Archive for the ‘Donors’ Category

Fire Marshal and Cabin Update

We’ve been hard at work!  So many volunteers have lent a hand as well as paid help.  Paul Derksen of Turning Leaf Houserights

Paul working on exit stair from loft

has been running the construction side of the project and putting paid and volunteer labor to work.  Mike Bryan (electrician) has been working with Harold Bergey and Herb Frederick of Bergey’s Electric to get the necessary electrical work done and Jim at Royal Alarms has been making things happen on the fire alarm side!  We’ve had so many helpers to date and it’s so encouraging.  When this project is finished, we’ll list all those involved.

Something amazing – the giving toward this project.  We’ve had two gifts of $20,000!  Thanks so much to Doug and Becky Clemens and also the First Congregational Church of Woodstock.   It’s just amazing how God moves through people to accomplish things.  Many have given besides these two very large gifts.  We’re so thankful we can keep moving, buying materials and getting everything in place because of this financial support.  And on top of that, Goodro Lumber is giving through a 15% discount on materials and A.M. Goshow and Son supplied the windows for the project.  Robert Buchan Architect has given quite a discounted rate on services.

Pray with us that we’ll be ready for a final inspection by the week of June 11 and that we’ll have necessary lodging for staff and volunteers this summer.  Pray also for wisdom! We want to make good choices about the Bethany Birches facility – choices that will be cost effective but durable and long-lasting.  Choices that will serve the program of the camp extremely well and allow us to continue to create a facility that accomplishes the unique mission God has given to Bethany Birches.

Thanks be to God for all the wonderful people who are coming together to help make this building safer!

And no matter what happens in the cabin, summer 2012 is on and only three weeks away!

Tuna

Leon working on the exit from the loft

Inside Out: Beauty from Rain

I love the sun! For a few days in April I got to experience plenty of sun. The weather at camp was warm, sunny and felt like summer! I was ready to invite campers to the hill and get camp rolling. When the sun is out I want the hill to be full of youth and staff running around outside enjoying the wilderness. When the sun is shining and temperatures are above 65 I can think of nothing I’d rather do than roam around 100 acres exploring the wilderness with others.

Then came the rains. The past few weeks have been damp, rainy and cool. My shoes get wet each time I go outside. My body gets chilled when I have to get something from the pavilion or the craft hut. I have nightmares of campers who run out of socks. The more it rains the more I frantically search for indoor pavilion activities. A counselor who worked here in 2004, 2005, and 2006 told me she just recently stopped having nightmares about camp in the rain!

Camp in the rain can be fun, but I prefer the sunny skies. Dampness at camp is easily cured by a warm fire, but I prefer warmth from the sun. One of our former staff/campers recalls her favorite memories of BBC during rainy days in the pavilion. Campers don’t always notice the rain. I do.

Last week as I sulked about the rainy days and lack of sun I noticed the grass turning a darker, luscious shade of green. I noticed the flowers by the steps of camp shooting higher out of the ground. The rhubarb in the garden is much closer to picking! I remembered a counselor who took her campers puddle jumping. I appreciated the warmth of the woodstove. I enjoyed the sound of the rain dripping off the trees.

The rain brings the beauty. I like the sun much more than the rain. I like the beauty surrounding me most. I wouldn’t really like a world without rain. So much beauty would be missing. It’s inside out. What we don’t like brings the beauty we do!

Rain coming off the Pavilion

Fire Marshal Update: Call for help

It’s been about two months since the fire marshal’s visit. We continue to be thankful for the way their office is working with us and helping to make the building safer.

Here’s what’s happening this month (May):

  • Electricians are working on the smoke detection system
  • Egress windows being installed
  • Cutting trees for a neighbor to earn cash for the project ($5000!)
  • Stairways being upgraded (smoke proofed)
  • Exit from loft constructed
  • LOTS OF CLEANING afterward!
Will you join us?  Here are some ways to help:
  • Carpentry, building trades – May 21-June1.  We need at least 2 volunteers each day.
  • Cleaning – we’ll need help with this from June 4-8
  • Cooking – particularly things that can be frozen.  Baked goods too. We need some lunches for people working the last two weeks of May.
You can let us know when you’re available and what you can give by filling this form out.  Again, here are the dates:
May 12:                    Spring Workday – come one, come all!
May 21 – June 1: Carpentry and building help
June 4 – June 8: Cleanup and prep for summer

Cabin Help

As you know, the cabin needs help so we can use it this summer! If you can help, let us know by filling out this form.
  • We will communicate with you this way
  • If you are giving carpentry/building labor, which trades/skills do you have? If food or baked goods, what do you plan to make and how much?
  • Please list the dates you intend to come to work. We will assume a full day unless you specify half day
    If no, select other and let us know how we can get it from you (if you live far, we may not be able to come get it).
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

 

Once we hit June, we hope to have occupancy.  We expect to begin a small addition project that will finish the requirements for the building.  But, because of time, we need to postpone that till August and the fire marshal has been gracious in helping us get a timeline that works.

Join me in praying and hoping for a fun-filled, safe, eternally impacting summer!

Tuna

Kids Need Summer Camp

Kids need summer camp

“America needs to send all of these kids to camp this summer before this generation loses the values that have driven our country since the beginning,” says author Marc Joseph, CEO and founder of DollarDays International Inc. In a Huffington Post blog entry, Joseph points out that Generation Z (children born since the late 1990s), has never known life before Internet and online connections. Many of these children communicate by text messages more than talking; they spend little time outdoors and have a very different worldview than the generation before them.

Joseph urges parents: “We need to get these kids out playing and communicating and winning and losing so they can take our place in getting this country back to leading the world in economic and ethical ways. Help send these kids to camp this summer.”

You can read the entire article here.

Source: HuffingtonPost.com

Inside Out: Like a Child

Cheeks and Katelyn, BBC Fall 2011

It’s amazing what you find when you look for it! More themes of inside out continue to run through every day life.Last weekend I found a sampling of the inside out theme in Pennsylvania. Tuna and I made a quick trip south for a bridal shower for my soon to be sister in law. We had a great time catching up with family, hearing the latest news and telling lots of people about the latest happenings at BBC!

My favorite part of the weekend was sitting next to my almost 5 year old niece in church on Sunday morning. After the service it dawned on me yet again why God calls us to be like children. It doesn’t make sense. We spend our entire lives growing out of our childhood and yet Jesus states that we should become like little children. On Sunday, sitting next to my niece who was learning how to sit like a 5 yr old in church (Butt on the bench or feet on the floor), I was reminded again why Jesus values children:

She was quietly coloring for most of the service. It seemed like she was paying zero attention to the message the pastor was sharing. But every so often she’d look up at me and ask something related to what the pastor was saying. “What’s doubt?” The pastor had just mentioned Thomas’s doubt. So I tried to whisper an answer she’d understand and she went back to coloring. A few minutes later she looked up at me and said “what’s the least?” The pastor had just mentioned how God was always using “the least.” Again, I tried to put myself in her shoes and give an answer that would make sense.  A few minutes later she asked, “Did anyone else die on a cross?” So I told her that other people had been punished that way. She responded with, “Did they come back to life?” I just shook my head. After looking at me for a few moments she went back to coloring.

All the questions. All the inquiries. Asking about whatever we hear. I believe God wants us to do more question asking and more clarifying. Jesus invites us to spend more time with children and be like them. It doesn’t make sense for us to be more like children or to accept children the same way we do adults. But after hanging out with a 5 year old in church, I’m reminded yet again of the goodness of a young spirit and am excited to spend time with kids all summer long!

Inside Out: Death to Life

I know summer is getting closer when I start to see the summer theme everywhere I look. Easter weekend was an obvious display this summer’s theme: Inside Out. We celebrate the death of Jesus on Friday. This death then leads to life. It doesn’t make sense. Death is supposed to be the end of life, but in the Kingdom of God, death always leads to new life. Weird.

This theme of death leading to life is also present in the natural world around us. One of my favorite stops on the BBC nature trail was developed a few years ago by Katie “Scoop” Gehman and myself. We were walking along the nature trail and we saw this incredible pile of dirt. You see, the pile of dirt was actually the uprooting of a tree, but from our perspective you couldn’t tell, it just looked like a random, huge pile of dirt! We thought it was worthy of being a new post on the nature trail. However, the first time we took the staff on the revised nature trail, they knew immediately that the pile of dirt was an uprooted tree! (needless to say we were disappointed in their lack of amazement!) I walked the nature trail the other day. Currently, when you walk by this pile of dirt, you see new life springing from it. Grasses, ferns and moss all growing on the pile of dirt formed from the uprooted roots of the tree. The death of the tree is bringing new life to the forest.

As I reflect on various things in my life that are ending (or have ended) I look forward to the new life that lies ahead, including whatever Summer 2012 will bring!

April Monthly Contact

Each month, I write an email to some of Bethany Birches’ supporters.  The topics and content vary.  I share from my heart in these emails, about things that have happened at camp that I just love! A lot of times, I highlight something that one of our campers or staff has written or done.  And, what would a note to supporters be without updates and sharing of needs?!  Expect that too.  Here’s April’s update.

You can subscribe to this update if you’d like right here.

The latest need:

Cheeks Finds Paris Like Camp

Cheeks to Paris… and it’s like camp!?

Last week this time I was walking the streets of Paris. It was excellent. It was great to be in a famous city on the other side of the world with REALLY GOOD FOOD, but even greater was the time I spent with my in–laws. Back in November Tuna’s mom (some of you know her as Mama Tuna) invited me and her 2 other daughter-in-laws to Paris. Just the 4 of us, no Bergey boys. We went overseas without our common thread: our husbands!

I was hesitant at first, traveling to another country is a big deal and I’ve heard you should be careful with whom you take on that adventure. But in talking with a friend, she said:

“Perfect! You’re mother in law is brilliant. There is nothing to do but bond in another country!”

And that is exactly what we did. I loved the streets of Paris and especially analyzing the streets of Paris with my newest family members. I loved the French cuisine and more than that, learning what my sister-in-laws loved. I loved trying to learn the French language, but I loved even more the acceptance of my mother-in-law and sister-in-laws as I butchered the words time and time again. As I was reflecting on this I was struck with the undeniable fact that this is what happens at camp.

Well, not exactly. We do not take campers to France. I don’t even think we have anything that could be considered French food at camp! What does happen at camp happened to me in Paris. People are in new environments. People are in situations where they can’t help but bond together as they explore new activity and relationship. Campers and staff alike explore new ideas, games and experiences together, in nature, and make memories. Campers bond with others who are experiencing new things. Veteran campers bond with rookie campers as they work together and each brings an experience.

As summer approaches and my time gets tight I’m reminded partly of the reason we do camp. Jesus taught through community and BBC does the same. Don’t miss the opportunity to bond with a community. Whether you come to BBC this summer (or next!) or head overseas with your in-laws, don’t miss the opportunity to share an experience with others in a different place. I believe it’s a taste of God’s kingdom here on Earth.

Cheeks

Fire Marshal Update


I can’t tell you how good it is to be loved and cared for by a community.  In Bethany Birches’ case, this is a community of love.  A community built on Jesus.  I don’t always know how to articulate what that means, but I write it because this community is different than many.  For example:

  • One of our campers made a $10 contribution to the cabin project.
  • Parents of campers continue to call and write offering whatever they can to help.
  • Two large churches are planning to give to the project in a meaningful way.
What has become clear over the last two weeks is that many have received something special while at Bethany Birches.  Others have received something special by supporting Bethany Birches. They have freely received and so they freely give.  This is the way God’s spirit works and it’s so encouraging to be a part of the receiving side.
It’s starting to look like there’s a good chance we’ll be able to get the cabin in shape by June.  I met yesterday with Robert (architect) and Paul (builder) to start the detailed punch list.  Very exciting.  Within a week or so, we ought to be able to post the dates for a couple work days/weekends.  There’s already a work group planning to come mid April.  If you are or have friends that are skilled in a building trade, contact me and we can find a time for you to get to work!
If you have money you can contribute, you can give through the website or by mail (address: 2610 Lynds Hill Road, Plymouth, VT 05056) or phone (802-672-5220).
Hot off the press – this is from our board meeting last week.  One of the greatest challenges to meet is the required exits for the sleeping lofts. We can’t even put a door on the side near the road because the porch roof from below is in the way.  In order to get the exits needed, we’re planning to move forward with one of our master plan initiatives.  In short, it’s to add adequate bathrooms to the cabin (right now there are two, very small bathrooms).  So, if we put the shell for the bathrooms up now, we can bring the two exits out through that shell.  Yee Ha!
Next up – completion of design and plans to obtain permitting through the fire marshal.
I thank God for each of you and for what God’s spirit will do here at camp this summer!
Brandon

Fire Marshal Visit

This post is about a sad story.  It’s the story of the BBC Cabin the day the fire marshal came to visit.

Bruce and Jay were friendly and clear.  They have concerns about how quickly people could get out of the building in case of fire.  They gave us a conditional permit, which ends April 1, 2012!  After that, no one can sleep in the building until it’s amended to meet Vermont Life Safety Code.

How big of a deal can 8 violations really be?  Apparently a big enough deal to cost $20-$30K (un-detailed estimate) – YIKES!

So I tell the board.  They wisely came to the decision that now is not the time to upgrade the building as we hope to someday.  We must stay focused on the pavilion project.  We’re oh so close to beginning the fundraising effort for that.  So, the vote is that we amend the building as simply as possible in the least expensive way we can.

For those of you who are wondering about these violations, here’s the first draft of a punch list:

ViolationRemedyNotes
1.No Egress window main floor bedroomsInstall 1 egress windows in each of four bd. rms.Window to be 5.7 square feet
2.Stairwells out of code. upgrade wall material. install 20 min doors. install closure on door. upstairs build wall. 4 stairwells. drywall. doors
NoneAdd heating in loftNeed heating because of closure to lofts
3.No exits in loftsInstall exit door in each sided (2 total)Need exit stairway from floor to ground
4.loft ceilingInstall sheetrock
5. inadequate Co2 detectorsInstall hardwired Co2 with battery back-upRun wires with smoke detect system
6.No smoke detectors in basementInstall 2 smoke detectors in basementPart of total smoke detect overhaul
7. no emergency lightingInstall emergency lighting system
8. inadequate fire alarm systemInstall new fire alarm system with communicationsClarify what communications system is
NonePainting and other touchups related to construction

And so here we are.  We MUST do the above if we want to use the building this summer in program.  CAN YOU HELP US?  HERE ARE A FEW WAYS TO HELP:

  • Give money!  Just the materials are going to cost over $10K (EDIT on 4/6/12 – materials will probably be closer to $30K!).  Send a check or give online here and give to general operations or where needed most.
  • Give time: we’ll need volunteers to do most of the work.  Consider getting a small crew of experienced people together and come up for a weekend.  A few experienced laborers can make a big dent in just two days.  Call the office or email Brandon.
  • Give material: perhaps you own or have influence in a supply chain that could get us sheet rock, lighting, paint, etc.  If it’s in the above list, we need it.

And so the story of an old camp, that’s doing the best it can, continues.

Something very interesting to me is the fact that I had a two hour emotional cycle after the fire marshal’s visit.  At first I was frustrated and annoyed.  Then, humility kicked in.  So often, when I receive correction, direction, instruction, if I am able to release my frustration, I begin to sense God at work.

God, join us in this endevor and in all of our endevors.  I pray that you will bring the resources and people needed to acomplish this change and that it will not distract from the bigger things ahead.