Archive for the ‘For Parents’ Category

15th Annual Benefit Auction

This year brought the 15th Annual Benefit Auction. This particular Saturday was abnormally warm.  A perfect match for the abnormal generosity at the auction.  We started out with Larry’s syrup.  Each quart sold for $400!  That’s abnormal.

Did you know that in the first 14 years of the auction the event has raised $400,000 to help make the Bethany Birches Camp experience accessible to all? This year’s event continued that trajectory! $51,042 was the total given during the auction this year thanks to many generous donors (both items and dollars) and a friend of camp who matched item #50 (Camperships) with $10,000! You can see the live bidding items and sale amounts here.

People coming out to the auction included friends as close as a stone’s throw from camp and more distant attendees from VA and PA and other nearby states.

One of my favorite things was seeing a few campers so excited to help that they waved items they were displaying and even danced a bit!

Please mark your calendars now to attend the 16th Annual Benefit auction scheduled for September 29, 2018!

Living Water

Thanks to Erin “Tye Dye” Dye for this guest post.  Tye Die is the camp shepherd this summer:

Thursday evenings this summer have been an opportunity for holy moments. Counselors have gotten to know their campers really well by the 5th night, campers submerse in good vibes from the week and excitement to go home, and for our worship times, this evening is a chance to have an “a ha” moment with the theme and how it relates to their own lives. During our Thursdays the last four weeks, we have looked the story of the woman at the well and her unexpected conversation with Jesus. When Jesus offers her living water, he shows us that he cares for everyone, even the unlikely people (a woman frowned upon by society as well as a Samaritan). As refreshing as the idea of living water sounds, this is an abstract concept of cleansing aspects of ourselves that we can’t pinpoint or see. In efforts to visualize the invisible, campers and staff participated in a demonstration to see the implications of receiving Jesus’s living water. Participants had an opportunity to pour something into a communal cup of water to make it cloudy (ketchup, mustard, pepper, etc.), and share something that personally clouds or weighs down their own spirits. Then as a group we enjoyed the visual of pouring overwhelming amounts of clean water (representing Jesus’ living water), flooding the cup and pushing out all the junk that we put in and that weighs us down, leaving us refreshed and free of burden. Campers consistently reported enjoyment of this activity and deeper appreciation of God’s desire to help us carry and bring relief for our burdens. It’s been a beautiful catalyst moment for the spiritual component of camp.

Campers have shared experiencing God at many different points throughout the summer.  One of those experiences I was fortunate enough to witness as God worked through our high school campers. After one of our small group times, the girls of this particular cabin had heavy hearts over the things they shared and put in the cup during the demonstration. In an effort to put their minds at rest before going to sleep, the cabin counselor opted to pray for each girl of the cabin out loud and proceeded to highlight the delightful characteristics and joys each girl brought to the cabin. At the end of the counselor’s prayer, I had planned to pray similar things for the counselor leading the prayer. However, I never got the chance because the moment she paused one of the campers jumped at the opportunity to pray and pour encouragement on their counselor, and when she finished another camper took a turn to pray for me! This moment was not only pleasant to be prayed for, but more so to witness campers receiving God’s love through our program all week and a strong desire to return the experience. This also meant our campers felt comfortable enough to pray out loud in front of their peers, unprompted, and live out the example Jesus calls us to in encouraging and building one another up in our faith. Although the work of camp is long and challenging at times, it is certainly not without reward!

~ Tye Dye

Summer Camps Almost Full

Summer is under way and we are excited!  Summer 2017 is shaping up to be Bethany Birches’ most attended summer in our 53 year history.  You can see the current capacity of camp that remains open and which sessions are full on the 427 page.  If you see a session you’d like to attend and see that it’s full, it may be worthwhile putting your child on the waitlist (as cancellations do happen).  To do that, just sign up like you normally would.

To those of you who helped spread the word about Bethany Birches Camp and our rustic, relationship and skills developing, faith-building camp program, thank you!  Please continue to share with your friends all that Bethany Birches has to offer: from unique and awesome summer and winter camp programs to weddings and other facility rentals.  It takes a village to raise a child and we need all of you to help in that work. If you’re reading this and don’t have children camp age and don’t have use for the facility, consider sponsoring a camper this summer.  Give to the Kids to Camp fund or join us at the annual benefit auction to make it happen.

Pray with me that this summer will be like all the others before it – that God’s presence will be experienced and that each person will be filled with God’s love, mercy, hope and joy.  Come see for yourself as a volunteer.

Brandon “Tuna” Bergey

Acceptance and learning relationships

One of the founding principles of Bethany Birches back in the 60’s was to “provide a camping experience for youth where counselor and camper together can engage in learning relationships which will prepare them for future responsibilities in life.” As you probably know it’s easier to have a learning relationship with someone you trust and respect.  And it’s easier to trust and respect someone who accepts you for who you are.

During staff training we teach the importance of being with campers in the daily routine of camp; Befriending them, learning to know them, accepting them for who they are. I recently heard from a parent about her daughters experience from this past winter.  Her comments warmed my heart and pointed to an effective season of camps.

This young camper is a strong and talented girl.  She’s pretty and smart and her peers like her.  So I was a little surprised to get this email from her mother:

“Thank you all so much for providing such a wonderful place for [my daughter] to feel love and acceptance. She has been struggling at school feeling like an outcast .  She came home with a great outlook on life again and seemed so much happier. It is with tears that I write this.  Thank you, Dana”

I am thankful for caring staff  that can create this kind of experience.  I am thankful for a God that loves us and gave us examples of love and acceptance. Pray for us as we strive to mirror this blessing and pray that each camper will grow in their confidence and strength as they learn to see God through us.

Brandon “Tuna” Bergey