Archive for the ‘Excited for Camp’ Category

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)

UBuildIt: A special summer camp 2014 week at Bethany Birches

Camp is packed full of so many fun activities. While part of my job is to think of new and exciting activities to bring to camp, we have often looked to campers for inspiration as well. From interviews, to camper’s evaluations, to conversations, we want campers to have a voice. If a camper has a creative vision, we’ll run with it.  I imagine this is how the pillow log came to be, and it’s exactly why we installed an archery range. Kids after all have the best imaginations!

This year we are putting on our second consecutive special theme week that looks different from the usual Vermont summer camp program. We chose the title UbuildIt. We are harnessing the imaginations of 50 or so campers to create a very fun and interactive week. Campers will be able to pick their favorite activities when they register. We will plan the week based on these choices. Campers will even have the chance to modify existing activities for each other. Some of the favorites up for modification include Mission Impossible, Pig Trough, Slip N’ Slide, Camp Cinema, Group Games.

So often in this day and age we see young people relying on social media, screens and apps to entertain. This favorites UbuildIt week is going to turn this model upside down and challenge campers to get involved in making the fun! We couldn’t be more excited to see what they come up with.

Are you joining us this summer?

Sparkles

 

Winter Camp: Cure for the Common Winter

At camp, we tend not to do commercials. We aren’t a commercial place and we try hard to remain rustic. We cook meals over the fire, use wood to heat buildings, use cast iron to cook food, light our way at night with gas lanterns and all sorts of other old-time stuff. This lack of technology at camp helps keep distractions at bay (although, let’s be honest, cast iron and gas lanterns are awesome technologies!).

As we learn how to communicate with the outside world, we try to demonstrate camp as best we can so those who haven’t yet been to camp, can gain a sense for how fun it really is. Each winter camp session, campers just can’t seem to get enough tubing!

We used video to demonstrate how much campers LOVE to tube in this 30 second commercial.

 

See you at winter camp?

Tuna

Dale’s Homes in White River Junction: Spiritual Saturday

This is the last post in our Excited for Camp Campaign.  You can find all the posts in the campaign here.

But, back to this post – some of you know Dale’s Homes in White River Junction.  Dale and Darlene Snader are the owners and have made significant contributions to the camp… one of those contributions was the Director’s Residence that Cheeks and I currently live in (pictured here):

IMG_6702

 

Well, earlier this week Dale came up to help with the Cardinal cabin.  It’s foundation needed work or else campers couldn’t stay in it!  While we’ll have to do the excavation in the fall, he was able to secure it for the summer.  Thanks Dale!

As he was taking time out of a busy season and crawling around in the mud, I started wondering about what causes someone to give something as significant as a house?  What causes someone to give a few hours of their time to crawl around in the mud to help protect children?  In Dale and Darlene, I have experienced a generous spirit… the kind of spirit that is enabled by the knowledge that all we have received is a gift from above (including our birth).

Join me in hoping and praying for a summer filled with God’s love and service Dale style.

Tuna

p.s. we just started staff orientation!!

Bethany Birches in The News for Mission Possible: The Pavilion Project

Greetings friends. The below blog post was written by a friend and consultant, Mark Vincent.  He has been working closely with me (Tuna) on our campaign to rebuild the pavilion.  This summer we are entering the “Public Phase” of this effort and so I thought I’d share it with you this “Tuna Tuesday”.

————————

Capital campaign communication: 2 awesome examples

We learn so much from our clients. Occasionally we can pass the benefits along.

I have been privileged to work with Bethany Birches Camp as they ready themselves for their first big capital campaign. Their Executive Director, still in the early stages of his career, is an outstanding example of someone who knows he doesn’t know and is therefore able to learn and grow and put a lot of long-timers to shame at the excellence he is already achieving.

Most noticeable is the way he, the board and volunteers have been able to inject the organizational culture of the camp into all their campaign communication. Whenever the constituency interacts with them they are having a camp experience, not just a communication from the camp. Here are two awesome examples:

1. Their video that introduces the campaign and makes the case provides an excellent standard other organizations can aspire to reach:

 

2. A recent update on an unanticipated project that could have harmed momentum conveys a non-anxious, thankful, yet light-heartedly determined way forward. Anyone who participated can find themselves in the blogs/photos etc. that are linked in the note. It provides a great personal touch mixed with the benefits of social media and web. Here is the text:

Greetings friends.  I’m writing with deep joy in my heart for each of you.  As you probably remember about a year ago we received some tough news from the fire marshal: that the Bethany Birches Cabin would be shut down April 1, 2012 until we complied with numerous requirements.
One of my biggest concerns was how we’d pay for the upgrades to the building.  My second concern related to how to get the work done.  Because of you, the work was finished and paid for!  THANK YOU!
Some goodies for you:
Thank you, thank you, thank you for your support of this effort and for your ongoing help in Bethany Birches’ mission to help young people develop their relationship with God.  Without you we would still be without the use of the cabin!
Brandon
 

And here is one more idea.  Why not take these examples to your development and/or communications team to view and then ask what is one step we might take to better inject our organization’s culture into our communication–especially in a capital campaign? How might our constituency have an ongoing experience and not just another communications piece?

-mark l vincent

mark l vincent, design group international

 

Originally posted at Design Group’s blog

Living with Cheeks is a gift! Spiritual Saturday

Many of you know Cheeks.  She’s been the Program Director at Bethany Birches for many years (this will be her 9th summer).  She also happens to be my wife.  We got married after working here at camp together for a few years.

To me, Cheeks has been a gift from God.  Let me explain:

Many days I realize this through various circumstances.  Today, I realized it again.  This time it was related to the fact that she doesn’t get distracted by stuff (you could even say she doesn’t care much about stuff).  Seriously.  She doesn’t like to spend a lot of money on stuff.  She uses stuff until it breaks down entirely.  If she looses something, she shrugs it off and mentions that she didn’t really need it anyway.  Take her purse/bag for example.  Right now, there’s a hole in it and one handle has broken off.  She’s still using it.  If it broke entirely, she might never get a new one.  She might use another bag in the closet or fill her pockets.

I am quite different.  I like stuff.  I like high quality stuff and I like when it performs well.  If it gets scratched or damaged, I like to repair it.  Take my bike for example.  I rode it today and it was wet.  When I got home, I hosed it off and set it in front of a fan to dry.  I washed it so the chain was free of grit and used the fan so that nothing would rust.

Tuna Cheeks Thumbs UpHere’s the thing.  We only get so much time on Earth.  Old people tell me that it goes fast.  Researching, getting and taking care of stuff takes a lot of time.  And, those of us who care about our stuff can at times be on the verge of caring too much for it.  This is part of why Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell his stuff.

Back to me and Cheeks.  She is a constant example of what it looks like to care less about stuff.  With her attention not focused on stuff, she tends to focus on people… and she’s very good at considering others!  Not only is this a blessing to me, it’s a witness.

I hope you find a way to bless those you live with today like Cheeks blesses me.  When that way is unclear, look to Jesus.  He will show you.

Tuna

At Home in the World: Spiritual Saturday

Among the blogs I read is Generous Matters. It’s largely about generosity, giving and making ourselves rich toward God (rather than just plain old rich). This past Friday, the author of the blog included an excerpt from CS Lewis… I love CS Lewis! Here’s what he wrote in one of his books:

“Prosperity knits a man to the World. He feels that is ‘finding his place in it,’ while really it is finding its place in him. His increasing reputation, his widening circle of acquaintances, his sense of importance, the growing pressure of absorbing and agreeable work, build up in him a sense of really being at home on Earth, which is just what we want. You will notice that the young are generally less unwilling to die than the middle-aged and the old.”

Having read Screwtape Letters, I know that Lewis does not consider it a good thing when we feel “at home on Earth.”  Being at home on Earth makes it hard to be at home in God’s Kingdom.

This summer, we hope to have a ton of fun while discovering together this special place some Christians call God’s Kingdom.  If we trust Jesus’ words, we know that in that place is where we receive “life to the full.”

Tuna

Safety and Care at Camp: Tuna Tuesday

This Tuesday, I decided to write about safety at camp.  Why?  I believe many parents are on some level concerned about some aspect of camp.

For some, it’s the thought of their child being bullied or even worse, abused by an adult.  We could classify these concerns as violence.

For others, it’s less threatening and about every day challenges. Some of the questions may be: will my child have fun?  Will they stay warm?  Will they want to come home?  Will they make any friends?  We might call these sorts of concerns comfort related.

For other parents, it’s about physical harm not caused by a person but by the environment and setting.  Will my child break their leg at group games or while hiking?  Will they get stung by a bee?  I might label these concerns as environmental safety.

So what does Bethany Birches do to address these three categories of safety (don’t get me wrong, there are other areas of safety that we monitor!  But for the sake of a reasonable length blog post, I’ll have to include those in a future post)?

Violence: we work very hard when hiring staff.  We do multiple reference checks, a criminal background check including sex offender registries.  We have a detailed interview.  We ask lots of questions about faith, religion and world view.  Finally, if we notice any behavior from a staff person that is concerning on this front, we let them go.  As for bullying, we guard against this as best we can through maintaining adult supervision at nearly all times, requiring campers to travel around camp with a trusted buddy (like when going to the bathroom) and by disciplining those exhibiting bullying behavior and working closely with them to change their patterns of relating to others.

Comfort: this is a tough one!  Some campers don’t want to admit their cold in front of their friends. Others don’t tell their counselor they wet their bed.  And some times, campers just don’t know they’re uncomfortable!  As a parent, you know that you often have to think for your child in ways they cannot yet think for themselves.  This is what we teach our staff to do.  We teach them to notice how their campers are feeling.  Are they happy or sad?  Are their shoes wet or dry?  Do they have extra clothes to change into?  Does their sleeping bag smell weird?  One of our primary goals for counselors and all staff members is that they would be an excellent guide for each camper.  By guide I simply mean that they would provide a meaningful experience, initiate fun and conversation, and take really good care of each child, including washing their sleeping bag after peed in without anyone noticing!

While life and the outdoors throw all sorts of curve balls like a mean spirited attack from another to a cold rainy day, we desire to always care deeply for each person entrusted to us.  We take seriously complaints from parents and do our very best to get better at keeping kids safe, comfortable and happy so their mind, body and soul can grow while at camp.

Here’s to another exciting, meaningful safe season of summer camp at Bethany Birches!

Tuna

 

 

 

Spiritual Saturday: Backpacking!

Backpacking in the mountains is an adventure. Everything about it. Maybe you’ll meet a bear. Maybe it will rain then drop 20 degrees before nightfall. Maybe the bridge across the river will be out and you’ll have to find a new way around.

One interesting thing about this is that it doesn’t cost anything. Backpacking includes the most basic elements: walking, weather, animals and earth. Yet, this walking around in the woods can provide a great adventure.

To modern minds, this is foreign. How can something that is simple, free and basic, be a great adventure?

I say because it brings us nearer to God. When we walk around in the woods, we realize how subject we are to our surroundings. It’s foreign to us modern folk because we have become really good at insulating ourselves from nature and our surroundings.

This insulation, ironically, is why we have so much health trouble. But that isn’t what this entry is about. It’s about walking in the woods as a way to reconnect with God.

For me and Cheeks, backpacking was enlightening. It reminded me where I come from, and that from dust I came and to dust I will return.

– Tuna