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!
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!
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.
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.
Backcountry skiing? What’s that? Well, basically, it’s when you get some skis and go into the mountains and ski… it’s beyond the resort. It takes human power (your legs) to get yourself up the hill. And then it takes gravity to get you down. The going up looks a little like this:
And my favorite part, going down, looks a little like this:
So what’s happening this winter at camp? We are doing backcountry skiing! We have some good areas for this. The hill above the pond (wide open, steep, safe). Nearby hills that are similarly open. If the snow is fast (i.e. icy), we’ll ski on flatter terrain in a more cross country style. If the snow is slow (i.e. powder) we’ll go all over the place and make turns!
Your child will learn basics of skiing and attempt telemark turns. They will get plenty of exercise and take skiing to a new level and beyond the resort.
You can sign up for this unique program within our winter camp program when you register for winter camp. There is no extra charge for backcountry skiing. Each session is an hour and a half and fit within the normal schedule. Your child will still be able to tube, skate and do all the other good stuff winter camp has to offer.
Just the other week my father took me to the Deleware bay to fish for tautog. (Don’t ask me what tautog look like… because we didn’t catch any). Unfortunately, our trip was cut short because of a problem with his boat’s engine. We ended up going through three sets of spark plugs throughout the trip and finally decided to head home in fear of being stranded without any more spark plugs! Sitting in the car during our three-hour drive home I thought about how prepared we were for this trip (boat, rods, tackle, bait, etc) and yet the trip was derailed by a faulty engine.
I think summer camp is quite similar. All year long I work hard to prepare campers for an amazing week of camp. I plan fun games, create great schedules, research new activities, etc. And yet, without an “engine” all of that work is totally useless. At camp, our engine is our staff and volunteers: Counselors, cooks, maintenance, shepherds, program, and more. Without these people, camp doesn’t work.
I wanted to share with you some opportunities to be our “engine” this summer. Below is a list of available positions. All of these positions provide real opportunities to love campers, serve God, and grow in life experiences. If you know young adults who would benefit from a summer working at camp please share with them about BBC! This link is a great place to find more information about each of the available jobs.
We are also working to hire more assistant counselors than ever before! These positions provide older high school students a chance to grow, mature, learn about working with kids, and learn about God. It also makes a great statement on college applications!
Lastly, if you are looking for a way to serve this summer but are only able to work one week, please check out these volunteer opportunities: Shepherd, Nurse, Kitchen, or Maintenance. If you have any questions about these volunteer opportunities, please email Amber at firstname.lastname@example.org
“During my summer at Bethany Birches, I made close friends, I got to know myself better, and most importantly, I got to know God better.” ~ Scoop
Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you up on the hill this summer!
The last 3 years she’s been our competent life guard trainer.
Right now she’s on her way to becoming a veterinarian at St George’s University in Grenada.
Quincy started to coming to camp at a young age. She completed the BBC internship in 2010 to fast track her to BBC staff as a 17 year old assistant counselor in 2011 and returned as a counselor in 2012 and 2013. She’s also been back to volunteer numerous times since being on staff. Quincy is a top quality person and we are thankful for her service to the youth of VT. We have great confidence she will provide wonderful care to animals just as she did to campers. And if she’s back in the area and a camp pet is sick, we’ll know just who to call.
Can’t wait till we see you on the hill again Quincy!
We want to offer you an opportunity to share the gift of camp with your child, family, or friends. This is an opportunity for parents to give your child a week of summer camp or weekend of winter camp for Christmas. For you donors, you can give to the Kids to Camp fund in honor of a friend or family member. In both cases, you will get a nice card to give them. You could also purchase items from The Birches (camp store) as a Christmas gift!
For Parents: Your child is already planning to come to camp, so why not make a nice Christmas gift out of it? We’ll send you a card with their name and any other notes you’d like us to put in. Then all you have to do is slip it under the tree Christmas morning. Give camp here. Want to give a gift from our camp store as well? You can!
For Donors:Make a donation to the “Kids to Camp” fund in honor of a family member or loved one. We’ll send you a card that you can give to them Christmas morning describing the donation. Want to give a gift from The Birches (camp store) as well? You can!
We hope your friends and family enjoy their Christmas gifts!
It’s been exactly 3 months and a day since I left Bethany Birches. I’d really like to say that the time has been flying by, but it hasn’t. I think since this past summer my life has become so fixated on looking forward to possibly serving next summer, that I’m still reliving every day as though I never left.
Apart from the fact that the faces of my fellow staff members are splattered all over my social media timelines, I realise that camp made an indelible mark on me. And no, it wasn’t the fact that there were bears rummaging through the garden I worked so hard on (ok well, one bear), or Susie-sized* rabbits hopping around Hummingbird and scaring my campers (because I refused to scream and embarrass myself), or even the fact that I had to pretend to be strolling through the Garden of Eden [to stay motivated] with every trip to every facility on the campsite because every direction was a 10-minute hike. I can’t say either that it was the rock-farming or getting stuck in the bathroom whilst waiting out a thunderstorm at 3am. But what I can say is, before Bethany Birches, I had never really found somewhere that I felt like I just ‘fit in’.
I was different in so many ways—my culture, my heritage and even the way I worship had nothing in common with Bethany Birches, and I never got a lot of the jokes either; yet, I found my place there. And despite the fact that I almost froze to death on occasion, or got trapped in almost every ‘Mission Impossible’, I can’t say I’d ever change any of my experiences. I have felt my heart literally bursting with love and acceptance of not only so many others, but even myself, and I think that has been the most rewarding thing about Bethany Birches for me. It isn’t often that one literally finds themselves by wandering off into the ‘unfamiliar’ (never do that at camp by the way)…But this summer did that for me. Coming from Jamaica to cold VT wasn’t comfortable but it helped me become more me.
RaeChelle-Faith “Artsy” Hamilton, BBC Counselor
*Susie is the director’s daughter; 1 year old this past summer
That’s right. It’s safer, faster and you’ll get trips back up more often. Many campers choose tubing as their favorite activity at winter camp. Why shouldn’t they? 1/4 mile long, speed, 3 turns, a ride back to the top. It’s great fun! We upgraded the famous tube run in three ways this year. Safety, speed and the ride to the top. Safety and speed were addressed through some excavation of the second turn. That turn was always problematic. On the slow days it was fine and on the fast days it was not fine! By adjusting the shape of the turn and adding earth a few places we think we have made it both safer and faster. Parents and campers rejoice! The ride to the top: with the addition of the Birchmobile for hauling campers back up (rather than the tractor) the ride up will be faster. That means more runs in a weekend!
Winter camp is around the corner. During February we’ll host elementary and middle school age campers for weekends and long weekends. Winter camp at Bethany Birches is something to behold. Super great food (afforded by volunteer cooks), 160” annual average snowfall, a large indoor space for getting out of the cold, a backcountry ski program and a quarter mile tube run. I wanted to take a minute to update you on the tube run.