tuna, Greg and Robert discuss phasing with the fire marshall in an effort to gain conditional occupancy by June 1.

Come join us and be part of the May Update!

Pic of Pavi on April 1, 2015

Pic of Pavi on April 1, 2015

Pic of Pavi taken May 1

Pic of Pavi taken May 1

 

See more pics here!

(Mennonite) Disaster (Service) at BBC

The Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) van could be seen in the camp parking lot from April 6-10. Each spring a group of volunteers from Salford Mennonite Church travel in this van to an area that has experienced a natural disaster. The group serves for a week by doing whatever needs to be done to minimize the physical effects of the disaster. This spring there wasn’t an option to head towards a natural disaster on the East Coast so they drove the van to BBC!

A number of the guys in the group joked about bringing the MDS van to BBC. Clearly, this is NOT a site of a natural disaster. And yet something about having the MDS van at BBC last week was so fitting. At times this project has felt like a disaster…

…Attempting to build a large building from start to finish in VT during the months of Sept – June is a bit disastrous…Utilizing as many volunteers as possible to build a commercial building has the potential to be a scheduling disaster…Going 50+ days below freezing when attempting to complete outside construction work feels like a disaster to each worker who can’t feel their fingers/toes most of the day…A spring thaw turning the parking lot into a huge mudpit has the feel of disaster.

The Salford MDS crew did what most MDS crews do. They brought encouragement in the face of discouraging facts. They smiled as they climbed ladders to shingle the roof. They shrugged off the April snow that pushed them to insulate inside. They asked questions about the mission of BBC and worked all the harder. When they finished on Friday the building had more siding, shingles and insulation. The van pulled out early Saturday morning. The parking lot was still muddy. Much of the building is left to be finished. There still isn’t enough money in the bank.

On Monday Ken Hershey, Larry Derstine (Bridgewater, VT), Roy Snell (Woodstock, VT) volunteered time to continue working on shingling and siding. Andy Bird (Bridgewater, VT), Harold Bergey, Will Bergey, Marlin and Neil Bergey (Hatfield, PA) are volunteering all week to continue the rough in electrical work. Today Russell and Nancy Pejouhy (Bethel, VT) came to stain interior boards. Margaret (Lebanon, NH) is here keeping the office in order. A group from Make it Rain will be here this weekend to volunteer their skills and on Sunday a group from Blooming Glen Mennonite Church will start a week of service.

At BBC we normally experience God using people to bring encouragement in the face of discouraging circumstances all summer and this year, all winter. Experience first hand how God does this by volunteering time or giving money to help build the pavilion or sending a kid to BBC this summer!

The MDS Van

The MDS Van

Salford MDS Crew

Salford MDS Crew

Larry Derstine adds shingles

Larry Derstine adds shingles

Marlin and Neil of Bergey's Electric Volunteer to do the high ceiling work.

Marlin and Neil of Bergey’s Electric Volunteer to do the high ceiling work.

Nancy (OSO) and Russell (OWO) volunteer to stain.

Nancy (OSO) and Russell (OWO) volunteer to stain.

 

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

Be Thankful Beyond Thanksgiving

November is a time when we remember to be thankful – in between stuffing ourselves with a delicious feast and watching football! What would it look like to be thankful each day? Ask anyone who has been to camp and they would probably agree that being at Bethany Birches Camp makes it a little easier to be thankful. The atmosphere surrounding camp makes it impossible to ignore our miraculous God.

Around seven years ago I was introduced to camp. I went to visit a staff member (who later became my sister-in-law) and went back the following year to become a counselor. I spent eight weeks in the mountains in Vermont. Every week presented different challenges but looking back the lessons and blessings that I experienced will last a lifetime. I am so thankful for every moment I spend at BBC!

Bethany Birches gives me the opportunity to be myself and to teach campers about Jesus. God takes our efforts and our abilities and multiplies them more than we can ever imagine. When it’s time to leave camp it feels like a part of me never leaves, and I always try to take a little bit of camp with me.

If you have never experienced BBC I strongly encourage you to find a way to help out. Everyone is welcome at camp, all have a talent, skill, or ability that can be used to further the Kingdom of God.
As you enjoying thanksgiving allow me to leave you with this passage: Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For The Lord is good and His love endures forever;  His faithfulness continues through all generations. Psalm 100: 4,5
Finn (aka Brent Gehman)

12th Annual Benefit Auction

The 12th Annual Benefit Auction was awesome! It was in a tent on the ball field due to the absence of the pavilion. MANY volunteers helped to prepare for the event – from soliciting donations to setting up the tent and parking. And then of course there’s all those folks who bought stuff! And bought stuff they did – $52,000 worth!

We thank friends of camp who were willing to provide auction matches in the amount of $8500. That certainly helped the total. And the bidding.

And we thank Gallagher Flynn for sponsoring the Mini Bike Raffle. Congrats to a camper family from Montpelier area on the win.

For those of you who weren’t there, what was it like to be there? I’m sure everyone has a slightly different report. So a couple facts first:

  • It was almost 80 degrees and VERY sunny
  • There were well over 100 people in attendance including plenty of new faces
  • Sandy Alderfer and Vernon Martin led the way.  Sandy has been auctioneer at the benefit auction since it’s inception (he’s also a hall of fame member and very funny)
  • Many campers performed the role of “runner” i.e. bringing items to the front and holding them up
  • There was a high level of emotion around the pavilion – interest in it, questions about it and (from me) the challenge of it!
  • 16 shoefly pies and funny cakes were handed out during the auction preview

As for me, it was a blessing to participate in this day.  I felt once again the support of the Bethany Birches Camp community and the inclusion of both new members to the community and outsiders.

Won’t you join in next year?  September 26, 2015 here at camp, in the new pavilion!

Tuna

 

Yes, there was even some water slide happening…
Auction Day Water Sliding