Greetings Friends, a little while back I announced that Dan “Chick” Laubach was moving on from Bethany Birches at the end of August.
We launched a search in March and received 27 applications by the time we closed the application period this summer. After extending an offer to an applicant and receiving a “no” from him, I opened a discussion with a friend familiar to Bethany Birches. We call her Wonder Woman. Outside of camp she is known as Courtney Hollingsworth. She has volunteered as Camp Shepherd, Day Camp Manager, and Kitchen Aid, among other things. She’s filled with energy and love and was looking to get back into ministry of some kind after supervising the front office at the Woodstock Inn. Prior to that she was in seminary and before that she was a director of high school youth ministry at her home church in CA.
The only agreement we have come to at this time is that she will be full time through next summer. Her and I will consider her fit after she’s been here a few months and see if we would like to arrange a longer tenure or not.
She has already begun! She has an email address (firstname.lastname@example.org). Feel free to reach out to her and introduce yourself. She is currently working from a distance lightly and will start here at camp on the 27th of Aug and overlap with Chick for a week and then take the reigns.
Courtney/Wonder Woman with a baby sea turtle
Thanks to each of you who have been involved with the camp and have helped to cause our ongoing success. Please welcome Wonder Woman warmly. I hope you’ll come out to camp soon if you haven’t been recently. Next option to be here is the Benefit Auction September 29.
What do “A Bugs Life”, “Wild Week” and “Splash Week” all have in common?! Each title is a theme for one of the weeks of day camp at BBC. Each week of day camp will include traditional BBC favorites such as, cooking over the fire, swimming in the pond and playing outside. The themes allow each week to be unique from each other.
Day Camp A (June 25 – 29) will explore A Bugs Life. Water bugs, spiders, lady bugs and other small insects. Each day will focus on a specific bug and what that bug can teach us about life. Along with songs and crafts to complement each critter.
Wild Week is happening the week of Jul 3-6 . Campers will spend time exploring the wild around them, understanding what nature can teach them and playing games simulating life in the wild.
Splash Week (Day Camp C, Jul 30 – Aug 3) will round out the 2018 day camp line up! All wet all the time. Day campers will join overnight campers as they explore what we can learn from the properties of water. Day campers will also enjoy daycamp specific crafts and activities related to the splash week theme.
Despite differing themes – each dayCamp Week will be chocked full of fun, friends faith and the outdoors! It’s a great taste of BBC for young campers. We hope to see you on the hill!
Last summer (2017) Day Camp C was the highest attended Day Camp Session to date at BBC. Wonder Woman was one of the counselors for that week and we are excited to announce she is returning for TWO DAY CAMP WEEKS THIS SUMMER! If you’re attending Day Camp A or C Wonder Woman will be one of your leaders. Below she describes why she’s excited to return for 2 sessions this summer:
Day Camp Rocks! And I am so excited to be returning to Bethany Birches Camp for a second summer as a volunteer Day-Camp counselor!
When I think back to last year, I can’t help but smile as I remember all of the fun that was had by campers and counselors alike in our week together. There are so many great memories to choose from – but swimming in the pond, going down the giant slip and slide, and eating ice cream out of a trough immediately come to mind. Each memory involves our whole group smiling, laughing, and just having a downright blast together!
Working with the youngest campers, while of course had a few challenging moments, was overall a true joy! They come to camp so full of energy and ready for fun. They have great imaginations and a wonderful spirit of play and adventure. And most of them had never been to camp before, so everything is new and exciting for them. We had the best time hiking out to the tree houses for a special lunch, singing at Jumpstart each morning with the overnight campers, doing craft projects, playing games, and experiencing all that camp has to offer!
While I admit that I personally enjoyed getting to participate in all of the awesome camp activities just as much as the kids did (who doesn’t love a jumping on the water trampoline?!? ), the reason I am coming back again is because, in addition to being awesomely fun, I found camp to be amazingly rewarding.
I loved getting to know each of the campers, and enjoyed their unique personalities and what they brought to camp each day- just by being them. Sometimes that was a Moana sing-a-long, a game of pretending to be robots on the playground, or a dream of catching their first frog at the pond…it was always a surprise waiting to happen.
And I was incredibly impressed by how great these little ones were at making new friends. While they essentially arrived as strangers, by the end of the first day each camper had a new buddy, and by the end of the week the whole group seemed like they had grown up together. Wow! What an example for us all.
But perhaps the best part for me was getting to help my campers succeed at trying new things. I loved getting to encourage them to go for it, cheering them on while they did, and then celebrating their successes and accomplishments. We had campers learn to swim, kayak for the first time, hike farther than they ever had before, and be willing to overcome fears -like going down the giant slip and slide for the first time, and then loving it!
The smiles on their faces that, exuded not only joy, but pride and confidence in themselves, were simply priceless.
And yes – I was gloriously exhausted at the end of each day, and thankful to go home to sleep in my own bed each night (a day-camp perk!).
But you really can’t beat camp, and I feel pretty lucky to get to be a part of it again.
That’s right folks. This is your chance to apply for your dream job. Being the Program Director at BBC is perhaps one of the most fun (and most challenging) jobs out there. Just think – it could be your job to run (or delegate) Wet and Wild Wednesday. It could be your job to run (or delegate) the annual cardboard sled and boat races. I mean, how awesome is that? Not to mention recruiting and training staff, budgeting, performance reviews… oh wait, those perhaps are not the most fun parts.
Seriously though, if you have any interest, apply now! I hope to select the next BBC Program Director by June 1 of this year. That gives you a month and a half to finish your application and tidy up your resume. Start here: http://www.bethanybirches.org/pd
And if you’re not going to apply, would you pray for the process? Pray that God nudges an ideal fit this direction and that we have the wisdom to see that person when they show up.
Why do all good things come to an end? So that new good things can begin!
Dan “Chick” Laubach has served as program director since May 2015. He has decided to finish his service at Bethany Birches effective the end of August 2018. He has made important contributions (and will continue to this year… and he evens plans to volunteer beyond this year). While he was program director, summer and winter registrations were opened earlier than ever. I believe that has contributed to the ongoing increase in attendance (in fact, half of programs offered in a calendar year have waiting lists… we’re expecting even more waiting lists this year). Chick has also contributed to a professionalism in the office. He has helped to upgrade policies and procedures and has sharpened some of our marketing and communications plans.
I very much appreciate the amount of time he has allowed us for making the transition. He is going to continue managing the program throughout this winter and summer. He will depart at the end of summer 2018. If a replacement is found in time, I would consider him/her starting as soon as May 2018 for maximum transfer of knowledge, ideas, practices etc. However, if an ideal fit is found, we would start them whenever works best for them. The search for a new program director will begin shortly. We have some backend work to do to clarify the type of person we’re looking for and finalize some details. In the mean time, if you or someone you know has interest, please do reach out to me. Call the office, email or even text if you have my number.
We give Chick a big round of applause and wish him the very best in his future endeavors. Most importantly, may you be guided by God’s spirit and at peace into the unknown. Thanks for your service and can’t wait to see you back here as a volunteer.
Over the last few years you may have noticed back country ski supplies included on BBC’s wish list. Tuna scours the fall ski swaps and often returns with poles and boots to add to BBC’s collection. Last winter’s registration form included a box to mark interest in skiing the back country of BBC! In 2017 Tuna and GiGi led campers into the snow covered forrest on skis.
A long time snow camper Nick Champine enjoys having fun skiing with Tuna and other campers and having the freedom to go anywhere. He says, “The hills are fun! It’s different than skiing at a resort because you have to go uphill in order to go down and there are less people.” He’s looking forward to learning more this winter.
The development of a back country ski program at BBC Winter Camps allows campers to try their hand at a new skill while enjoying the beautiful winter scenery. Tuna has teamed up with a local telemark teacher, John Tidd, to provide instruction to adults who may have interest in helping campers learn how to ski safely in the back country. If you have interest in volunteering at snow camps in this way contact Tuna (brandon at bethanybirches.org)
The summer of 2017 was the most attended summer in the history of BBC. Praise God! Well over 400 campers came over the course of 7 weeks of summer camp. Serving this many campers required that we also have one of the largest staff teams in the camp’s history. Many different marketing events, individuals, and advertisements helped to make this summer’s registration so momentous. I also believe that campers wouldn’t come (and keep coming!) if it weren’t for the impact camp has on them.
A small group of campers (and staff) were impacted this summer by a new week- long program. The Expedition week was created to be an adventure-based program for a small group of middle school campers. This backpacking-based program provided a unique and powerful atmosphere for campers to find each other and God.
The group of 10 campers and three staff spent their first day at camp focused on team building to prepare themselves for the three-day overnight backpacking trip during the 2nd half of the week. Because this was designed to be a smaller group, campers quickly built meaningful relationships with their counselors and each other. Mim “Sully” Beck, an expedition counselor, describes how those relationships were built:
“One of the best parts of the week was being able to interact so closely with the group of campers and other counselors. We quickly became well acquainted and comfortable around each other as we learned how to pack our bags and cook our food. Even before we left for the trip, we found ourselves bonding while shouting out-of-tune camp songs at the tree houses. Multiple times on the trip we found ourselves laughing and playing games or telling riddles to keep ourselves entertained. One of the most profound experiences on the trail was when we reached the Killington summit. Relaxing in God’s presence after a day of hiking had a positive impact on all of us.”
Current culture has made it easy for most Middle Schoolers to miss out on nature-focused activities. Kids, instead, experience the world behind the glass of their mobile devices and other screens. BBC has always sought to help “human life, wild life and plant life coexist in harmony (statement from original bylaws).” One of the other counselors on this trip, Erin “Corgi” Beidler, describes how campers met God during the week: “Sitting around the camp stove eating freeze-dried chili our group had some of the best conversations. From playing charades to discussing faith the group was open to sharing their experiences. I remember one discussion in particular when we were talking about Moses leading the Israelites out into the wilderness. God gave them just enough manna to survive for that day but no more. We discussed how through the challenge of the hike and whatever challenges life brings God can give each of us enough of what we need to get through. I saw God so much during the three days of hiking. Campers were so willing to share and help each other through the challenges of the hike. I truly believe that being together in such a demanding environment helped the group grow closer to each other, to nature, and to God.”
The impact of this session on campers (and staff) was clear. Expedition will return next year. If you know a 12-14-year-old who would benefit from an experience like this, please encourage them to sign up!
In a society preoccupied with STUFF consider giving the gift of an experience this Christmas.
PARENTS: planning to send your camper to camp this winter or summer? Consider giving them camp for Christmas! You can use the form on this page to get them signed up easily and will get a card to give your child too: bethanybirches.org/xmas
SUPPORTERS: Perhaps your loved ones don’t need any more things. Give them the gift of knowing a child is being nurtured spiritually, physically and emotionally. Make a contribution using the form on this page (bethanybirches/givecamp) and we’ll email you a Christmas card you can place in a loved one’s stocking Christmas morning!
The Bethany Birches Camp experience teaches many things. Some campers learn how to shoot a bow and arrow, some learn how to cook food over a fire while others uncover gifts God has given them. Learning at camp isn’t limited to campers. Bev Goshow (AKA Grandma Cookie Dough Chaos – that’s her camp name) thought she was coming for one week of serving in the kitchen back in 2010. Seven summers later she is retiring as the camp shepherd for BBC’s youngest campers. Thank you Grandma Cookie Dough Chaos for being open to how God would use you. The following paragraphs are Grandma’s reflections on her path to becoming a camp shepherd at BBC.
~ Amber “Cheeks” Bergey, Volunteer Coordinator & Day Camp Director
As a child I loved attending Camp Sankanac in Spring City, Pa. At that time I was unaware of the seed being planted and nourished. Fast forward to 2010. My husband Dave (aka Woodchip) and I volunteered one week at BBC. I was helping in the old kitchen. When I wasn’t in the kitchen I enjoyed Fireside and soon found myself actively singing with the kids. I’m not sure what happened to me that week. I found myself going down the slip n slide laughing the entire way while campers chanted “Grandma! Grandma! Grandma!”
Before leaving camp, Amber (aka Cheeks) identified one of my gifts as loving children and invited me to be the shepherd the following year. She told me to pray about it. I told her I wouldn’t! I was afraid of what God was calling me to do! My husband Dave felt differently. Dave said right away, “She’ll do it.” He then turned to me and said “You’ll be great at this! It’s right up your alley.”
Preparing for the first year of shepherding brought a lot of anxiety. I had no formal education to do this job. I was just a willing helper. I was fearful the counselors would correct one of my Bible stories! Nothing like that happened. I prayed God would be present and this was for HIM, not Bev. I LOVED my new role!
The highlight of shepherding over the last few years was to share about a loving God and the way of Jesus with 6 to 9 year old campers. I had the total attention of campers when telling them the Bible stories in flannelgraph! You usually could hear a pin drop – even with 84 active kids!
One of the memories that stands out was when I shared the story of Jesus feeding the 5000. Quietly the children filed passed me as I gave them bread and fish (Swedish) and told them Jesus loves them. It was so reverent and peaceful. I cried like a baby as the last child went through.
As a camp shepherd I always had one goal: to plant seeds for children to know Jesus as their personal savior and to nourish those seeds in whatever way possible.
Dot Samsi was a parent/volunteer last summer (2017) at BBC. She agreed to reflect on her experience for the 2017 fall newsletter. Check out family – friendly – no – previous – experience – required – volunteer opportunities for 2018 here.
Camp has been a part of my life since I was a kid in Ohio. Every summer I went away for a week. When I came home covered in mosquito bites, I would write letters to my camp friends and impatiently check our mailbox for their responses. After college I got to work at camp for a summer that turned into a year and a half. My husband and I even got married at that camp and had our reception in the dining hall! Once our kids were old enough, they joined the fun by coming to Mom & Me camp.
Since leaving Ohio several years ago, camp hadn’t been part of our lives but I knew that I wanted camp to be part of our kids’ lives. When we moved to New England, we heard about Bethany Birches from some friends. Then two years ago we made the 120 mile trip to camp for the first time. We dropped the kids off on the mountain for Launch Half. Two days later we picked up exhausted campers who had had a great time!
This past summer I didn’t want to miss out on all the fun. I asked if camp might need a volunteer and heard back from Amber that Bethany Birches loves volunteers! Yay! And it turns out, BBC can use plenty of volunteers. My daughter invited 2 friends and one of their moms, Amy, volunteered also. We all arrived ready to stay for the 2-night Launch Half program.
Amy and I both volunteered in the kitchen where Sparkles and Sharkbait put us right to work. Within a few minutes, we had gloves on our hands, bandannas on our heads, and we were serving dinner to hungry campers! We washed dishes, mopped floors, packed meal crates, and made huge amounts of apple crisp. We even got to make a grocery run for pig trough supplies!
As far as lodging, we brought our sleeping bags and we were ready to rough it, but we ended up staying in a really nice house up the street. It was more like glamping than camping and we had a good time getting to know the other volunteers. Looking for adventure, Amy and I slept out in the hammocks the last night. When we weren’t in the kitchen, we got to see some of the activities (now I know what a pig trough is all about!) and hear some of Grandma Cookie Dough’s firesides. We also got to do a little hiking. (The treehouses are amazing! I think that there may be a treehouse sleepout in my future!)
Volunteering at camp was such a welcome change of pace. The positive atmosphere, the beauty of God’s creation and the joy and enthusiasm of the campers and staff were so refreshing. Even with all the hard work, I came away feeling refreshed. I’m so glad that my family has found Bethany Birches. We can’t wait until next summer!
-Dot Samsi, 2017 Summer Camp Volunteer
Volunteers surround camper enjoying the pig trough